Saturday, 30 May 2009

Buying fabric

Last weekend we ventured out to buy fabric - to a street lined with shops selling nothing but fabric. They are all in neat piles on shelves around the walls and if you looked even briefly at something the assistants remove the fabric from the pile and unravel it for you to look at, even if you decided that you really were not interested and had moved on to look at something else. If you say you don't like something they then start finding other random fabric to show you, usually nothing at all like the one you were interested in. I got offered some strange plasticy burnt orange tablecloth material when I had been looking at some blue patterned African fabric!!! Strangely enough I didn't buy it. Anyway, we managed to find fabric to create skirts and found Sam some West Ham coloured fabric (not to turn into a skirt!). The dinner with the President of Benin has been postponed so we have a bit more time now to have a further look and find a fabric for the whole family to get matching outfits as is the custom here!! As you can imagine Tommy is not loving that idea, but if we ever get it done we will post a photo for everyones amusement!! The fabric above will hopefully start looking a bit more like a skirt soon!


Friday, 29 May 2009

cabin checks

We have just had our first ever cabin check, another part of living on a ship and all the regulations that entails!! The Captain doesn't often get as far up as deck 6 so he has not been before. I wonder what he made of Joshua lying in the dark singing as he didn't want a nap, and Tom sitting on our bed watching a programme with headphones so he didn't disturb the one who was supposed to be sleeping! I wonder if he thought I was playing with all the toys in the middle of the cabin :-)

We passed by the way.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Hospitality center/Warehouse

Some of our friends have posted a series of pictures of the warehouse being transformed into a useable space. If you want to read/see more check out:

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

New Academy Logo!

The academy now has its own logo which incorporates the ships logo - it was unveiled last week and the kids (and teachers!) were given t shirts with it on which will be useful for trips or sports. They are wearing them today for school photos - here are some of our unofficial photos!!


Our bath (sort of)

We have to be careful how much water we use on the ship so while the boys have their shower we fill up a plastic box with the water and then let them play with lots of empty plastic bottles and cups- it keeps them entertained for ages!! We might need a bigger one soon now they have discovered trying to use it as a bath!!!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Pyjama day!!

Today is pyjama day at school, although Tom doesn't look that different to usual - his pyjamas are shorts and t shirt with lightening mcqueen on the front, much like his normal clothes! The rest of the ship is jealous that they can't dress up in their pyjamas too! Tommy is embarrassed as he had to go and find the crew Doctor for someone who was unwell and was seen by half the ship wearing his pyjamas and dressing gown (and so shortly after decided maybe he should get dressed). Anyway the kids are having fun, Tom did want to dress as a banana in pyjamas - which he announced at short notice (last night) so sadly wasn't possible, although would have been pretty funny.

And we have a ship holiday tomorrow so its the end of the week - yeh!!!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Fistula Surgery

I have borrowed a book 'Practial Obstetric Fistula Surgery', and while I don't plan on ever doing any it has helped me learn more about caring for women with fistulas, especially before history taking today. The authors say that nobody knows how many women are affected by this condition, but estimates are up to two million in Africa alone. We have had 14 new potential patients arrive mostly from Togo who are waiting for screening prior to surgery. They are a fantastic bunch of women who are are having their histories taken this week, will be assessed by the Surgeon on Monday (once they have arrived) and then surgery will start Tuesday.

VVF is caused by unrelieved obstructed labour. Prolonged pressure of the baby's head on the pubic bone results in tissue necrosis of the surrounding soft tissues. The authors of the book do emphasise that a fistula patient is so much more than someone with a hole in their bladder - the whole person is affected following development of this condition. At one of their places of work 100% of women test positive for psychological disorders such as depression on admission. Despite leaving dry, 30% will still test positive - when you think that they have lost so much else - often their baby, job, husband... maybe it is not so suprising.

It is tough reading for a midwife, the average labour endured by affected women is 3 days. Most of the labours result in stillbirth and most of the women infertile due to a number of causes - only 20% of post-repair patients will achieve a term pregnancy in the future. There is a high risk of miscarriage or prematurity due to the cervix not being able to support pregnancy. This problem would not need to affect so many women if there was greater access to care in labour, with the availablility of caesarean sections. We might moan about the health care systems at home, but obstructed labour can be diagnosed and interventions used leaving the mother and baby healthy. I might be a midwife who can't praise normal birth enough and who would rather work in a birthing centre than an Obstetric led unit, but I am glad they are there! So a caesarean section might not be part of your birth plan, but given some of the alternative consequences that we see here they are truly not the end of the world.

Its warm in here

One of the things I was sent this week was a clock with a thermometer. Our cabin is averaging 26 degrees with the air conditioning working and one fan on. I am waiting for the next time the air conditioning breaks to compare readings! I know that is much cooler than outside, it still feels warm though, although it is not as warm as it has been.

