We only unpacked the medical supplies this week, as there wasn’t a convenient place to keep them up until then. There was some space in the back room of the church, where the soon-to-be radio station is developing under Tory’s skilled hand, and where the school supplies are stored. The problem was shelving. Shelf-quality wood is not cheap here, and a lot of the shelves were full of schoolbooks and all the appurtenances that go with running an educational institution. But eventually Pastor Jim and Joe were able to clear a whole free-standing shelf that’s become the temporary clinic.
Joe and Lopaki (Miss Emi’s cousin who lives next-door) made the trek from the house to the church with all the boxes, and I managed to get everything unpacked and arranged in about three hours.
So far, I’ve had five small medical ‘crises’. My very first ‘patient’ was actually Joe Civale—some kid accidentally dropped a rock on his toe, cracking the nail and sending out a very creditable stream of blood. That was a relatively easy fix. I’ve also had a schoolchild with a stomach-ache (which his teachers attribute to nerves, since he had a test that day), an old man with a head/back ache, a teenage boy with a quarter-sized perforation of the knee, and another old man with a cough. Not anything that I can’t handle yet. Everyone who’s seen it has been delighted with our little ‘first-aid station’, and, so far, there’s been something on hand for every need.
My work with the school-kids is really enjoyable. The first and second graders love having me in their classroom—I think I’m a major distraction! The kids were fighting to sit next to me; now they’ve settled that issue by rotating seats periodically. They love to touch my skin—I’m not being racist, but it is very…white. To them, the whiter you are, the more beautiful you are. I can’t quite agree there; the children are all lovely, especially the girls. I’ll post some pictures later on so that you all can see what I mean. The hardest part is remembering all their names! There are about thirty kids in first and second grade. A few have Western-style names, like Catherine and Patrick, but most have more traditional Samoan names. The two little girls that live next-door, Lopaki’s daughters, are named Fetu (which means ‘star’) and Tasi (which means ‘one’). Some of the names aren’t so easily remembered or spelled, though!
The first graders are trying to teach me some of their finger games that they do between classes. In turn, I’m teaching them ‘rock, paper, scissors’. They’re fast learners!
My health class is going pretty well. I have a few really good students, and one or two that definitely don’t want to be there, and the rest are typical third and fourth graders—easily distracted and giggly. There’s a lot more here to distract them, too. Lizards run up and down the walls, and dogs wander into the classroom after snack-time. Of course, pigs are never very far away. I’m glad that all the animals here, with the exception of a couple of the Civale’s cats, are skittish.
Anyway, back to the class. We’ve been learning about nutrition this week. I brought along a poster showing the ‘nutrition wheel’ and it’s been absolutely invaluable as a teaching tool. Our expectations for the class aren’t high; in no way are we expecting them to become experts in the field! There’s always the language barrier to contend with. English is not their first language, so some of them are always secretly translating what I say to the other kids. A lot of health-related words that we know almost instinctively are incomprehensible to these kids. I was trying to explain about blood clotting the other day, only to be met by blank stares. How does one define the word ‘clot’, anyway? Teaching requires a lot of patience and repetition, that’s for sure.
There’s an American team of teenagers coming next week for a couple days. I’m honestly not sure what they’re going to be doing, but the whole school is learning ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ to sing as a welcome for them. Hannah has her hands full teaching that one—it’s hard enough for us Americans to sing!
Well, that’s about all the news I have right now. Fa! (Samoan for ‘bye’)