Thursday, 19 July 2012

Goatie Goatie Goats!

July 2 – 3

                Hello all!  I just wanted to say that I have gotten home safely and without too much hassle.  I am still trying to get used to some things such as it being light out at 10 at night and being able to use the tap water, but on the whole, I am not doing too bad!  However, back to the good stuff J.


                Today was my first day working with VWB!  Yay!  It started off with Steve, Jerome, Claire and I going to the FAOC office from which VWB operates in Mbarara.  FAOC stands or Foundation for AIDS Orphaned Children; there are many people who work here, helping with projects to generate income to help children orphaned due to AIDS.  VWB is kind of a sideline to their own projects.  From what I understood, they are currently trying to find and grow plants that provide the optimum nutrition for the Ugandan people as well as using some of these crops, like chickpeas to roast and sell for money in order to keep generating income for their projects.  Or something to that effect.  The project that VWB is working on is called the Goat Project, a project that has been ongoing for a couple of years now ever since Dr. Claire Card came to set it up in Uganda a few years ago (feel free to correct me if I am wrong Claire!).  Now, what exactly does this project do you ask?  Well I am ready to tell you! 

The point of this project is to provide means of income for impoverished ladies who have no other means of income (although they do give goats to some men too).  The ladies (or men) get two goats, a male and female, of breeding age to start off.  In order to receive the goats first however, they must first build a goat house, a structure made of boards that is raised off the ground in order to keep goats in.  It should have enough room in between the boards to let feces drop through yet still close together that hooves don’t get caught.  They also should have troughs for water and feed.  In order to build these houses, seeing as most if not all receiving the goats in the first place are impoverished, they get a loan from the local revolving fund of money that was started by FAOC.  The revolving fund is money that keeps getting added to by women who already have goats and have progressed far enough that they are able to sell their goats and goat products for money thus it is essentially women funding other women for goats.  Make sense?  Once the women have built their goat houses they are eligible to receive goats from FAOC.  One of the jobs that Steve and Jerome have is to test and purchase goats to distribute out to these women.  The first kid that is born is donated to another woman in the community so that she too can start her own goat project (I think).  After that the ladies are to sell their goats and goat products and put some money back into the revolving fund (in order to pay back the money they borrowed to build their goat house) and so that other women who may not be as successful will be able to use that money for their own purposes as well.  I think I have that right, if not I think I have it close enough.  Now that you have the background, let’s go back to what happened today.

Mondays are apparently meeting days (or maybe every first Monday of the month, or maybe bi-weekly?) where all of FAOC gets together and shares what they have been working on, how it has been progressing, what were the goals since the last meeting…kind of like your regular staff meeting at work.  At the meeting I met with the members of FAOC that helped out with the VWB.  There was Vivian, a slim whisp of a young woman; there was Teddy, one of the translators with an extremely bubbly personality; there was also Joseph, another translator who was also in the process of building his own shop to sell goods in near his house.  He liked to use phrases such as “okkkaaayyy,” and “yhesh” to answer everyone, even if he didn’t quite understood what you were asking.  Most times you would ask him a question about goats and he would answer “yhesh” which was totally irrelevant to the question you asked.  He was one of the nicest, giving, and friendly people I have met here.  He had a very good heart even if he didn’t quite listen to you all of the time.  I also met a lady named Skovia that helped run the demonstration farm that FAOC had set up in a nearby town for the goats.  She had had polio when she was younger which caused her right foot to arch up into an improper angle however it didn’t seem to bother her in the slightest. 

Okay.  Now for the meeting itself.  I am not going to lie, I didn’t pay very much attention to it, but I did manage to pick up a couple of things.  The first topic was about chickpeas and how they were growing and how well the sales were going for the roasted chickpeas (which are very hard to chew but are quite tasty).  The second was about the goat project and Scott gave a spiel about how to improve the revolving fund so that it worked better for the women.  The main reason I wasn’t paying attention was due to the paravet manual that Steve gave me that I was reading at the meeting instead.  It was 52 pages of how to train paravets, goat husbandry and usual goat illnesses and how to treat them.  I learned a lot about goats in that 3 hour meeting reading that manual than I had learned in my life about goats.  Once the meeting was over we went out for lunch at a place famous for its samosas (they were really good).

We travelled back to FAOC after lunch and started to clean up the office that was in the building and to take inventory of our supplies.  All of the shelves were covered in mouse poop so I cleaned it all off and Claire and I also organized the supplies in the shelves.   We also saw how many syringes and needles we had to see how many we had to buy for a vaccination clinic later in the week.  I think I counted around 20 3mL syringes so needless to say we needed to buy more.  Claire and I went out to buy syringes and needles and to price out vaccines.  At one place where we stopped, a newer veterinary pharmacy, Claire asked the fellow about clostridial and brucella vaccines (2 diseases common in goats, clostridial diseases cause sudden death and abortions, brucella causing abortions and infertility in both males and females).  The guy said they had neither of these vaccines as they weren’t common in the area.  I just laughed as Claire straight-up told him they are the most common diseases and that they should get them in.  You should have seen the guys face as he got schooled; the memory still makes me smile.  Eventually we finished buying syringes and needles and pricing out vaccines.

It was an early end to the day; we went out for supper somewhere, not quite sure where, and it was early to bed for the next day.  It was a good day to introduce me to the rest of the week.  Yes I didn’t do much vet related stuff but that is alright.  I got my fill the rest of the week!


                Today was the day I first got to touch an animal and do vet things.  And man did it feel good!  The group of us went out to check goats to potentially buy at farm run by a fellow named Michael.  You are able to tell those that are wealthy here in Uganda by the sheer size of the person’s body.  And let me tell you, Michael was a very successful farmer.  We were to check 10 goats that we were pretty sure Michael was trying to sell for someone else.  They were all very young goats, under one year of age.  While testing goats, we test for brucella (so we draw blood from the jugular), we check their teeth, their pallor by checking the mucosa of their eyes as well as to see if they have extra teats (if it was a female) which may interfere with milking.  I got to take blood from them (cool!) and got very good at checking their teeth.  Once we were done checking them out we spray painted a number on them and took a picture of them.  This is so we know, when we finish testing for brucella, which goats are which to prevent us from buying one with brucella.  While there we also treated a goat for pinkeye.

                We went out for a quick lunch before going out the demonstration farm in the village of Kaberebere (kah-bear-a-bear-a OR cab-el-leb-el-lay, the “r’s” and “l’s” are interchangeable, fun fact).  I got to see the demonstration goat house (which was huge) and I finally got to see what napier grass looked like.  Also there, there were papaya trees, an avocado tree, a jackfruit tree and a mango tree not to mention the usual matooke and/or banana trees (I still can’t tell them apart).  After that we went to go see a little boy named Brian.  This was a boy who Steve and Laura had found in one of the villages they worked in the first month they were in Uganda; he was HIV positive, severely malnourished, ill and very weak, weighing probably about half of what a healthy boy his age (3 years old) would weigh (I am not 100% sure of all of the details concerning him).  They brought him in to the hospital for treatment and periodically check in on him when they go to the village.  He is a very cute, serious little boy who loved to play with our residence keys and Jerome’s license and debit card. 

After spending some time with him we travelled on to another village to check on a goat who had delivered a kid the night before, but was still pushing.  The paravet had helped deliver the kid and had checked to see if there was another inside and could not find one.  When we got there, the poor girl was in obvious distress.  She didn’t try to get up when we approached her and was not paying very much attention to her new kid who kept trying to nurse while she was laying down.  She was very dehydrated and kept straining.  While Claire went to see if she still did have another kid in there, I brought the kid to another female goat so he could get some milk.  But let me tell you, females who have their own kids do not like to share their milk with kids who are not theirs.  I had to hold the goat between my legs and try to stop her push the poor kid away so he could feed.  Claire did end up finding a twin and pulled the poor dead thing out.  We gave the girl a shot of antibiotics and were on our way out, after I held a few more baby goats of course!

