Thursday, February 19, 2009
Work and . . . Malaria
It has been a long time since my last update- sorry! I have been so busy working! I love my job; I am learning so much about organizations and life in general here. Little things sometimes take so much effort- internet goes in and out and then out and out some more! And a lot of my job is over the internet, updating people who have adopted HeroRATS or updating the website or writing newsletters. Who would have known that African internet wouldn’t be so stable? He he! But I am learning so much from that. When I have good internet it is really exciting! It is like a little miracle in my computer instead of me just expecting it all of the time. The little things make life great! And my patients is growing I believe. (or I hope!!)
I have not really talked about life much on the other entries, but I will tell you more now! (And here are some pictures of some of the cute little landmine detectors!)
I am working for a Social venture that trains giant African rats to detect landmines and Tuberculosis. Sounds crazy? It is really amazing to see and true. Check out the website- www.herorat.org. I update it and work on it all of the time as well! (as I am working on it, if you have any suggestions or thoughts please send them to email@example.com- anything good or bad! I am working on a survey right now that I am kind of obsessed with! He he, but really I am.)
So needless to say, this organization is quite different and new. Innovative even. I would have never- ever- thought of rats to detect landmines and definitely not Tuberculosis.
Within all of that, is a public arm of APOPO- the HeroRATS fundraising arm. I am working mostly on this part of the organization with a wonderful boss. We are writing newsletters, rat updates, following rats around to take pictures from each and every angle, sending adoption materials, making facebook pages for HeroRATS- you name it- we are working on many new ways to get out HeroRATS (or we are open to any new way if there are any ideas around!)
It is cool because there is so much space for this part to grow. I feel like I can really help and make a difference in the organization.
So I love it! It inspires me to want to be a social entrepreneur one day if a new idea presents itself that is redefining the box and great. I will be ready!
So life is great!
I think I should write a few words on malaria though.
I had malaria a few weeks ago. I am quite healthy now though so no need to worry! Malaria is a blood disease transferred through female mosquitoes mostly in Africa. It is really common here; in fact, everyone gets malaria. It is very normal, and people get it like the flu. Malaria affects each person in a different way so it is hard to describe it in general, but I can tell you a bit of how it was for me. First I started to feel very tired but in a different way than normal. My throat began to hurt as well so I decided to go to bed really early. I could barely sleep because I felt hot and cold all at once. I was a bit out of it during this time as well thinking about ants. I don't know why ants, but that is what I remember. And my stomach hurt a lot, and I felt like I needed to throw up. But then the next morning I was able to get this great medicine and the malaria began to clear up. Two days later I felt completely better! So malaria is not as big of a deal as it seems in itself. It is a part of life here, and I think it is beautiful how people adapt to whatever situation they are in. People deal with malaria because they have to, and they continue to live and laugh and play. Life continues on.
Malaria is an easily curable disease; All you have to do is take some medicine and you get better in a few days. That is why death from malaria is such a big deal. It is a easily curable disease and many people who die from it only die because they are too far away to get the medicine or are malnourished anyways.
Tuberculosis is the same way as well. It is a curable disease, but without treatment, people will die and spread it to many other people. It is a disease that is spread through coughing or even breathing on people. People who are malnourished (or HIV positive) are most susceptible because their immune systems are down. Areas with poor ventilation can also be dangerous. Every year it is estimated that a person can unknowingly infect 15 other people because they are not getting treatment. That is why detection methods like rats (!!! ☺) are so important. So adopt a rat!! He he
And I have an idea! I have decided that there are way too many negative statistics out there. I want to create positive statistics. I find that I focus too much on the things that don’t work or are wrong, but what about all of the wonderful things in my life that continue. Everyday that I don’t have malaria I should be excited. When my internet works, I should be thankful. When I learn a new word in Kiswahili I should be happy to know that I am that much closer to being able to communicate with more eastern Africans. I should be happy about having electricity and running water. Instead of focusing on the typhoid in the water, I should be thankful that I have a stove to boil the typhoid out. Instead of focusing on the heat and humidity, I should be thankful for my soft elbows! (India especially!) Instead of thinking this is going wrong, I want to program my mind to first register what is going right. That will take longer- because so much goes right it the world. Everyday I get up- many many things are going right. My cells are working together and my bed is still standing. I have toothpaste, shampoo, soap, mosquito net!!
Sorry I am rambling, but I get on a roll of positive things in my daily life that it is easy to forget.
So that is one goal!
Other goal- I will shave my head so I can understand and view the world as a bald person. I think it will be interesting. I don’t remember ever experiencing the world with no hair. I have beautiful African Head coverings to wear when my hair is buzzed- he he! I am quite excited. I have always wanted to do this.
So I wish you all wonderfull days full of love and the many positive things that fill up your days. I hope to hear from you all! Send me an email and update me on your life! Tell me the good things you don’t usually notice- or bad things. Whatever needs to be said!