A few days ago, Leyla and I left for Zimbabwe from Atlanta. We opted to take the cheapest flight we could find and after 44 hours of travel, four airplane meals, and an endless number of coffees we arrived in Bulawayo. Located in the southern half of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo is the second largest city in the country with access to some of the largest and most visited hospitals.
We decided to come to Zim so that we could learn about the healthcare facilities, the current procedures, the culture, the educational systems, and the people. Our goal is to create a product that can make cervical cancer screening more accessible to women so that they can spot and stop cervical cancer sooner. We are excited about what we are learning and have already learned so much.
Today was our first day meeting with doctors we have been getting to know via Skype and WhatsApp for the past month or so. It was so interesting to visit a couple of the largest hospitals around and just immediately notice the differences in them and the hospitals back home.
Over the past couple of days, we have gotten to experience the way of life here in Zim. One of the things that has been extremely different than working with American doctors is the presence of the ever-present sense of “Africa time.” It is noticeable in the pace of life all around us. The pace at which people walk. The pace at which people work. And the pace at which your meetings are delayed. But noticing that difference is a nice change for us. It is good to just have to wait and watch and learn through the forced observation.
Beyond learning about the healthcare system, the government, and the educational systems in Zim, we have also gotten to see some of its beauty. Both in the scenery and the people. This country is beautiful, it is quiet, and it is filled with potholes. But really the potholes aren’t much worse than a standard day of playing the maze that is more popularly known as tenth street.
The food here is good. Today we ate lunch with a doctor, and we got food where they always go to get food. It is a local woman who sells food from her car. For $1.50 we got a large serving of rice, a coleslaw salad, a beetroot salad, and a piece of chicken, that was amazing. We washed our hands using a pitcher of water and soap they had next to the car and then we ate and talked about Zim with our friend.
Hearing about life and culture, education and health, politics and experience, and different opinions is something that Leyla and I have always loved. We are cherishing this experience and continue to feel validation in coming here to learn. Although the African winter is cold, this place feels welcoming and being here now feels right. We are excited for tomorrow.