On our way back home we stopped at Joseph’s place in Kaberebere to look in on his son.  VWB definitely looks after its people and their families.  Joseph’s son had had a rash for several months now; Claire took a look at it and took pictures.  It was a progressive rash that had grown to cover most of his body over the past months.  Claire was pretty sure it was ringworm; it was just odd that no one else in the family had it.  The poor boy was itching himself like crazy and many areas were rubbed raw on his skin.  We decided to take him in to the hospital as soon as we (or I guess Steve, Jerome and Claire) had time.  Then it was time for home!  I had a lot of fun finally working with animals today.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved working in the clinic in Rugazi but here I felt like I was doing what I was meant to do, you know? 
I be writing more about this week and try to post it soon!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Weary Traveller

                Only a little late but here is some blog!  I am sorry I have been unable to post as I have had no internet!  I am currently on my way up to go white water rafting on the Nile then am leaving tonight.  I will be posting more blogs when I get back to Canada to finish up the rest of my trip!
Saturday June 30
                It is very hard to sleep at a hostel I have discovered.  Everyone is very noisy, especially when your walls are of sheer material, as in a tent.  Oh well.  Since I had gone to bed early I got up early and had a shower and such before most people were up.  I had had a very vivid dream in that Stephanie and Scott had come to wake me up in my tent and I said I would get up but then fell asleep afterward.  I thought it had been real and was surprised when I saw Stephanie just waking up when I was settling down for a delicious (and free!) breakfast.  After breakfast we all decided to go walk downtown and explore.  On this day in Rwanda, it is National Volunteer Clean-Up Day where all of the shops are shutdown until noon and all of the citizens go out in their communities and clean up the streets and environment.  I kind of wish Uganda had this sense of pride in their country.  As we walked up and down hills this volunteer day was evident as there were hardly any cars on the roads that had been jammed yesterday and everything was quite.  We were practically the only ones walking on the street; it was a little weird I will say.  About 3 hours into this walk our group split into those who wanted to shop and those who wanted to go to the Mille des Collines, the hotel Hotel Rwanda is based off of; I was in the latter group.  We all decided to meet up at the Genocide Memorial for lunch.  We hiked a few more hills and came to the hotel which was gorgeous and huge.  The people were very friendly and very soon we were sitting down in the restaurant for snacks and drinks.  I ordered a delicious pineapple juice , but no food as I was saving myself for another place.
                The next place we were off to after the hotel was the Genocide Memorial.  Steve and I got there first and of course it wasn’t open.  We wheedled our way inside to sit at the cafĂ© (where I was going to order food).  We sat and chatted until the rest of the group was allowed in and before I could order anything more than a chocolate milkshake, which I scarfed down, my half of the group went to start the tour.  We got little audio guides that looked like giant phones and when you plugged in the number of the little stand in an area of the memorial, it gave you a little spiel on what was the point of this part of the memorial and why it was important.  There was an inside and an outside portion; the outside we did first and were able to take pictures, while on the inside we could not.  While we were doing the outside portion there were mourners dressed in purple and white and black laying flowers on one of the mass graves.  The outside also had gardens and the wall of memories.  It was a very sombering place.
                If I thought the outside was sad, the inside was indescribable.  It gave the story of the genocide: how it started, why it happened, who it affected, when it began.  It told stories of those who lived through it, it showed artefacts and pictures of those who died, it had stained glass murals in rememberance, all along with the audio guide and writings on the walls.  What I appreciated as well however is that they didn’t just talk about the Rwanda genocide but they had also devoted an area to other genocides that have occurred: the Holocaust, one in Cambodia, the one in the 90’s with the Bosnians and the Serbs along with a few more.  However all of this paled in comparison when the last part was devoted to the children that were killed.  There were large pictures of children in this room with a plaque underneath that said their name, their age, what they liked to do, their favourite food and their first words…then how they were killed.  It was the most brutal thing I have ever seen and gone through in my life.  It makes you wonder how and why this happened and why no one did anything to stop it.  It makes you angry and frustrated, devastated and shocked to see this.  Needless to say, by the time we were done this, no one was in a cheerful mood.  I will recommend it for anyone that travels to Rwanda however.  It is a piece of history that must never be forgotten.
                All of us went home and tried to shake off our feelings of depression from the memorial.  We were all going out for a nice supper at one of the best restaurants in town, The Republican.  We all got ready and had a few drinks before piling in a mini bus and heading out.  The mini bus brought us to some roadblocks where the army was hanging out and spikes were on the road so we hastily moved away from their and the driver got directions to this place (so much for being famous!).  It was worth the wait though because the place was awesome.  It was a spectacular place with an awesome view and even better food.  I had my first, best, and only steak in Africa and it was soooo delicious!  I also had banana flambĂ© for dessert and I think that may have even beat my steak in tastiness.  We had a good time at supper with getting people to eat the chillies that were in a salsa like concoction called kachumburi and other antics.  Most of the people went out to a club afterward, but I went back with to the hostel with two other girls (the 2 Swedish nurses who were both ill) as I wasn’t feeling too hot in my gastro region.  Got to love Africa!
Sunday July 1
                Today I woke up to the sound of a bus being packed and a diesel engine roaring just outside my tent.  The hostel had screwed up yesterday and overbooked itself (surprise, surprise) so all of us who slept in tents Friday night and were promised beds Saturday night actually again slept in tents.  The bus of people who arrived on Saturday took up the rest of the hostel and even had some of their own tents thrown.  At 5:30am however I am not a big fan of a bus being started up right outside.  I decided to face the music on got out to find the bus leaving (thank goodness) and Stephanie, Scott and Stephen sitting in the swings on the tree.  They had just decided to stay up the entire night or they had been woken up by the bus and decided to get up anyways.  I went and had a shower then met up with some others for breakfast.  We were to be at our bus by 9:30 so it could leave by 10.  Steve had booked the crew that was leaving today (12 of us), seats on a bus line called Bahama Blessings as Kampala Koaches was full when he had gone to check Saturday and we were kind of scrambling for time.  I know.  Bahama Blessings doesn’t sound like the safest buses to me either.  We waited and waited for our mini bus to arrive…and when it didn’t arrive by 9:30 and the bus company calling us, we decided to panic a little and catch bodas down to the bus park.  It was a large scramble but we all made it onto the bus (with the other passengers glaring at us for being late) and all of us were clustered at the back. 
                Let me tell you that the back of a bus on African roads is NOT the place you want to be.  Seeing as most people in our group were already feeling a little unwell this morning from last nights events, it made it even worse.  Even me, who felt a little ill still, felt ill.  I have never caught so much air in my life on a bus, I swear.  We were bouncing around like…like I don’t even know what!  I sat next to Steve and another girl named Kelly who was smart and knocked herself out with gravol.  I wasn’t that smart.  Even the African guy sitting next to me was thinking that the bus was ridiculous; that made me feel a little better.  The border was uneventful and much smoother than when we went into Rwanda. On the Ugandan side, the most air I got in my seat was 2 feet.  We all smashed down in our seat and all I could here Steve say was “I think I just broke my tailbone.”  Seeing as I was sitting beside him anyways, we started to talk about goat diseases and their causes for when I will be working with him and Jerome this week.  The distraction was good but we were all relieved to get off the bus in Mbarara when we finally arrived I will say.  I wish I could say that we did more eventful things after that for Canada day, but to be honest we didn’t.  We were just glad we lived another day after that bus ride.
                Dr. Claire Card was at MUST when we arrived and came over to say hello.  We thought about going out for supper, but we were all too exhausted and/or sick to go out anywhere.  We just sat and talked and were going to watch a movie, but instead after talking we just all went to bed.  We are serious party animals here.  And I know this is a little late but Happy Canada Day!  I am a little tired of travelling so it will be nice to stay in one spot for a week!
                And here ends this blog.  The next one will be about my week in Mbarara working with VWB!  Be prepared to read a lot about goats!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Constant Traveller

