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Entries in Volunteerism (6)


We call it Malaria Monday

In planning for our trip to Tanzania, not only did we have to get passports for all the kids, visas for everyone, but we also had to get the requisite shots: typhoid, hep A/B, polio booster, tetanus booster, which much to my disappointment did not combine into the super-soldier formula and change my physique to that of Captain America. (Though the tetanus shot did make my bicep swell for a few days, does that count?)

In addition, each week now begins with what my teens have now ominously dubbed "Malaria Monday," in which we all take our Mefloquine. I argued that there is also malaria-fighting quinine in a tall gin & tonic with lime, unfortunately my pharmacist must have fallen down and broken his humorous.

But here's the really crazy thing about Mefloquine, and I mean crazy in the best possible sense in that this particular anti-malarial is also a hefty neuropsychiatric drug, which as a side-effect causes intensely vivid dreams. And by vivid I mean red pill/blue pill Matrix kind of journeys across time and space.

So even before I hit the airport I'll have flown around the world a few times.

Oh, and in case you're wondering what the top ten diseases in Pommern are, here's a list from the village health clinic run by Dr. Godlove (who has the coolest, most appropriate name of any doctor, ever).

No, the big killer in Africa is not AIDS, despite what the big, scary news-reporting agencies might infer. It's Malaria that kills. Followed by diarrhea and malnutrition, and to a greater degree...apathy.


Next stop: Africa

I'm the luckiest guy in the world. Seriously. I have a wonderful wife, healthy children, I live in a state free from war, famine, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes, and my problems are so few I feel as though I exist in a perpetual state of karmic receivership.

With that in mind I'm taking my family on a journey that I am affectionately calling Operation: Sleep Better at Night. It's a mission trip to Africa. Tanzania, to be precise. Or the village of Pommern to be even more precise. Don't bother looking for it on GoogleMaps, unless you have the coordinates you won't find it. (Here's a map if you're curious as to where we'll be for the better part of June. Click to enlarge).

My goals as a parent are pretty simple:

  1. To prepare my children for the world.
  2. To prepare the world for my children.

With that in mind we signed up with Global Volunteers. Leesha, will be putting her medical skills to use helping to deliver babies and do well-baby and maternal care while the kids and me will be doing...whatever is asked of us. Swinging hammers. Laying bricks. Teaching in the schools. Basically anything and everything else. We're also hauling a ton of donated medical supplies.

There's a remote chance that I'll be enlisted to blog about the experience for our hosts via an Internet connection 35 miles from Pommern, but either way you'll get the full report when we get back.

And in case you're wondering how someone gets to Pommern from Great Falls, Montana, it goes like this: Great Falls to Seattle, Seattle to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro, Kilimanjaro to Dar el Salaam, and then a 10 hour drive to Iringa, followed by a 90 minute drive to Pommern. Roughly 45 hours of travel.

The journey reminds me of that Toto song that goes, "I know that I must do what's right, sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti..."

I'll post more tomorrow as we prep for departure.

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