Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What am I up to (March-early April, 2007)

Swazi landscape as winter approaches. (

It is autumn here, though there are few deciduous trees to make it feel like “fall”. Still, the air is crispier these days. The limp, heavy days of the summer months (December, January, February) are moving northward, accompanied by the rare, disoriented African migratory bird.

Of late, the air no longer presses down, demanding submission and stillness. Sweat no longer glues shirt to flesh, leaving one uncomfortably closed in.

Swaziland’s many claustrophobic, poorly ventilated rooms breathe at long last.

The breeze, while cooling stuffy, damp corners, brings with it a certain restlessness, perhaps a beckoning to prepare for the never-frozen-but-brisk, short winter days ahead.

The drought of this past summer (usually the rainy season), guarantees that many winter days will restless indeed. There will be many hungry, thin days here soon. Life-threatening days.

Today does not seem one of those days. It is an auspicious day, a playful day, a reminder that the world is often short on but not devoid of merriment. The waiting room teems with hope and youth.

I spent the day seeing patients. I had the pleasure of telling two mothers that their babies were HIV negative (by DNA PCR). I had the [distinctly different] pleasure of telling another mom that her severely malnourished 6 year-old had a good chance of some day being strong and plump, of some day regaining enough strength to walk, even run. She had lost hope that this was the case, and simply said, “Ngiyabonga.”

I am still uncomfortable when people tell me “thank you” when I am simply doing my job.

Last week, I attended a meeting on child survival, hosted by UNICEF and designed to bring together all Swazi NGOs that work to protect the health of less-than-five year-olds. See next entry for some excerpts from the minutes. They are not exactly light reading, so feel free to skip over 'em.

Tomorrow, I am working on our clinic’s monthly report, which I hope will summarize our progress over the month of March. Even in name, “March” seems to imply advancement, and advanced we have. (I need grammer check for that one.)

In any case, I will share some excerpts from the report too, once it is complete.

Beyond pediatric HIV, I plan to learn a few guitar cords soon. (I was recently told that well-rounded men play some musical instrument.)

I have been rushing to squeeze as much swimming, biking and running from the shortening days as possible. Not much summer-juice left, and these activities are becoming darker and cooler every day. I am actually in the market for a runner’s headlamp and wetsuit. Any leads?

I have plans to travel to south-central Mozambique at the end of the month, but will otherwise be around the kingdom. Do drop by if you please.


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