Friday, April 8, 2011

Going to see the doctor

I arrived at school Wednesday morning ready for another usual day of teaching.  However, this was not the case. Honestly I should be realizing this by now… the fact that nothing is as it seems, and a routine day does NOT exist here. My principal told me we were taking all the students to go see the doctor. “What do you mean take all of them to see the doctor? Where?” I asked. Mistake number two, aside from assuming I was going to have a “usual” day, asking details about the plans. Asking details about plans is another thing you learn NOT to do because nine times out of ten…they won’t happen. Okay so back to my story. My principal said we were taking all the students to go see the doctor. After I asked what she meant, she said that we all were going to walk over to the other side of the village where the doctors and nurses were waiting. This was going to be interesting for sure, and I wish I brought my camera, I thought. The students got in one long line and we trecked our way through the bush to the other side of the village. Side note: from my past experience being in American elementary schools it is almost impossible to keep one class in a single file line from the classroom to let’s say gym class. And now we had the whole entire school walking in one line all the way across the village. I really didn’t think this was going to work, but man was I mistaken. They did it perfectly. The line was in ascending order class: first graders up front, eighth graders in the back. Not a single kid was out of line. It was pretty cool. When we finally got to where we going, there were two huge large tents set up with rows of chairs. The students were all asked to sit in the chairs and wait. I had no idea what was going on (something that has become somewhat of a norm for me).  Me and the other teachers thought that the students were each going to be seen by a doctor and nurse. But as time went on more people from the village started showing up, women with babies, elderly, etc. They were all going first. More and more people from the village were showing up and I was starting to wonder how in the world all of these students were going to be seen on top of the other village people.  Finally I figured it out. This company The National Health Service is doing a project where they are coming out to every village to do routine check-ups on people in the village.  As I watched this whole process, it reminded me a lot of giving blood. The process went like this. Go to one station where you fill out the paperwork: name, phone, any existent conditions etc. Go to the next station get your temperature and blood pressure taken. Go to another station get weighed in, go see one of three different doctors, final station get handed a prescription if needed. Come to find out the students weren’t there at all to get checked by the doctor, they were there for a nutrition program. Out of left field right? See I told you. Nothing ever goes the way you think it will.  Nevertheless, the kids ended up having a good time and the overall program for the village seemed to be a success. Actually I am really impressed by the whole thing. So many people here do not or cannot go see the doctor, which is sad because most of them really need help.  Life is really hard here and it takes a serious toll on your body. Women who are 40 look like they are 70 and kids who are supposed to look brand spanken new, look like they’ve been through a war. I can’t help but think of all the times I’ve gone to see the nurse at school for a headache, or how people run to see the doctor on their lunch break. Yes Americans number one complaint is our health care system, but at least we have a system. These people have nothing. They have tents filled with a couple doctors that may come to your village once a year, and a hospital on the other side of the island that seems to be for people who are the “rich and famous.”  Its these cold true facts that make me realize exactly why I am here.

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