Okay.  So.  I am sorry for dropping the ball on blogging this week.  I do have reasons but they are pretty lame, the reasons being I have been too busy or too tired, both of which are incredibly true.  So I will start now.  I hope you are ready to read a week worth of blogs.  I am sorry if they are not in the same detail they have been in before!  I don’t have that good of a memory afterall…
Thursday June 28
                Today was the day we returned to Mbarara!  It started off with sleeping in a little seeing as I was up late watching soccer the night before.  I had a shower (four days in a row which is a freaking record!) and quickly packed as I had yet to pack any of my stuff from my four week stay at Rugazi, go figure, of course I leave it to the last day.  The only thing I couldn’t pack away was my towel (more of a shammy really) as well as some toys that I had brought along from home to give out to the kids and some bras for the women.  I left it to the last day as I didn’t want the kids to keep expecting things from us every time we went into the village or hospital.  I also had left out some shirts that I didn’t really wear to give to the cook for her daughters.  Once Christy and Stephanie had finished packing and such, we all went to deliver our goods to the people at the hospital.  First we went to the antenatal clinic where I dropped off my bras and Christy and Stephanie dropped off their stuff.  I was really unsure what to do with the bras.  Most of the women here either a) cannot afford a bra, b) have a bra but don’t like wearing them or c) don’t wear them as it is easier for breastfeeding to just pop out a boob from the shirt.  Here, breasts aren’t sex-like symbols; they are more like tools for the women and by the time a woman is past her prime, her tools are used up as well.  Sorry for the mental image but it is true. 
                Once we were done there, we moved on to the female and male wards.  I didn’t bring anything for them, unless they wanted bouncy balls, but Christy and Stephanie were being little Santa Clauses distributing their goods.  Lastly we did the child ward and it soon broke out into pandemonium.  The ward was completely full and each mother was trying to make sure that each of their kids got a present from every one of us.  I gave out toy cars, bouncy balls, notepads, crayons, stickers, all of which I think the children enjoyed thoroughly.  They were all very happy.  The mothers were the ones you had to watch out for however.  Christy and Stephanie gave out their goods, such as earrings and bracelets and such.  The major item everyone wanted was earrings and I kept getting asked by the women for more of them; I just told them I didn’t have them and only had stuff for kids and I got many disappointed looks.  At the same time we were giving out toys, there was a group of medical students (about 40 or so, all in white lab coats) who were touring Rugazi.  One of them came into the child ward with us and chatted with us. 
                When we were finished being Santa for the day, we came back and had a brunch (matooke, g. nuts and cabbage = delicious).  I love matooke very very much!  We were unsure when the bus would come so we decided to have brunch instead of lunch just in case the bus came early.  The girls and I promptly went out to lay on the grass after that and sun tan.  I was just falling asleep when I hear “the bus is here, the bus is here!”  This was at 12:30 amazingly enough.  We were very impressed with that and a little surprised as I had yet to pack my towel.  I stumbled around trying to pack stuff in a hurry and amazingly enough did not even forget anything.  We quickly loaded up our stuff on the bus, shoving our suitcases through the rear windows of the bus as the undercarriage was all full from the other spots the bus had been already been to.  We stopped at one more place to pick up the last bit of students on the bus’s journey and we noted that the bus was much much less packed than it had been when we had been driven to the site.  Most people it seemed had left their placement site by other means to go home which was quite good for us as it meant we weren’t crammed all on the bus!  I also observed on the way back to Mbarara that there is a large tea growing operation that we pass through.  It was sweet to see how tea leaves grow being an avid tea drinker myself. 
                We got to Mbarara in good time, being back at MUST by 2:30.  I texted Scott to make sure that he was at home/could be at home and thankfully he was, otherwise we would have been standing out in the MUST residence for a while with nowhere to put our bags while waiting for lodging.  In order to get to the residence where we were staying however, we had to drag/haul our heavy suitcases up the steep hill, across the road and up another hill; needless to say we got our exercise then.  All of us were red faced and sweating by the time we deposited our gear inside the compound.  I must thank Raymond for helping us haul our stuff up as without him, I think we may have had to do two trips.   While waiting for Scott to get home, we called Beatrice, the lady who organized our lodgings, to figure out where exactly all of us were staying.  I called twice, both times it said the number was unavailable and we kind of started to panic a little.  The gate guard from the top of the hill came down when he saw us floundering and Christy asked if he knew where Beatrice was and how we could get a hold of her.  The guard just looked at us and said “I am sorry, but Beatrice is dead.  She died this morning.”  Needless to say we were all shocked as we had seen her four weeks ago and she wasn’t even sick.  At this point in time, Scott yelled out from our building catching our attention in that he was back home.  We told him that Beatrice died and his face was a picture of shock.  He said that she had been sick for the past couple of weeks but the Thursday they had been told by the guard that she was getting better.  He did tell us that we were supposed to be staying in their (Steve, Jerome and his) place however which was a good thing as we wouldn’t know who to contact otherwise!
                Our first mission was to go get money from the bank then do buy some groceries.  We also checked out a soccer jersey store where they seem to sell the real stuff at about 90% Canadian prices.  I am estimating on that one as I am actually not sure haha.  At the grocery store I bought three huge chocolate bars of various types of dairy milks.  One thing Rugazi did not have was chocolate so of course I was craving some.  I finished two out of my three bars today.  We went out for dinner at the Agip Hotel and met a whole bunch of people that we were going to Rwanda with the next day.  There were two Swedish nurses, Johanna and Hanna, there were two English girls, Marie and Sinead and Craig, the guy who I had met last time I was in Mbarara.  We all chatted and had a lovely evening.  After supper we went out to the Heat to watch the soccer game (the one where Germany lost) and all you could sense was disappointment in the place.  I also got to see Stephen take a shot off of Jerome’s chest as we were playing a drinking game before hand and that was the outcome of a part of it.  We finished off dancing the night away until I was getting way too tired and Scott and I decided to head home.  I ended up sleeping in Scott’s room as we didn’t want to shift all of the boys who were previously there around just because of us.  Everyone came home soon after us and we all went to bed at 3:30.  I was very glad I didn’t drink tonight as otherwise I would feel terrible for the early morning we have tomorrow.
Friday June 29
                Today we got up back and early (and of course I still had to pack) although we did sleep in a little.  We had to be at the bus stop area by 8:15 and we woke up at 7:30 (as I shut off my alarm, oops).  So much for showering and packing haha.  We all did make it to where the bus would pick us up, the Agip Hotel, by 8:15 however.  Craig organized the buses for us so he went to sign us in and we gave him our passports and such.  Jerome and I walked up the street to the bank to take out some money and I found out that I could take out money from the Bank of Africa and not just Stanbic which was awesome!  We travelled back to where everyone else was (15 total) and found out that the bus wouldn’t be there till 9:30.  Good thing we were at the hotel so we could order some breakfast (I ordered a fruit plate which was delicious).  Steve decided to run back to get something from home and of course the bus showed up just as he left.  Nonetheless, we all got on the bus (Kampala Koaches!) and were off to Rwanda! 
                I sat beside a guy named Luc on the way to the border, a very nice fellow originally from Kenya who apparently worked at the university library in Kigali and was working on his masters.  We discussed politics, education systems, hobbies, what we were doing going to Rwanda, etc. etc.  I tried to explain Canadian culture and how it was different than here as we don’t have tribes; I found it very hard to explain especially examples of culture and how our languages work.  Here, each tribe has their own language and traditions while Canada is so mixed it is hard to describe why we only have one language and so on.  I fell asleep during the ride, I think.  It was quite a bumpy ride, but fortunately, because the bus is so big, all of the other cars kind of move off to the sides of the road so that the bus gets the best pavement.  It took about 2.5 hours to get to the Uganda-Rwanda border and it all went smoothly if not a bit slowly, until on the Rwanda side we realized we couldn’t get internet access to bring up the visa confirmation documents that were in our email accounts that we hadn’t printed off (at least us four).  We spent about 45 minutes trying to get our tracking numbers from the confirmation email; us girls got the numbers from Christy’s dad who was awake and could log into our emails in Canada for us and read out the tracking number on it.  Once that was done (we had gotten to the border and been there for 2 hours now) I went to the washroom, where you have to pay by the way (I despise those who try to make a profit from something so basic even though I know it is maybe the only way they can get money), then went quickly to find the bus. 
                We all filed on and I changed spots and sat beside Scott.  Immediately across the border we saw a truck whose trailer was flipped on its side in the middle of the road and a tow truck next to it with a huge hook hanging off.  They were going to attempt to hook it on the left side of the trailer and flip it back up.  20 minutes and an-almost-crushed tow truck later (the trailer had almost flipped onto it when it was pulled back over and shuddered around for a bit) we continued onto Kigali.  The first thing you noticed about Rwanda was that they drive on the right side of the road (right and right ;) ), but for some reason our bus driver didn’t always stick to that rule.  The second thing you notice is that there is no garbage laying around.  Uganda is a filthy country with garbage just thrown down; there are no dumps and people usually rake some up into a pile and burn it.  In Rwanda however they fine you for doing such a thing so the sides of the road and the villages were much much cleaner!  The third thing is that their agriculture is much better set up.  All of their fields that we saw were irrigated (much more extensively than Uganda if Uganda even had irrigation) and organized into nice little plots in the valley or terraced up on the mountains.  The fourth thing you notice is that there are so many more trees in Rwanda.  Uganda has the highest deforestation rate in the world and looks like it too.  Many of the mountains and hills in Uganda no longer have any trees so all of the top soil has been washed down into the valley.  However, in Rwanda there are trees everywhere and farmers seem to be a little bit more respectful.
                We got into Kigali (the capital of Rwanda) at around 6.  All of us who had yet to leave Uganda were shocked to see boda drivers with helmets and only carrying one passenger (who the boda drivers carried helmets for) instead of two or three.  Absolutely shocking.  As well the roads were spectacularly paved and had painted lines and gutters that actually worked.  As well, it, just like the rest of the country, had no garbage at all in the streets, working traffic lights, the vehicles obeyed the rules of the road AND there was not the overall miasma of garbage smoke in the air. Odd.  Distinctly odd.  All of us piled into a mini bus (matatu in Uganda, essentially a taxi van) who brought us to our hostel that Craig had organized for us to stay at.  The hostel was called Discover Rwanda Hostel and was a very nice place although I have never stayed in another hostel so I have nothing to judge it by.  For the night we all had to sleep in tents, except for two of us, as the hostel itself was full.  They provided tents, matresses and sleeping bags for us.  I chose for myself a single tent which made me a happy girl.  Once we got settled, all 15 of us went out on a mission to get some money (francs in Rwanda, they also speak French there) before going out for supper.  I found out that I couldn’t take out any money from the bank, surprise surprise (I may kill Canada Trust), so Stephen, being the awesome guy that he is pulled out 50,000 francs for me for the weekend, roughly equivalent to $83 CAN.  Seeing as we were all starving from not eating all day, we chose the closest restaurant which just happened to be a Chinese restaurant up the street from the hostel.  I ordered beans and fried rice but I mixed and matched with a bunch of other people.  I officially met the other people we were travelling with, besides those whom I have already mentioned.  Only problem is that I can’t quite remember all of their names at the moment.  Once I do, I will let you know!
                After supper we stopped at the supermarket right underneath the Chinese restaurant and bought some apples and such.  Everyone else decided to go out to a bar and have a couple of drinks but Stephanie, Steve and I decided to stay back and just go straight to bed. Stephanie and I were exhausted and we knew we wouldn’t have any fun going out at that level of tired anyways; Steve was getting sick and sounded terrible so he also needed sleep.  I got ready for bed and curled up in my sleeping bag with my sweatshirt as a pillow and was out.
                And this is where my blog ends.  I am sorry, I am trying to catch up and I will be trying to post two days per day at least.  Thank you for your patience!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Last Supper

