Our Friday at Rift Valley had been busy enough for us to return on Saturday as there were still additional patients for us to see and since we’re only there every six months it was very important to go back. We had lots of errands to do later that day as it was our last full day in Karatu and we’d be leaving early the next morning for Tarangire National Park and a safari on our way to Arusha. What was originally a dozen patients in the morning continued to grow and after lunch I finally had to close the list otherwise we could have spent the night and still not seen everyone. Daniel was working with us again and he was wearing the scrub top made from Tanzanian cloth that we had given him as a present the day before. We had also given him a nice reflex hammer with the hope he’d get the message that we’d all love to see him pursue neurology in the future. He will make a great doctor one day and an even better neurologist and you can be sure that we will follow his progress and try to help in any way we can to make things happen for him.
This day we also had Renata again with us. While eating dinner at her grandparent’s house last week, I had invited her to come to Rift Valley with us if she were free. She showed up bright and early to FAME with her mother and was dressed in a beautiful outfit ready to work with us. It’s certainly far to early to know whether she will be a good enough student, but she has the aptitude and if the desire is still there, I have no doubt that she will be able to do what she wishes.
I think we ended up seeing about twenty patients that day with a two day total at Rift Valley being 47 patients. The clinic there is always very successful and due much in part to the continued support of Mama India and her philosophy that her children’s health is very much dependent on the health of the community surrounding them. And it has been the case that this has been successful not only in the physical health of the community, but has also been readily apparent in the educational successes at school where healthier children do so much better. This small microcosm of Oldeani and the surrounding areas is an excellent analogy to the current philosophy of global health and the fact that there are no more physical borders to disease and illness. Our health is directly dependent on the health of our neighbors whether they be next door or residing on the same planet as us. Building walls and isolating ourselves will not protect us so that even beyond our altruistic desires (which should be enough in and of itself), it still behoves us to reach out and better mankind for our own sakes.
We said our goodbyes to Rift Valley Children’s Village, Daniel and Mama India late that afternoon, but in enough time to get back to Karatu for some errands. Jess and Jackie had decided to have new dresses and skirts made for them at the fabric store in town where I have taken many volunteers before. The tailors are amazing and I’m sorry I didn’t get photos of them at work, but will do so in the future. They all work sitting out in front of the fabric stores using old pedal driven sewing machines and taking quick measurements before entering them in the their notebooks that are all tabbed with small cut swatches of the particular fabric for that specific piece of clothing. It is an amazing operation to watch and to see just how precise and wonderful their final product is when you consider what they are working with. These are truly hand tailored clothes that would be nearly impossible or too expensive to obtain here, yet here they are an incredible bargain. Labor costs are negligible here. As you may recall, it cost me a little over $200 to have a clutch replaced a year ago on my Land Rover that meant dropping the drive train and the better part of a day of labor, not to mention parts. That price would have covered 2-1/2 hours of labor here and not parts.
We ran a few more errands and then dropped Renata off at her grandfather’s house where her mother, aunt and grandmother were all out working with the livestock when we arrived. It was great to see them all and sad to say our goodbyes, but we’ve been able to have wonderful visits with them this trip. Though I will be back again in six months, it is unlikely for most of the resident volunteers to return so it is truly a goodbye for them.
Brad’s party at the Highview Lodge was an amazing event that night as it was held outdoors around their lovely pool with a buffet dinner and drinks and, eventually, some amazing dancing. There were well over 100 guests there and dinner was delicious. There was an orange punch with Konyagi in it for starters and Brad was handing out drink coupons to everyone it seemed like all night. They had a DJ playing music and when the dancing started the real party began. Everyone danced all night and I’m quite sure it will shock those who know me that it even I was included. You really didn’t dance with anyone specific, though, you just danced. You danced with your friends, some who you knew and some who you barely knew. You danced with the amazing star filled southern sky, with the amazing Ngorongoro Highlands, the Great Rift Valley and Mother Africa. It was a night to put away all your worries and concerns and to just be present. This is Africa.