Her eyes still tear up as she tells the story of the woman who brought her 15-year-old son to the remote village clinic. “He was very sick with rheumatic fever – he couldn’t walk, he had a high fever and was in a lot of pain, and he needed help immediately or he was going to die,” explains Lindsay, a 2009 graduate in public health. He needed help right away but the closest hospital was a two hour drive away. Lindsay didn’t think twice when they handed her the keys to the old stick shift truck.
And she’ll always remember the drive on dirt roads to the children’s clinic in Mbabane, navigating through the busy city. “I learned quickly to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, and all the time, the boy was moaning in pain and his mother wore a look of fear,” she recalls, adding humbly that the trip probably saved the boy’s life. “It all ended well, he got the medications he needed and his mother gave me a huge hug, very unusual for their culture.”
She spent three months doing community outreach in the spring of 2009 with the Gamedez, Ngcamphalala and Mamba Chiefdoms through IE3 Global Internships. The experience, she says, changed her life and her heart. Her focus was on HIV/AIDS and TB prevention and she accompanied nurses for home visits and village meetings and helped patients at a health care clinic through their appointments on anti retro viral treatment days. Though she communicated primarily through interpreters, she learned enough SiSwati to bridge cultures.
“This was my first time traveling alone and I found out how independent and assertive I can be,” explains Lindsay. “I am naturally reserved so I was continually forced out of my comfort zone, but I realized that I have a lot more strength and perseverance than I ever imagined. And I learned to plan not to plan,” she chuckled.