Shaban’s mother-in-law has a damaged back from carrying heavy loads on her head for too many years. X-rays show that she needs surgery but there are so few surgeons who can do that here in Tanzania that she must wait until July 1st to have it done in Dar Es Salaam—the waiting list is that long. In the meantime, she is dealing with high blood pressure and a lot of pain. Shaban has been with her for a lot of this even spending the night in Musoma once a week. She has health insurance and money, so we aren’t having to help with this emergency, but we are praying for her because of the pain and the difficulty with dealing with high blood pressure for African females. Shaban’s oldest son (12 years old), Hashim, almost fell to the bottom of their well (60 feet) but managed to grab on just four feet down. They got him out, but Shaban had to do an emergency well cover of concrete. It’s done and dusted and no one, family or neighbors, can fall in now.
Rachel’s ten-year-old son broke his arm yesterday, and she showed us the x-rays. The break was clean and the boy is in a cast but complaining of pain. We told Rachel to bring him here and put him up in one of the guest cottages so she can take care of him during the day. Rachel (see picture at the right) is an absolute treasure. A devout Christian, her father is a pastor in the Africa Inland Church, and she is the hardest worker we have ever had. We always had two inside workers when Juliana was working here, but Rachel does the work of two and still has time for a nap every day. Juliana used to take one to two hours to do the shopping every day, but Rachel just takes a half hour to do it all. We have all our workers registered with National Social Security, and we also pay for all of them to have separate health insurance (our cost: $8.00 per year, per worker). They get a laminated photo id card and Rachel only had to pay $10 for all the work on her son yesterday. The cast was of a special kind not covered by the insurance which cost $10, so we paid for it. Rachel has watched every time John has cooked stir-fry and other dishes and now John doesn’t even have to be there—she can replicate whatever he shows her to do. Once a month or so, we give her money to buy a new pair of shoes for herself or new pairs for her two boys for which she is very grateful. She is always smiling and laughs and teases with us. She also loves Sissie and gives her her flea shampoo bath and carries her wrapped in a towel to give to Mama Africa to cuddle and dry. Sissie loves her, too, and shows it every time Rachel comes in the house.
My blood pressure spiked and stayed up in the severe hypertension range (190/116 on average) for several days, so Dr. Chris put me on some medication that has brought it back down to normal limits. I also have a new ankle support shipped in from New York that I wear about twenty hours a day. As a result, my ankle is healing faster and without pain. My dislocated shoulder is much better and only hurts sporadically if at all. I can walk with my walker from my bedroom to the living room at least once a day, although I still use the wheelchair most of the time because it’s so much faster—especially if I need to make a bathroom run. If I could get rid of my sciatic nerve pain, I’d be home free, but no one gets everything they want, so I just deal with it. I’ve also altered my diet and am losing weight slowly but surely. I’ve lost about ten pounds since I’ve been back and am still losing. I want to lose about fifty pounds which is what my doctor wants me to lose.
So that’s all the news from Lake Woebegone (or Lake Victoria) and the wonderful folks in Bunda, Tanzania.