Kay Tor – PhD Chemical Engineering
Our stay at Mutende Children’s Village came to an end yesterday as we began our early morning journey to Siavonga; the second phase of our trip.
We hit the road at daybreak, and after what seemed like a forever journey, we arrived at the hotel just before midnight and everyone was excited for a good nights sleep. We woke up this morning just before sunrise, and were spoilt by the view outside our rooms!
An early morning exploration with a little bit of patience gave us some much welcomed surprises. We spotted a crocodile preying on a bird, before sighting a hippo nearby getting ready for a swim. We waited quietly and patiently for the hippo to enter the water; it was shy, but made it eventually. Check out this photo!! You can’t see it but there is a crocodile eyeing the coastline in the water towards the right of this shot.
We lazed around for the morning, taking a much needed break after a long week. After a quick spot of lunch, we went to the main market of Siavonga to buy some material for the projects and food supplies for the week. The town was bustling with locals; filled with stalls selling a variety of items from basic amenities to fresh fruit and veg.
Later in the evening, as I went to clear out our dinner plates, the barman pointed out to me a pair of hippos; the mummy hippo had brought along its little baby for an evening graze by the river, just meters from where I stood! Our first day in Siavonga has been eventful, and we have been very lucky to have spotted these wonderful creatures in one day, an event that many regulars have mentioned as rare.
Simone Meroni – PhD Materials Engineering
Finally, the first day in Siavonga!
After having met the local authorities, we can start our activity in this Southern part of Zambia. We split the group in two teams: One in Siavonga Primary School for surveying and the other in the hospital, mainly to fix wheelchairs.
I followed the surveying group to the school to help with the equipment setup. When the guys started with the measurements, I went to give a hand in the hospital. The hospital is close the school, you just need to cross the local market. I walked to the hospital while plenty of smiling and friendly people were surrounding me.
Once I arrived at the hospital, I saw part of the team working on the oxygen line. I started to help with that. The line was leaking and this is an enormous problem. In fact, part of the gas that is contained in the cylinder was wasted and, mostly important, oxygen is a comburent and it can ignite a fire. Fixing the line took quite a lot because once we repaired a leak, we found another one or even two.
After the oxygen line, part of the team went to the surgery theatre to fix some equipment. The surgery table doesn’t work properly and, even after our effort, still shows the same problem. Even the Engineers of Swansea University can have limits! Whilst some of our group were working inside the theatre, others were working with the wheelchairs and other equipment. For example, we fixed 5 machines for the vacuum.
I think today was a great day. We met so many local people, including patients of the hospital and Nurses. We saw an example of a local hospital and how it is organised but, overall, we helped people with the resources that we had. I think they appreciated our effort.