"Sophie, come on! We're going to be late!," my mom yelled. I really don't know why she yells if she has a sore throat, but I guess you need your lungs when you're a mother!
We were going to this place where my mom was taking pictures of how caregivers help their clients get to the hospital if they were sick or even pregnant (and ready to deliver their baby!).
One of the most common methods of transportation - the wheelbarrow.
RAPIDS Caregivers are volunteer men and women who are trained and equipped by RAPIDS (the USAID funded program my mom is working for) who help people affected by HIV/AIDS in their communities. They help take care of them by using a caregiver kit and giving them medicine, cleaning them, and even providing transport!
For pregnant women, you have to push the bike and have someone to help support the patient so he/she doesn't fall off.
When we got there, they set up for the pictures then told a little bit about how they transport their clients to the hospital. They said they either use a wheelbarrow, a bicycle, or their own back!
My mom was taking the pictures because she neede to show why caregivers need bicycle ambulances: metal structures attached to the bicycle seat post. They are long enough that patients can lay down and there is a canopy to cover them from the sun or rain (and give them privacy) and is good for things like carrying a baby or in this case a sick patient to the hospital faster!
As my mom was taking photos of how they get their clients to the hospital, I was taking this all in from start to finish! We are very fortunate to have cars when most Zambians, and many people around the world, are lucky to have a bike or wheelbarrow. We can get to places faster with a car than a wheelbarrow. One of the caregivers told us that one client was almost too late for the hospital and almost gave birth to twins on the side of the road!!!
But most Zambians don't even have ANY transport! My dad told me that once he gave a ride to a kid my age (12). The boy said he had to walk 4 miles to school and back 4 miles home! Yes, you sure would get your exercise, but you'd be tired once you were at school! Bottom line of this entry is that we are very fortunate to have a car, bike, or even both! But don't take your
car or bike because you might end up with a wheel barrow instead!
Editor/Miyon's note: First of all, in the interest of accuracy in reporting, I don't think I "yelled" at Sophie; I probably expressed some urgency, but "yelling"???!!...ok, there, now it's off my chest!
Secondly, it was great having Sophie along with me on this venture. I wasn't sure how much she was absorbing, but I can see that she got it!
In Zambia, transporting people and getting places is mostly done by walking. People walk everywhere (and there aren't any sidewalks!). There are very few cars, bikes, or motorcycles (there are more in Lusaka, but very few in the rural areas). Those are all too expensive for a country where 75% of the people live on less than $1 a day.
So they walk. The Caregivers said that walking and holding up a patient was the most common way to get people to the clinic. Because the Caregivers are known in their communities, people come to them at all hours of the day or night and ask them to help with transportation. One lady mentioned that as a woman she has diffculty hoisting people up onto the bike rack especially if there is no one there to help. Often the patient and the bike fall over!
Everyday things that we take for granted are struggles here.
Yet it's a blessing when Sophie - and now you - can better understand issues that the face the poor. And, it's a blessing that organizations like World Vision and committed Caregivers are working to care for the vulnerable in their communites.