Okay, to get to the internet, you have to take a “taxi”, and I use the word loosely, because a taxi here is a shared 14 passenger bus that bounces up and down bumpy roads spewing diesel exhaust. And by 14 passenger van, I mean one actually holding 20 people. Once in the bus you brave the Kampala traffic, where there are many cars and literally no stop signs, signals, or anything else resembling order. And to add to the fun, you have to go through two roundabouts at a snails pace.
I made it this time, but my updates may not be as frequent as previously thought.
Besides the traffic, the trip so far has been great. Saturday I went to visit Diana, who I sponsor through CCF. She lives with her mom in a one bedroom brick home that her uncle pays for, as her mom doesn’t work so that she can care for Diana. Diana was just skin, bones, and a big smile. She was obviously sick, but through CCF she has just started anti-viral treatments so hopefully she’ll be getting better soon. I was taken to the project office where she receives services, to her home, and to her school. I also met all kinds of people whose names I couldn’t pronounce at the time, much less remember now, but it was a good experience. I was also interested to learn that Diana and her mother receive regular counseling from a therapist in order to deal with her HIV status.
So that was Saturday. Sunday was quite literally a day of rest, and we spent the day playing with the children at the house, including Grace, who I mentioned before, and Winnie, who was just adopted after her father died of AIDs 4 weeks ago. She’s very cute and about 5 years old I think. She really enjoys listening to my iPod and dancing along. Grace and Winnie also have a little rivalry going, so when you are talking to one the other is usually giving you dirty looks and will ignore you later.
Monday we were briefed on the program, and met the various people who work for ACF. We also visited pig farms, which smelled lovely. (ACF has a program to help widows earn money by giving them pigs). In the afternoon I tutored a little boy named Ronald whose parents have both just died and who now can’t afford school fees. ACF lets him come to their library every day during school hours to get taught as teachers are available. He’s very adorable and very shy and quiet. Most people in Uganda are very softspoken actually, so I fit in well. 🙂
Tuesday we went to a village called Katebo, which was about a 2 hours drive and sits near Lake Victoria. The people there are poorer than in Ndejje. We were in town to provide free AIDs testing, and counseling for those who were receiving results. Since most of the people there don’t speak English, my role was to assist in the testing, handing over syringes, etc, as necessary. Another volunteer, Marjon (I think that’s how you spell it, she pronounces it My-own or My-on), from Holland, is a nurse and did the actual testing. This seems to be the only time most of the people have seen a nurse, so a few people with various ailments also showed up hoping for treatment. One little girl in particular was about 5… or she looked about 5, most kids who look 5 are usually about 10, anyway… she came with a gash in her head. It turned out she’d been hit in the head with a hoe about 4 days before and it hadn’t been treated, or even washed for that matter. The cut itself was small, but it had become infected and developed an absess about 3 inches around. Marjon did her best to treat it but we don’t know how she’ll be. Hopefully she’ll return for a checkup when we’re back in Katebo next week.
Back in Ndejje yesterday, Wednesday I think, we visited local families, one where the father had been paralyzed in a work accident, and one where a sister was taking care of her siblings after their parents died of AIDs, and who was now dying from AIDs herself. Very sad, it makes you feel very helpless. We helped them get water from the well and take care of things around the house… house another of those loosely used terms.
In the afternoon I helped teach in a school in the village, a P2 class, which works out to about 2nd grade, maybe 3rd. The kids are adorable and very well behaved, which is incredible seeing as they go to school from 7am to 5pm with little time to work off extra energy.
Today we took it pretty easy, I played with Grace in the morning and then we began our adventure to Kampala which brings me to now.
As a side note, everywhere we go people, especially kids, yell out “Mzungu” (white person) and run after you yelling and waving and trying to hold your hand. It makes you feel like a little bit of a celebrity. Although, when it grows from a group of 4 or 5 to a mob of 15 it can be a little suffocating.
Anyway, hope everyone is well back home! Hopefully I’ll be able to post again soon.