We had an awesome team for the March eye camp, a truly international group. Dr. Sue Wallace flew from Canada, Dr, Mark Cichowski and his superwoman wife Jan came from the US, as well as Dr, Ivan Hwang and Dr, Bud Tysinger. We had anesthesiologists from the UK and Zambia, and of course we had our awesome "newbies" Anna Callanta, Betsy Baus, and Robin Alvarado from the US. Betsy and Robin launched our initiative to get our charts scanned during eye camps to help with continuity of care, as well as started our fledgling vision screening program in the local schools. Anna was the OR circulator, while Jan scrubbed in on every surgery, of which there were many! The newbies adapted to the accommodations without complaint (simple but clean and well built thanks to the Lintons), put their heads down, and worked hard until it was time to release them for a little free time They headed to Livingstone for their afternoon off so that they could take in the magnificent Victoria Falls. We did all take a break on the weekend to go for a safari, not realizing that we were in for a deluge of biblical proportions when we headed down to Botswana for a safari in Chobe National Park. The guide told us that we were extremely lucky to see lions trying to hunt water buffalo (they were unsuccessful)--some people never get to see them.
Our anesthetists deserve extra kudos, for leaving Lusaka at 5 in the morning on Friday and driving all day to get to Zimba by 2 pm so that they could start some anesthesia assessments AND do a surgical case requiring general anesthesia. Then they got up really early with the rest of us to catch the ferry over to Botswana, went on safari all day, got drenched with the rest of us in the afternoon downpour, slept overnight in the tents in wet clothes, came back on Sunday night from Botswana only to get up early again the next day and do several general cases on Monday and Tuesday. Then they left in the wee hours on Wednesday morning to get back to Lusaka by the afternoon. Alex, Jayne's husband was however probably the most popular member of the UK team as he taught the two Sylvias (our housekeepers) how to make Yorkshire pudding. Alex knows that he and his Yorkshire pudding have a standing invitation to come to the San Francisco Bay Area. (Jayne is welcome to come too).
More details about the surgeries that we did will be coming out in our next newsletter! In the meantime, enjoy this quick video I put together on the long trip home from Zambia on my slowed down iphone. Good thing the combined flight time was over 24 hours. For those of you who want more picture and photos, check out our facebook site (International Vision Volunteers USA). Remember we will be holding our annual event in October, likely the 20th, so please look for invitations later in the summer as well as notices on the facebook site. Thanks to all who supported us, whether it was collecting glasses and supplies, packing, running last minute errands, wishing us well, or donating money and supplies. We could not have done what we did without your love and support!
Finally, our Zambian staff worked really hard supporting all our activities, and we appreciated their neverending cheerful support. Our clinic administrator Westone and Anton, drove 4 hours round trip at the last minute to ensure we had enough oxygen for our general anesthesia cases. That was above and beyond the call of duty!
Enjoy the video, everyone. Next eye camp planned for August of this year....