Impressions of Lesotho

Traveling in by road through the beautiful countryside of Lesotho, mountains sprawling for miles, we came across the magnificent Maliba Lodge. With a picturesque background, and a warm welcoming from the lodge staff, we knew we had arrived.

The lodge staff were friendly and welcoming, very professional in nature, and clearly a high standard of service was apparent.

As the first nurses invited by the Maliba Trust to meet and work with the St Denis Clinic staff, we were unsure of what our role would be. We were lucky enough to have the lodge Camry to transport ourselves to and from the clinic.

Austrilian volunteer nurses in Lesotho

Australian volunteer nurses in Lesotho

Maggie working with the American Peace Corp left us a message- pick me up from the 2nd village I will be obvious, introduce us to the nurses. The first day the staff were very busy with patients, but welcoming. Our time was spent chatting with the staff and helping unload a procedure bed from the back of a ministry car.

The next day we set off in the Camry – remembering there is only one road in the area we still got lost drove about 8 ks too far. When we realised the scenery was not familiar we turned back and found the turn off to St Denis Mission.

The staff were happy to see us and the patients as well. Carly spent the day with Nkalimens assessing patients, many of which were children was interesting. Nkalimens assessed symptoms, translated so Carly could communicate with the patients. She scribed in the patient’s histories, whilst the patients described their symptoms, and Nkalimens prescribed the line of treatment.

Jo spent time with the nurse administering anti viral treatment (ART).

The day was fun and she hoped she was useful. The nurses had Jo interviewing patients via interpreter, checking pathology results, writing in file notes whilst the nurse ordered the ART. We then dispensed the medications.

The next day we were late to the clinic as the Camry was getting fixed. The lodge van couldn’t get up the hill and this was the day we decided to take our supplies to the nurses. So the long walk up the track fully loaded was fun! The staff were happy to receive the medical supplies that had been donated fro Australia.

It was a quiet clinic day so we had a tour of the new premises and checked out the inventory of the delivered stock. It will be fantastic when the stock is unpacked and on the shelves. We had a discussion about what else was needed – practical things like a head torch for suturing, rechargeable batteries and recharger, instruments, linen for beds for a post natal stay for the newly birthed mothers. The staff are planning to keep first time mums for two nights and experienced mums one night.

That afternoon was planned tourist time a visit to the local craft centre but the lodge phone we took had no credit so we couldn’t contact anyone!! We walked down to the road with a nurse who was off for the Easter break. Planned to be picked up at 12 midday but sat at the bus stop for a couple of hours ( this is Africa – TIA) and eventually we were picked up and off to the handicraft centre for some shopping!

Easter was quiet as the clinic was closed (not too much forethought on this!) but it gave time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Maliba, walking, massages and a trip to view the dinosaur footprints.ten-little-fingers-twn-little-toes-lesotho

Spent the Monday with Maggie and delivered our sports balls to the community centre  Mantai Muso and the literature mostly aimed at teenagers and school children that can be  can used  for HIV education programmes. We also spent time discussing the Maliba Trust, the benefits to the community and how we Aussies could participate.

Tuesday arrived on time – almost and spent time at the outpatients clinic. Then jo loaded up the Camry for the first outreach clinic but due to the Easter break no one attended – but we got the gist of what would happen. This was the day we delivered the text books for the nurse midwives, nurses and village health workers. All seemed to appreciate the effort to bring them over.

The next day arrived as instructed by  Nkarabeng  at 730 am. But yes TIA and we headed off after 8. This time the outreach clinic was more successful as the information had been disseminated to the village we attended. Mothers and children came for vaccinations and treatment.

Back at the clinic- chaotic and time was spent with the nurse at outpatients. It was ART day again so lots of people to see and many medications to be dispensed!

Our last day was hypertension day. Helped the nurse and saw over 50 patients, doing observations triaging and dispensing medications. The staff were warm, friendly and cheerful. They work in a completely different environment to what we are used too and are dedicated in their work.

On that day jo wore a cancer awareness shirt and a local teacher asked if she could examine her breasts – one better jo said I will teach you to examine your own. Breast cancer appears to have a low incidence in Lesotho but is on the rise in South Africa. Working through the translator several women came through and we discussed breast health and taught breast self examination and the importance of knowing your body, and recognizing changes.

As a group of nurses who would like to maintain a relationship with the clinic we are embarking on sponsoring an extended education program for village health workers which has been run successfully in the past. Continuing education we feel is the key to making the best use of the limited resources we can offer. We also plan to set up an orientation package for other nurses who wish to visit Lesotho

We would also like to return in 2014!

Nkarabeng Nkalimens

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