Thursday, October 26, 2017

October Newsletter

Well, in the HTML publishing the newsletter is there. But seems like it isn't actually there. So maybe it is easier to just follow this link?  By the way, if anyone knows how to help me actually make this embedded feel free to let me know.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Always thinking about Uganda.

I've been I've trying to send this last newsletter out for a while now but I realized part of why this is proving to be so difficult is how final it feels. (Side note: If you didn't get my newsletter and would like to let me know, otherwise I'll try to put it on a post tomorrow.)
Anyway, I'm having trouble right now with these things that feel so permanent. When I first arrived back in MI I had to purchase a few things but I realized that in the back of my head I was always thinking these will go back to Uganda with me whenever I go, for example running shoes or underwear. But now I need to start to get some winter things, or other things that I'll never need in Uganda. Like a belt.
I desperately need one here for the pants I had in storage but none of my Ugandan skirts have belt loops.  So I'm having a terrible time bringing myself to purchase one. I'm using a piece of paracord right now, which I think is fine, but my mother rolls her eyes at every time she sees it and if even she is judging my fashion choices I guess I might need to reconsider.
Same with warm clothes. And work uniforms. Seems like I can go back to work at Saints Mercy Health with the 2.5 old uniforms I have remaining from eight years ago, right?
This block is for pretty much anything I need to purchase that I won't ever need in Uganda. Which is the same issue as this newsletter. I'm having such a hard time bringing myself to do it. To admit that I can stop thinking about returning to Uganda for a bit. To stop having Uganda impact all my decisions, purchases, etc...  But I want to know when I'm going back. I want to have a date, even if it is six months down the road. Because this all feels so permanent.  And I really don't like it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Medical scams

A missionary friend just shared this video, discussing one of the many problems facing health care in Uganda. The video discusses how Chinese "clinics" are opening up around Uganda, telling people they can diagnosis and treat all their problems but are nothing more than scams offering fake but believable (for uneducated, inexperienced people) diagnostic testing and very expensive supplements as though they are medicine. This news reporter is right on.  She doesn't address the problem in locations outside of the capital where it is far worse because people have even less understanding of physiology and disease.
I've encountered these "clinics" in Soroti, not run by Chinese, but by Ugandans who are part of the scam. The patient gets hooked up to a "machine" which is nothing more than an electrical tester, and gets a very thorough and very bogus diagnosis. The practitioner then gives them a list of "medicines" that the patient "has to" take.  One family spent more than 500,000 for this (keep in mind that this is about $140.00 for a family that probably makes less than $20.00 a month) went home with a bottle of weeds. (and not the good kind of weed)
 But people are attracted to the testing and the confidence.  I often had to tell people the testing they needed was not available to them or that there was actually no treatment possible. (The best laboratory is 8 hours away by bus for my patients and even that lab can't reliably do things like liver enzymes or ABGs at all. There are about 5 CT machines in the whole country and one MRI. There are  only two places in the country people can receive chemo so needless to say we don't treat much cancer.  And people don't understand that there is no fix for things like cerebral palsy or downs syndrome.) People want to grab on to hope, no matter how unrealistic is is and this huge scam really preys on the most poor, most desperate and most uneducated.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Obule Youth Conf

200+ youth from around Soroti, singing, games, dramas, teaching, baptisms... it was a busy three days but well worth the work!

Closing the "rabbit project"

I've been doing an informal rabbit revolving loan project with a few of the girls I sponsor in school. This was a really nice "closing" to their project. I got to see their newest litter of six and "handover" two to the next loan recipient. Really, they need their mother for a bit longer yet but now the next girl will start planting rabbit foods so she has something growing when she receives the babies in a few weeks. And we butchered one of my many males and roasted him. They had not yet killed one. They keep selling then for money but I've been encouraging them to also keep some for meat.
They practiced and agreed it was much easier to kill/clean/prepare and taster than chicken.
 Janet, in the black shirt, is the current recipient. She has told me that having rabbits to sell (an income) helps the neighbors respect her. (She has shared with me in the past that because her mother is a prostitute she is often mistreated.) In the blue shirt, Vicky, will be starting. She had lots of questions and Janet successfully answered most of them. (Seems there is still a bit of confusion on how to tell a male from a female but at least eventually, the one that starts having babies is surely the female.)
Sorry that I don't have any pictures of all of us feasting (nine people on one skinny rabbit isn't actually my idea of a feast, but anytime these kids get an actual piece of meat, rather than some broth with just bones and bits of meat is their idea of a feast) but my camera battery was dead by the time I finally got it back after the butchering. They took 400 pictures but I'll spare you the other 397. But at least you get an idea of how much the whole event was enjoyed.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Too many goodbyes

Recently said good bye to these two families.
This is Judith, her little baby, Anna, was the one who died back in March. When I went to visit she told me she was worried that she was never going to see me again after the burial. We had a really nice time just sitting and talking. (Usually the women insist on rushing off to cook when I come to visit and we never get to actually talk.) She is still convinced that witchcraft killed her baby so keep praying for her faith in God.

And Ester and her mother. Theirs is the baby that died the first week of June. It was the hardest burial I'd ever been to. Ester is mentally ill but remembered me and was actually happy to see me this last time. (The previous two times I'd seen her, when she was in labor and when we were bringing her baby's body back she was combative and angry at me- understandably.) Her mother cried when I told her I was leaving Soroti and said I was the only person who had ever loved them. I know that with the stigma of mental illness they are often criticized by the community and discriminated against. Even the other midwife at the clinic wouldn't help them because of Ester's status They insisted on giving me a chicken and a bag of cassava because I couldn't stay to let them cook for me. I know how they are barely scraping by to feed themselves but they would not let me say No to their gifts. Please pray they would feel loved by God. 

(Because literally everything I own at this point fits in one of two bags and I have even handed the keys over to the landlord so I don't have a place to give this chicken water, I needed to give it away again quickly. Unfortunately, it overheated in the back of my truck on a typical Soroti sunny day but the town's resident homeless guy didn't care and happily took both gifts.)

Sara and Lazaro

I've written about these two many times. I went to see them one last time. Goodbyes are never pleasant but I was very happy to see that Lazaro had been provided a wheelchair and Sara's small business is bringing in a bit of money. She has an old school sewing machine she powers by hand and does a little bit of taloring. She also is selling a few tomatoes and onions in her roadside stand. We didn't get to see Sara's baby, Steven, because he had been sent away to an auntie's house because the family decided it was time to wean and that is how they do it here. But they reported he is growing well and is healthy.