The past few days have consisted of a great deal of observing and listening. I am scuffling to take in the experience that I am presented and scuffling to put these images into a meaning that can be shared with our group and my friends and family at home.
On Wednesday, the Health Care team (Hannah, Kenzie, Shelby, Nick, and myself) was accompanied by Jeff on a tour of the local Zambezi District Hospital. It was an experience I had been eager for since long before we arrived in Zambia. The Head Nurse, Mrs. Moplanda, led us on a discomforting tour through the wards of the hospital, taking us to visit the bedsides of sick men, women, and children, where they were accompanied by their worried and grieving families.
We passed a strange mixture of young mothers, children giggling at our attempts to greet them in Luvale, alongside the sadness and worry of other patients fighting to become well again. During an awkward silence, Nick asked Mrs. Moplanda what happens when all of the beds are full or when supplies and resources are low. Do they ever turn patients away? Mrs. Moplanda answered quickly and sternly with one word: “Never.” Never ever would they turn someone away to die. Never ever would they deprive someone of the basic human right to be cared for, to be looked after, to be loved.
Her profound one-word answer has been sitting with me for a couple of days now. It sat with me while we visited the Falconer Orphanage on Thursday, where the Health team had planned to teach a lesson about clean water while the Engineering team installed two more BioSand Water Filters in the orphanage. I saw the love and joy of 118 children, ages ranging from infancy to late teens, and the few adult men and women that care for them so deeply and tenderly. Many of these adults were former orphans who felt an obligation later in life to return to the place that cared and loved for them so well as children.
And again, I thought of Mrs. Moplanda’s concisely eloquent answer this morning as the Health team went back to the Zambezi District Hospital to shadow and observe different areas of the facility. Logan and I found ourselves learning and observing the work of the Clinical Officer, David, as he examined patients, listening to their symptoms, prescribing them medication, and directing them on to the next steps of their screening process. Toward the end, we had the opportunity to talk with David about his schooling, his experiences as a clinician, and his reasons for being where he is today. Throughout his answers, there was one statement that stood out to me and that I couldn’t help but jot down: “Wanting to save lives is something that is in you.” When he said “you,” he wasn’t talking about me or Logan or himself only. He was talking about everyone. The people in our small communities. The people in our global communities. I can see that we, as human beings, have an innate desire to make a difference, to improve someone’s life, to make this world a better place.
And here I am now, thinking back on that one word spoken by Mrs. Moplanda on Wednesday afternoon and trying to formulate how the simplicity of her answer has demonstrated to me one of the beautiful aspects of human nature that has been presented to me in my short time here in Zambezi: the human capacity to love. The human capacity to love will overcome the limited number of hospital beds or inadequate amount of supplies and federal funds. It is this human capacity that gives us those moments that “restore our faith in humanity” when we are able to see it.
As Lindsey so perfectly explicated in her earlier post, we are all “mutually indebted” between the members of our own community, no matter how big or small. We are tied to one another by the power of such human connection. We are connected by our experiences, our strengths and weaknesses, and our triumphs and failures. These things we share allow us to see one another and to feel obliged to act and care for our community. It is who we are. It is how we demonstrate our capacity to love. We are not perfect, and we are not all perceived as good, but I have faith that we as humans are blessed with this obligation to care for one another.
We can all think about the warmth we feel when feeling noticed, cared for, or loved. When a doctor listens to our symptoms, when a community embraces you when you have nothing else, or even when a friend is able to give you a perfectly-timed hug when you are having a merciless day. We want to be cared for, and we want to care back. We are not completely selfish, as some might argue; we are indebted to care for one another. This is how we love, and this is how we fulfill our purposes as human beings.
Peter Sherman, Class of 2017
P.S. Mom, Dad, and Katie – Love and miss you three! Hope the CO sun is treating you well. Give the pups a squeeze for me.
P.P.S. For those of you following along at home, there will be no blog tomorrow (Saturday 5/23) as the group will be spending the weekend in Dipalata. Stay tuned!
I was so happy to wake up this morning to find your blog waiting for me. That photo of all of those beautiful faces completely took my breath away (and, of course, brought me to tears). This experience you are having half way around the world is clearly one that is having an impact that is deepening the amazing person you already are. Keep absorbing every moment. I am so very proud of you and cannot wait to hug you tight and hear the stories. I love you so much.
Love to you, your classmates, and the people of Zambia.
p.s. The pups got extre squeezes this morning just for you. 🙂
I’ll be looking forward to reading your blog on the 24th. You all have written about your experiences so beautifully. What you are doing and how you are growing in our humanity makes me wonder if we will all recognize you when you return.
Wow, this takes me back to my Peace Corps days. You are processing this wonderful experience in a very profound way — so very proud of you for taking on this adventure and being so open to all that is new and unknown.
Quoting the prayer attributed to St. Francis “It is in giving that we receive” — you’ve already internalized this.
Sending love and grace to you and all your co-workers and those you are caring for,
Can’t wait to see you Peter! Sounds like you’re having a blast! Love you and see you soon!
Sounds like you’re having an amazing experience. Praying for you and the team as you all continue your journey!
