Its Monday and a crazy little thing called love continued

Well, hello there. Hope you are splendidly well after a relaxing Easter weekend. I am sure that there have been numerous egg hunts and plenty of chocolates consumed… But I will not waste time as we are going to dive straight into the second part of Keith and Ginny’s Its Monday, continuing from last week…

Well, hello there. Hope you are splendidly well after a relaxing Easter weekend. I am sure that there have been numerous egg hunts and plenty of chocolates consumed… But I will not waste time as we are going to dive straight into the second part of Keith and Ginny’s Its Monday, continuing from last week (if you missed it, you can read it here). Keith and Ginny over to you:

“Fast forward five years… It’s September 2016. Our two doctors turn 50. They have been saving up their pennies. South Luangwa’s wildlife beckons them back. But this time, it’s the full package that they are after. It’s time to do this properly. Ginny and Keiths’ fascination with South Luangwa is infectious. Ginny’s parents need no persuasion to join them as they sample the high life. Pat and Peter are keen to see how the other half live. In style.

Robin’s House is now their house. The romance deepens. Obi, their guide and host, becomes their friend and shares some truly magical experiences with our safari addicts.

Leopards line their route. Elephants share their pool. Lions mate within stroking distance. Obi’s wise fingers rest on the ignition, ready to roar should the need arise. And the photos for Emily’s It’s Monday storyline have a romantic bent. Ginger mates in the shade of Obi’s Landcruiser.

The Valley draws the medics in deeper. A chance conversation piques their interest. The Valley needs doctors. Might you be interested? There was no need to ask twice. A retirement plan was born. Keith, a GP with tropical medical training and Tanzanian experience, hastily updates his CV. He realises that the job description already has his name on it. Ginny the perfect yang to Keith’s yin. Ginny’s paediatric background almost more perfect for the Valley job. Seventeen being the average age in Zambia. Keith and Ginny shared their voluntary service in Tanzania. They share a drive to share their skills.

Fast forward 5 more years. Keith and Ginny are now head over heels. It’s July 2021. The Birrells are baptised as Valley docs. Their rich and varied experiences are well narrated in their captivating blog: Into Africa. Ginny and Keith reflect on their highs and their lows. They dig deep into the South Luangwa community. They share what makes them tick and what makes them despair. There is never a dull moment, but the trend is uplifting.

During their tenure, Keith and Ginny are available 24/7 for guests and staff of safari operators in the Valley. They also work in the local clinic. Supporting the staff there to provide care for the whole valley. Jo Pope conceived the Valley doctor idea in the 1990s and delivered the reality of a regular GP to care for the people of South Luangwa via the Luangwa Safari Association. Twenty years on, the Valley doctor continues to be a lifesaver. Don’t get me wrong, providing GP care in South Luangwa National Park is no picnic. The type of care that can be provided in the bush is hardly state of the art. But ailing tourists often state their amazement and gratitude for receiving access to care that exceeds their wildest dreams. Those who use the British NHS these days are stunned that care in our Valley is so accessible and up to the mark. Ginny and Keith chronicle their encounters with tourists and locals, to colour in the preconceptions that you might have about sickness and health in South Luangwa.

Time marches on 2 more years. It’s 2023. The blog once again comes to life:

Keith pulls the upper arm downwards and gently rotates the whole arm. A grating. Something shifts. Almost imperceptible. Certainly not a satisfying clunk. Britta, I think we may have sorted out your dislocated shoulder. Keith declares.

Britta thanks the Valley doctor double act as they kick off their second stint in their Zambian second home. More weekly tales of challenges and joy unfurl. The blog writes itself. The colour of life in South Luangwa fills the screen.

The local clinic in Mfuwe brims over with everyday ills. Everyday ills that Zambia has not previously faced. Sky high blood pressures, diabetes, and metabolic time bombs. Strokes in the making. Not content to just be reactive to ill health, Keith and Ginny have teamed up with Jo Pope’s other gift to the Valley: Project Luangwa. Project Luangwa was created under Jo’s patronage to empower local people through education and equality. Keith, Ginny and Project Luangwa have founded a programme to facilitate primary prevention of stroke in Zambia. Together they are tackling the huge unmet needs of local people. One episode of Ginny and Keiths’ blog gives you the back story and allows you to get involved – read here.

The pages keep turning. The third chapter of their blog is eagerly awaited. Ginny and Keith will continue their love affair with Our Valley in July 2024. Until then: rest easy. Other dedicated medics also take their turns as Valley doctors. The health of Our Valley is in safe hands. Thanks to these generous volunteers. Thanks to the conservation efforts of organisations like Project Luangwa, the Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust and Conservation South Luangwa. And thanks to the romance and the natural beauty of South Luangwa and her heritage of responsible tourism.

Keith and Ginny will always have Robin Pope Safaris in their hearts. RPS guided them to find a new home. RPS nurtured their love affair.”

Wonderful, thank you so much Keith and Ginny! I know that we are all greatly looking forward to seeing you back in the Valley in July. From my side not much more to report for this week, instead we shall keep it all in the wings and update you next week with all the Luangwa happenings. So, between now and then take care, have fun, laugh a lot and don’t forget to look after one another.