Random tidbits

I guess I should start this post with an update on the little boy I had mentioned previously who needed surgery. So many people have been so kind and so willing to help.

My mother was the first. As soon as I explained the situation to her she told me that she would have the money in my account in the morning for him to be able to have the surgery.

And while I don’t believe in just giving things to people and solving their problems for them, I couldn’t help but remember the kindness of a man who saw a girl working on her own to finish highschool from her front porch. And offered to buy her the science kit and microscope that she needed to be able to understand the science she was trying to learn on her own from a book. I couldn’t help but remember the doctor who repaired a torn up shoulder for free because a certain girl couldn’t afford to pay for her surgery, and I couldn’t help but remember countless other times that others had stepped in and helped me out when I needed it. And yet, I still know that it’s not good to just swoop in and handle someones problems for them.

So I was pleased when during a discussion with a carpenter, trying to negotiate a good price for furniture for the Musana women so that they have a nice work place, the most perfect solution dawned on me and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before. Benji’s father is a carpenter. He can build the furniture for us, and it saves Musana money, the women get their furniture, Benji gets his surgery, and Benji’s parents get to be a part of solving the problem. It seems a win win for everyone.

I don’t know how I became the designated take people to the hospital person but, somehow I am.

Emined called me the other day to tell me that one of his students had something seriously wrong with her and needed to see a doctor. He told me he needed my help. I met him at the taxi stage and he came with a little girl whose head was covered with a black scarf. She allowed me to remove it and look at her head. She had a huge lump growing about two inches off the top of her head. It was oozing and looked terrible. 973903_170390523135670_1847109875_n

We took her to see Andrew, the Scottish doctor who is a volunteer at Living Water clinic and is a friend of ours. As soon as the little girl saw him putting on gloves she began screaming and covering her head with her scarf. It took four of us to hold her down so that he could have a look at her head. She had some kind of abcess on her head that was full of infection. She is on an IV antibiotic and they lanced the absess and packed it. She should be ok.

The little girl with the burn on her arm is doing much better also. I invited her and her mother to come to church with me on sunday. They agreed. When I showed up sunday morning to get them the mother said she had somewhere to go but the daughter was ready to go. We went and she was a great addition to my little primary class. I have no idea how much she understood. I don’t think she speaks much English but I know she had fun with the other kids and she is especially happy to see me when I pass her house on the road these days.

My little friend, showing off our matching arm bandages.

My little friend and I showing off our matching arm bandages.

The other day I scratched my arm. It was hardly deep enough to bleed but I didn’t want it to get infected so I wrapped it. I told her we were twins.

I had a hot shower the other day. It had a legit drain, a shower head, warm water, and even a shower curtain! It was heaven.

I met a woman here who invited me to her home. She lives on the Mehta compound. In fact her husband is the head of security. She said she gets bored and lonely there all by herself all day. She has a beautiful home with a real kitchen, it even has an oven! She doesn’t really know how to cook so I’m going to go help her. I am excited to get to know her. She has lived an interesting life all over the world.

I went to the Rainforest Lodge and went swimming. It was incredible I saw monkeys swinging from the trees in the forest as I walked there. And I saw some of the most incredible butterflies!

The lodge itself was beautiful and relaxing and there simply aren’t words to express how much I enjoyed the swimming pool.

The pool at the Rainforest Lodge. It was so refreshing!

The pool at the Rainforest Lodge. It was so refreshing!

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…and life goes on

When I first arrived here I wrote almost every day. I didn’t have as much going on and I had a bit more time. Now there is so much going on, I’m doing so many things and meeting so many people, I have so much I want to be writing about and when I do get a minute to sit down I feel overwhelmed by all there is to say and all that I want to share about my experience here that I put off writing.

So today I’m sorry if I seem a bit scattered.

I got to see the Uganda Cranes take Liberia in a world cup qualifying game. It was really loud.DSC00433

I got to see the Source of the Nile. It was beautiful. I actually did a blog post about that one. You can read it here.

