Lake Nash adventures
It's a real contrast to the previous community I was on. The yards aren't full of garbage, and theres even the odd bit of lawn and a decorative shrub or two!
The people from the community are clean too, with neat brushed hair and clean clothes.
Quite a contrast to the last two communities I've been to. And you get the feeling that people here feel a sense of pride..in themselves and their home.
The clinic itself is spotless too. The manager here runs the place with a velvet gloved iron fist. Strong, but very caring. She knows every community member, who's related to who and exactly what’s going on with each and every person. And the community seems to love her back too! There's a driver and a community worker, who both double as cleaners too and mop the floors daily, and a young white receptionist who's pretty makeup and elaborative hairclips brighten the place up no end.
The community worker is a beautiful woman called Valerie. She glides through the clinic with her head held high and giving off a feeling of deep peace and pride in who she is. I got talking to her about bush medicine and she was kind enough to show me a few of the plants they use around here for various things....
According to her, the reason the community is so clean is that the local baptist church is very strong here and is giving people guidance.Now I'm not exactly a fan of Christianity, but here it actually seems to be fulfilling a good purpose.
I met the local pastor as a patient in the clinic the other day, and I began to see why! He's a tall quietly spoken Aboriginal man who has an amazing feeling of strength about him...one of those truly beautiful human beings...
So I figured I'd do the right thing and show respect by going to church this morning (and admittedly also to satisfy my curiosity).
It was actually rather nice. An open air affair, the church is a series of joining roofed in areas with a small stand for book readings, a large white wooden cross outside- and a band.
We all sat on the sand, women on one side and the men on the other and listened while the pastor and various members of the community read out their favourite bible quotes and then interpreted them in language. I'd have loved to know what they were saying, but it seemed to mainly focus on looking after each other and being a decent person. Which is great messages in any language or religion!
I spent a lot of time pulling faces with one of the kids I knew from the clinic, and afterwards another old lady who'd been part of a discussion about using bush medicine on her sick grandchild a few days ago came and held my hand for a bit with a huge grin, so I'm guessing I've earnt her approval somehow....
The work in the clinic has been a mixture of mundane wound dressings and ear infections during the day and dramatic call outs at night for everything from chest pain through people having horses fall on them and young women in labour. Definitely not boring. Though somewhat challenging in the sleep department.
|my front step of the Donga|
The way it works is that we work to an amazing set of books called the CARPA manual. Which is a bit like medicine for dummies. This allows us mere nurses to diagnose and prescribe pretty much for any situation. And if we run into anything that has us stumped, there is a District Medical Officer on call 24 hours a day by phone. These are very experienced doctors who can be sitting anywhere in Australia and trying to give advice from a distance. And most of them are pretty bloody good. In fact it's almost re-instored my faith in the medical profession!
The clinic manager is a bit of a control freak, and has been trying to micromanage everything which has been a tad grating. But in her defense, I guess she sees a huge variety of agency nurses whose capabilities and knowledge range probably varies a fair bit. But I have found myself biting my tongue rather a lot, which as some of you know isnt something I'm great at.
But she truly cares about her community and realistically, she's the one who will still be here when I leave.
|the local ambulance|
Apart from that it's hot. And lonely. One of the hardest things I find is being surrounded by people who keep their distance from me simply because of my skin colour. There was a huge party last night as the community was overflowing with visitors. A funeral on friday, and footy carnival yesterday and today, so there was music and happy people on the streets till 3 in the morning. But unlike other countries where as a visitor I'd be invited to join, here people stare at me without smiling when I walk along the street. They are polite, but very reserved. And only the kids laugh and wave. And some of the little kids are actually terrified of me,simply because I'm white as their mothers have explained.
|Piggy, my first visitor|
It's a very weird feeling. You see a huge amount of love and caring in the way parents interact with their kids, and also each other. When we evacc'd the young woman in labour the other night, I swear half the community came to the clinic to check on her, and most of them came down to the airstrip to see her off.
The funeral on friday was also a massive affair, with people coming from far and wide and the main street suddenly choc a block full of cars and station wagons. Being a mainly baptist community, there doesn’t seem to have been a traditional sorry camp afterwards, and the clinic and the shop both stayed open too which is different from what I've seen at more traditional communities...
But it was impressive to see the expression of real community connection in the way they all come together for births and deaths....and made me feel very lonely myself...
Our western white society is just so different. I mean I'm close to my kids and their Dad and Stepdad, but beyond that my family is more made up of close friends...
And I've moved around so much in my life that I don't have a sense of “Home” at all...
And out here I'm meeting people who have a sense of family, tradition and home that goes back hundreds and sometimes even thousands of years...
I'm on call today...so far just two dressings that needed doing...here's hoping it stays quiet!