Mar 12, 2014, 4:29 PM EST
A pair of Notre Dame men’s soccer alums, Greg Klazura (’11) and Mike Rose (’12), are on a six-month internship with Grassroots Soccer in Zimbabwe and are sharing their story with us as it goes. This week, Greg is on the keyboard talking about HIV prevention, Mike’s incredible sniffing talent and the Mayor…
Greetings Makiwa abroad followers. BREAKING NEWS on the break-in that happened several weekends ago. Some of you may have thought that our belongings were gone for good, but alas, we have news for you. We heard from an informant that some kids in the township of Mpopoma were wearing some of African Mike and roommate Raphael’s belongings. After questioning the youth they pointed the authorities in the direction of a former third-string goalie for the Rovers. Local-law enforcement went to the goalie’s house and although he was nowhere to be found it was clear that the dogs had his scent. This isn’t a metaphor. The Bulawayo police were actually leading Rose around town with a leash around his neck. Rose isn’t very intelligent but he has an incredible sense of smell, it’s truly remarkable. The former Rover must have gotten wind that the infamous nose of local Makiwa Michael Rose was hot on his tail. Several days after the home visit, a large plastic bag containing clothes and Rose’s computer was found in the early morning on our back porch. The rest of the belongings seem to be gone for good, but Rose has not given up just yet. He can still be found on all fours sniffing the dark alleyways and shady street corners throughout town with the hope that he’ll find Raphael’s passport – what a guy. Whoever said dog is man’s best friend never met Michael Rose.
While Rose has managed to stay busy panting through the streets of Bulawayo I’ve tried to keep occupied in the office. In my previous post, I wrote about the potential for a mobile HIV testing unit. Receiving permission to perform Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) services in Zimbabwe actually requires cutting through a lot of red tape. I’ve done quite a bit of research and met with several public health officials in town but the mayor (Methembe) needs to make some phone calls at this juncture. It’s actually pretty cool, Methembe Ndlovu has several nicknames, Mo, Moxie and my personal favorite, Mayor. Since the Bantu Rovers have made the jump from the first division to the premiere league, Methembe has been in the local newspaper a few times and the articles frequently refer to him as Mayor. It often seems like Mo knows just about everybody in town and those who know him certainly hold him in high regard.
Rebecca Hershow left Bulawayo for Malawi last week. She was here to help the GRS Zimbabwe team conduct a randomized controlled trial on our Make the Cut Plus (MTC+) intervention. GRS has a soccer-based intervention, much like our “Skillz Curriculum” that informs adolescent males on the health benefits of male circumcision (MC). The research we are currently conducting is investigating the success of our intervention. We want to see if our program actually increases male circumcision uptake in adolescent boys. Some of you may be
wondering why male circumcision is an area of focus for GRS. Every time the MTC+ team was in the office Rose would make a point of swiftly exiting the office. I don’t think he understands that we aren’t actually performing circumcisions.
MC provides numerous health benefits. Circumcised males are up to 60% less likely to receive HIV from an HIV+ positive female. In addition women are less likely to contract cervical cancer if their partner has been circumcised. Furthermore the likelihood of obtaining other sexually transmitted infections is also reduced. Since Rebecca left last week, I’ll be helping on a number of different fronts, most notably data collection from the local clinics where the procedure is performed.
Since we are on the subject of medicine, yesterday I went to my first rural Zimbabwean clinic. I am starting medical school in the fall and I want to see how healthcare in Zimbabwe is delivered when I get the chance. I was able to connect with the head nurse at the Natisa Clinic who told me over the phone that they are open on Sunday.
Rose dropped me off at a combie way-fare south of town. I hopped in a van designed for twelve and filled with twenty. Most combies have a driver and a doorman. The doorman collects money and tells the driver when to drop off or pick up passengers. The doorman in this case was a sturdy fellow with a rain hat on. He was casually drinking from a hip flask and a Castle Lager on a Sunday morning for the entirety of the journey, thankfully he was the doorman and not the driver man. Once we were about forty kilometers outside of town, the road seemed to get a little bit narrower and a little bit bumpier every minute. After about an hour and a bit the van screeched to a halt, the doorman hopped out and looked at me. I realized this was my stop. There was a worn sign next to a building that said Natisa Clinic, “Closed on the Weekends.” After some goats and a large cow eyed me suspiciously, Nurse Ndlovu came outside and said “You must be Craig!” (Everyone calls me Craig, African Mike actually has me in his phone as Craigory). I said “Yes, it’s me Craig!” I then said “I’m sorry I must have misunderstood you on the phone, I thought you were open on Sundays.” She then said “We are open on Sundays! But only for emergencies, the patients will come tomorrow.” The visit was ostensibly not exactly what I was expecting due to some miscommunication, but Nurse Ndlovu was incredibly friendly as she showed me around the empty clinic. After about an hour or so I was lucky to catch another combie on its way back into town. This combie wasn’t nearly as luxurious as the first ride and the van stalled out twice. Right as we were pulling into town the combie was beyond resuscitation and another combie had to come pick us up and bring us the remaining five minutes into the city center. Although yesterday’s clinic visit was not what I had envisioned it was fun. That is what we were told to expect and that is what we’ve experienced so far, nothing is exactly what we had imagined but it’s totally worth the ride.
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