The clinic

So a bit about the people at the clinic. There are 3 nurses, Viola, James, and Irene. Viola and James are both Clinical Officers (Sort of like a Nurse Practitioner). They trade days at the clinic, working as the in-charge medical officer. (Viola does M-W, James T-Sat). Irene  (who is also James’ wife) works 5 of the 6 days a week. Rogers S is the guy who does all the treatment (the diagnoses are made by the in-charge, or sometimes by me) and then the patients get sent to Rogers. He does everything, drug dispensing, suturing, injection and IV administration, wart removal, deworming, maggot slaying. Whatever. There is also a student nurse named Robina, who helps out with many of those things. The lab is staffed by either Emma (short for Emmanuel) or Rogers K, who are both Lab techs. Then there are three staff people who are not medical personnel, Julius, Robert and Grace. Julius and Robert handle most of the patient intake and initial triage, and Grace does the exit interviews and review of treatments (making sure people know how to take the meds they get, when to come back for check-ups, etc). Most of the staff are in their early 30s, the exceptions being Grace, who is probably around 50 (she is very much the matriarch of the team. no on gives her lip) and Robert who is in his early 40s. The Outreach team has two full-time staff members, Musa, who is very new, and does most of the education and counseling (for HIV positive people) and Wilson, who runs the outreach programs. Wilson is the oldest person on staff (I think he is 62) and goes by the title Muse (like the French word for Museum). That basically means wise one, so while someone greeting me or Rogers or Julius would say Malembe Papa (Hello Sir) someone greeting Wilson would say Muse Malembe (Greetings wise one). This title is not just age based, it is earned at some point. I don’t think there is any ceremony or anything, someone just becomes a Muse at a certain point if they are deserving. There are many many volunteers who are in and out of the clinic and the education center all the time as well, but this group is the core of people I spend my time with. It’s a very raucous, kind of raunchy bunch. As the heavy majority are guys between 27 and 33 there are lots of jokes and innuendos thrown around the office. Much discussion of “having coffee” which is the local euphemism for sexy time. It’s very common for one of them to greet me or one of the others by saying, Hello, how are you, carry coffee last night?

I feel a bit like a celebrity being white here. The children always wave at me and yell “Muzungu how are you??” But they say it so it comes out more like “Muzungu how ah YOU!” . They are always very excited when I respond Malembe yaya (which means sort of, hello little one or hello brother/sister if they are closer to your own age). No one can really say my name here, it comes out as Nay-tuh or Na-San. Many of them choose to call me Cohen, because that is easier to say, and apparently some British guy named Andrew Cohen had a lot to do with the Nationalization of Uganda. so there you go.

This is me and Julius in front of the clinic, with Grace’s foot

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One Response to The clinic

  1. Margery Wolf says:

    Loving these, Nate. Keep em coming.

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