Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tavis' Farming Story


When we lived in Angola we helped on a farm owned by the UIEA church. It was located near Namibe in the Giraul River valley. On different parts of the farm they grew corn, potatoes, peppers, many tomatoes, bananas, and watermelon. They were all grown at different times of the year. They also had mango, olive, lemon, and papaya trees. They ploughed the ground with a tractor, but the tire broke and they borrowed a tire from some other farmer in the area. When they couldn’t borrow the tire they had to use a hoe and do it by hand. They made trench irrigation, and they would dig trenches and at the sides of the ditches they would plant the seeds and the water would go through and water them a lot. They would make one big row with many little rows coming down from it. They got water from wells from the underground river. They used diesel water pumps to pump the water up from the well and through the trenches. The plants start to grow and so do weeds. Sometimes we picked the weeds and gave them to the pigs, but most of the time the workers at the farm weeded the fields. At harvest time they picked all the fruit and vegetables and the produce was taken into town and sold at the praca (market). The money was used to pay the farm workers, buy more seeds, and keep the farm running. There was a little shop at the top of the hill (owned by the farm) where the farm workers and people in the community could buy rice, porridge, sugar, biscuits, matches, sweets, oil, lamps, fuel, and other things they needed.

Life at the farm was very nice, and I liked it a lot. At the farm we did lots of different things like swimming in the water dam. The wall around the well was rock so we could climb out easily, but when I first tried it I couldn’t get up so I had to get teenagers to help me, but later I got the hang of it. We did many things like riding on the pigs (like they were horses), we would climb this one mountain with shark teeth and dinosaur teeth from thousands of years ago. The first time I tried to find a tooth of a dinosaur it was hard and it took me a long time to actually find one. Even though there were many many teeth all over the place. But after I found my first one I started to find more and more. One time we were up on the mountain and we separated trying to get to the top of the mountain. My brother got stuck on the side of a cliff where the path was narrow. We went down to help him and there was a big black scorpion so we were trying to get somewhere else where we could get up off the narrow path. Then we kept going along and the path got narrower and narrower as we kept going and so it was too narrow for us to keep going, so we turned around and went back the same way and found a way to get out. Then we went to the top of the mountain and looked at the farm below. Sometimes when we would sleep over at the farm, we would take our sling shots out at night and go and find birds that were sleeping. And twice in one night my friend from the farm shot and killed two birds with one stone, because this certain type of bird would cuddle together two of them to keep warm. The farm workers would eat them. When the river was flowing over the ground we would go down with the current.

At a farm there is a lot of work to be done but sometimes you can have a lot of fun. In Angola farming is not easy because it is hard to find supplies and if you do it is really expensive. The people there were very nice. It was nice to do stuff with the farm workers, like sitting around the fires at night eating corn cooked on the fire. They shared their sugar cane and food with us. I wish I could go back and live on the farm in Angola.

Doctor Visit

March 7, 2007

What a day! I finally decided that today would be the day to go see a doctor and get some testing. I have been so incredibly exhausted and just feeling generally under the weather. Not sure what it is (but I am guessing there are some parasites from Angola that are hiding out in my body), but we’ll see if they can actually test blood, swabs and stool samples here!

Ok… I took Meagan with me for company, knowing it could take a while! Had no idea how long a while would be. We arrived at the hospital at 9 AM and waited to speak to one of the doctors, and then we went to register and take a number! I was number 56! Then it was off to a line up where they would take you in a room weigh you and take your blood pressure! I sat outside on the cement walkway for a couple of hours and then managed to have my number come close enough that I was able to go into the clinic and sit on a bench. We were the “only” white people there and that made for some interesting conversations and looks! One older gentleman thought that they were trying to move me ahead of the line because I was white… it took a while to convince him that 68 was quite a bit down the line from 56 and that I had been there a long while already!!

Eventually I did make into the blood pressure and weight room! My blood pressure was 110/70 and NO I am not telling you my weight! HA! After being pressured and weighed I was off to another line up to wait for the doctor. I saw Dr. Musasa who is from the DRC and on the board of the Ark. His boy Alex plays with Trevor! He ordered some blood tests, a throat swab and stool samples. I thanked him for seeing me and then it was off to another line up!

Ok… they do not take blood here like they do in Canada! Wow! OUCH! They blew 2 veins drawing 2 vials of blood! I have a small bruise on my wrist and a much larger bruise on my forearm. I will find out NEXT week how I am doing (if they manage to read my blood, swab and stool properly… or if they manage to not get my blood mixed up with someone else… like one lady who they told had AIDS and well it was someone else’s blood that had gotten mixed up with hers). I watched them get the needles out of the sealed packages so we’ll hope that they didn’t give me anything while I was getting my tests! Hmmmm!

Well, what time did we finish you ask… at 1PM… 4 hours, not bad, just to have a regular doctor visit and a few little tests!! We had to rush home, I had a bruised and bloody arm but we couldn’t wait around, Pete needed into the house, and I had the key. Almost considered letting Meagan drive, but thought better of it! HA! Meagan was very woozy after watching me give blood, I am pretty sure she was almost green. She decided that she did not ever want to be a nurse, but I thought perhaps she should be and well… actually learn how to take blood (the right way!!!).

It wasn’t until I was home that the comment the nurse made hit me…(after the first vial of blood had been removed) I said, wow that is a big bruise… she said “IT IS ONLY BECAUSE YOU ARE WHITE THAT IT LOOKS LIKE THAT”! HAHAHAHAHA! Ok… wow… I guess they must bruise everyone, and they just can’t see it on the darker skin! They could use a good teacher to come and show them how to actually take blood without bruising! I am sure it can be done, in fact, I am pretty sure I have had it done a ‘few’ times without the bruising! J It is actually kind of painful, so it would be nice if they could learn to do it the right way!

That was my day. I am still not thinking clearly so I hope that it makes sense! This is life in Africa!