Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Tsetse Fly

So, I researched, talked to my friend, and found a description of the Tsetse Fly (possibly the fly that I must iron my clothes to protect against). By the information, it looks like rather than the fly itself burrowing into people's clothes and skin, the fly incubates an egg inside her stomach and then transmits the egg into the "soil" or into a human or an animal's skin. The saliva/egg then transmitts the diseases it carries. Kinda scary.

If this is the case I most definitely will be ironing!!

Africa - Tsetse Flies  (
There are 22 different species of tsetse fly, and they live only in Africa. These flies are slightly larger than a horsefly. They breed along rivers and streams. They are active during the day and feed exclusively on blood. Unlike most biting flies where only the female feeds on blood, both male and female tsetse flies are blood suckers.
Tsetse flies are an enormous health risk in parts of Africa. They can transmit a disease called trypanosomiasis, an infection of the central nervous system. There are 2 forms of trypanosomiasis: Rodesian (sometimes called East African trypanosomiasis) and Gambian (sometimes called West African trypanosomiasis). Rhodesian trypanosomiasis, also known as nagana, is transmitted from animal to animal and mostly affects cattle, horses, and wild animals like antelope--although humans can also be infected. The Gambian form is much more prevalent and only affects humans. It is commonly called sleeping sickness.
Tsetse flies transmit nagana and sleeping sickness through their saliva. They first bite an animal or person that is already infected with a tiny microorganism called a trypanosome. This parasite lives inside the tsetse fly's stomach for several days and then travels to its salivary glands. After that, anyone or anything bitten by the fly becomes infected.
Tsetse flies are hard to control, and tsetse fly infestation is becoming more and more serious in Africa. The clearing of large forest tracks sometimes causes the fly to spread to more populated areas. The political unrest in many parts of Africa hampers pesticide control of this pest, as well.
Tsetse flies produce their young in a different manner than most flies. The female lays a single egg but keeps it inside her. It hatches into a maggot inside her body. It grows larger and larger as the female feeds on the blood of mammals. When the maggot fills its mother's abdomen, she releases it into the soil. It burrows and pupates immediately.

Changes to my recently posted "interesting facts about Zimbabwe"

So, I was recently informed that some of the interesting "facts" I was taught in my meeting with those people who are going to Zimbabwe with me were not entirely true!! (hah...good to know)

My friend, who actually lived in Zimbabwe for several years informed me of that truth :) So I will correct myself!

1. In Zimbabwe there are 3 widely spoken languages: English, shona and ndebele. (Swahili is actually not that widely spoken. Perhaps only in certain areas.)
2. He said he has never had to iron his clothing to protect against these "deadly flies" I was told about. So, I should not have said that all of Zimbabweans do this. Perhaps these flies only reside in the specific area I will be going. I was told, however, that the man who runs the facility we will be staying at will insist that we iron our clothes for that reason. I really think I should do more research about this mysterious type of fly.

So anyway! I hope this clears things up! Thanks to my friend who corrected me :) And if I find out more about the flies I will certainly update on that whole situation.

Zimbabwe many of you may know, my life has been very hectic and full of lots of changes! Among those being my best friend's wedding (in real life, not the movie), switching to part-time status at work, and starting my masters in social work at Rutgers.

All of these things are extremely exciting for me. Lauren was a beautiful bride and her wedding was amazing! Her husband is fantastic and I couldn't be happier for the both of them! Switching to part time was so well needed. After more than a year of working a really difficult shift at my job I needed a little break and time to begin focusing on some of my priorities (as I discussed in the previous entry). And among these priorities is school. Rutgers has been a bit of an adventure so far and is taking some getting used to since it is so different from any school I've been to before (EU hardly even compares to the size of Rutgers). However, going to school for social work is the best decision I've made in a while. Actually, lately I've been learning alot about decision making, making mistake-decisions, and fixing them. But, Rutgers was a good decision. It will be challenging, don't get me wrong. And right now, honestly, I'm working on not procrastinating as much as I am used to. I'm just really excited to be finally on the track in the right direction after last year starting a masters program I discontinued after a semester and going through the process of trying to figure out if counseling is really what I want to do with my life.

Although all of this change and progression in my life has been great (difficult, but good), there is another exciting piece of information I have not yet discussed.

A couple months ago (probably sometime in the middle of July) I was at church when a couple came to speak about their experiences working in Zimbabwe. After the service, I walked over to speak with them about how I thought they were inspiring and how I have had an interest for years in going to Africa but have never had the opportunity to go. They both were so encouraging and asked alot of questions about what I wanted to do there. I told them about what I do at Carrier with my girls and how I am going to school for social work and want to bring social work to Africa in hopes to help people deal with past trauma. They both became increasingly interested and began giving me their email, blog address, and told me about a couple orphanages they know about that may need some help out there creating programs for adolescent girls. They also encouraged me to talk to the pastor about going to Zimbabwe on a trip with a few people from the church. One thing led to another, and eventually the trip was planned and I jumped on board. In the matter of weeks I was going to finally get to Africa!

I am so excited! It is a huge opportunity and I am actually going to be meeting with the representative of Team World organization for Zimbabwe while I'm there, meeting the directors of the 2 orphanages the missionaries told me about, and also meeting people in nearby villages, schools and a hospital there called Karanda. I will be flying out there in early January for alittle over a week (definitely not long enough in my opinion). It will be a short trip, but hopefully not my last trip.

Right now, I am trying to be prepared and save as much money as possible. But one of the things I thought would be fun is to keep everyone updated on my trip planning, things I'm learning about the country, and then I will write about my trip when I return. So keep posted :)

I will leave you with a few fun facts I learned about my trip to Zimbabwe:
--They speak english there (aside from their tribal languages and Swahili occassionally for business primarily)
--They use US currency, but nothing higher than a $20. Mainly they use $1 bills.
--When you buy something over there, they do not give you back change. Whatever you give, they keep. So you could not give someone a $5 for something that cost $4.50 and get $0.50 back.
--Everyone in Zimbabwe irons everything each morning, including under garments. Why? Because there is a deadly fly there that burrows into clothing and from the clothing will burrow under peoples' skin if you don't kill them with the heat of the iron first.
--On an average day, the electricity will go out for about 5 hours total throughout the day (or more) and usually at the most inconvenient times. So needless to say, they need alot of flashlights.

I could go on :) and I will go on as I learn more!

So stay posted : ]