Tag Archives: health

Gargi Wable at TTL

IMG_8230Touching Tiny Lives tends to host a pretty international crowd, from a range of cross-border donors and visitors (Germany, Sweden, Gabon, etc.) to the rotating temporary staff, myself included. At present, the campus can boast of one restless American, one  chipper Canadian, and a pint-sized, industrious Indian. From India.

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Gargi Wable (pronounced wvah-blay, with that curious blend of V and W) is a Maharashtri by birth, a nutritionist by trade, and a perpetual student by choice. We’ve discovered a shared love of good cooking and of the same breed of reading material and hold likeminded opinions about those development operations we’ve discussed at length. Lofty and probing academic conversations had been absent from my life until the final minutes of May when Julie and Gargi arrived.

IMG_8638Her role at TTL for the two months of her stay involves tying up the many loose ends of the floundering UNICEF grant that Jenn began last year. With a strict timeline to follow, and no external duties of distraction, Gargi has made rapid progress. Her nutrition expertise has proven invaluable to grant implementation and to growing staff knowledge, and her unassuming presence has kept life on campus homelier than usual.

Rest assured, Julie and I have already made plans to visit Gargi in two years’ time when she has returned to Mumbai following her PhD studies in New York.
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Another healthy baby heads home

Hiking stands on 3 legs

Tidbits of wisdom from Tony, our eccentric British hiking companion:

Hiking stands on 3 legs:

  1. Health – you should be working up a sweat.
  2. Nature – if you don’t get slapped in the face with real-life wind and the smell of dirt on your boots, you’re doing it wrong.
  3. Fellowship – bring along good company to pass the time and finish in a pub with a pint.

Jenn Baker in profile

For the next few months, I share a job, a living space, and all my personal health details with a Ms. Jenn Baker, who is as lovely as they come.

IMG_2803Jenn is an east coaster by birth and a wanderer by choice. She has been introducing me to all the best places to experience southern Africa.

A registered nurse, Jenn is also a retired Peace Corps Volunteer, who served in Swaziland from 2011 to 2012 and worked to improve rural health initiatives. Though she finished early, her travel was nowhere near complete and off to India she went to live in community where she found balance, friends, and a personal motivation. She returned then to Lesotho to begin work with TTL in May 2013 and has been my guide from day one.

IMG_3305She is interested in international maternal and child health, which makes her an asset to the TTL Team and a phenomenal resource as I ease into the new job. In August she will return to graduate school, likely Boston University, for her MPH.

Jenn is a runner and a reader and a yogi and a hiker and a natural foodie all rolled into five-foot-nothing.

It is so fun to share time and space with a woman of kindred spirit and I count myself quite fortunate. Now, reader, carry on with an increased appreciation for this marvelous lady.

Smiles in the Safe Home

No frowns to be found at TTL this morning 🙂

Introducing TTL

Maseru, Lesotho, can claim the title of ‘Southernmost Point I’ve Ever Visited’ and Mokhotlong the ‘Highest I’ve Ever Lived’. The next year will find me nestled among the peaks of Lesotho, the kingdom encircled by South Africa, and working for Touching Tiny Lives, or TTL.

Lesotho has the third-highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world (after Swaziland and Botswana) at a whopping 23.6%. South Africa, in fourth, has the world’s greatest number of people living with HIV.

As with many illnesses compromising the immune system (influenza or malaria, for example), the hardest hit demographics are the youngest and the oldest. Lesotho has a harsh-but-beautiful environment, high unemployment, and a very low population growth rate (0.34%). Fatal diseases like HIV/AIDS further hinder chances of survival.

TTL assists the most vulnerable children in the Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka districts suffering from malnutrition – a critical effect of HIV/AIDS and complicated by rural poverty. All TTL clients are enrolled under the age of five.

TTL is committed to supporting these children even after graduation from the safe home, where the most severe cases of malnourished children are brought and nursed to health. The staff provide nutritional education for each child’s designated caregiver, ensure proper administration of life-saving medication, regularly deliver food to maintain growth and development, and monitor the child’s general health progress.

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Over the next year I will provide administrative support to the staff of the TTL safe home. Already, I have seen some of the devastating physical impacts of HIV/AIDS and malnutrition on the children at TTL. Already, too, I have seen the astounding recovery of a few truly terrible cases. When I leave this Kingdom in the Sky, I will have seen and learned so much.

Meanwhile, I look forward to the journey.

Follow along: TTL Blog, TTL Twitter, TTL Facebook, TTL Instagram

We’ll just consider this a cultural experience

We’ve  discussed my observations about the Ghanaian education system, but in deference to the latter half of that rather lengthy post, I decided to delve deeper into Ghanaian healthcare. Okay fine, a bout of malaria forced me to.

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Ho Municipal Hospital’s campus is probably the most peaceful place in all of Ho-town. Although my western insurance only covers hospitals located in Accra, I figured my costs incurred would be manageable (true.), plus I wanted to wander the mango trees and covered walkways of Ho Municipal.

I intentionally arrived Sunday morning while the rest of town was at church (shorter lines = faster service, right?). After a run-around re:my nonexistent Ghanaian health card, I finally got on file with Ho Municipal Hospital for a decently-priced GHC 7.00.

There’s no doctor working on Sunday (he’s probably also at church), so two nurses-in-training weighed me on an uncalibrated scale (that or I’ve lost 10 pounds in 2 days), took my temperature (variable, considering fever comes in waves), and took my blood pressure (110/70, so that’s good).

The darling head nurse on duty, Lizzy, took me as her final patient of the morning. She has since invited me to dinner.

I knew I had malaria and told her so. She chided my self-diagnosis, asked me to list out my symptoms, and confirmed: I have malaria.

Ultimate prescription:

  • Artemether & Lumefantrine (antimalarial tablets)
  • Medsoclav tablets (amoxicillin and potassium)
  • Hayzine (decongestant)
  • Paremetacol (tylenol)
  • Flagyl (never fully described to me, but which I am not supposed to take unless still sick after all the other medicines have run out)
  • ORS [Oral Rehydration Salts] – which taste disgusting

Total cost for all these medications? GHC 30.
Total time spent at hospital? 3.5 hours.
Total medications I’m actually taking? 1 + ORS. Because that list is ridiculous.

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Note: I’m surprised by the questions that were never asked: known allergies, personal or family medical history, have I had malaria before, have I reacted poorly to penicillin, etc. However, I was repeatedly asked if I was Christian, married, and German.