Looking forward to better days

Hello everyone,
Made it back to DC in one piece, although my flight was rather unpleasant. Ended up with a terrible cough + malaria. What a way to end this experience! I am feeling much better now and somewhat ready to get on with school and work. It certainly feels good to be back!
(I am still trying to figure out how to upload videos on this blog. It’s proving a little bit more difficult than I thought it would be. Bear with me please.)
I just want to say a BIG THANK YOU to all those who kept up with me during my time away. It was very encouraging, to say the least! Not a lot of people had something good to say when I said I was going to work in Uganda, but hey… that’s life. One thing I know is that as long as your plan is in alignment with God’s plan, there is nothing anyone can do or say to stop it, so go ahead!
I’m not sure where i’m going to find myself next, but wherever it is, I’m ready.

Have a beautiful week!
God bless you all

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

…And she’s back!

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)

Goodnight. xxox…

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!!!

xxox…

 

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.

Goodnight!  xxox…

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

It’s Sunday morning and I miss going to church. The churches nearest to us are either  Seventh-Day Adventist or not in English, so I guess it’s till I return.  It’s been a very laidback weekend. Jenny, Katie &  I decided to go and stuff ourselves with food in Kampala so yes, it was another “city weekend”. We have a new volunteer, Annie, from American University, so we thought it would be a good chance for her to see what Kampala is about. Jenny leaves on Tuesday, and Katie and I will only be around for another week or so before we’re off to the States. Time, time, time ~ where are you running to?

We arrived in Kampala at about 1pm and since everyone was starving, I suggested we go eat at Nando’s. Most of my friends know that is my one of my favorite spots and I love chicken so yeah, it seemed ideal. I have succeeded in dining at Nando’s in Nigeria, London, America, and well, I can now add Uganda to the list. I personally think the best is in London but hey, I could be wrong. Anyway, I decided to try the “strips and rice” meal, which I repetitively insisted on them making it extra-hot. As always, it was a total FAIL! Still grateful I had food to eat though.

Met up with Reem later in the evening, and joined her in breaking her fast with her Turkish friends. They were surprised at how familiar I was with the food- ha! Little do they know- my roommate’s Turkish! (Hey BASAK! 🙂 )  It was fun altogether. We all returned to Ntenjeru yesterday evening to prep for our upcoming week of training.

We’re heading out to a village that’s about 2 hours away – Lulagwe- where we’ll be teaching and training a new set of volunteers. I’m teaching on Tuesday – ‘Family Planning’, and maybe Thursday. Am I nervous? A little bit, but it’s not like I don’t know what I’m talking about so I’ll be fine. And yes, this means I won’t be able to blog until I get back on Friday. 😦  Oh by the way, we’re going to be sleeping in tents as well! I can’t wait to tell you all about the experience… I just pray it doesn’t rain! *Fingers crossed*

I hope you all have a pleasant week ahead.

Keeping an eye on you all!!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Satisfaction guaranteed

I have been up since 3am for reasons unknown to me. Power’s been out and of course, it’s raining. I know some of my friends reading this will probably be like, “That’s nothing new Ninma.” Well, yeah…that’s somewhat true. I am working on my sleeping habits. Believe that. I certainly feel better than I did the other day. I prayed…and I told God how I felt, and He’s given me some sort of peace of mind, whereby I know that the little I’m doing is going a long way. It’s funny how sometimes I get lost for words when it comes to expressing myself. Even funnier when I’m trying to pray and I can’t find the right words. I always laugh at myself because it seems I forget who I’m conversing with. The man that KNOWS IT ALL! Even before it comes out of my mouth ~ He knows! Amazing!

We finished up our home visits yesterday and even went past some homes we’d visited previously. The smiles on the peoples’ faces just made me so happy. They repetitively thanked us for coming all the way to help them with their health. There I was thinking I wasn’t doing enough, or pretty much nothing at all, but these people thought the whole world of it. Note to self: Never underestimate the power of a small deed. My only worry now is whether they will maintain these practices. But that’s what we train the VHTS to do right? So there you have it! The pieces of the puzzle have finally come together.

