We lived in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, for three and a half years. Zambia is a savanna. There is a clear distinction between the wet and dry seasons. The rainy season is from November to April. The altitude is about 1,200 meters. The climate was pleasant, far from the image of "tropical Africa." The temperature was comfortable without heating or air conditioning all year round. It was pleasant and nostalgic to see Jacaranda flowers as in Brazil and Argentina, countries with similar climates.
There were many kinds of fruits in our yard. The dogs loved avocados and ate them as soon as they fell off the trees. At the time, I didn't know avocados tasted good, although I knew that avocados are nutritious fruits abundant in vitamin E. I regret wasting the avocados by not eating them ourselves.
I was most pleased that lychee grew naturally in the yard. The fruit was growing on a large tree and the wives of staff working for the Japanese Embassy were happy to come and pick the fruit.
There was also a banana tree.
It was also my first time holding a pomegranate in my hand. My eldest son especially loved them.
An Englishman, who was a permanent resident of Lusaka, owned a "farmers market." The vegetables sold were so fresh that they looked different from those in the supermarket. I was surprised to find Okra which is popular in Japan.
The smoked ham with granulated sugar coating was delicious. At the market, they also sold vacuum-packed Colombian coffee that was very aromatic. I could buy frozen pie crusts, too. All of the meats were sold in chunks. I only had the choice of buying whole chickens. My husband cut it up skillfully and without waste. His skills as a surgeon were quite useful.
Eventually, I learned that members of the Unification Church raised the pigs and sold thinly sliced meats. Koreans and Japanese appreciated it.
A Chinese receptionist at the Japanese embassy made Tofu.
Except for fish, I never felt any inconvenience. Fish was available occasionally from Madagascar (tuna), South Africa (saury), or London. But meats were central. As for drinks, South African wine was especially delicious and was a regular on our shopping list.
At the time, the capital city of Lusaka had only one supermarket, no movie theater, and very few entertainment facilities except for golf. As for vacations, we often visited Zimbabwe, a six-hour drive away.
The Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, one of the world's top three waterfalls, was spectacular. However, it is a malaria-prone area, so I took a drug called Fancidal (Currently, it's not used for prophylactic medication. The reason is that it can cause fatal side effects (Stevens-Johnson syndrome).
There are five types of malaria (tropical fever malaria, three-day fever malaria, four-day fever malaria, oval malaria, and monkey malaria (Plasmodium knowlesi). Tropical fever malaria is the most severe, often causing death if not treated within 24 hours of onset. Various complications are seen, including encephalopathy, nephropathy, pulmonary edema, bleeding tendency, and severe anemia.
Although I was careful, my eldest son contracted tropical malaria in Lusaka. However, before I was posted in Lusaka, I brought medicine called Chinhousou, a type of mugwort native to China (made at the Pasteur Institute), which helped him recover from a slight fever and weariness, for which I was very grateful. The director of World Vision from Senegal, who had been hospitalized with malaria and even hepatitis, made a wonderful recovery after taking the same pills.
Malarone is an anti-malarial drug widely used worldwide because it has very few adverse reactions and is safe to use even for people with psychoneurotic disorders such as depression or irregular heartbeat.
[Vaccines for malaria: RTS,S]
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the world's first malaria vaccine, RTS, S, is recommended for use in children in most parts of Africa. After more than 100 years of trial and error, the malaria vaccine was proven effective and perfected in 2015, making it one of the greatest achievements in medicine.
What comes to mind when you hear the word, Africa? You might expect to see lots of animals. Unfortunately, when we visited the zoo we were disappointed to see only herbivorous animals such as impalas and a few other species.
I heard that white rhinoceroses used to be famous, but they are no longer seen in Zambia as a result of poaching due to their high price.
You may expect to see wildlife like in the movies, but when we went on a safari in Zimbabwe, we only received an explanation that there were only sleeping lions, which we never saw. We were disappointed to see only a few elephants and many species of giraffes, buffaloes, deer, and monkeys.
Although we didn't see any lions in the wild, we did have an interesting encounter.
There was a big house on top of a small mountain near my children's school. I heard a rumor that a fierce beast's roar could be heard from the house.
Curious, I went to the house. The guard at the gate told me that it was a lion. Under the condition of no photography, I was allowed in. To my surprise, there were two lions - a male and a female - in a large cage. I was also surprised to see two magnificent peacocks with beautiful features in the yard.
I asked how many rooms there were in this house. He told me at least 20 or more. The owner was a member of parliament and his wife was an ophthalmologist that was working at the University of Zambia.
I gave him a tip and returned home excited. I told my children when they came home from school. I then learned that the children at school were debating whether the roar was of a tiger or a lion.
The children enjoyed running around in the yard and climbing trees, but they also wanted a variety of other animals as pets. The dogs that we had were guard dogs rather than pets. They were too scary to play with. The gardener took care of the dogs. The dogs were treated very well. We even had a dedicated freezer to keep the cow bones that we purchased just for them.