Wednesday June 27
                Well, today was the last full day here at Rugazi and it was kind of bittersweet.  I am so happy to be leaving, yet I want to stay as I am afraid that no one will be doing our job anymore and the patients won’t get looked after.  I want to be able to leave this place with a clear conscience and not think about those who we treated and weren’t able to totally fix, but I don’t think I will be able to.  I am going to wonder whether Owen’s wound fully healed or if the kid who needed a blood transfusion the other day is no longer anemic or if the lady who came in with heart palpatiations actually went and saw a cardiologist (which I seriously doubt) or any of the people who have come to Rugazi that I have helped to treat.  I have learned so much here and it is a shame that I will not be able to put all of my newly acquired all-human medicine to its best use but at least I can transfer it over somewhat to my profession.  I feel as though I have helped produce a change here, whether at the health center or out in the community (which is polar opposite of what I said in the beginning), and I also feel as though being here has changed me.  Corny I know, but true.  As for what it changed in me, I have no clue.  I guess I will just have to see! 
                Now, back to the good stuff and NOT self-reflection.  Instead of the HIV clinic we worked again the wards and again dragged Raymond back in.  We weren’t going to drag him in, but the girl whose wound we have been changing (her name is Winnie) seemed to have had a spread of her infection.  I don’t know if I told you what was initially wrong so here is an overview: she had what looked like a pimple on her leg and she picked and picked and picked at it until the wound grew to the size of a palm and became infected.  That is when she came in and the wound has been doing well.  Today however, we noticed some wart/pimple like bumps (multiple) in two other locations and they kind of looked open as well.  They were small and near the location of the initial site of injury and apparently the muscle was hurting around it.  My joke of “it might be flesh eating disease” a couple of days ago was no longer funny; it was at that point we called Raymond to see what was up.  Thankfully he said it was some sort of viral infection; we cleaned the new wounds (which foamed with H2O2) and sent her on her way to the lab for some blood work just in case.  Owen’s wound was also cleaned and looked so much better; it is actually starting to close! 
                In the peds ward there were, on average, three kids to every cot.  With 10 cots in the ward, we had a lot of children to go through.  I once again did vitals and such while Christy and Raymond tagged behind.  There was one little boy who screamed if I even pointed a finger at him; he started to scream and cry and punch and kick when I even brought the thermometer close to him.  He was the only one I couldn’t get a temp on.  All of the others I wheedled and thanked/had parents force them to do it.  I think it is because the IV that most if not all the children had in their arms also began with something pointy coming towards them so they automatically associate it with instant pain.  Unfortunate and annoying, but at least it makes sense.  If I was that age I don’t think I would either.  The parents of the fussy children usually get angry and it is sometimes harsh to see what they do with their kids.  I don’t think it would have been anything more than what our parents did to us back home though to tell you the truth. 
                The female and male ward were also busy.  The notables were one young lady who was throwing her guts up and a young man who had the worst jaundice I have ever seen.  His eyes were a brilliant shade of yellow and we are unsure as to what is causing it.  Raymond and Christy fell very far behind me as I pushed along.  By the time it was lunch they had just entered the female ward and we decided that we would go for lunch and then come back.  We did so and when we got back, most of the people in the male ward had vacated (they weren’t supposed to) and another guy had come in.  Apparently he had been beaten and had the most swollen hands and feet I have ever seen.  There was also bloody gauze on both feet, presumably covering some wounds.  We checked for internal bleeding and found none.  We also decided to clean the wounds ourselves, because to be honest, and I am sorry to the nurses out there who put these nurses to shame, but the nurses here do as little as possible.  If we left them with the task to clean this guy’s wounds, it wouldn’t get done until maybe Friday at best or not at all; not at all is actually the more likely choice.  Out came the H2O2 and saline and scissors and gauze to clean and wrap yet another wound.  He had multiple contusions on one foot and a pretty bloody toe on the other one.  We wrapped them loosely and tried our best.  The H2O2 didn’t feel too nice either and he hadn’t been given any painkillers yet either.  What bugs me a little was that his wounds and such look more like he beat up someone else rather than someone beating up him.  But there is nothing I can do about that.
                After we were done wards it was 3:30 (long time I know) and I had wanted to go back to the twin lakes and the cave ever since our transect walk.  Before we left, I finished off the final touches of our report.  At 4, Christy, Stephan and I left with our cameras and rain jackets and hiked about 3km to the twin lakes, taking pictures there and all along the way.  We also went back to the cave and met up with the rest of the members of our group, well the ones who were still remaining at least (some people have left already).  Stephanie didn’t come as she didn’t feel well however and Fred had already been and gone earlier this morning apparently.  We paid 2000 UGX for the cave tour and to look in the museum.  We hiked down to the cave (the trail was quite steep seeing as the lake was a crater afterall) and it was absolutely gorgeous.  It was a very low cave and you could see, sort of in the back where the water came out of the mountain before it travelled down and into the brown lake.  We took many pictures and had a grand time there.  We walked through the museum and saw the traditional African things such as gourds, where parents and children slept, how they made fire, olden day sandals and an African Chess game board. 
                We hiked back to Rugazi quickly as it was getting late, it was starting to rain, and we had planned to meet/see Marianne (the older Peace Corp lady who fed us delicious food) after she was finished with work and before it got too dark.  Christy and Stephanie had put some things together out of the things that they had brought (I didn’t contribute as I only have huge bras and children’s toys) to give to her as a care package.  There was maple syrup, soap, lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste all in a nice Canadian Flag bag.  She really appreciated the gift and we had a nice goodbye.  Then it was practically supper time.  Our last supper.  I am kind of excited to cook for myself again, although I know the novelty will wear off fast I am sure haha.  Tonight I am going out for soccer (semi-finals, woo!) and will hopefully pack later.  We have some idea as to when the bus SHOULD be here (9 ish), but really that is like saying 12-1ish in the afternoon African time.  So.  I am not too worried.  I am planning on leaving some of my clothing here that I don’t wear (shirts mostly) by giving them to the cook and her daughters.  If they don’t wear them I am sure they will give them to someone who will.  I am also going to try and give away some of my toys tomorrow during wards.  I just don’t want to get mobbed.  I might even just leave some in the nursing station where we will tell the nurses to give them to the kids when they come in (I am pretty sure none of the nurses here have families).  That is kind of chickening out but I don’t want to be the one that leaves a child out L.  Other than that, I am just excited to leave and start a new adventure!  
One last thing though I wanted to mention was about people reading my blog.  On my blogging program thing it shows the audience of where people are reading from.  I have hits from Canada (of course),  Australia (thanks Rob and Coby!), Germany, Uganda, Brazil, Chile (thanks Andi!), the UK, Italy, Finland and Kenya.  Whoever is reading from these places, thank you!  It is amazing!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Weekend At A Glance

