A Note from Fatty: My 6 Hours in Frog Hollow race report is taking a break for a couple days because we’re down to the last couple days of The Hammer’s Gooseberry Yurt WBR fundraiser, and she has a more important story to tell. (And if you’re ready to donate, by the way, click here.)
When I’m not riding my bike, running or making dinner for my very large family, I spend about 24 hours a week at work. My official work–or job–is an RN.
I work in the acute pain service at two very large, busy hospitals in my area.
I think I have the greatest job in the world. I work with a great group of doctors, nurses and patients. I work directly with anesthesia. We perform regional blocks and epidurals for surgical patients. We also visit with these patients and adjust pain meds as needed.
On a typical work day, I hop in my car and drive either six miles or twenty miles–depending on which hospital I’m working at for the day.
I then care for approximately 20 patients during the course of my day. Once at work, the amount of walking I do is minimal. I usually take the elevator up…and the stairs down (yes, I am quite lazy). It’s safe to say that I don’t have to work very hard to access the 20 patients in my care.
I have friends that have chosen to take their nursing careers into the home health setting. An RN in the home health setting might see 1-5 patients per day, seeing each patient a couple of times a week. These nurses may travel 2-30 miles between patients. They provide basic nursing care: wound care, vital sign checks, etc. They get paid for gas and an hourly wage. They probably spend less time walking than I do.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, there are people like Theresa.
She is a “caregiver” in a village in Zambia. She lives in a village that covers many square miles. She has no formal education. She has no car. But she does have a kind, giving heart.
She cares deeply about the people in her village. She sacrifices time away from her family and home chores to visit with people in need in her village. She provides the whole range of nursing care from wound care and bathing, to delivery of babies and assessing villagers who are sick and afflicted with a variety of diseases — like sickle cell anemia and AIDS, just to name a couple that I saw firsthand.
She provides counseling and a listening ear to people who are sad and struggling. She does chores around her patients huts-collecting water from the well, cleaning etc. The title Caregiver sums Theresa up beautifully. She cares, and she gives care.
And without help, people like her spend a lot of her time walking.
Theresa’s patients live many miles apart. The nearest clinic may be several miles away. She may see only a few patients a day, because the majority of Theresa’s day is spent en route: Walking miles, most likely on an empty stomach. She doesn’t have the luxury of opening a Honey Stinger Waffle or a GU to help her energy level as she walks.
We Can Help
By helping World Bicycle Relief provide caregivers like Theresa with bikes, they can double — if not triple — the amount of patients they can see in a day. They can then spend more time with their patients…as well as with their own families.
Since getting a WBR Buffalo Bike, Theresa’s productivity has increased exponentially. When Fatty and I were in Zambia, Theresa shared a story with us about how she was able to put a laboring lady on the back of her bike and get her to the clinic in time to deliever a healthy baby. Theresa then rode back out to the village to care for a sick patient with AIDS who ended up needing medication. Theresa was able to hop back on her bike and return to the clinic to pick up needed medicine. If not for the bike, she wouldn’t have been able to perform any of these activities.
Lackson in his home kitchen
Lackson is a newlywed and a caregiver. He took us to see one of his patients and his family. The patient has sickle cell anemia: a very painful condition that goes through periods of remission and exacerbations.
This young boy — Louis, on the left in the above photo — can become critically ill quickly and may require hospitalization for multiple blood transfusions and pain meds. His family consists of his mom and brother. There is no father in the home. A lot of adult males in Zambia have passed away from HIV leaving their families destitute. Lackson has become this surrogate father for Louis.
Many patients that the caregivers will see have been affected by HIV in one way or another. The AIDS crisis has had a devastating effect on the people of Zambia. More than 16% of adult Zambians live with disease. More than 800,000 Zambian children are orphaned because of the disease. Antiviral medication is becoming more readily available, which can prolong the life expectancy of these people. The caregivers provide the mechanism for many of these people to receive their medications.
Last week we took our family to Village Inn — a pancake house. We easily spent more than $134 there. Next time, I’m going to propose we skip the restaurant, make our own pancakes at home — and send the money to help WBR and the wonderful caregivers in Zambia.
Your Chance to Help…And (Maybe) to Win
But you know what? I’d love to raise enough for 100 bikes.
And now we’re down to the last few days of April, after which I draw a winner. So if you haven’t made a donation (or if you have made a donation but have the money to make another), now’s the time. You can find the details for this contest by clicking here, but the short version is this: For every $5 you donate, you’ll get a chance at winning an incredible weekend at the Gooseberry Yurt. We’ll fly you out there, then either hike, ride, or just hang out and read. It’ll be incredible, relaxing, and incredibly relaxing.
But even if you don’t win, you’re going to help a caregiver — or a student — in Zambia do more good and travel farther than they otherwise ever could. And that’s an amazing thing to be able to say.