Just a week ago --- I told my mother I was ready to return to the States. But now, with just a few days left in the country, I find it hard to sleep and wake up each morning with racing thoughts. The work is far from done, but is it ever really done? While being faced with a rather impossible ‘to-do’ list contributes to the anxiety – the main culprit is that in three days I will have to say goodbye… Goodbye to friends in Lusaka…goodbye to colleagues at the MOH… goodbye to the many Zambians who have touched my life over the last 11 weeks.
I have been incredibly fortunate to visit 20 rural health centers, staffed by some of the most committed people I have ever had the honor of working alongside. Equally amazing have been the women who have opened up their lives and shared their stories.
I have seen long queues of people waiting for treatment and providers working into the night to ensure all patients are served. I have slept on the floor of health centers, with the hum of villagers singing lulling me to sleep. I have crossed rivers in dugout canoes to reach a clinic and watched the sick transported on oxcarts down long dirt roads. I have seen extreme suffering and pain, only matched with overwhelming courage and strength.
And it is this courage and strength that will remain with me long after I leave Zambia…