Oh! Here’s another thing I found out: You know how I’ve been trying to understand why the so-called “dry season” has been so wet and it rains every other day?? Well, apparently there are two rainy seasons in a year- short & long rain, and apparently, locations near Lake Victoria can experience rain at almost any time.  As luck would have it, we are very close to the lake. I guess it’s safe to say we are in the wet season. It’s been raining all night, and even as I sit here, the rain continues.

I can’t believe the week is about to be over. Time is flying by and luckily, I have almost reached the midpoint of my required hours for school, so things are falling into place.

Highlight of my day:

My colleague noticed the trash being burned outside and ran in saying: “I can’t believe they burn their trash here. You would think they would recycle or something.” I was lost for words. These people have more important issues to deal with. I’m sure they recycle things like bottles and use them for other purposes, but expecting them to recycle paper is out of this world.  We all know how expensive recycling is; they barely have clean water to drink. Okay, I’m done.

xxox…

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

How can I help?

I knew a day like this would come, but I didn’t think it would be this soon. *Sigh*

iLove!

Between yesterday and today, we’ve been carrying out home visits between Ssaayi & Terere Parish and well, so far so good. The people have been very welcoming and attentive. I already explained what home visits are all about, so I don’t think I need to go into all that. What I love most is the personal interaction; I admire the courage these people have when it comes to asking questions. They’re not afraid of being judged or looked down upon for not knowing things. It’s always a subtle reminder to me ~ you can’t know everything. The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know.

Members of a household reviewing the prompt

Earnestly learning

So what’s my starting line all about? Well, today I visited a lady who gave birth to a baby on Sunday. The delivery was assisted by traditional midwives, so no postnatal care was offered, neither was there any discussion about the necessary vaccinations the child required. There we sat, talking to her about health strategies and how important it is for her to adhere to them.  I was glad because that’s what I was there for right? Well, that’s only the beginning.  The lady complained about body pains, severe headaches, etc. She needed to be checked, but we were facing more problems than we could handle. –>  1. She has no money for the vaccines; 2. Her husband lives far away; and 3. The closest health center is in Ntenjeru- that’s 30 minutes away! So, not only does she not have money for the health services, she can’t even afford to get to the health center.

At this point, my emotions were in a twist and all sorts of questions were running through my mind. “How can I help her?”  “What difference am I making by merely informing her about what she needs to do, knowing she can’t afford to?” Even if she gets to the hospital, who is going to follow-up with her? …. My job is mainly to inform, and implement. This is beyond me. I pulled Edward (our lead point-person) to the side and asked him “What can I do?” He said, “Nothing.” That cut me deep. I’m standing in front of a woman who is in obvious pain and I’m supposed to just wish her well and walk away. What deepened frustration worse was the fact that today was the FIRST day I decided not to take my Advil with me. I realized I was popping more than I needed to for my constant headaches, so I decided to leave it behind. I was mad at myself. I told Edward he had to do something, anything! After all, his role (and that of the VHT) was to connect the people with those who can assist in some way. Eventually, he said the VHT’s husband might be able to take her, as long as he doesn’t forget. I pleaded with him to make sure that happens.

Walking away was the hardest thing for me. Such moments pull me back to the drawing board and I’m forced to ask myself whether I have the heart it takes for this field. It takes a heart that’s passionate, yet strong. Even if I do have that heart, how long can I last before falling into pieces?  I can’t save the world- yes I know this… but still, I should be able to do more!!!

"I'm here for you..."

That was about 4 hours ago. I’m still overwhelmed; what do I do when I can’t really do anything?    *Deep sigh*

The next house we visited had 2 sisters who put a smile back on my face. I had to capture the moments. I hope you enjoy them. 

I’m going to listen to John Mayer and let my thoughts take me wherever.

Goodnight people.

                xxox…

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A for Antelope…Z for Zebra!