I’ve met some really great people and its starting to feel like home.

We had another baptism at church. I gave a short talk about baptism. It’s amazing to me to see so many people taking that step. It’s awesome to know how much their lives are going to change and what an adventure they are in for.

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We took a boat out to where the underwater spring separates the Nile River from Lake Victoria.

I am really starting to have fun with the kids. There is a little girl who lives just down the road from me, who always remembers my name and instead of shouting Mazungu like all the other kids she says, Hi Didda! It makes my day. Yesterday I noticed she had a huge ugly open wound on her arm. It looked terrible, and had something white growing/living on it. She didn’t act like it even hurt even though it was pretty deep and oozing. I found her mother and asked if I could take her to the clinic. She agreed and I took her in and got it cleaned up. She will need to go back every day for the rest of the week to get the dressing changed. I was walking later that evening and she saw me and ran to me and held my hand all the way up the road, about 10 other kids followed her example and I found myself having a hard time walking without tripping over them. But I loved every minute of it.

Our manager Tina's son Alfred getting a little ride on my shoulders.

Our manager Tina’s son Alfred getting a little ride on my shoulders.

The other day while waiting for one of the Musana women to get home I sat in front of her house playing with a group of about 15 children. I taught them some songs, and we played the farmer in the dell, london bridge, and the hockey pockey. Then I took a picture of one little girl and made the mistake of showing it to her. Then every child wanted a picture taken, and over and over they wanted to pose for me pulling funny faces, doing little dances and anything they could to get my attention. It was great! Today Susan (one of the Musana women) told me that the next baby girl born into her family is going to be named after me. I can’t think of a better complement.    DSC00463 DSC00469

The hard thing about poverty

When I think about poverty I usually think about living in crowded conditions, getting by on little food and not having the little extras that life has to offer. I grew up in a home where things were pretty simple and we didn’t have a lot, but I never knew we were poor. Looking back I can see that by most people’s standards we were. We always laughed about eating bread and scrape (putting the butter on your bread and then scraping it off for the next person) I remember when I did not have a bed, but slept on the living room floor. I had one drawer in a closet and few clothes. Things were simple but I don’t really associate being poor with negative emotions.

Today I saw one of the hard parts about poverty. The women that work for Musana aren’t “dirt poor” in the way that some might think, but they don’t have it easy and they certainly don’t have the extras. Medina, had six daughters before she finally had her last child, a little boy named Benji. Benji was the first child I saw when I got to Uganda and I was mesmerized by his bright eyes and big dimples. I thought he was about the cutest kid ever.

When he was born his mother had him circumcised by a local man instead of taking him to the hospital to have it done. The money for transport to the hospital was hard to come by so it was easier to just do it locally. The man who did it, cut the urethra leaving Benji with a pretty serious problem that will have a huge impact on the rest of his life if it is not corrected. Recently, his mother took him to see Andrew, a Scottish doctor who is volunteering here this summer. Andrew told her that his condition was serious and that he needs to go to a hospital.

THe waiting room at Kibuli hospital

THe waiting room at Kibuli hospital

So Ellen’s parting gift was transport money and Medina and I took little Benji to the hospital. After several hours on the road in the crowded taxi and then several more in the waiting room, the doctor finally saw Benji. He said that he would need surgery and soon. He would be hospitalized for three days and the estimated cost would be about the equivalent to what Medina can bring in, in a years time. Sitting in

Benji waiting to see the doctor

Benji waiting to see the doctor

that doctor’s office looking at Medina’s face, little Benji sitting on her lap, I realized that these are the moments that make poverty hard.

“What can I do? Where can I get that kind of money?” She asked questions like this over and over on the ride back to Lugazi and I had no answers for her.

