Contrary to what some of you might be thinking, NO I did not get eaten by bears or wolves in the village while I was away. I just happened to be somewhere with no electricity and I had pigs and cows as neighbors. Very interesting…to say the least. As usual, I still wrote as the days went by so… ENJOY!
Sunday – August 14, 2011: “New beginnings…yet again”
We arrived at Lulagwe around 6:45pm and were welcomed by the principal of the school where we were camping at, along with kids from around the area. It’s 10.45pm now and I’m in my writing mode. I still can’t get over the amount of fear that gripped me while sitting in the back of that truck. One would think that the amount of money paid for this program should be able to get us a decent bus to transport us to training grounds, but I will leave that discussion for another day. I must say I have gained a new kind of respect for myself having come to Uganda. Every day is a new experience with some sort of adventure entwined within. I can’t say it’s been completely easy, but hey, nothing’s really easy in this life right?
Yup! That's how we were transported to Lulagwe
Had a marshmallow party around the camp fire after dinner- it was our formal welcome to training and farewell ceremony for Jenny, who’s been here for 2 months. It was fun because John & Edward LOVE marshmallows! They have a song and dance as well.
Setting up our new home
Marshmalllow party group!
A new week begins tomorrow and as I lay here in this tent, listening to crickets outside, I’m getting the feeling that it’s going to be a VERY SLOW week. Let’s see how it goes. Goodnight! xxox…
Monday – August 15, 2011: “Cold Mornings”
Up by 7am, but barely got any sleep. 4 more days of this – God, you are in control. Had to create a make-shift shower curtain, just so we could get some sort of privacy while bathing. Having cattle rearers walk past, while pausing every other minute for a sneak preview, is not the sort of thing you want to experience…at least not on the first day! C’mon! Neither of us were sure what time things were supposed to start running so we hung around the classrooms reading books, taking pictures of some sort, or writing (like me!) RAIN! RAIN!! RAIN!!!…and more RAIN!!!!
Edward taught the first 2 lectures and we had lunch at about 1pm. Yes, as you probably guessed it was matooke, rice & beans with a bit of cabbage. Jenny taught on “Diarrhea” after lunch and left around 3:30pm after which we set out to search for some water gravitation service point. Unknown to us, it was a 40 minute walk on the top of a hill. We just kept on trudging along until we found this amazing source which works by absorbing water from the ground. It apparently serves 4 parishes, with about 20 villages in each. Imagine that! The whole thing fascinated me up until it started to rain again, and as you can probably imagine, it was HEAVY!!! We scurried along to the nearest shelter which turned out to be 15 mins further up the mountain. We all got drenched by the time we got to the shelter. I was already asking why we didn’t just walk back down the hill since whichever way, we were going to get wet! Then again, we were safe and sound now *Ninma, be grateful*
It took another 20minutes for the rain to subside. I was shivering and my goose bumps had turned into goose BOMBS! The thought of walking back down was overwhelming – mud, cow dung, goat poop…all meshed together, lest I mention the ants!! OH NO!!! The family who gave us shelter said it hadn’t rained in a while, so perhaps this was a “welcome” gift because “Mzungus” (which means: white people/foreigners) were around. Prossy also went on to say it doesn’t’ rain often here despite it being some sort of peninsula. Can someone PLEASE explain why it rained yesterday AND today?! I know I have said this a million times, but honestly, I sincerely give up on trying understanding this weather.
It’s 5:30pm now – we managed to get a shortcut back to our base during which I kept reciting Psalm 91! Very scary situation seeing as the rocks were slippery. Meanwhile, I shall refer to our base as “home: henceforth. I’m home away from home away from home. The trainees were just rounding up for the day so they came round thanking us for coming out to teach. I just want a hot cup of teas and some dry clothes! MORE RAIN!!
Dinner is usually around 7.30 and consists of leftovers from lunch, with eggs. The fun thing is we get to sit around the fire. Sadly, it had to end quickly because of the rain. Dear Lord, if there is one thing I’m going to ask for PLEASE CAN THE NEXT 4 DAYS BE DRY??? (AMEN)
Tuesday – August 16,2011: “Myths in the Making”
Woke up several times through the night, but definitely slept better than I did the previous night. Listening to raindrops…yes, it’s still raining. *Sigh* We usually begin around 8am although, some trainees tend to show up beforehand. Class usually begins the anthem, and then a prayer by one of the trainees. Their voices are so harmonious! Katie, Annie & I usually sit at the back of the class and read or listen to Elizabeth (our translator). I got myself prepped for my lesson and luckily, I don’t take over till after lunch. I hope I won’t be too full to compose myself. Funny how miserable I feel after I eat. My mom always finds it hard to understand how I become somewhat lethargic and “useless” after eating. What can I say? I’m special!
Elizabeth translating for the ladies
***I’m about to teach n 15 minutes and as of yesterday, the thought was somewhat nerve-wrecking, but now I’m good to go. I just hope I’m audible enough.
Some of my family planning notes 🙂
**** Yay!! Teaching was so much fun! The volunteers were very attentive and had loads of questions. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the various myths held about family planning. E.g. contraceptives cause one to lose their fertility forever; Norplant capsule reproduces another capsule. Interesting stuff I tell you! Overall, they gained the knowledge they needed. Yay Ninma!