I like your mother this post brought me to tears as well. I loved it. It’s great to hear from you.
P.S. I miss Crosby… Crosbaes 2K14-15
It sounds like you are having a great, as well as enlightening time. I am extremely jealous and I hope you enjoy the remainder of your time in Zambia! Stay safe and I look forward to your next post.
Wow, you might be on to something here! Forgive me as I am again reminded of Fr. G’s words as I read this morning. He believes that, “There is one thing that is the root of all that’s wrong with the world, and this idea would be that there just might be lives out there that matter less than other lives. You stand against that idea.”
Zambezi’s refusal to deny care to an individual stands against that idea. The reflections that you have shared and your belief in the “obligation to care” stands against this idea. Katie’s ability to embrace the idea of similarities in worldwide struggle stands against this idea. Riley deciding to build rapport with her students before chipping away at that curriculum stands against that idea. Jeff and Reilly taking the time to interact with the community at the market stands against this idea. Hannah witnessing the completion of the library stands against this idea. Kenzie becoming part of Steven and Violet’s family stands against this idea. Lindsey learning from Mama Kwatu stands against this idea. Lauren calling Junior by name after only a single overwhelming day of being in Zambezi stands against this idea.
You all have written in your own unique styles on varying topics but the themes emerging from your posts are undeniable—the differences between the people of Zambezi and us are far less than the similarities. I think I speak for several Zam-Fam alum’s when I say this is the Zambia magic that we often hype up. The experience is not incredible because we travel to a place that is without struggle, disappointment, or frustration. It is incredible because we learn lessons that force us to engage, from a place that most of the world has deemed in need of education rather than one that has the ability to educate.
I hope your time in Dipalata was fruitful!
Joshua- You are getting ready to head out soon, yeah? You have served this program so well, setting it up for great success! Safe travels & hope to see you soon!
Love and good vibes to Zambezi,
I love hearing all your blogs! All these different experiences and different view on Zambia is touching. I feel enlightened as a reader following along on this journey with you guys.
Please tell Lashantay that her family says Happy Birthday tomorrow! I am sorry to hear your not blogging on her special day……..but not to many people can say they got to spend their 19th birthday in Africa doing amazing things for others!
I can’t wait to hear how you celebrated and if the Zambians have any special traditions that they do to celebrate another year of LIFE!
We love you Tay!
Peter thank you so much for your post. Thank you for reminding me that we all belong to each other. As I begin my next adventure I hope to keep your words embedded in how I choose to live my life.
Thank you Hel Bell also to the shout out to Fr. G’s insight!
I wish you guys the best on your trip Dipalata! Hopefully it will go better than Zam Fam 2013’s experience!
Collin, dear Lord, what is that growing on your chin!
Miss you guys dearly!
I dont know if it shows up as a notification but I wrote a comment on some of the previous blogs. All so great! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us chindeles!
wow Peter..there was a steady stream of tears as I read your words. Thank you for sharing those moments and the beautiful growth that is happening in your already bigger than life heart. What you said resonated in a lot of the same ways that Fr. Boyle’s speech at this years graduation did. We absolutely do belong to each other. I read this when I woke up this morning, jotted down both those quotes in my quote journal and have been thinking about it all day. Again, thank you.
Sending love to you and the rest of the crosbaes!
Hi Venezia and all Gonzagians! Thank you for all the fantastic messages. We are enormously proud of you. Dad
Sounds like you are submerged in an exceptional and very special experience. I can’t wait to hear all about it when you return. I’m so proud of you Pete. You’re an amazing kid with an amazing heart and I’m sure those children are lovin you up! Love you.
P Sherm! So happy to hear what an impactful experience you are having in Zambia, it’s great to hear that you are taking it all in. I can’t wait till your back in Spokane this summer so I can hear all about it. Miss you tons keep on killin it Pete!!
I am so happy Mary shared your blog with us! I am so excited for you and the experiences you are having! I know you are touching the lives of so many! I am so proud of you! Miss you tons and can’t wait to see you when you come home!! 🙂
Peter! That was awesome; you are awesome. So glad to hear how much this experience is impacting you. Miss you!
I miss the heck outta you Pete! This was one of the most genuinely uplifting things I have read in a long time, and I thoroughly enjoyed every single word. I think all of us lucky enough to have read this will and should take Mrs. Moplanda’s compassion and heart with us. I am so glad that you related that kind of love to all of us back home and so eloquently translated it into a message that has impacted me deeply, despite my never seeing a Zambezi hospital. I can’t wait to hear all about your experiences when you get back.
Love ya Sherm!
Wow! This is amazing. Zambia is so lucky to have such a caring and loving human like you there. You are doing some incredible things. You are following your passion to help and care for others. You will not only save lives as a doctor, but also change lives. These memories you have had in Zambia will stay with you 5ever. Consider yourself #blessed.
Sorry for the delay in responding to your incredible post…you know me and technology. Sounds like you are having a great experience. Its not often when someone can put himself in a position to impact so many lives AND enrich his own life to such an extent. I am so proud of you and can’t wait to hear all about it!