Doctors For Life Outreach to Zambia

30-Taking-the-Cruiser-for-a-swimTwo weeks from now we hope to be on our way! The apparently unavoidable last minute rush is starting as I am writing this. No matter how early you start, there will always be the last minute emergencies. Will we be able to get all the necessary documents in time? The medications and surgical supplies have to be picked up, the food supplies to be purchased etc. etc. The worst of all: Did we remember everything? We have done it lots of times before, but still there is this thing … A road team of about 9 people plans to leave from Pretoria on April 11. We’ll travel in three vehicles including the MAN truck with the mobile theatre on its back. First overnight stop is Francistown in Botswana, second Katima Mulilo in Namibia. The next day we’ll pick up the two ophthalmologists at Livingstonia Airport in Zambia on our way towards Sioma in the Western Province. Crossing the borders is still a bit of a nightmare with all our supplies, but as the staff at the borders get to know us they seem to become less suspicious. We hope to set everything up for the work at Sioma as soon as we arrive so that we can start screening and selecting patients on Sunday already. There are so many causes of blindness, and not everyone will benefit from an operation. It is nice to be able to help many of them, but it breaks your heart every time to see those whom we unfortunately cannot help. We are very glad to have two ophthalmologists who can take turns inside the theatre and outside. This should save a lot of time. We hope to perform lid procedures, cataract operations and other surgeries while our dentist and the GPs will help the other patients with their respective needs. We are looking forward to see our Zambian support team again with whom we have become good friends by now. They will help again with translating as well as other tasks. We greatly rely on them for identifying the areas we go to, notifying the people about our coming and other preparations in various ways. Sometimes they even put up “road signs” against trees or write them on the road so that we can find our destination. You see, we like going into the very rural areas, where hardly any services (or road signs) are available. From 16 to 20 April we plan to work at Sioma. Then the first team of ophthalmologists have to return to South Africa while the second team arrives again at Livingstonia. The other team members break up camp, pack everything and travel to Sinjembela, where we’ll be working the next week. Afterwards we’ll enjoy a rest day at Katima on the banks of the Zambesi River before returning to Pretoria on May 1. We are looking forward to another opportunity to reach some of the poorest of the poor to help them in their need!]]>

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