Friday Night – Tuesday June 22-26

Friday Night       
                So you know how I said there wasn’t going to be anything else exciting left to do on Friday night?  I was wrong.  And it happened right after my blog too.  Go figure.  The exciting thing was….drum roll please….2 kids who came in with organophosphate poisoning!  We went down to the clinic (Raymond, Patience, David and I) after someone came up to the dining hall and asked if we could see the kids.  In the nurse’s station were two kids, aged around 1-1.5, one who was bawling her face off, and the little boy just sitting on the exam bench super relaxed and calm.  Apparently the kids had been playing and had gotten into some plantain pesticides, thought it looked tasty and ate some.  The first order of business was to give them charcoal.  One of the ladies who came in with the mother of the two had mixed up some charcoal with water (I don’t know where they got the charcoal) and they promptly tried to giving the screaming child some of it.  That didn’t really work however.  They then gave the mug to the other child who held it and just drank the charcoal down with no complaint.  He took it like a champ, literally.  Just took a huge sip then swallowed it down and started again.  It was awesome!  I don’t think I could’ve done that!  The father of the two kids was also told to go out and buy charcoal tablets (flavoured like cherry!) seeing as the one child hadn’t consumed and charcoal yet.  The charcoal is needed to absorb the poison in the stomach.  The second step is to give them an emetic (a vomit inducer) to make them throw up all of the charcoal with the poison attached to it before the poison gets absorbed into the bloodstream.  Unfortunately, we did not have an emetic in the clinic so we had to refer the family to another hospital.  I will always remember that little boy just sipping down his charcoal like nothing though J.
                After all this drama we had supper and applied for visas online so we could go to Rwanda next weekend!  I am super excited!  We are going to Kigali and looking at the genocide monument and other touristy things I am guessing.  We are leaving on Friday, June 29 then coming back either Sunday or Monday.  We kind of want to be back in Mbarara for Canada Day but I guess we will see what happens!  I had to fill out the form online three times cause I did something wrong twice.  I got it down for the third time but then I realized instead of putting my parents last names I just put their first and middle names.  Duh.  Idiot here.  I don`t think they really care though.  We get the confirmation via email then pay 30$US when we get to the border.  I think we are taking a matatu there (a taxi van thing that people cram onto), but book it for us.  We are going with Scott and a few other people that he has met (Dutch and Canadians I think) and I am unsure as to where we will be stayine but I am sure we will find somewhere!  Other than that, we didn`t do much Friday night. 

                Saturday was our lazy day, as per usual.  Woke up later than usual, did a work out video with Christy where we were interrupted by Owen, the boy with the wound.  He had come back with his brother from Mbarara (where we sent him on Friday) and came to show us the results.  The ultrasound found nothing out of place but they did not do an x-ray so they could not see the foreign body along his side.  We concluded that the hard portion under the skin was a piece of metal inserted from his last surgery that they weren`t told about.  I have a feeling he has some sort of back problem (scoliosis?) or a hip and joint problem.  No clue.  But we went to go change his wound as no one else would on a Saturday.  I got mad at one of the boys, Roy, from Mkarea University, who said he wouldn’t go do it because Owen “wanted the white doctor and you can do it better than I can.” I got mad at him because it seemed as though he wasn’t even willing to try and help us and see what we were doing so that he and others could do it in the future as we are leaving soon.  I yelled at him a little.  I did apologize later though saying he didn’t deserve to be yelled at and that I was just frustrated with lack of people and supplies and the seeming lack of caring; he did have a point saying that everyone wants the white doctors though.  After we cleaned and re-wrapped Owen’s wound, which looked much much better, we finished our work out video (got to love insanity!) and relaxed until lunch.  After lunch we relaxed and read; Christy we feel started to get a migraine so she went and rested. Stephen and I watched some Game of Thrones until someone looking for Stephen interrupted us and chatted with him.  I went and had a basin bath (first since Wednesday!) by using some of Raymond’s water.  Most of the people here were buying water (100 UGX for 3 jerry cans) and keeping it in their room.  All of our African friends bath once if not twice a day.  Everyday.  They make us seem super dirty in comparison when we don’t shower or bathe for 3 days haha. I needed to have a basin bath though because at 5 we were going out for supper!  The lady we met in town, our fellow mazungu Marianne who is in the Peace Corp, invited us for supper along with two other ladies who were Peace Corp trainees.  Needless to say, we were pumped for some down home food.
                We got all ready, Christy was feeling better too, and we stopped on the way there to pick up some wine.  We got to her cute little abode which was in town, right next to the market.  It must have only been 250 sq feet, maybe even smaller.  She had a cute little living room area, a small bedroom and an even smaller kitchen with two gas hotplates, like a camping stove.   In one pot there was spaghetti, the other sauce for the spaghetti.  SO EXCITING!!  We also saw broccoli, cucumbers, lettuce (I can’t remember the last time I had lettuce) and a spicy Chinese turnip thingy that kind of tasted like a radish.  Soon after we got there, the two other trainees arrived, Mary and Michelle.  Mary was a lady in her middle years with red curly hair and always willing to tell a story.  Michelle was a girl of about our age who had just finished getting her degree.  All three of them were American, a necessary requirement for being in the Peace Corp apparently.  We had a most wonderful time eating food (my plate was filled with salad and a little spaghetti with the delicious sauce), drinking wine and chatting back and forth.  We described what we were doing here and they said they were there for aiding in economic growth and development, or something like that.  They are here for 2 years and are currently learning the local language.  They are billeted with families in the different villages as well.  I couldn’t believe they were going to be here for 2 years without any previous exposure.  I don’t know if I could have done that! 
                We traded stories back and forth about Canada and the US and from them, we really realized how little they know about Canada.  Even Michelle, who lived 30 min from the border in Wisconsin, didn’t know anything about Canada.  We found it quite hilarious and frustrating all at the same time.  We also shared our difficulties we were having here and the differences back home as well as debated back and forth about our favourite things here.  We learned about the Peace Corp and were taught some phrases in the local language which I promptly forgot.  All in all, it was a fabulous evening.  Marianne invited us back for brunch on Sunday morning which we quickly accepted.  She mentioned something along the lines of eggs and French toast so of course we were on board.  Stephanie even brought maple syrup so we could have that with our French toast too!
                We came back late and snacked on leftovers of the supper here.  Some of the people were astonished by our faces.  All of us girls had put on make up to go out for supper (to make us feel like girls again and feel pretty) and they had either forgotten what Christy and Stephanie looked like with make up in Mbarara and they had never seen me with makeup on.  Their reactions were quite hilarious I must say.  Most Africans do not wear makeup I have noticed.  Then we went to bed!