Joshua has become somewhat cooler today as we decided it was time for another hair cut - and with no hairdresser on board at the moment we took on the challenge ourselves. He now has a much shorter, tidier, slightly wonky around the edges hair style :-)

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Fondation Zinsou

Today we visited the Collection Neurs Heritages Africans du Benin, a collection of Ancient and Contempory African Art. It was sponsored by a range of businesses, mostly banks, and as admission was free we thought might be worth spending a few minutes there. Sam was initially not very keen on coming to an Art exhibition/museum, but muttered something about a possible return visit after seeing an incredible model football pitch - all made of junk - old toothbrushes, bottle tops, mini drink bottles, phone cards. It was very well done, there was the right number of players in matching kits, with a referee and subs benches and supporters all around in the stands, all made from rubbish!

We would have taken more photos - the one above is the only one we took before the man told us we couldn't take any more! Which explains why there is a photo with Joshua covered in chocolate ice cream - its the only one we have but hopefully gives you an example of the African Art! It was pretty impressive - but also totally bizarre hidden amongst a little street of market stalls.


Teachers for next year

It is looking good for teachers next year, Nikki the principal will remain here along with 6 teachers from this year. They are Tommy, Miss Amy - Sam's girlfriend who will move from grade 5 to 3, Miss Elizabeth - Toms current teacher who will teach pre-school again, Mrs Robinson (Kim) - who teaches high school English and Bible and Miss Estelle who will move from grade 3/4 to teach Tom in Kindergarten!! Tom is very excited to have Estelle next year - we look forward to seeing if he picks up any South African expressions or accent!! They will have 3 new teachers join them after they complete the Gateway training in Texas in the summer.

The Academy still needs a high school social studies teacher to complete the team, so keep praying for one to come. Thanks!! It would be great to have a full team as the Academy gets closer to gaining their accreditation and the teachers have even more work to do!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Happy nurses day!!

It has been realised that this week (6-12 May) is also Nurses Appreciation Week in the US and today is Nurses Day in the UK, so just making sure you know if you are a nurse you are appreciated along with the teachers!! We're hoping not to need you nurses anywhere near as much as the teachers, but we are glad we have so many lovely friends prepared to do some not so lovely jobs that the non-nurses amongst us admire you for!!

Swimming in the rain

At the weekend we went swimming to spend a bit of time together and with our friends. It started raining a short time after we arrived and didn't really ever stop, but we stayed there for almost 6 hours. It was still warm enough to swim outside, the pavements didn't burn our feet, we didn't get sunburnt and no one else wanted to go swimming so we had the pools to ourselves. While we wouldn't necessarily choose to rush back next time it rains it was quite fun, maybe less so if you were trying to read a book or sun-bathe, but as children prohibit you from sitting down more than a few seconds it didn't make too much difference!

We all got some goggles in the post today so hopefully we can go and try them out soon!! Thanks Mum!! The boys are wearing theirs in the cabin - strange sight!!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!!!

Tommy has a nice little note from the 5th grade on his door, saying happy teacher appreciation week. The other side says....Thank You Mr Farrell, You actually teach us something. You are a great computer teacher! Nice to hear Tommy is ACTUALLY making kids learn, I guess that was the point of travelling half way across the world!!


Sunday, 10 May 2009

We made it!!!

We thought you should know that we have survived a few days with Daddy away (he will write about it when he has unpacked - he is pretty busy and tired so that might take a couple of days!!).

It might not sound like a big deal, but this was an achievement for lots of reasons, a few of which are....

1. Usually Nanny comes to stay and Helen is just around the corner if Daddy needs to go anywhere, but it was a bit far to expect them to travel so we braved it alone
2. We had *** tantrums (we would like to give you an accurate number here but lost count) which was not pretty but our friends are still speaking to us
3. Mummy managed to put Tom on the toilet each night (involving climbing up to the top bunk and lifting him down and the more challenging task of returning him to the top bunk afterwards!)

We are very glad Daddy is home. And we are glad we have nice friends who had us play with them while Mummy did the boring things like the washing, friends who came and played with us and bigger friends who sat with us while Mummy got food from the dining room and who came out for a walk with us to find Fan Ice.

Tom and Joshua

Blackout! Peace and Quiet!

Last Monday we had a blackout, one of the main generators cut out and some of the ship was plunged into darkness. We lost power in our cabin but didn't realise except that the telephone made a stange noise and everything seemed strangely nice and quiet, at least until Sam rushed in to find his torch as deck 4 was pitch black in places!! Anyone that missed it on Monday got to experience it yesterday as they turned it off again to try and work out what had caused it in the first place. It is strange how much noise you get used to - engines, people, ice machines outside your door, noisy vents, a/c, vacuum sinks and toilets but it was very, very nice to have a minute where all seemed quiet.


Happy American Mothers Day!!

We hope anyone celebrating Mothers Day today is having a lovely day. Joshua had made a craft at nursery with MOM in big letters that was stuck to our door this morning!!! Sorry Mums back home we didn't send another card to mark the occasion but we are thinking of you today and every day!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Koninginnedag fun!!

Joshua fishing a sweet out of a bowl of water with his mouth!
The boys putting the tin cans up again at the tin can throwing!
Megan and Luke trying to catch dutch treats hanging from string in mid-air with their mouths whilst blindfolded!
The boys trying a new game, which they enjoyed despite being pretty bad at!!

Queens day is a new celebration that we have learnt about thanks to our Dutch crew! We have eaten some dutch food with unpronouncable names, cake with orange icing and had lots of fun at the market and games in mid-ships. Thanks everyone!