The Mehta Estate…and my boys

Lugazi, the village where I live is based around an estate owned by the Mehta family. The first Mr. Mehta came from India when he was fourteen years old. He planted the first sugar cane in Uganda and now he owns miles and miles of fields of sugar cane. If you climb the hill outside of Lugazi and overlook the vast area, pretty much everything you can see is part of the Mehta estate. DSC00355

Mr. Mehta employs over 1000 workers on the estate, this includes the men and women that work in the fields but it also includes, ladies maids, gardeners, cooks, housekeepers, an entire police force, a hospital, guest houses, schools, etc. Lugazi then is the village that survives on the economic foundation provided by Mehta. DSC00356

Mr Mehta wanted a golf course. Mrs. Mehta wanted a garden. They decided to see who could do better. 429803_10151637624287888_2079889728_n

I went there one morning and toured the gardens with Luta and the other interns here. Then I went back a couple of nights later just to enjoy it at a leisurely pace. Emined went with me and I can’t even begin to describe to you how beautiful that place is. It smells like Lilac and Honeysuckle. Emined had never seen it before and he kept saying in that way that only sounds right with an African accent, “yi yi yi this is what heaven is, yo?”DSC00326

My favorite part of the garden is when you come to a huge hill, DSC00335wooden steps are set in the side of the hill and a row of trees forms a border on the left. DSC00336If you cross through the trees you will come across a set of stone steps that takes you ,down, down, down into a low area. Along the side of the stone steps grows tall lily’s their white heads standing up like elegant ladies all waiting and watching in a neat line.

After the first set of stairs the view on the left opens to reveal a white gazebo and the row of lily’s expands and becomes a bed of lily’s laid out before your eyes. If you continue down the steps you will see a cluster of bamboo surrounding a table and some chairs and forming a nice little sitting area. DSC00343From there you can look out over a pond, also filled with lily’s and other plants, to the little footbridge that will take you to more rolling fields of cleanly cut grass. It was dark and had rained earlier in the day. The grass was wet and I took off my shoes and enjoyed the sweet coolness on my bare feet until something bit me and left enough of a sting that I decided maybe shoes are a good option after all. DSC00341

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The court yard at Villa Anona

The corridor leading to the guest rooms. the panels open up to let in a cool breeze.

The corridor leading to the guest rooms. the panels open up to let in a cool breeze.

A lounge area

A lounge area

the dining room. The food they serve here is interesting an incredible!

the dining room. The food they serve here is interesting an incredible!

the bedrooms. They have air conditioning and nice bathrooms.

the bedrooms. They have air conditioning and nice bathrooms.

In Uganda, coming home is the best part of leaving. Everyone welcomes you back. It’s the sweetest thing. As I walk through the gate I am met by my two friends and brothers Joseph and Davis. I remember hearing from others that had been here about these two boys but I never dreamed that I would love them the way I do. Yesterday I sat in the courtyard doing my laundry when Davis came home from school. “Oh Virate,” he says, “why are you washing your clothes, you can’t do that when I am around to do it for you.”

“Why” I ask, knowing already what he is going to say.

“Because I am Ugandan and I can do it for you.” He sits down and takes a dress out of my hands, like this he says and then he expertly covers it with soap and scrubs it in a way that I am quite certain I will never get down. When Joseph got home the three of us worked on the laundry and they told me about school. Joseph sat looking glum when I asked him how his first day back had been. “Not good,” he shakes his head.

“Why,” I ask

“The girls they tease so much, they are so mean.” He says.

I can’t imagine someone being mean to Joseph.

“Don’t you know why girls tease?” I ask him elbowing him a little and raising my eyebrows in a suggestive sort of way.

“I have no use…” he says. “All day they are writing me letters, Joseph, I want to be your girlfriend” he mimics in a high voice.

“But don’t you like them” I ask.

I can see he is really upset and it even looks like he is holding back tears. “For me it is hard,” he explains. “So hard to talk to girls.”

“You are talking to me and I’m a girl”

“Yes but you aren’t…he pauses and then mimics the girls flirting and walking to get his attention. Its one of the funniest things, I’ve seen.

One day you will like it. I told him.

Yes but now I have no use. He sighs and picks up the bar of soap and another piece of laundry.

He is only 17 now. I think give him a few years and he will find “a use.”