Tuesdays are for Making Friends

I’m starting to enjoy the mornings. And for those who know me at home, know what a bold, and honestly radical statement that really is (and though this may just be a Zambezi thing) there is something about getting up, picking one of my three outfits, getting to hear those making breakfast, and journaling or reading in the morning. It’s peaceful and relaxing but nonetheless so inviting, as we all sit together to eat before we start our day. Whereas, at home my schedule is SO different. I am sleeping or snoozing through my alarm, consistently running three minutes late and maybe if I’m lucky, grabbing a granola bar. But right here, there is something that packs the morning with stillness yet laughter, comfort yet commotion as my Zam Fam plays music and gets ready for the day together that in turn makes me more excited to take on the day and just optimistic for my afternoon in both the hospital and classes. 

That’s how this morning began for me. Waking up before my alarm, putting on the outfit of the day (and stealing one of Katies headbands), while watching the breakfast team consisting of Ana, Katie and Ani making scrambled eggs and “avocado toast” and getting to journal. We sat around the table scarfing down our food, while Julia gave our blessing and we talked of the day coming. For me, it was hospital at ten hours and class at fourteen hours. The health group, excluding Jackson since he was Mama Katendi’s assistant (aka Mama’s boy), were off to walk to the hospital, unsure of what were were going to be doing on our first official day of shadowing yet excited to see what we would learn. 

We decided to split up; Julia and I went to the peds ward, Katie went to the maternity ward and Ana and Ani went to the mens ward. Me and Julia got to meet Jenn, a nurse, and Roma, a nursing student. We talked about two of the main reasons children are admitted, including Malaria and Sickle Cell Anemia, learning of the drugs administered based on the severity of Malaria cases and all about how it cases anemia. Roma, the student that was shadowing Jenn, just as we were, explained the steps of Sickle Cell to us. The beauty in both of us students going through something as simple as relearning Sickle Cell was really communal moment for the both of us. It showed how Roma was learning as he taught us (because if there’s one thing being a STEM major has taught me, its that teaching others is the best way to study) and us getting to learn from him. 

However, there are complexities within visiting a new hospital that is also in a rural area. Seeing the differences between the United States healthcare system comparatively to the Zambezi Hospital. For instance, Zambians have fewer areas for patients and the limitations with access to doctors and resources, being there are only two doctors serving the Zambian district. Yet, I am in this position to be humbled to learn from these nurses, doctors and fellow students of their knowledge of how their healthcare system works. Because for many, they do more than what our US jobs description employs. The nurses are closer to doctors and doctors are multi-specified through every ward. This process of accompaniment is still one I am learning, but I felt it more today than I have throughout our trip. As I left for the day, I felt that relationship begin as Jenn said to me, that health is supposed to be shared, that if we don’t teach each other than when one leaves the other is left without the knowledge. She was excited to see us again during the week to talk about their healthcare system, but also ours back at home too, and more about my story and my family. Her words stuck with me, as they were exactly what I was looking for, accompaniment.

We came back from the hospital for our language lesson with everyone, taught by Mama Josephine, and went through many greetings, how to say thank you and goodbye. This lesson was filled with not only learning, but lots and lots of singing… thank you Mama for the song that is now stuck in everyones head and now we all have the privilege of listening to each others tone-deaf voices. Classes followed shortly after with Charlie and Sara teaching afternoon computer lessons and me, Ana, Julia and Katie heading to the church to talk about Diabetes and Nutrition. I found myself, again, making more relationships with girls there by finding common ground, similar to the one I found with Roma, while talking of insulin and glucagon and finding a newfound trust between us. Now, I have familiar faces in the class that I am looking forward to seeing tomorrow.

Finishing the night, some of us went with Josh to watch a beautiful sunset on the Zambezi River. And came home to dinner, cooked by our very own Mama’s Boy. This included up some chipotle chicken, guacamole, beans and homemade tortillas… or better yet, crepes. This set the bar pretty high for future dinners, well done Jackson and Mama Katendi. Now writing this blog, it’s ten and I going to be heading to bed. But reflecting today, I continue to look forward to my newfound love for a morning routine and getting to see the people I made relationships with today.

Just want to say hi to my awesome family! Love you and missing you all always <3 Avery and Kinsley please eat some of Nan’s cookies for me.

Lots of love,

Brynn Neal ’25

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8 Responses to Tuesdays are for Making Friends

  1. Sharon says:

    Mornings…wow that is bold Brynn:)
    I am thoroughly enjoying reading everyone’s blogs and learning of your new activities, classes, friends and adventures. Continue to explore and surround yourself with new experiences/connections. We love and miss you! And we will definitely eat some cookies for you!
    Go Zags!

  2. Michelle Doty says:

    Beautiful Reflection

  3. Susanne Jorgenson says:

    Really enjoying keeping up with your adventures on this journey!! Love your writings Brynn Xoxoxox SueSue

  4. Silje Squires says:

    This was such a beautiful reflection! Painted such an amazing experience!

  5. Jennifer Akins says:

    Hello from a former Zambezi traveller! It’s lovely to read about and see you all there again this summer with Josh and unexpectedly, Jeff, but embracing the unexpected as it arrives. Please pass on my warmest regards to Katendi, Josephine, Jessie (of course Josh and Jeff) and the many others who have accompanied Zags in Zambezi through the years! Enjoy each moment – you’ll be returning to them for years to come.

  6. Emily's Mom says:

    Great reflection!

    Speaking of heath care… Any updates on Chris’s recovery? Please tell her we are praying for a quick and painless recovery.

    “that health is supposed to be shared, that if we don’t teach each other than when one leaves the other is left without the knowledge”.

    I loved this quote on sharing the knowlege of health and accompianment !

    Speaking of songs…. maybe in one of the next few blog posts you could share the words with us in English and the native tongue.


    p.s Emily, I caught up on the blogs and left a few comments there too. We miss you dearly and praying for you and all daily! Love, Mom : )

  7. Avery Neal says:

    Beautiful writing & loving these pictures! Keep being the brave, curious, courageous older sister I know. Love you & miss you lots! Don’t worry, the cookies (& ice cream) are being eaten;) nom nom cookie. Go Zags!

  8. Barb Kruger says:

    What an amazing opportunity you have been given. I am incredibly proud of you and how you are finding joy in this journey. I love how you are building relationships and bringing hope. I love how you are exploring an unfamiliar area. You are so far from home yet you are bringing the heart of home to many people. Thank you for your heart to love and serve others. I will pray for your safety and for this to continue to be a journey of a lifetime. You are missed and loved.

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