FRIDAY:

Katie, Jessica & I set out to Kampala at 3:40pm on a matatu and got a good deal directly to Kampala. That’s better than stopping in Mukono and having to negotiate with another matatu driver to get us to Kampala. I was sooo sleepy and my back hurt terribly. Not sure if it’s all the walking and boda-boda hopping, but by the time we got to Kampala I was happy to be lying on a bed. We checked into New City Annex around 6.15pm. Traffic in Kampala is crazy!!! You can find yourself on the same spot for over 20 minutes. After a little break, the ladies and I set out to the market stalls to see what they had; very creative items, I must say. The prices were a little bit retarded compared to what we saw last week in Jinja. Perhaps it’s because it’s the capital or something. I don’t know.

Dinner at Haani Indian restaurant was FANTASTIC!! I don’t know whether the joy was coupled with the fact that I was seated at an actual restaurant, as opposed to the roadside joints, or I was super hungry. Whatever it was, I was definitely satisfied by the time I was done with that “Chicken Vindaloo” meal! When I was ordering it, the waiter kept asking “Are you sure you want that? It’s the hottest thing on the menu.” I replied, “I’m Nigerian, my tongue was made for that type of food.”  He kept coming back to check up on me while I ate and for some strange reason, he was surprised I was still okay. “I told you”, I said to him. Everyone enjoyed the food, although both Jess and Katie refrained from tasting mine.

Chicken Vindaloo

We went to watch a club basketball game @ the YMCA between “Power” and “UCU”. Very interesting. I caught a clip of the way the crowd was cheering.(will upload when I get back) It was extremely fascinating to me. I loved the vibe of the crowd.

My closest friend from GWU, Reem, happens to be interning in Kampala as well, so i called her over to watch the game with us. I was super-excited to see her. Who knew we’d find ourselves in the same country???!! Just makes the world much smaller and much more fun!! We headed out to a lounge after the game and enjoyed the music. Cool people here in Uganda!

Reem & I

SATURDAY:

Got up at 5.45am and took the LONGEST SHOWER ever!! As much as I don’t mind the village lifestyle, I definitely miss certain things and this is one of them.  We checked out of our hotel at about 6.45am in order to catch the Post bus. This is apparently the safest bus to travel on when going around. It’s somewhat like the Grey hound, for my people in America, and the coach, for my British people.  We set out for Lyantonde around 8am. I fell asleep, read, daydreamed… everything you can possibly do on a long-distance trip. Everything was going well… UNTIL someone behind us threw up!  I just heard the splatter on the floor and put my feet up! Unfortunately, it splashed on Jess & Katie’s shoes! What amazed me was that no one even thought to stop the bus or come to the boy’s aid. Is that normal??  We were about 30minutes from our destination and guess what- my window wouldn’t open! Dear God!!! I was about to throw up myself just having to sit and inhale all that! I kept banging the window until the gentleman in front of me kindly forced it open. Phew!!!!!  You can bet we were glad to get off the bus. I told the conductor about the gentleman and asked that he check up on him, he nodded as if he was going to adhere to what I said… and immediately set off on the road again, as if I didn’t say anything. I hope he’s okay though. The roads aren’t too good, so I can understand someone getting car sick. What a journey!

We lazed around until nighttime- sleeping, reading and then had dinner by the fire place. I recommend SkyBlue Motel to anyone heading out to Lake Mburo for the weekend, or even if it’s just for the day. The service is very good. You might have to wait a while for your food, in our case 45 minutes, but I assure you, it’ll be worth it.

Fab hospitality

 A satisfied stomach, a warm bed to lie in, a grateful heart… what else could I ask for? Good night.

SUNDAY:

Rise and shine at 5am. It seems I’m getting really used to early mornings, although I wish I would sleep earlier, that way I’m not waking up tired! Oh well *shrug*

View of the sunrise before the safari

We set out toward Lake Mburo at 6.45am to make it in time for the safari trip at 8am. The journey just seemed endless! I enjoy traveling so I tend to find it difficult to complain, but when there are too many hassles, it begins to get annoying. Luckily, the driver we had knew where he was doing to so we arrived at Mihingo Lodge in a timely manner. We had already started seeing a few impalas on the way to the lodge. This definitely roused my interest in the safari trip, more-so it was going to be on a horse back! Woohoo!!!

