Monday, November 28, 2011

Goodbyes and Cleaning

I'm down to my last few days in Sierra Leone, and probably won't have much time to blog this week, so here's a quick update.

After an energetic worship service with the patients in the wards, we slowly sent each one of them home last week and shut down the hospital. There have been lots of goodbyes lately - not only are the patients gone, but so are our day volunteers (locals who work on the ship as translators, housekeepers, deck hands, and help in the hospital). We had a celebration on Friday to say thank-you to all of our day volunteers, and there were lots of tears as everyone hugged goodbye. The crew have also been trickling out; every Monday and Thursday a crowd gathers on the dock to send off the Land Rovers full of crew members and their baggage, headed to the airport. We're down to just 3 people in my 6-bunk cabin, and soon Julie will be all alone, as Rachel and I leave this Thursday!

Although the surgeries have stopped and the hospital is closed there is still quite a bit of work to be done before the ship will be ready to sail. This morning all the remaining nurses, about 30 or so, gathered in B ward for a time of worship and devotions before we donned our rubber gloves and got to work scrubbing and bleaching every inch of the hospital. I spent the morning outside on the dock, helping the dental team pack up all their equipment into a shipping container that will now be lifted up onto the top deck of the ship with the crane. Many hands made light work, and we were completely finished before lunchtime! After lunch and another round of goodbyes as more crew headed to the airport, I went down to the ward and joined the cleaning team. We have our own ways of making cleaning fun. Imagine about 8 nurses, wearing scrubs rolled up to their knees and blue rubber gloves on their hands, holding sponges and spray bottles. The main lights are turned off, but the emergency alarm light is on, flashing like a disco ball. "All the Single Ladies" is blaring out of the little computer speakers, and rather than wiping down cabinets or sorting dressing supplies, the nurses are just dancing around the half-empty ward and singing. Yep, that was my afternoon. After the dance party we got back to work, but first put the movie "Grease" on the TV's and sang along to "Summer Days" and "Beauty School Dropout" while we cleaned.

Now I have the evening free, and am trying to get up the motivation to go start sorting my stuff and packing for home. I might just end up in the cafe playing cards with friends instead...

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