Monday, June 30, 2014

Living Water in Karamoja

Another video by that same video crew as the last one. With a special cameo by my truck. This one explains a lot of what is going on in the peace villages right now.

Fuel Uganda (link is here in case the embedded doesn't work.)

Getting Around East Africa.

I put this video up on my FB page back in April but I really like it.
I had the opportunity to do outreaches with this group in Karamoja in January. They filmed while we did ministry. It is a great glimpse of the places in the village that I work and the towns that I travel through.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Odd is my new normal

making the crust first
So the last few times I posted it has been all about Karamoja. But I do lead a more normal life in Sototi too. Although even as I write that I realize that these pictures aren't really going to show what you think of as normal. But odd is my new normal. 

I really wanted hot pockets the other day. Weird craving I know. But I managed to make some. Now, if only i had a microwave....

Along the same lines as snacking.... 
A white ant hatching happened the other night. These stupid bugs are attracted to light by the millions when they come out of the ground. I have a tiny little light on my inverter which was next to a small opening in the kitchen window above the sink. This was my pleasant finding in the morning. 

The watchman had spent all night catching them so he could being this tasty treat home to his kids. He got a large basin full of them. The kids are going to be so excited! 

One last picture of them. These ones are in the process of shedding their wings so they are now more ready for my frying pan....

Some pictures from Nakayot and Lormorchubae

Growing pumpkins!! This makes me excited because it means food and nutrients. They grow them up onto the roofs and on fences so the goats can't reach them and so snakes can't hide as easily in them.  
Clinic in Nakayot

Driving into some rain!

Coming back from getting water

Just waiting out the heat of the day.

Building a fence
Headed back from the garden

Empty grainery
Going to get more water. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

New ambulances in Karamoja!

On Thursday I passed this brand new "bicycle ambulance".  (This by the way is the main road to all of central Karamoja.) I had been hearing for a while that these were coming but I had lost hope because nothing seemed to be coming of it. The idea is that you station a few of these in the remote villages and people at least stand a little better chance getting to live saving treatment in time.  It is like one of those pull behind bike trailers for little kids. Only these are big enough to put a mostly reclining adult in.  Any bike can pull it.
  I put a map here to try to show you where this guy was riding from. The red region is Karamoja. Please ignore the fact that it says travel advisory. It is just the best map I could find.  If you look on the right side in the middle, on the border between green and red, is Soroti. When I passed this guy I was between Katakwi and Napak. (Side note: There is no city of Napak, that is the name of the district. It should read Irirri but it is still the best map I could find.) If you draw a line between Moroto and Amudat he is headed to a village roughly half way between those cities on the line. 
I estimate he had to ride roughly 100km. Well, I passed him again on Friday. He is now about 3 km to Nakayot so he is almost there! I did notice that the first guy now is on a bike that isn't pulling anything and there is a second guy pulling the cart. The good news is that if he is carrying a patient he will only have to go about 25km to the one of the small clinics where they will be able to call an ambulance. One with an internal combustion engine and not just leg power. I really hope this saves lives. 

In which the heroine finds herself as part of a posse to track raiders and cattle then after which she spends several hours discussing hygiene practices with a hygiene committee.

 I felt the need to slip into some 18th century Victorian literature techniques to remind myself that the stuff I find myself doing isn't actually normal. Even though it just doesn't feel that strange anymore. 
While on this last trip up out to the peace villages I was waved down by a group of soldiers.  Thankfully I was with Kodet, one of our peace workers whom I trust, so when a rapid discussion took place in Ngkaramojung and then 5 soldiers piled into my vehicle I didn’t get too upset. Turns out there was a raid the previous night and some cattle were stolen. These guys were tracking them and I was going their way.  I don’t really know how to describe the ride with my truck packed full of men and rifles smelling like they’ve been sleeping in their uniforms for months.
I think Kodet told them we were going to Lormoruchbae and then later Nakayot but they wanted to go all the way to Nakayot right away so Kodet suggested that we do our work out there first and then come back later. If I’ve learned nothing else here it is that you don’t really want Ugandan military upset with you so we took them all the way out to the barracks. Which was fine because it gave me a chance to check on the school.
Primary 4
Primary 3
Also spent some time with the VHWs (village health workers) giving them new meds and supplies.  Then headed back to Lormoruchbae there we did an entire village survey of their hygiene practices. I learned a ton and I think that will be a post all of its own when I have a bit more time. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I've always wanted one of these!

This is an advertisement for... can you guess?..... wait for it.....

A portable ultrasound machine!  Really?!
I wish this picture had better res so that you could see how rocking his leather scrubs are no how good he still looks after spending the night on the doctor's lounge couch  how the fine print says "change how patients see you."
If you need to verify for yourself- here.

Well, clearly I have been doing too much laying around. Time to get back to work.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Malaria strikes again

Dog still under the effects of sedation- only time I've seen this.
So I do have a legit excuse for promising to get back to blogging and after less than a week falling away already. I arrived back to Soroti for CLIDE's annual budget/planning meeting which is days of discussions, budgets, long term strategy and team building because the team comes from five different districts.  We don’t ALL get together that often. I don’t like long days of meetings but I understand the necessity. The upside was that having some extra vets around enabled me to get my pets some needed medical care.  My cat, the one that kills snakes, had cancer in his eye and it needed to be removed. Also, the dog that I’m caring for from Beckie and Ruudy needed to be spayed. 

