Facing a line of coconut trees is where our house is located. On its right, it is the dispensary. Every Monday and Friday, it is flooded with patients. Sr. Martha is the nurse in charge. The adjective I could associate with her is BIG. Big eyes, big nose, big mouth, big smile and a big heart! She always greets us with her broad smile, ‘Karibu!’ (Welcome) she says every morning, showing her white teeth as she pats us on our shoulders.
(The card I drew for her as she was leaving to Malawi to visit her parents)
Our main job in the dispensary is to pack the pills. Given bottles of medicine, we first have to identify them and find out the no. of pills which each patient has to take. Peggy, who is the Math teacher, is apparently more capable of doing the pills counting. She usually places a piece of cloth on the table, pours the pills on it and starts counting with a spoon. So the only thing left for me is to cut the labels of the corresponding medicine, put those pills and the labels in a plastic bag and seal it.
As tedious as it seems, there is still ‘art’ in this job. For example, I’ll try to figure out the neatest way to pack the pills. I love to line the pills in rows, squeeze the air out of the bag before I seal it. So Peggy counts and I pack and seal. Sometimes, we are thrilled when we’re given pills of bright colours. My favourite has to be multi-vitamins. They are bright red M&M like pills. The bright purple painkillers are our other excitement.
Talking about excitement, killing mosquitoes with the electric racket is on my top list. It’s hard to believe the Tanzanian sisters have something so advanced.😄 The racket is rechargeable! (The one I bought from HK needs batteries and was out of order after a few days use) Everyday, hundreds of mosquitoes in the clinic are waiting for their execution. I can easily burn ten in each wave! Yet it’s really mystery those mosquitoes living in the dispensary. What attracts them? Anyway, it’s fun to hear the sizzling sound and imagine becoming a heroine to prevent malaria.
Sometimes when we have finished packing medicine and get tired of killing mosquitoes, we may go to the reception to find Sr. Martha, asking for some more jobs. Once we found that they had problems looking for the patients’ record as the cards were not arranged in order. Peggy then suggested that we should arrange them according to the numbers and years. We actually wondered why they didn’t do that in the first place, but perhaps they were too busy to do so.
We started our ‘big’ job that afternoon. It really was a ‘big’ one since it did not only require physical strength, but also intelligence! Peggy had to figure out the number of cards to be put in each wooden box and rearrange them in order. Those cards and wooden containers are so dusty and moldy that I swear I don’t want to touch things like that ever again in my life (There are corpses of spiders and cockroaches in between the cards as well!) After rearranging the cards, I marked the year and stick the labels on each box. I even wrote the years in different colours (e.g 2010 in black, 2009 in red, 2008 in green and 2007 in orange).
After a day and a half of fighting with dust, germs, insects and heavy wooden boxes, we had our job done beautifully. Now the nurses can easily locate the patients’ records in just a minute. Sr. Martha was so delighted when she entered the room. Rolling her eyes in amazement, she said, “Wow…wow…wow! You’ve done a great job. Thanks so much! I’ll not forget you!” We smiled with pride. I guess I slept soundly that night.