I spent about 3 hours after dinner talking to Edward and Elizabeth by the campfire. Apparently, the way I related with the volunteers were was if I’d been in Uganda and had visibly observed all that has been going on, hence why they felt encouraged to ask questions. I told them…”Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa… the problems in Africa are not too different, especially when it comes to health. If people don’t change their primitive mindsets, we are not going to move ahead.” With that said… Goodnight! xxox…
Wednesday – August 17, 2011: “All matooke’D out!”
Matooke being prepared...
Woke up at 4am and read for an hour before draining what was left of the battery on my iPod to help me fall asleep again. The entire right side of my body aches, especially my neck. I guess my body still hasn’t adapted to this tent life. Ha! Well, 2 more days left…
Training began at 8:45 with Kate teaching “TB & Pneumonia”. She did a very good job. I spent the rest of the morning grading the pre-tests that were handed out during the first day of class. Overall, it seems this is a very brilliant class. Lunch consisted of the usual – matooke, rice & beans…. I had to skip out on the matooke. I need a break!
Set out for focus group meetings in Kiruddu village, which was 25 mins. from Lulagwe on the boda. It was a pleasure meeting with the VHTs in this village. They got trained in June, and reported that they had already started noticing changes in their community. The purpose of the focus group meeting was to follow-up with them and find out what their challenges were, if any, and how they found the experience so far. They seemed committed to their work and felt equally appreciated by their community. Perfect equation! Something keeps tugging at my heart to do more for them, but I just don’t know what or how!
It’s 5pm now and I have a headache as usual. Might call it an early night today seeing as I’m not hungry. No rain today (yay! ) but it’s very cold. Goodnight! xxox…
Thursday – August 18, 2011:
Blue sky!! Yaay!
Rise and shine @ 7am after sleeping for only 2 hours. Nothing new right? Prossy seems to have started counting down days to my departure. I’m not exactly looking forward to work and school, alongside all the extras that come with it BUT I am looking forward to being back in my place again. Seeing as I have completed pretty much all the work I intended to accomplish over here, I’m happy! Neither of us is teaching today so we’re probably just going to hang around and assist where needed. I’m looking forward to the focus group meetings after lunch.
**** Focus group meeting today was at Mpunge village and I went with Edward. This group seemed to be a bit behind on their work but again, I offered as much encouragement as I could. Got back at 5pm and decided to help Prossy out with making dinner. Seeing as it was our last night, she definitely went all out on the food- rice, matooke, coleslaw, fish, & eggs! We all sat round the fire afterwards, reminiscing about all the food we may or may not miss and what we’re looking forward to eating when we get back to the States. I can’t believe this time next week I’ll be in my bed (By God’s grace!).
Focus group meeting @ Mpunge
The marshmallow party started around 10pm – the smoke definitely burns your eyes!! We all endured and I know I’m sincerely going to miss sitting around the fire at night, while star gazing! I avoided drinking tea this simple because it is pertinent to do everything I can not to wake up at night to go to the loo a.k.a “smellyville”. * I can’t wait for you all to watch the video and see how far the latrines are from the tent. Anyway, cheers to my last night on the floor in this tent in a remote village in Uganda, Whopa!!!
Friday – August 19, 2011: “ All things must come to an end”:
Up by 6:30am. Can you believe I still ended up waking up to take a bathroom break at 3am and couldn’t fall asleep after that. So much for deliberately dehydrating myself. Anyway, it’s our last day out here and I can tell everyone’s relieved. Hormones were beginning to drown everyone and it seems pretty obvious that we’re each anxious to get back to our “space” in a familiar environment.
The VHTS got to wear their t-shirts today and you could tell they were so excited. Jenny taught the last lecture – Nutrition. Helped out with prepping lunch and got a free HOT bottle of Sprite! Oh the perks & pleasures of volunteering. Haha!
I led the review session after lunch, and I must say I was caught off guard by the whole thing. I threw out random questions about each of the topics covered throughout the week and then asked if people had questions. Lord knows I didn’t expect to find myself talking about family planning again. At one point, I was surrounded by 3 men at the front of the class drawing the female reproductive system . Hilarious! We presented each trainee with a certificate, which was followed by group pictures and a general farewell!
Review in session
I feel very accomplished! The mere thought of changes that are about to start taking place in the communities where each of these village health teams are going to supervise is exciting. You know what they say about little drops of water…
Latest VHTs in town! CONGRATULATIONS!!
We got back to Ntenjeru at 7pm and unfortunately, power was out hence why my update is pretty late. Back in one piece- a few cuts and bruises on my hands,but otherwise I’m in one piece! Woohoo!
I spent the weekend relaxing and trying to catch up on sleep. Tried out an Indian restaurant in Kampala, definitely not as tasty as Haandi! I really want to eat there before I leave. Let’s see how things go.We still have home visits to carry out this week and I have to compile all my reports and pack! Wow!!! I can’t believe my time here is coming to an end!
There are a million and one insects buzzing around my ear right now, so I’m about to shut down. I have a horrible sore throat and headache. I hope I feel better by tomorrow.