Culture Shock! x2

Baby is always with mom. The women harness their baby to their back by taking a sheet of fabric, known as a pano, and tying the top to around their chest, and the bottom around their waist. The baby’s head peeks out of the top. Everywhere mom goes, so does baby. She’s working, she’s cleaning, she’s cooking, and so is baby. To feed the baby, she swings the baby to the front to nurse. Babies are never set down! As for nursing? Its very normal to be done in public. Breasts are just another part of the body!

Baby in Pano
Baby in a pano

Everything is community. No one has a strong opinion. During the monthly meeting that Dr. Kubacki has with the village to assess needs, he meets with the leaders of the group. He has found that when ideas are proposed, they say, “ Let’s see what everyone thinks” before they will agree to any idea. This connectivity is amazing. It is also somewhat hindering to ‘getting the ball on the road’. No one is particularly passionate about any one thing. They think collectively. This is much different than the autonomy and individuality our American society encourages!

People Sitting Outside the Clinic
People gathering outside the Cavango Clinic


There is virtually no anxiety. Anxious feelings just don’t exist. Some observations of why they are free from this: They are very easy going. They are not a success-driven society. They are accepting of what they have and take whatever happens in stride. They rely on one another.

All Smiles
The smile that termite discovery produces!


There is depression. Although they don’t have anxiety, they do have depression. It often presents with an array of minor symptoms that seem to come and go, they do not really communicate that they are feeling sad/guilty/drained. Some cases have known reasons, such as loosing a child. Others are more difficult to figure out; one can speculate.


Traditional medicine is based on nothing scientific. Potions are mixed, spirits are summoned, and much of it remains a mystery.   People go to the traditional medicine “doctors” for minor complaints. Occasionally, these minor complaints turn into life threatening problems when given traditional medicine treatment, such as hepatotoxicity.(extreme liver damage leading to liver failure). We saw a 7 month old baby with this exact situation in clinic yesterday with massive ascites (big protruding belly due to fluid in the abdomen) because of this situation. It is unlikely that she will survive it.


Bugs are a feast. We had a massive termite hatching in our area. The streets were filled with people hunched over termite holes, gathering the bugs and throwing them into cans and buckets. Everyone was SO excited to be finding them. Our translator at the hospital told us all the different and delicious ways you can cook them!

Bucket of Termites
Yep, that’s a bucket full of termites!

3 thoughts on “Culture Shock! x2

  1. wow… definitely culture shock!! termites?! Brian and I had to pay big bucks to make sure we didn’t have any termites!! lol However I would gladly carry a baby around with me all the time – baby hog of course! I love you my Heather! Praying for you always…

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