                I woke up early this morning so I could skype my family, and when I say early I mean 6:30 which actually is early thank you very much!  We had to do this earlier as we were going back to Marianne’s place for breakfast at 9ish.  We were super pumped when we got to her house.  She had a fruit salad ready for us (bananas, pineapple, mango = delicious) and was getting started on the French toast.  Mary and Michelle were still there as they stayed the night before going back to their billets later that day.  We dined on French toast with maple syrup or nutella or peanut butter or jam.  We also had tea and hot chocolate.  Marianne also made us some fried eggs if we wanted some.  It was delicious.  Definitely the best breakfast I have had while being here.  I am drooling just thinking about it!  Christy and Stephen had to leave at around 10 for church as their group was doing a presentation.  Stephanie and I stayed and chatted with them and took multiple opportunities to use Marianne’s commode.  It was an outhouse with a lock on it about 20 feet away from the house and it was gorgeous compared to some pits I have seen (like the ones at Rugazi).  It even had little pedestals on the side of the hole to raise up your feet so they wouldn’t, er, well, get wet I guess.  There were no bugs in it and she even had a toilet paper hanger.  But I must say that I have gotten the squatting technique down I think.
                Stephanie and I left at around 12 to go buy some peanut butter and other goodies at the super market (I didn’t buy anything) then headed back home.  We read a little before lunch then went out into the community to give more presentations.  We went to three different houses where different groups of people had gathered and gave our presentations to them.  The first one was simple, we didn’t use any posters as there weren’t many people and Raymond and Patience had to talk as no one really understood English.  The second house we went to had about 10 people and here Raymond and Patience of course talked again but we utilized our posters and also gave a condom demonstration using a banana.  We had to specifically tell them to use the condom on the penis rather than on the banana and putting the condom and banana combo by their bed as that was apparently a problem when giving these demonstrations in the first place.  They kind of laughed about that.  The third group we presented to was in a building with just a tin roof.  Right when we got there rain started to fall hard and fast.  We had to wait in order to talk to them as it was too loud from the rain hitting the tin roof for them to hear us.  The rain kept going and going.  Finally, after much deliberation, Stephanie and I were like “screw this, we want to wash our hair,” so we stepped out into the pouring rain with our rain jackets on and soaked/washed our hai8r in the rain.  It was fab-u-lous!  We were a little wet and clammy after but at least we washed our hair to the best of our ability!  We got many odd looks from the people we were to be presenting to when we did this.  Oh well!
                When the rain finally stopped, we gave our presentation and it was very similar to the second one.  They seemed to enjoy themselves , I thought.  We walked home and tried not to slip and slide our way down the hill that was turned into mud.  We had tea and tried to scrape the mud off of our shoes when we got back, a challenge all by itself.  After procuring some tea, most of us went to the liquor store and bought some items for the pig roast that we were having tonight.  I bought a bottle of red wine (they were out of the white I had had last time and I had this red on Saturday night) and was happy with my purchase.  We came back and got ready for said pig roast and were starving by the time the pig came.  Roy and Liz were our MCs for the night and they made us all stand up state or name, status and hobbies.  Patience did a Canadian accent and through her arms around like I usually do when I talk (I blushed).  They mixed up the tables so there were men and women at each table too.  After many people saying they were hungry (by this time it was 9) they caved in on the games and let us eat.  The pork was delicious, like pulled pork, but with different sauce and bones, skin and cartilage in it.  It was a good thing that I had some alcohol in me cause otherwise I don’t think I could have done it to be honest. 
                After supper we had speakers playing some music and we danced in the dining hall.  Most of the people left to go watch soccer but us Canadian girls were having a fabulous time dancing around and showing the Africans our moves.   I had a blast J.  I just wish the music had been louder!  Christy and I even two-stepped, with me being the guy and leading because she kept trying to polka haha.  We couldn’t seem to get the octopus down though.  We danced and partied till 12 and then went to bed which was probably a good idea after that point as my bottle of wine was empty.  All in all, an awesome night!

                Today I woke up a little hungover, but I guess that is kind of expected.  We all slept in late and then went to wards after a shower and some laundry as the water came back on for the first time since Wednesday, yay!  Raymond rushed through all of the patients but we didn’t mind.  There was a lady with a deep abscess that we decided to drain later.  After that we went into our groups and worked, hard.  In our group, we sat and listened to each person as they read out their part they were to complete.  That was a touch boring and a little frustrating as some members didn’t do their part very well, but c’est la vie with group work.  I offered to put everything together and format it so once we were finished going over everything after lunch, Stephanie and I spent the rest of the afternoon (until 6) formatting and making it look awesome.  But we didn’t edit.  That can be done by someone else I think as I feel as though I have put a lot of work into this project compared to my African counterparts.  And they happened to agree so someone else is editing.  Yay!  
                I am not going to lie though, this project has brought out the best and worst of me.  I have become super frustrated, angry and upset with it but at the same time I have become a leader, have learned to say no and know my limits.  I also realize that I am a controller as I wanted everything to go smoothly, my way and get done.  Oh well.  I am learning to control that too haha.  It has been a learning and growing experience for sure.
                Before supper, Stephanie, Raymond and I went to wards to see the lady with the abscess on her foot.  We found out that the reason she had an abscess was due to her stepping on a fish bone and it lodging in her foot over a week ago.  The abscess took up the entire back of her foot and some of the bottom, a radius similar to the size of my fist.  We could no longer see the fish bone but upon palpation it hurt the lady more near the closed entrance of the fishbone.  The abscess was hard and very deep.  We wouldn’t be able to drain it without surgery we figured so of course we had to refer her.  I felt really bad for her as she was having trouble walking and had just been sitting and waiting for us in the ward all day, wondering if we could fix her.  I feel as though we wasted her time and confused her.  I wish we were able to do minor surgeries here, but we don’t have sterile equipment nor diagnostic equipment which again, is a little frustrating.  I know we should be getting used to the lack of stuff by now but I know for a fact that every time we have a case where we could do it and not refer the patient if we had the materials, we get this feeling of uselessness and depression that we can’t do anything about.  It also makes us feel as though we are giving this health center a bad reputation because we can’t do big things by ourselves and the other health centers are getting our cast offs. 
                After supper I just crashed.  I was super tired from Sunday night and I just wanted to be by myself and read before going to bed early.  I had been a little grumpy for the entire day and was kind of homesick and frustrated with life.  But with a good sleep, everything passes!

                Today I slept in a little (7:45, yay!) and there was still water (double yay!) for a shower.  Second shower in two days, I don’t know what is going on!  I have to say though that the last four days or so have been chilly and having a cold shower in the morning doesn’t help.  Even now my hands are clammy and cold from outside; they have turned a nice blue color.  But, focusing.  Christy and I went into wards to dress two wounds (the girl who had picked at her leg and Owen) then left.  The Makare boys were actually doing wards for once so we left them to it.  We left early because we had organized a disclosure meeting with all of the members of the community who had helped us along our journey.  There were VHTs, the in-charge, leaders from the community, priests, school teachers and our site supervisors from MUST including Dr. Malling.  Each group presented their projects and their findings; Stephanie and I said the results of our findings.  It was a long and tiresome affair, but it needed to be done and felt good to be almost done.  We had recommendations for the program and I have a feeling that we may have attacked the in-charge a bit as she responded very defensively to some of our comments such as the drugs being locked up, low supplies and such.   She said that the drugs aren’t locked up, but in our experience here that is a lie.  Nurses usually walk off with the key as they put it in their pocket and forget, leaving the medicines and supplies locked up for when we need them, especially at night.  I wanted to fire back what about the blood situation and the lab being locked as those keys are supposed to be here as well, I was so frustrated.  But again, there is nothing I can do about that. 
                At the end of the presentation we thanked everyone and we were thanked by the community members.  That felt pretty awesome to see that we had left an impression with these people and our work was recognized.  I am glad all of the work is over though!  The report is done except for a couple of changes and additions I need to make and we have one more presentation tomorrow at a school, then we are done!  We did do a community thing today in that we went to Ndekye Secondary School (the second school we visited) while other members of our group went to St. Maria’s School (the first school we visited) to oversee and advise peer groups that we formed among the children so they can continue on our work.  We had a nice conversation with ours at Ndekye (pronounced ne-dech-ee) with three boys and seven girls forming the group.  We asked them if they had any concerns and questions and were asked a couple.  One was what should they do when they recommend friends to get tested and they don’t.  Another one was really funny as the boy was only about 12 and somehow brought up porn and HIV.  I am still not quite sure what he was asking, but porn came out of no where and I just laughed my head off.  We took a group picture and left, taking their contact information with us.
                We got back in time for tea at which time two people from MUST came by to talk to us, out of the blue, about different teaching techniques for next year’s LCP course.  We tried to give as much input as we could on the module she showed us (ways to increase/how to involve the community and increase their participation).  It was different.  After, a group of us went to go play/watch soccer.  Christy and a couple of guys were already there and the rest of us arrived just at half time.  The teams were composed of boda-boda drivers and they had uniforms and everything.  The team that some of our members were on lost L.  But it was great to watch!  I can only aspire to have skills like theirs.  All around the field there were kids; they would come up behind us muzungos (I realize that I keep changing the spelling, my bad) and touch our leg or elbow and run off.  I was getting a little annoyed until Christy said it was because she and Raymond were chasing the kids when they did that and they wanted to be chased by us too.  We took pictures of the kids who absolutely loved been shown their photo and having their pictures being taken.  We were kind of bad and made them do funny poses but they loved it.  They kept pushing people forward in their eagerness to get into the picture.  I never got a chance to play soccer and I was kind of glad cause they kind of got intense at the end and fights were breaking out. 
                We came back to Rugazi and chilled and ate supper.  That was about it.  I can’t believe we are leaving in two days to go back to Mbarara.  This time has gone so fast it is kind of unbelievable.  It feels like it was just the other day that we got here and I was nervous to be in the clinic.  I hope that we actually did make a difference here, and not just amused the villagers and community with our rambling.  HIV is super important and I hope that what we started will be propagated throughout this parish and reduce those who are infected with HIV. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Is It Friday Yet?