When my second son missed out on an overnight picnic trip with the students of the Japanese school, he insisted on having rabbits as a trade-off for not being able to go. I asked a veterinarian to find a male and a female rabbit. As you may know, rabbits mate and reproduce prolifically. Unable to take care of all the rabbits, we gave them away.
On the other hand, my third son wanted a tortoise, so I asked my golf caddy to find one for him, and he kept it for a while, but one day it became prey for the guard dogs.
A family from South Africa had raised an interesting bird called the Guinea fowl which we also received as a pair.
However, they were of the same sex and never laid any eggs. My third son won a drawing contest for his picture of the bird and had 100 postcards printed.
One day, my third son, who loves animals, said he wanted chickens. There is a heartwarming true story about it, which you can access from the links below. We hope you will read it to your children or grandchildren.
Changing the subject, one day, I found out that my depression was bipolar. After I was free from my depression, I desired to make up for the time lost. I did my best to make all kinds of food for my family that I couldn't before.
I baked cakes for my husband three times a week to make him happy.
I had dinner parties twice a week. My husband did not like having parties, but it was ok. My sons felt embarrassed when I suddenly started to wear flashy colors instead of dark ones.
Meanwhile, inside the embassy, I strongly requested the ambassador that he had responsibility for providing free vaccinations against bacterial meningitis not only to Japanese employees and their families but also to local employees since they would be infected. However, the ambassador was reluctant. We had a conflict between us, but fortunately, the treasurer was on my side, and he approached the ambassador with a budget that was sufficient to cover the vaccinations.
At that time, smoking was allowed in the embassy, and people smoked during meetings. The smoker's son had asthma and his wife complained, asking me how to make him quit smoking. During a meeting, I explained how cigarettes are harmful to our health.
However, I received strong pushback from the staff that I was being too strict. I knew that people around me were perplexed when I suddenly had a manic state that I could not control myself. The manic has strengthened my original childhood nosiness of wanting to make myself and others happy.
I will end this post with the story of a Christmas Eve party I organized before resigning as the Medical Officer. Since all of the Japanese embassy staff and Japanese citizens living in Lusaka were not Christians, I wanted to tell them the “True meaning of Christmas" on Christmas Eve.
I asked a young Zambian pastor from the local church we attended to give a special 15-minute massage. I came up with the idea of inviting the families of embassy staff, local officials, Japanese, and missionaries from the U.S. to our house.
The garden of our house was large enough to accommodate about 100 people. I thought that a Christian sermon and lunch would not be enough to attract many people. I organized a talent contest. A winner would receive a one-night hotel stay ticket with dinner for two, and the runner-up would get a couple of tickets to dinner at a hotel restaurant.
My husband and I bought the drinks. I prepared the food by myself for two weeks cooking and storing it in a large freezer while working full-time at the embassy. I knew that a barbecue would be enough food, but after making two desserts, I was exhausted, as I should have been. I wondered what I should do since I told everyone to come empty-handed.
It was the day of the event. One American missionary brought a wonderful Christmas tree and decorated it. He made the atmosphere of Christmas Eve. Ten American wives of missionaries brought delicious desserts, even though I did not ask them. The deserts were a great hit with the people that gathered.
God provided me with these helping hands and the party was a huge success! After the meal, we voted for the winner of the contest. A high school student, the son of a pediatrician won the first prize for his skill of playing the piano.
Second place went to the first secretary for his magic show. Everyone that attended the party was so pleased and they told me it was the best Christmas Eve party they had attended.
There shouldn't be a hierarchy when it comes to illnesses, however, it is quite unfortunate that mental illnesses are often treated as the worst. Not only mental illnesses but also dementia, AIDS, leprosy, tuberculosis, physical or intellectual disabilities, autism, genetic diseases, cancer, coronary infections, etc. Many people go through denial or hide such illnesses out of shame and fear of receiving prejudice. As a result, they lose the opportunity for early diagnosis and treatment.
Eleven years ago, I received a Level 1 Physical Disability Certificate for an incurable disease. I got a partial deduction for treatment in Japan for my mental illness. I don't think we should demean ourselves or be afraid of people with mental illness or any other illness.
I can say that God controlled my "Manic depression" according to His plan. Depression was so painful for me. I wanted to disappear from this world.
Because I was a patient with mental illness, I can sympathize with my patients a little more as a psychosomatic physician.
God declared in His word that illness is not a sin or a grudge. "The work of God is manifested in this man."
It is therefore important for all of us to understand that testimonies on God's plan are not reserved for those that have been cured. Even if we are ill, have challenges that are still unsolved, let's continue to believe that God's love and guidance is always upon us. I feel that this is what it means to give all glory to God.（To be continued）