View from the lodge

We all got straddled in the necessary gear, ‘signed our lives away’, and set out searching for animals around 8.30. My horse’s name is “Mystic River”. She was some sort of a loner, but well-behaved. Mind you, this was my first time ever riding a horse. I’m really liking this adventurous side of “Ninma”. Honestly, I’m only encouraged to do all these things because of my brother- Dauda (R.I.P)! He was all about “LIVING LIFE” and I feel as if that baton’s been handed over to me. I can’t afford to screw up! I hope he is proud of me. *smiles*

Off we go!

We saw monkeys, cattle, zebras, warthogs, impalas, water bucks, toupees (sp?), and different types of birds. Sorry, no lions and tigers around here! This was definitely no comparison to my experience at the Maasai Mara safari in Kenya, where I got to see lions, hyenas, and giraffes. It was a very serene, 2-hour horseback ride, which just left me more in awe.  I laugh at whoever says “there is no God.”  Nsanyuse!! (In English: “I’m happy”)

Water bucks

Wart hog trying to run away

Zebra fam!

Cattle

Topees (sp?)

monkeys

View of Lake Mburo

Highlight of my day:

Where do you see humans roaming around freely with Zebras?

"Only in Africa"

By noon, we had to get back on the road to Kampala, in order to make it back to Ntenjeru before dark. I don’t like the way people drive here! Unfortunately, the Post bus doesn’t run on Sundays so we had to catch a different ride back to Kampala. I won’t go into much detail about the journey back. Let’s just say I’m glad I made it back in one piece and I’m able to share my experience with you all!I hope you all had a good weekend?

A new week lies ahead; a lot of unknowns, a lot to be discovered, a lot to teach, and a lot to learn. Have a fabulous week!

P.S I think my malaria drugs are making me hallucinate. I keep having weird dreams!!!!

xxox…

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

And so the story goes…

Can’t believe it’s already been a week since I officially started this program here in Uganda. Not sure whether time’s moving by quickly or I’m just occupying my time in a productive manner. Either way, I have enjoyed the experience so far. Sleeping with a belt of test-tubes is not easy! I kept waking up hoping I hadn’t smashed one of the test tubes while tossing and turning in my sleep. That would have been so nasty- all that contaminated water—yuck!
We rounded up our water sampling yesterday and were done by 3pm. Power was out last night, which is why I couldn’t blog. Prossy asked Katie & I to accompany her to the farm around 5pm. I was okay with that seeing as the sun had gone down and well, she made it seem like we were just going to pick veggies and return. Oh no! She stopped at her friend’s house, who apparently owned the garden, got some hoes and headed out to the farm. As I have noticed with everything around here, it was quite a walk! We got to the farm and they began to dig out cassava & sweet potatoes. Katie and I weren’t sure what was going on so we hung around. Feeling in the mood for some sort of activity, we volunteered to dig. Shortly after I started to perfect my digging skills, I got bitten by those safari ants… AGAIN!!! Oh my goodness!!! I don’t know how in the world I missed them. Since my first experience, I have learned to walk with my eyes on the ground, observing every where I set my feet upon. Clearly, I was not paying attention this time. As you can imagine, I fled from the scene and went to wait under a tree nearby.                                                                              I QUIT!!
Nevertheless, dinner was worth it seeing as we ate everything Prossy got from the farm. That’s one of the things I love about my continent. Everything is FRESH!!! No preservatives; nothing from concentrates! I was sharing with Katie yesterday how I wish CNN and all those other news anchors would show this side of Africa. The Africa they show has starving kids with flies around their nostrils and what not. Note: I’m not saying all those things do not exist. The baby in the picture I posted up yesterday is only 2 years old. She was heavy!!! Having discussed with many of the locals, the only apparent problem they have is access to safe, clean water. They say they have food all year round. I am yet to see a malnourished child – honestly! Today’s village is not the same as the one that existed years back, where everyone lives in a hut. Oh no! There are now proper houses with windows and everything. Yes, you do find kitchens next to the main house, which are mostly made out of mud. * God is good*

I worked on a few questionnaires, gathering results from the previous water samples we’d tested , and eventually shut down for the day. I couldn’t fall asleep till 4am; I can feel the exhaustion seeping into my body slowly, especially since I never really get a full night’s sleep. *Shrug*

Highlights of my day: 

Vodka in a sachet!!!

