There's a scabies outbreak at school this week. Scabies... as in the little bugs that crawl under your skin, itch like crazy, and spread like wildfire. This morning I stayed home from school to do a few loads of laundry and clean my room. I found the tiniest bump on my ring finger and in a panic, washed my hands a few times and gave Namraj a preventative bath while he screamed at the top of his lungs. Lexi bathed four of the boys and then doused them with scabex lotion. Jeff took off the period after lunch to do the same while Nurse Emily manned the school clinic. Due to the living conditions of our students and basic lack of sanitation, little things turn into big things really really quickly here.
Exhibit A: One day it's a cold sore, and after a long weekend, Jenima comes back with this:
And when one child has it, it's only a matter of time before five or ten more kids come in with the same exact thing.
I don't usually talk about stuff like this on this blog...boils, staph infections, impetigo...the hundreds of lice and nits that come falling out of our student's hair when we comb it. Tapeworms, rotten teeth, diarrhea, giardia, typhoid, broken bones, burns, tuberculosis, seizures and much too regular cases of child abuse and neglect. If only it ended there. Sometimes I feel so accustomed to seeing and hearing about these things every day that I feel a little desensitized to it all. Like last year when Rashmi urgently needed stitches: In the pitch black with no electricity, I watched the medical worker stitch up her foot with the dim green light of an old nokia mobile phone. Another time, I helped deliver a friend's baby and minutes later when the nurse wanted to move her to post-maternity, they brought us a wheel chair covered in someone else's dry blood. A few months ago I stopped at a clinic in town to pick up some medicine and saw the body of a woman who had just died in childbirth. The image still really affects me to this day.
You've probably noticed how I like to focus on the positives on this blog and this is where our heroine, nurse Emily comes in! Emily has an action-plan and a wish list for the year, and together we are going to slowly chip away at that list and plan. We had a dentist visiting all last week and, per Emily's request, I found an eye-chart in Kathmandu that she will use to check all the children's vision. We also want to de-parasite all the kids, get up to date on their medical charts, records, and vaccinations, and crank up preventative measures that we will take to be healthier and more hygienic.
Around our home and school you can hear Emily—on a daily basis—saying things like, "You know guys, hand washing isn't just about soap and water, it's all about the vigorous scrubbing!" and you can see her taking temperatures, boiling water and lancing things, putting on bandages, and comforting the children when they are sick. I LOVE having Emily here and I love that we are really improving our health and taking the Kopila Valley Clinic up a few notches. You can check out and follow Emily's blog, Kopila Valley Clinic for her wonderful perspective.
And last but not least a message for the scabies! Go away and leave my little children alone!