Wednesday to Friday, June 20-22
                Oh boy!  You know, I should really write these every day so they are not so huge like I know this one is going to be.  Especially seeing as I know we did a lot and we all know that I can’t cut what I think is important out, even if it probably kind of is.  So.  Sorry in advance.  But I swear it will interesting if you want to wade your way through my mire of words.  Okay.  Here we go!

                Wednesday started off in the clinic, just like every day (sounds kind of like Pinky and the Brain, but it kind of feels like that), but I GOT TO HAVE A SHOWER!!  It is always important to note these days.  It was also HIV clinic day.  And still, just like every other day, no one was ready on time.  Sigh.  Christy and I decided that the HIV clinic had enough people in it and seeing as we couldn’t talk anyway, we left soon after it started.  Before it had started however, I went and yelled (yes, yelled and berated actually) Raymond about being lazy and slow and that he was needed in the clinic so he better get his act together and be ready to go in the clinic by 9:30 (said at 9:10).  We gave him until 10 and he still wasn’t ready.  A couple beratements and yells later, he finally made it down into the clinic; I waited and just stared and crossed my arms until he had actually made it out of our hostel and into the clinic.  Man, do I ever feel like such a mother sometimes. 
The little boy who had left without being discharged on Monday with the wound that was infected came back.  The wound was even more infected and the area around it was hard; it felt as though there was a foreign body in his side which was odd.  There was no bandaging on the gaping hole when he came in either.  In our attempts to clean it I had to go and find more sterile gauze which they keep locked up in a supply closet for some reason.  The drugs are freely available but the supplies to cover a wound are not.  That sounds a little backward to me and I was getting super frustrated with the entire goose chase of finding sterile objects and supplies.  Both Christy and I were also getting frustrated in the fact that we could not communicate to the boy that he needed to stay here.  We had to drag a flustered Raymond back and forth from the ward to the nurses station to impress upon the boy that he needed to stay here so we could clean his wound twice a day; we came to a compromise with the boy (Owen) and his brother (he had no parents) in that he would come in twice a day, at 10 and 4 to get his wounds cleaned.  Just in case he couldn’t make it, Christy gave them the materials to clean the wound themselves along with some crushed medication to put in the wound itself.  Christy also went on a chase to try and find some antibiotics for the boy so that he didn’t have to buy any as we didn’t trust them to give them money to go buy the drugs themselves (the older brother said they couldn’t afford to pay for the new set of antibiotics).  It was a frustrating session to say the least.
No other patients stick out in my mind as being as frustrating, but there was a girl who had been admitted that morning who was shivering so hard from a fever it looked as though she was having convulsions.  We told her to go get tested for malaria and she came back positive with severe malaria.  Her brother had also come in for the same thing the day before.  We hooked her up to an IV and gave her some medication; that was about the most we could do.  Other than that, most patients were good, or well as good as you can get in a hospital I suppose.  It was just the sheer volume of people that we had to see that kind of wore us down.  Raymond became super flustered and overwhelmed while Christy and I just became frustrated.  Raymond is a good doctor and works hard when he is with his patients, he just needs to get into the mindset that he needs to finish what he started and stop complaining.  Needless to say, we worked clear through until lunch when Christy and I had to rush back to make a cabbage salad for lunch.  The only thing that made me happy was that Raymond agreed we needed to start earlier (after I again berated him that if he had started earlier, we would have been done long before lunch; I am getting very good at berating and I am not enjoying it at all, I feel as though I shouldn’t need to do it for those who are supposed to have a commitment to the people already especially seeing as we were told we were supposed to work in the clinic). 
After lunch I went and read but it turned into a nap.  The group woke me up for when we were going to go out and present to another secondary school, Ndeyge Secondary School in fact.  It was a fair walk, about 3 km down the road.  We cooled our heels for a little while when we got there as the headmaster didn’t know we were to present; David and Raymond had apparently talked to the vice-principal as the headmaster wasn’t there when they came to book a time and the vice-principal for some reason didn’t tell the headmaster.  However, he organized all the kids into a group outside and at 4:45 we started our presentation.  Instead of group, I should probably say crowd instead.  There were about 400 kids there.  Talk about intimidating.  When we introduced ourselves, the kids laughed at my name, apparently because they couldn’t really understand it and it doesn’t roll of the tongue like most of the names do here (well, if you can pronounce them correctly).  Stephanie and I gave our speel, then Patience.  By then they needed a game and Roy indulged them.  Raymond and David finished off their treatment portion and then came the questions.  There were just as many and more questions as there were on Tuesday at the all-girls school.  Good thing is that I explained the origins of HIV much better this time as they apparently understood.  I felt a little better about my teaching skills after that.  I was also told after the presentation that I have a nice loud voice for presenting.  Awesome.  I also was intersected by a young boy who had asked me a question during the question period and told me that it was his dream to come to Canada.  I told him to work hard, stay in school and save his money cause Canada is worth it.  I think the presentation went well; I think we held their attention and got our message across fairly well.  I think.  I hope.
On our way back, my insides started to cramp and felt as though they were trying to turn themselves out.  Silly intestines, don’t they know they aren’t supposed to do that even if something is invading them?  I ignored the pain while we went through the market to check it out on our way back home.  Once home I retired to my room and read and tried to calm down my clenching intestines.  Being gastro sick is not my idea of fun.  After supper we had a group meeting about the report we were to write after all of our community fun.  We kind of broke down everything and who was doing what; Stephanie and I ended up with a lot of it, along with a girl named Harriet while everyone else was either doing one thing or none.  Gah.  We will straighten that out, no worries. 

                Today my insides felt marginally better, especially seeing I was up most of the night traversing to the bathroom and back.  I slept in an extra hour and instead of going down into the wards (which were already being taken care of and there was no real room for me), I stayed and looked at an old group’s report to get ideas on how to write ours.  I then started on it, adding the things we had already done to theirs, making the old report a template.  I powered through that, getting about half of the entire report done.  At around 11 we had a group meeting and Stephanie gave some of our work load to others so it was split up a little more evenly.  During some of our group discussions about some portions of the report we needed to get done as a team, I became super frustrated; I don’t know whether it was because I was tired or still didn’t feel 100% or even if my group actually was being a bit bull-headed, but I made it known I wasn’t too happy with what was going on.  The meeting finished rather quickly after that and everyone went to do their portions of the report.  My bad. 
                After lunch I went and had a nap as apparently I needed it.  I just felt so exhausted even though I didn’t even do that much.  My hour nap was very needed before we went to church!  We went to the Catholic church for mass (communion again, yay!) and sat on little plastic schools off to the left hand side of the “t” right near the priests’ platform.  We moved up on to the platform during collection and stayed there for the rest of the time.  I again had a grand time dancing to the drums and music like everyone else, but I didn’t sing this time as there were no repeating portions of songs this time.  I kept waiting for the “hosanna” song but I never came.  Oh well.  After the service was our chance to present.  The other group gave their presentation first.  Their project is on malaria and they had made up a short play to demonstrate the importance of getting rid of standing water and using mosquito nets.  Stephen dressed up as the mosquito and he looked hilarious.  He had a piece of paper rolled up to make the mosquito sucker which he attached to his face using a piece of string around his head.  He also had two pieces of string attached to flip chart paper which he wore on his back for wings.  He was hilarious.  Christy was also hilarious when she demonstrated shivering which she emphasized so much it looked like she was convulsing.  I held the mosquito net in the play.  They used Stephen’s net which looked like a princess net due to the sheer amount of pink flowers embroidered on the top which he didn’t know were there when he bought it in Kampala.  I found it quite funny.
                Once it was our turn for a presentation however, everyone started to leave.  People come from very far away for mass on Thursdays apparently and they needed to leave as soon as church was over in order to be able to get back home before it was dark out.  They stayed for the funny play, but once we started to preach, well, they didn’t want to stay.  Our audience slowly slipped from 400 to about 50 by the time we were finished.  It felt, well, discouraging.  And we felt disrespected, as though our words weren’t important enough for people to even stay an extra 15 minutes after the sermon.  We were a little upset when we left the church.  We did thank the father for his time and for using his church to present though.  We ambled back to Rugazi and stopped at the Rugazi dispensary.  It is a private hospital and pharmacy where people have to pay for all the services compared to Rugazi HC IV which is government run.  It was interesting to see the differences!  It is much much smaller but better kept than the HC.  They even have better laboratory microscopes. Go figure. 
                It was tea time when we got back and we enjoyed.  I must say that one of my staples here is peanut butter and red plum jam.  I have it at least once every day. Yum.  After tea, I went down to the clinic to see Owen, who had come in to get his bandages changed.   When I got there though, he was not the focus of attention.  Instead it was a young girl who had just collapsed at school after complaining of a sudden severe headache.  She was unresponsive and hyperventilating. We pumped her full with saline and then gave her 5% dextrose.  We were unsure what was wrong, the theories being either an unknown diabetic or severe malaria.  We took her vitals every fifteen minutes then had to carry her to a different ward as the ward she was in didn’t have any light and we could no longer see what we were doing.  When we moved her, she became responsive even though she still couldn’t talk.  Stephanie brought   some maple sugar candies so we broke one up into pieces and fed them to her, just in case she was diabetic and needed some sugar.  No, we don’t have insulin and we couldn’t determine whether she was diabetic or not as we didn’t have the lab equipment and even if we did the lab was locked.  Go figure.  This girl boarded at the school she goes to, which actually just happened to be the one we visited on Wednesday.  One of the teachers had come with her and we told him that she needed to be transferred as we couldn’t diagnose her here and she needed oxygen, which we didn’t have.  Her resp rate by the time she left was 112 breaths per minute.  Normal is 18-28ish. She wasn’t getting enough oxygen to her brain and we were super worried that she was going to pass out again.  The teacher finally got into contact with another teacher who had a car.  It was only a period of waiting before he showed up and they all piled in the car to go to Mbarara with her, a 2 hr drive away. It makes me miss ambulances.  We hope she arrived all right, we haven’t heard anything yet. 
                At the same time the girl was there, I waited with Owen for his brother to come pick him up.  We needed to talk to the brother and say that he and Owen needed to go to Mbarara as Owen’s wound was going septic and we had no idea what the foreign body in his side was.  Unfortunately, we found out that his brother was going to pick him up in the morning so he needed to stay the night.  When I was out there waiting I said agandi and “neemarongi” (I am fine) to the ladies who walked by the peds ward.  They then started excitedly talking in irankoli and I just had to hold up my hands and say “that’s all I know!” and they just went off and laughed.  At least I am amusing haha.  By the time we finished with the girl however it was 8:45 and we were starving.  All of the others had eaten so we just limply sunk into our seats and mechanically ate our food.  Raymond was the doctor that had been helping the girl too.  He looked so defeated and worn that we (Christy, Stephanie and I) gave him a big hug each to cheer him up and tell him he did a fantastic job.  After supper I just read a little and then facebooked and went to bed.  I can’t believe that we only have one week left today in Rugazi.  Next Thursday we leave to go back to Mbarara (apparently, I thought it was Friday so I guess we will see); it feels as though I have been here forever and want to get out but at the same time, I know that they need any help they can get here and I don’t want to go.  Today also happens to be the day that I left 4 weeks ago from Canada.  Crazy.  I have been in Uganda for 4 weeks already and only have 3.5 weeks left to go!  Similarily to my Rugazi dilemma, I can’t wait to go home, yet a little part of me says that I don’t want to leave.  I am definitely going to miss this place when I go.  I now see why people who visit Africa want to come back (usually, I am generalizing here).  I feel like I have a family here now, even though it is going to disperse in a week or so.  I definitely have made some friends that I want to stay in touch with here!