Who says they don't have payphones on the village??

Timber-cutting in progress

Kids fetching water from a borehole

Basket-weaving in progress

View of Ntenjeru village from a distance

Thursday:Since we finished collecting water samples yesterday, we set out to Kibale village to carry out home visits around 3pm today. There was a heavy rainstorm all morning which was why we couldn’t set out early. During these sessions, we accompany a VHT who speaks to members of the households about basic steps to maintaining a healthy home e.g. hand-washing, purchasing mosquito nets, healthy eating, etc. After informing them, they are handed a “prompt” which discusses every the topics we highlighted.

Example of prompts distributed during home visits

(The prompts have been translated into Luganda so they can be read by the people.) We hang around for questions, just so there are no misconceptions. I really enjoyed the home visits, although we didn’t have enough time to cover all 28 homes we intended to. Listening to some of the beliefs they held was intriguing. For example, one of the men said the people believe that if a woman with a toddler gets pregnant, the toddler is bound to have kwashiorkor. ( ??? Could this be due to the short birth spacing???) I couldn’t wrap my head around how such an idea came about, but we managed to clear them up. Sharing knowledge goes a long way I tell you!

We have a meeting tomorrow morning and then we , the ladies, are off to Kampala (and wherever else) for the weekend. The plan is to tour and explore as much as we can during the weekends, although we’d love to sleep in. I’m getting used to life in the village to the point where the thought of going to the city is so exciting and scary at the same time. Like “will I know how to talk to “city people”?? Haha! Okay,  I’m exaggerating. It’s 1am now. I still have to go through 30 questionnaires before I think of sleeping. I know i’m not the only one excited about tomorrow being Friday! Well whatever you get into, BE SAFE!!!

P.S Today’s my grandma’s birthday so I’m sending loads of love to her!! I doubt she’ll read this but nevertheless::: I LOVE YOU MA!!!!

xxox…

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Water sourcing from village to village

Monday:

Got up early thinking we were going to set out to Terere Parish by 9am but Edward came late, so we didn’t leave till about 11:15am. It’s funny how I find it somewhat cold in the mornings and evenings over here. A little breeze blows and I’m looking for my scarf or something; one would think I didn’t spend winter in DC!! We set out in pairs on the boda-bodas to Bunankanda, in Terere Parish ~ took about 25minutes to get there. Met with the local chairperson and split into groups to go and examine the water sources, determine whether they’re protected or unprotected, take samples + GPS reading, and test them out later.

Example of a well

Water sample

Jennifer & I worked together and managed to cover 6 wells in about 4 hours. Each one was about 20 minutes from the other and I couldn’t help but wonder what these people go through every day just to stay hydrated. To make it worse, it isn’t even clean water. I spoke to some of the locals asking what sanitation methods they were aware of and managed to highlight the benefits of boiling.  Each well provides water for 80-100 people! Every other individual was asking how I can help and …sigh! That’s the hardest part of this feat— I can only do so much. What I am doing now is purely basic assistance.

Jennifer & I with the village "mamas"

With one of the trainees...

Can i adopt her please!!!

The people were asking whether I could help them out with adopting a child from their village, or putting a borehole somewhere for them. Overwhelming, to say the least!

Upon arriving at the 6th well, my feet got attacked by “safari ants”. You know those ants that cling to you and bite HARD! Yes!! That was my UNHAPPY ending! I can’t even tell you whether I was dancing or jumping or…what! I ended up laughing and crying at the same time!

We took a lunch break at 2pm at a “hotel” by Lake Victoria. Finally got a chance to try legit Ugandan food – “MATOKE” – which is pretty much mashed plantains. It came with rice and beans. “Carb” overload shall I say? It was pretty good; different though.

