HIV Care and Nutrition Program (UKUN)

by East Africa Aid Foundation
Dec 25, 2013

UKUN Volunteer Diary (Week 16)

This week was really hectic as it was my final week before departing Bagamoyo for two months. I said goodbyes to all clients and passed on my duties to volunteers; old and new. Cindy, Stefanie and William started this week and for Sarelle and me it was the final week. Charles also went on a leave for two weeks. Abdullah had a bad week with his health and Captain’s family got a new kitchen built.

On Monday I visited Mr Captain with Sarelle. He reported that his son had showered him the day before as he is on his school holidays and paid a visit to him. This was great news knowing that someone from his family had got involved in his care. I asked if he was coming again this week but Mr Captain said: ‘probably not’. We cleaned his room and took him outside for a while. Afternoon was spent in CCS (Cross Cultural Solutions) meeting where we received a new volunteer Cindy from the US. She is an experienced nurse and will make a great difference to people lives here in Bagamoyo even if it will be only two weeks stay.

On Tuesday Cindy joined our team and CCS provided us a minivan with a driver to visit patients so we can orientate all our volunteers to the clients efficiently. It was great to have a big team of volunteer together; me, Cindy, Sarelle, David and Charles. We visited Mariam, Captain, Amina and Hamisi. Patients were happy to see so many volunteers! Mariam’s physiological observations were within the normal range and her skin looked fine. Volunteers were taught about her weekly visits and to purchase her mango juice weekly. William arrived Tuesday afternoon and was introduced to the program. He will be taking over a lot of my duties after this week. Charles went on his leave Tuesday afternoon and we were left to our own devices but with instructions of each of our roles for the next two weeks. David our local volunteer took over testing and counselling at the office and Godfrey will be helping with home care and assisting at the office. Me, Cindy and Sarelle will be doing home visits and orientation to William as well as getting things ready for next week when I won’t be here.   

On Wednesday Cindy was orientated to take over Mr Captain’s shower. He was happy about Cindy; he does not let many people to see his privates!  We also visited Hamisi and bought him a nice red jacket that covers his enlarged male breast so that he will not feel embarrassed to walk in public places. He was so greatful and loved the coat! We also paid visit to Hadija and her family to introduce Cindy and William. They were OK themselves as usual and happy to see more volunteers joining us.

David took Abdullah to the hospital Wednesday morning as he had a toothache. They ended up removing the tooth completely and he came back with lots of antibiotics and pain relief. They also told Davis that Abdullah needed his Hb (Hemoglobalin) checked but this could not be done at the hospital as they were missing some important equipment in the laboratory! He should go back on ARVs (Antiretrovirals) as his TB treatment is finishing soon.

On Thursday morning we took Abdullah back to the hospital again and did an orientation to Cindy and William. Abdullah forgot to take his hospital card so they could not do his CD4 or check his TB medications. We had to take him to the private hospital St. Elizabeth to have his Hb ckecked. It was only 5.3, which is very low. I asked to have it done again but they refused. All of us were very surprised as he does not appear to be that weak or tired to have that low reading. We took Abdullah back to the doctors in Bagamoyo Hospital to tell them the results. It was frustrating as the nurses were telling us to come back tomorrow as he did not have his card. I told them we did not care about the card and he needed to be seen right away because he was very sick. After a while doctor came to see him. He was told to have iron deficiency anaemia. His diet has been really good for the past few months so the doctors are suspecting it could be worms. Hookworm can cause iron deficiency. He was put on worm medication and folic acid with iron syrup and iron rich diet. Cindy said he will need a lot of Vitamin C in addition to this for the iron to absorb. We should recheck his Hb next week again. We took him back to the office to rest and explained all his new medications to him and bought a bag of oranges for C vitamin. Doctors informed us that he cannot be started on ARVs until his Hb will come up to 7 or 8. Later that day I took William to Mariam’s house to introduce him to the family

Next morning (Friday) we; I, Cindy and a new volunteer Stefanie took him back there to have his CD4 checked. Stefanie joined us from CCS and she is also an experienced nurse from the US and will be a great asset to our team! After couple of hours of waiting it was done and we will get the results sometime next week. After this we joined the other volunteers at Mr Captain’s house. Abdullah wanted to join us too. They had been building a kitchen that Chanzi had designed to family since the morning. Unfortunate thing had also happened. I had given money to one of his family members to buy materials for the kitchen and Charles said he will be joining us to build it. He never came and obviously took our money so everything had to be purchased again! However the smile in Mr Captain’s face made me to forget all of that. There were all of us there; Sarelle (saying goodbyes), David, Godfrey, Cindy, Stefanie, William, Chanzi and our local friend Omari. It had been an on-going problem to our patient to have the kitchen outside his room. All the smoke had been going inside and him being vulnerable for chest infections.  He often suffers from a bad chest. The family had not shifted the kitchen elsewhere even after several discussions with them so we thought the only way was to just come and build one ourselves. Sarelle wanted this to be done before she left so she got things moving.  The kitchen was ready before midday and looks amazing! After that we built an exercise pole on his yard and stood Mr Captain against it. His limbs are very weak but volunteers will come few days a week to do physiotherapy so he can build his strength. We are not sure if he will ever walk again but at least we are hoping that he will build up enough strength to transfer independently from bed to chair.  At last I washed his mosquito net and sheet and also said goodbyes, which was so sad. I will be returning after two months. The kitchen was a great finishing to the week and everyone left exhausted but happy.

 I did some last orientation and job lists for William. Sarelle had organised medications and other things at the office so it will be easier to access things now. Her leaving will be big loss to us but she had a great impact here on her short visit. This week I and Chanzi also made a fundraising project for ‘Every Little Helps’ by selling his handmade shoes for friends and family. This turned out to be great success. Chanzi makes beautiful shoes from leather including nice decorations from colourful beads. £5 for each pair purchased will go to our home care clients. I will be taking these pairs to Europe next month. Some of our volunteers also ordered few pairs!  We received 10 orders already this week and hope we will get some more.

 Next week William will take charge on the ‘Every Little Helps’ sponsor money and report writing. They will still have great team of volunteers and the week after Charles will be returning. I will be in regular contact with all the team and come for a short visit in few weeks time. I will miss my clients and work so much, it has been my life for 16 weeks. I cannot wait to return! 


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East Africa Aid Foundation
Project Leader:
Tarek El-Shayal
New York, NY United States

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