                Yay Friday!  End of the work week!  I have been doing dances all day while listening to music either from my iPod or Patience’s computer and was told by Harriet that it is refreshing to see someone so happy on a Friday.  Good job me!  Wards this morning were a little brutal; I was doing vitals on all of the people as Christy went to go clean Owen’s wound another girl’s wound and unfortunately this included all of the children.  If I were a doctor, I would never ever want to do pediatrics.  Ever.  I made every single child under the age of four cry, except for one whose mother looked like she would turn wrathful on the child if it even muttered a peep.  The peds ward was overloaded today too, more than one person per small cot.  They always started to cry when I did the chest and heart exam to see if there were any crackles or abnormal heart beats; the stethoscope is a very scary object I tell you, along with the arm pit thermometer.   A couple of kids wouldn’t even stand my touch to get a pulse.  What a blow to your ego I tell you.  One kid, after he stopped crying eagerly listened to his own heart beat when I put the buds in his ears however.  Well, maybe not eagerly, he actually looked a little confused but it made me feel a little better I suppose.  One older child had an Hb of 5.6 (extremely anemic) and his family was complaining he wasn’t getting better (he hadn’t had a blood transfusion yet as we got the blood work back this morning and we did have blood this time).  The family decided to take him to KIU (Kampala International Hospital) and we were fine and dandy with that.  One less patient is good for us! 
We made our way to the adult ward and examined everyone of course.  I got to take our my first HIV positive IV (the threat of a serious disease makes removing it extra exciting) and yes I double gloved and was very careful, don’t worry, she wasn’t a bleeder anyways!  I did vitals on all of the patients (the last one, an old lady with edema in her feet was delighted in the fact that I greeted her with “agandi neybo”) then moved on to the male ward.  I was attempting to get vitals on a young boy who was sleeping when he suddenly woke up and rose up off the bed on his knees, his eyes wide and almost pulling out his IV.  His mother, who seemed to be expecting this, pulled him back down and told him to relax.  I must say he kind of startled me but I think I kept it under control.  When Raymond came to examine them I found out from his mother that he only does that when he has malaria.  Awesome.  The kid goes a little psychotic when infected with malaria.  I will remember that for next time I will tell you.
We finished at around 11, with Raymond and Christy leading Owen and his brother down the road to get a taxi for Mbarara.  Christy gave him money in order to get there and wanted to make sure that is what they used the money for.  I am hesitant to say that I have yet to pay for someone’s meds or transport.  I am just afraid that they won’t actually use my money the way they should.  I am disappointed with my lack of trust for these people, but I can’t help it.  Some people sometimes need other things more than medical attention but that would be the reason I would give them money for and I don’t want to, well, waste it I guess.  I hope that doesn’t make me a terrible person.  If so, then Christy is the most amazing person I have met here.  Same with Stephen who was willing to donate his only inhaler to the hyperventilating girl yesterday; his only inhaler and he is a severe asthmatic.
A group meeting soon ensued, me listening in for Stephanie who hadn’t slept at all last night and hadn’t been feeling well (maybe a touch of the bug that I had?).  We decided that our report should be done by Saturday night as everyone was going to be busy Sunday (church and we are planning a pig roast :D) so we should just get it done and out of the way.  It definitely needed to be done by Tuesday as then we are having a meeting with the main community members and giving them a report as to what we found and what we were able to accomplish and possible improvements for next year’s group of students.  I started to work on mine and Stephanie’s part of the report: the breakdowns that occurred and who was awesome and what worked, the last part of the report. 
Before too long there was lunch, which was early today as the other group needed to leave at 12:30 to go to the local mosque and give their presentation there.  After lunch I continued to work on the report and once I finished, I gave it to Stephanie to edit.  By the time I had finished that it was time for the group to go to the community meeting we had planned.  Stephanie stayed back to sleep and try to feel better while the rest of us walked to Nyakahama.  We waited in front of the VHTs house.  And waited.  And waited.  The meeting was supposed to take place across from the house; our presentation was tacked on to the main purpose of the meeting which were water issues.  We waited some more.  The boys went off to find someone who knew something (the VHT whose house we were standing in front of had organized the meeting but they had to leave to go to a burial today).  So we waited some more.  I played Snake Xenia and took some pictures of a gorgeous tree with what looked like pink lillies on it and some chickens, the closest I have come to animals yet besides to shift some goats around on walking trails and of course cats.  Speaking of cats, while waiting at the VHTs I saw a young cat crawl out one of the holes in the brick walls (used to cool the house down) and plop down on the ground.  I found it quite amusing to suddenly see a cat’s head and body suddenly sticking out of the wall.  Oh the simple amusements.  When David and Raymond came back, they brought with them an older gentleman who I assumed knew what was going on.  They spoke and spoke and spoke and then I shook the fellows hand and did my agandi and neemarongi routine (which got another laugh) then they went back to talking back and forth.  The conclusion was that no one knew about the meeting and we should come back on Sunday at 3; this fellow said he would mobilize the community together for it.  We trekked back, our sandals making little puffs and imprints in the dust. 
One random fun fact was a comment today as to why I didn’t go into human medicine.  The question kind of shocked me and I asked why.  The response was that I was good at it.  Made me feel pretty good, but I have to say I don’t think I would ever be able to turn away from veterinary medicine.  And that was basically my day.  I don’t think anything too interesting is going to happen tonight so I will let it go at that for now J.  I hope you enjoyed my long ramblings, 6 pages worth on word and over 4,100 words.  Congratulations, you just read a paper!  Kidding. Sort of.  I hope everything is well for all of those that are reading this!