Lake Victoria

Matoke & Rice + Beans

We went to 2 more water sources and eventually rounded up at 5pm. Got back to Ntenjeru @ 5.45pm and went on with helping Prossy make dinner. She made some kind of pasta combination with eggplant, tomatoes, etc. Pretty good!

We made a belt with holes to put the tubes of water into, and tied the belt around our waists before going to bed! I bet none of you guys knew that was another way of incubating!

Bedtime!!

Tuesday:

Rise and shine @ 8am!  No breakfast… I need to work on that at some point. I just find it extra hard to feed myself in the morning, especially before 11am.  We set out toward another parish, Ssaayi, around 10am, arriving at Luute village about 30 minutes later. I’m not sure if any of you noticed the use of  ‘Parishes’. That’s what’s used to describe counties, somewhat like it is in Louisiana.  We split into groups again and this time I worked with Edward. There I was thinking it would be a breeze! Ha!! The joke was on me! I did ALL the work, and I can tell you I walked at least 3km between each water source.  That’s what I’m here for right? *Sigh* We went to about 7 different sites today! My goodness! I know I won’t be found anywhere near a fitness center when I get back to the States! You can bet that!

Snack: Roasted corn...Pretty good 🙂

Lunch was at 2.30; had the same thing we had yesterday. Didn’t have much of an appetite, so I barely ate. Not sure if it was because of the heat or something else.  I stay hydrated though, so I think I’m good. We went on to sample 3 more sources before rounding up at 4.30pm. LOONG DAY!

I will try to get a pic of the entire parish and give you guys an idea of the land we’re covering day-to-day. We should be rounding up tomorrow, after which we’ll know where and when to build a protected water source (e.g. well), etc. Step by step!!

It’s past midnight now…I’m exhausted and my bed is calling me.

xxox…

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

To the River Nile…and back!

Saturday Morning: We set out at 7am on a “matatu” (public bus) toward Mukono, so we could catch the Nile River Explorers bus to Jinja. This was the company we were going on the rafting exploration with. It took about 35 minutes to get to Mukono . It had rained the night before, so the roads were pretty rough. I am still trying to understand the Ugandan definition of dry season. It stormed, yet again, last night and I was awake ALL NIGHT! I am not sure if it’s the jetlag that’s keeping me up as well. Either way, I know my system will crash very very soon.

what a matatu looks like

boda-boda

 

Upon getting to Mukono, the girls decided to get some breakfast from the street vendors. There is a famous specialty known as “Rolled eggs”, which is pretty much flat bread with an omelet inside. They say the name so fast it sounds like “rolex”! Not being a breakfast person myself, I decided to skip out on it and just watch the entire process. I recorded a short video but I doubt it will upload with this internet connection. It seems pretty easy though; I know one of these days I’ll get into it.

The bus was supposed to pick us up at 8am, but didn’t show up till about 8:45am. Why was I not surprised? By this time, it had already started raining and none of us had an umbrella so yeah…we got drenched! What a way to start this day of adventure! *Shrug*

Mukono is about 35km from Jinja so we arrived at about 10am. Met with other tourists from England, New Zealand, and Australia. Actually, I suspect the Nile River Explorer company is owned by the Aussies. We were given breakfast and off we went on the buses down to the riverside.  That was another loooong drive but I was wide-awake! My nerves were already getting the best of me because the guide had explained the rafting process to us, and I’m not sure if it was her tone or her choice of words that got me all nervous.  All I know is by the time we got to the bank of the River Nile, I was ready to chicken out.

Grade 5 rafters

The rafts arrive

There are different grades of rafting- Grade 3, Grade 4 & Grade 5. As you can imagine, Grade 5 is for the experienced/dare-devils that are willing to flip over in their vessels, or ride the rapids come what may. Grade 3 was for those who wanted to experience rafting in a gentler manner. You go over the rapids BUT no flipping involved. Somehow, I got conned into signing up for Grade 5. Seven of us got bundled into the raft. I just kept silently praying the sun would come out and warm me up. Ironically, the water was warm. The guide that was assigned to us was not the friendliest person, I must say. We had to go through practice steps which involved paddling forward & backward, jumping out of the raft and swimming under, what to do when you lose contact with the raft, holding your breath, etc.  Seeing as we were all somewhat nervous at the beginning, he got upset because we weren’t grasping everything quickly. Anyway…we got the hang of it and set out on the River Nile. Yes! The River Nile! Exciting indeed!

