This post is from yesterday, December 29th.
It seems that we have nearly depleted the water that our host has in his catchment. Thusly, I am going on 4 days without washing my hair. Yuck. Thankfully, we have plenty of drinking water so that’s good.
There are benefits to travelling with medical people. Unfortunately, it looks like I have developed some strep throat. Boooo. Amongst everyone, we rallied some initial does of Amoxicillin and we’ll hopefully be able to scrounge up some more in the village this afternoon. I initially thought I just had the flu but my throat started feeling strep-ish last night and Joanna- our doctor, confirmed that it looked like the beginnings of strep that probably developed since my immunity was low due to a virus that I’ve had for several days. On the bright side, at least it’s not malaria!
Our visit to the clinic yesterday was a good opportunity to have some perspective on my minor illness. I am so lucky to have medical care provided by trained professionals. At the Health Centre-II, the workers are called community health workers and seem to essentially be equivalent to a medical assistant in the States. They are responsible for providing emergency first aid, basic medical care (giving out pills for common conditions like malaria and sexually transmitted infections) and emergency deliveries for those women who are unable to make it to the Health Centre-III to have their babies. I can’t even imagine having the majority of my care provided by someone with such little training. Joanna was observing and stopped a few instances where the health worker was attempting to give unusually high doses of medication to babies. They have a chart that goes by age but the children here are usually so underweight, the dosing should be modified but the health workers had no idea. One of our team members introduced us to a saying- T.I.A. This Is Africa. When we see the kind of medical care they provide- TIA. When the lights go out during dinner- TIA. When you see a little boy reach on to the ground and eat an ant- TIA. It’s been quite a learning experience.
Last night, we got another driving rain. We are staying in a guest house that has a tin, corrugated roof, so you can imagine the racket. It was coming down so hard that it seemed that if we were to go outside the rain would hurt. It was in the middle of the night so I didn’t get to test my theory. There was some really intense lightening that would light up our room and be followed by very loud booming thunder. I has some ear plugs that one of our team members, Amanda, gave to me. The ear plugs and the Tylenol PM helped so that I actually got some sleep last night. The night before it rained also and I barely slept so I really needed the rest.
Today we are hopefully going to be meeting with a nurse from the Kampala North Rotary club to discuss what she’d like for us to do in our remaining time. Yesterday, we found two health workers who are interested in working at the clinic when we open it and they visited the Health Centre-II in Iringa with us yesterday. They seemed enthusiastic and relatively well versed in the basics. We’re thinking that our time might best be spent doing some training with these women on health outreach, emergency delivery and nutrition. We’re also hoping to meet with the Women’s Rotary Community Corps this morning. The RCCs are collaborative in the village that are informal groups who come together to work on specific issues. There is also a youth farming collaborative and an disabled corps who are working on trying to expand their bee keeping business.
We did some testing at the well and determined that because the people are not using a funnel to fill their jerry cans, it is taking the 2 minutes and 30 seconds per can whereas if they use a funnel, they can cut that time by 1 minute. For people who spend 4 hours of their day getting water, the time savings is a big deal. We’re hoping the Women’s RCC will help us to spread the use of funnels so that everyone at the bore holes will start using them. It’s hard to get people here to do anything new even if it is a simple change. We need to explicitly explain to them why spending less time at the bore hole is a good thing and give them tangible examples of how they can use their time towards other activities. It seems that Ugandans have a totally different way of thinking than Americans so it can be tricky when you’re trying to explain you logic to them. Years and years of poverty and oppression color their motivation and really their hope that things can change and get better. Risk taking in Uganda has high stakes. If you decide to try new things and they don’t work, it can mean that your family has even less to eat. This has been especially true in areas such as farming where Chuck, our farming and water guy, has been trying to encourage farmers to plant different crops and/or try to raise different kinds of animals. New things can be scary for anyone but particularly scary when you’re worried about your pride, reputation and feeding your family- men here sometimes have more than one wife and set of kids so the consequences are harsh for failure. A man here was devastated by an African swine sickness that wiped out ¾ of his pig farm and Chuck said he was very discouraged and had nearly given up. Chuck and Annslie, our animal husbandry person, gave him a pep talk and provided some feedback on how he can make things better.
While we’re here, we’re hoping that we can get a microcredit program off the ground. This would help the village considerably if they can utilize it effectively. We’re supposed to have a representative from the microcredit lending institution arrive today. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that the rains haven’t washed out any of the roads!! TIA 🙂