Then this week I came down with a rocking case of malaria. This illness really sucks. I couldn’t help but think about the response in the states to flu season between huge pushes for prevention, rapid treatment including quick diagnosis, good symptom management including rehydration (for most people who are not even dehydrated yet), the most current treatment options, and back home to bed. For an illness that will not kill most people if they stay at home in bed and drink Gatorade and take Tylenol.Now I know I have been out of the states a while now and health care has some major problems but the vast majority of people who seek care get dang good care.

But here, Malaria is far more fatal, and the clinics and hospital’s already limited resources are overwhelmed, diagnosis is hit and miss, treatment options are antiquated, and people are not treated based on their need but on their ability to pay.  

The good news for me is that I have access to rapid tests that the majority of this country doesn’t have so I caught it early and have the most current treatment options in the house. Between that and bedrest (don’t worry mom, today is the first day I’ve been out of bed more than an hour at a time!) Tylenol and Gatorade I managed. But I still probably should have had someone start an iv wednesday night and am going to spend the next month trying to get my Hbg back over 7.

Anyway, that is what is going on in my life right now.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Trying to survive village life

Still trying to lead an examined life.... yet the only thing I can think about is how the last few hours have been a reminder that village life is tough.
Supper was a flop! Usually when I come up north I pack too much food so this trip I tried to actually plan instead of just tossing some eatable things in a bag.  But for the past two days I’ve been doing several hours of garden work with the women starting early in the morning. It is hard physical labor and by “lunch time” I’m hungry and am eating a lot more than I normally do up here. I didn’t pack enough food. And my neighbors are eating green leaves that they collected while we were walking the 2 kilometers back from their fields. That together with cassava roots is all they have right now until harvest time. And it isn’t like I can run to the corner store. There is nothing to purchase out here. I had a mango left that I packed for breakfast tomorrow but found it was full of worms. Parts of it were still consumable so ate it anyway.
Then headed out to the bathing structure to scrape off the layers of sweat and garden dirt. Due to the full moon I was reminded that I am very white and it seemed like the whole village could see me “showering” so I was trying to be quick and managed to spill almost the whole jerry can. It is a several km, physically strenuous, walk for water and not possible after dark.
So, now I’m tired, sore, hungry, and very dirty. But as much as I want to, I can’t sit here and feel sorry for myself.  My neighbors work harder than I do for more hours of the day from the day they are big enough to carry a hoe. They have less food than I do for most months of the year. They always struggle for water. I have a mattress. They will all be sleeping on the ground. I have a pantry in Soroti filled with food. They have to hope and pray for a good harvest and just don’t know what will come.
Headed back to Soroti in the morning. 


Long day! Highlight was meeting the newest member of the village.  She is just a few days old. It gave me a great chance to talk with the TBA (Traditional Birth Attendant/ Lay Midwife) and plant the idea of some additional training and supplies for them. Up to this point they have been very hesitant to even meet with me. I know there are a lot of cultural practices attached to childbirth here and I think they are afraid that I'm going to tell them to stop doing things that are very important in their minds. And it will be a challenge because there are practices, like packing a newly cut umbilical cord with cow dung, that I'm going to try to change. So, I’ll have to move slowly.  But I spent the whole day together with them, we headed out to their gardens at 5am and weeded for hours, then went together to the spring to carry water.  I could really see how being together with them increased their trust in me. However, it didn’t really increase our ability to communicate. I still have a lot of language learning ahead of me!

Also managed to medicate 85+ children for worms. Took a bit of time to weigh a few of the babies that look malnourished. I’ll see if lowering the parasite load is enough to help them or if I need to find a way to be a bit more aggressive with treatment.

This evening 6 of the girls showed up at my house and announced they were going to sleep with me. Well! After a bit of discussion they managed to convey that they were worried about me being in danger and lonely. I think I convinced them that I don’t mind sleeping alone but it did give us a chance to pray together for safety for the night and then they wanted to sing. Which attracted 25% of the rest of the village to come sing.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lormoruchbae for a few days

I’m out in Lormoruchbae. Arrived earlier today. Feeling very discouraged after checking on the water filtration project.  (Teammates wrote about last month's project here).  We started this clean water project because there was a big need due to a Hepatitis outbreak. We trained them on using and maintaining the filters but today the first one I went to see was filthy and even as I watched the they tried to flush it with dirty water. Can’t really be doing much good. Also I went to the spring with the kids and many of the “clean” jerry cans went with us. Ugg!!  I vacillate between being frustrated with myself for not teaching it well enough and frustration with them for just disregarding my teaching and doing what they want because it is easier. I’ll go visit the other 4 tomorrow so I still have hope.

My plan for tomorrow also includes an attempt to deworm all the children of the village. I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew. However, I did find two young teens who aren’t at school this term and they speak a bit of English and are willing to help me coral kids. One is a girl I’ve never met before, Teoko, who says she wants to be a nurse. I’ll see tomorrow how teachable she is and maybe I can work with her on cleaning and restoring the filters and maybe she can help me see where we went wrong. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Time to end the blog?

So I see that I’ve written less than 40 words in the past 3  months and 6 posts in the last 6.  I have not really missed blogging. When I first moved here I felt like I needed it to keep my head on straight. When that need tapered off, I still kept it up but obviously I’m not doing so well any more. I was ready to shut it down and had the last post composed in my head but had not gotten around to posting. So, last week when I heard a quote that convicted me I had to pause. “Life experiences only create ruts if unexamined.”  In the past the blog has forced me to examine but lately maybe I’m in a rut. It has gotten easier to not really reflect- to just work and be busy all day long. So, even though it is easier it is not better. Honestly, my spiritual life has gotten a bit flat and I think it is also a symptom. So, I’m back to blogging.