on the bank of the River Nile... waiting on Baby Moses 🙂

After we flipped over, I chickened out and decided to move to the “Safety boat”. This is similar to the Grade 3 boat, whereby you ride over the rapids BUT no flipping. One was enough for me. Yes! I am a chicken, I agree! You go and try rafting over the crazy rapids and come back and tell me about it! Oh yeah, on the safety boat, you don’t paddle either. Hahahaha!  Jennifer & Katie joined me on this, so it was pleasant! I enjoyed the scenery, watching others flip over and get rescued by the kayakers and all that fun stuff!  We took a short break and swam in the Nile too. That was a lot of fun!!!!

5 hours later—BBQ time!!! Right after we docked on the bank, we were met with tons of food  and drinks! What a perfect way to end the day!

Happy People

Fooooood!!

 

Well, we were taken to a camp site for some more drinks and music and “chillaxing”, and were assigned rooms – dormitory style. I was pretty impressed with the organization of everything. We hung around chatting with some locals and eventually called it a night at midnight. I was exhausted!!!

Sunday Morning:Got up at about 9.30am and set out into Jinja town center. Walked around and did a bit of sightseeing – through market stalls, art studios, etc. before stopping at “Flavours” – a foreign-owned restaurant; one out of many! As much as I pleaded for my food to me made spicy, it still came out bland. The girls keep telling me they’ve observed that Ugandan food doesn’t have much flavor to it, in terms of spices. I will find out and let you know. I still enjoyed the meal though.

Mmm

After negotiating with various drivers, we finally found a matatu that was heading into Mukono around 4pm. I can’t explain how my heart races each time i step into one of these vehicles! The way these people drive…oh my goodness! You bet I say my prayers more than once! We arrived in one piece at about 6.30pm – no electricity!  *Sigh!*

My Jinja Pals

We’re beginning a new project this week, focused mainly on water testing. Looking forward to getting out there and enhancing the knowledge of the people! I hope you all had a great weekend?

I came across this little piece during my devotion yesterday ago and I thought it would be a good idea to share it with you all:

Living without Regret
‘…that I may finish my race with joy…’ Acts 20:24
Imagine your life is over and you’re standing in front of a big DVD player. God inserts a disc with your name on it labelled ‘What might have been’. It details everything He wanted to accomplish through you: How He wanted to bless you financially, but you were afraid to sow into His kingdom and be generous with others; how He wanted to use your gifts, but you lacked the discipline to develop them and the courage to use them; how He gave you great relationships, but you weren’t truthful and loving enough to maintain them; how He longed to reproduce in you the character of Christ, but you refused to deal with your sin, resist temptation, and pursue spiritual growth. The poet said, ‘Of all the sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these – it might have been.’ But there’s a bright side. As long as you’re still breathing, you can close the gap between what is and what can be. So stop and ask yourself, ‘What can I do now to live without regrets later?’ Here’s what: start renewing your mind each day with God’s Word instead of filling it with junk. Use your talents and your treasures to build His kingdom instead of your own. If you do, you’ll discover that God gives ‘…seed to the sower…’ (2 Corinthians 9:10 NIV). The more seed you sow, the more seed God will give you. And how about making time to disciple somebody? That way your legacy will be greater than your lifespan. It’s not too late to become the person you might have been – if you’re willing to start today.

Love you all!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Reality setting in…

4:30am- It’s pouring outside and I literally feel like the roof is going to give way! The lightning..the thunder… and then the tiny mosquito that keeps buzzing around my ear. I laugh and I say to myself, “Welcome to Uganda, Ninma.”  Ha!

