UA-63899747-1 Liberia Day 2– First Day of Lecture – Nzinga Harrison, MD
July 8, 2013
Liberia Day 3 – Tuesday
July 10, 2013

The time change finally caught up with me on Monday – after getting up at the equivalent of 2:30am EST and teaching for 8 straight hours, I was TOO tired to type my journal.  Starting in the morning – my alarm went off and I began stumbling around to get ready in a sleepy stupor.  The showerhead in the bathroom is the type that is on a hose, so when I turned it on it sprayed everywhere like a crazy snake. Although I got it to stay on the hook, the water pressure was GREAT, but way faster than the drain.  This made my shower a race against water overflow with a showerhead spraying on my chin.   I figured it out…  then, off to the first day of class.  We are driven around by Sandor in a white SUV.  The traffic situation in Liberia is incredible – it’s really quite like NYC but a little less organized, if you can believe that.  Endsley made a comment to Sandor about it and I loved his reply which was “Yes, we make our own decisions.”  People watching is so interesting – there is a mix of traditional and western dress and it is amazing what the Liberians can carry on their heads.  The motorbike taxis are CRAZY!  And everyone has mastered the skill of riding a motorcycle as a passenger without holding on.  We arrived at the JFK Medical Center, where the classes are held in a building that was designed to be a dormitory.   In the classroom, all of the nurses and physician assistants are dressed in their job whites and eager to learn.  We began an intensive education journey through the biological and psychosocial determinants of addiction.  The goal for the day was that they understand Substance Use Disorders not as a choice, but as a chronic medical illness.  Following a series of brain schematics, disease statistics and explanation of physiological mechanisms of disease, I believe we were successful.  We ate Liberian lunch with the students – collard greens over rice.  It was delicious, although extremely spicy.  The portion was huge, and of course, I ended up eating only about 1/3 of it.

We witnessed a cultural ritual in which people come to the hospital morgue to claim the body of a loved one.  They bring a coffin, go inside and get the body.  In this case, there were easily 30 people gathered around crying, chanting and grieving.  We were told that it was probably a young person or an unjust death of some sort for it to be so many people.  They took the body, and started the funeral procession right from the morgue.  It was a sobering moment.

Endsley and I ended the day with dinner at our hotel restaurant where I had “Chicken The Liberian Way.”  The waiter assured me it was not spicy.  Of course, it burned my innards to pieces!  When I told him so, he laughed and laughed and couldn’t believe I thought that was spicy!  I Skyped with the kids and went to bed late again... my brain too excited to shut off.

Of course, I added Day 2 pictures to the Google Photo Album.  Check them out here:

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