Jetlag had surely kicked in so I decided to pick my little book of “Basic Luganda” and learn a little bit. I got through numbers 1-10 and greetings and 3 hours later, I went back to sleep! Bulungi! (that means “Good”)

Back up at 8am and ready to roll. The good thing about this program is that we don’t always have early mornings. Most of the work we do begins after lunch so we’re free to do whatever we want to up until then. I decided to hang out with Prossy and review the numbers I learned in my ‘slumber’. She was so shocked. Her two kids came to help out and then they asked what Ugandan name I wanted. Well seeing as I had no clue about the whole naming process, I told them to explain it to me. People are from different clans – majority named after animals- so I was asked what animal I liked. I said “Elephant”… They began to list a whole variety of names and only one stuck out to me “NAKANDI”, which means “I am I.” Whoop whoop!!! Gotta love it!  Henceforth, my name is Nakandi, not Ninma!

Despite growing up in Nigeria, I NEVER rode on the motorbikes a.k.a  Okada (in Nigeria) or ‘Boda-Boda’ (in Uganda) . Today, little Ninma had a 35-minute ride to Kirondo village after lunch, to carry out a follow-up meeting with Village Health Teams (VHTs) who had been trained before. I was scared at first because the people who ride these “weapons of mass destruction” tend to have no value for human life. Luckily, our drivers had been warned severely so soon after, my heartbeat came back to normal. Phew!

Boda-Boda rider!

Our roadside traffic!

The purpose of the meeting was to get an idea of what they had done in their respective communities and what they felt about the program as a whole. I had my small group of 5 volunteers, and yes,  Edward (OmniMed’s lead point person) was on standby to help translate everything. I was somewhat shy at the beginning because 1. They’d never met me before; 2. I was intimidated because most of them were elderly. If I was their age and someone like myself, came to start talking, I’d definitely not take that person seriously like “what does this person know?” Well, thank God for the confidence that burst out of me because within minutes, I was conversing and getting loads of information out of them. By the end of it all, they even had questions for me about how to stay motivated. It seems extremely overwhelming for them. They have families to take care of, they do not get paid for this, and they also have their own jobs outside of this-mainly farming. How or what was I supposed to say to make them realize that this training is well worth it…in the long run.  Whatever it is I said (which I can’t even remember) was acknowledged and they thanked me greatly. I’m happy.

VHT groups

We returned to Ntenjeru at about 6pm and I managed to get a few pics of the villages around Mukono on the ride back. Played cards with the other girls and we sat around talking about our goals and objectives for this project. It’s good to be surrounded by open-minded people. You learn a lot I tell you.

Katie

Jessica and Jennifer

my bed

It’s 9pm now and OHHHH MYYY GOODNESS!!!!! I can’t believe I almost forgot to share this story with you guys! Soooo… last night, I went to brush my teeth and I heard some kind of grunt/whine behind the bushes. I had my flashlight in hand,  but I was too scared to use it to search for whatever creature I was standing in front of… so I fled.  That’s what happens when you watch scary movies- your mind goes crazy! After an hour, I went back to see if the coast was clear. Yes, indeed!  Anyway, this evening Jennifer was taking me on a tour of the back yard and next thing, I saw a pig tied up in front of the toilet. Its hind legs were stretched out flat, while the front two were slightly bent , and it kept whining. Noticing how concerned I was about the pig, Jennifer went on to tell me that it’s hind legs were broken. Apparently, this little piggy went into a mosque yesterday, got beaten up and left with 2 broken legs. I can’t say it was left for dead seeing as it’s still tied up somewhere, so someone cares about it. As sorry as I felt for it, the irony behind it kept me laughing. A pig in a mosque! I spoke to the pig and told it to behave itself next time! Don’t go where you are not supposed to be!  I think Piggy listened because I checked up on him/her half an hour later and found her snoozing. Poor thing.  Sigh!

Poor piggy

It’s the weekend and according to the girls, we’re going to Jinja tomorrow. The plan is to go water rafting, sightseeing and (I think I heard camping?!) I am VERY nervous about rafting but hey… you only live once right! We’re due back on Sunday evening so I will catch up with you all then.  🙂

Hope you all have a good weekend!! To those who’ve subscribed—THANK YOU!!!!

xxox…

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments