Trek in Time.

Well it is finally time to share the story of the Batwa Pygmies’ Island.

On the far side of Lake Bunyonyi, at the crest of one of the larger islands is a settlement of Batwa pygmies.This group of indiginous people dwelt for generations with the gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the southwest corner of Uganda. But in 1992, Bwindi became a national park, a refuge for the endangered gorilla, and the Batwa were evicted from their homeland. With no place to go, many died but some settled on the top of this remote island on Lake Bunyonyi. As hunters and gatherers, this new home was a drastic contrast to the home they had known. In many ways, this group has been frozen in time. We met a man carrying a hand-made bow returning from a hunt for small animals.

On the beautiful afternoon of our stay on Itambira Island we were offered a boat ride. Our guide asked if we wanted to go to Pygmy Island. With no idea what we were about to head to, we readily agreed! In some ways, a HUGE mistake, in other ways a most remarkable experience. After many minutes peacefully coasting on the glass water we arrived at a wobbly dock and disembarked. That should have been my first clue.

Moses - the dock

Our greeters as we began the trek to see the Batwa Pygmies.

Here is where Moses comes into the story. Arriving with his rod – he was ready to lead me to the promised land. Now, Moses is not a Batwa, as you may recall he lives just around the bend. We began our trek – straight up!! My son would have been so proud of me, except for the whining, likely reminiscent of those following Moses of the Old Testament. A good thirty minutes of laughing, whining, stop and go, and yes, even a brief stop in which I emphatically exclaimed, “I can’t go one step farther.” Patiently, Moses took my arm, steadying me and perhaps even dragging me, proclaiming over and over that we were almost there, not bad for 11. At times I did feel 100 (see previous blog). But what we saw at the crest of the hill was absolutely worth the effort. A land frozen in time. Sadly though, they were used to those journeying to their resettled home and quickly brought out their cloth bags with bracelets and other hand-crafted souvenirs.

Pygmy4

The children and the souvenirs.

As we walked around the little plot of land, the lack was apparent; clothes, shoes, doors, beds, shade, food, many of what we call the basic needs.

Pygmy1

Little Ones.

Pygmy3

Home.

They performed a dance to entertain us before settling beside their handmade goods for sale. We had brought very few Uganda shillings along but gave what we could.

Pygmy5

The Batwa Pygmy Dance Troupe.

We were not there long and as I began the long trek back down I began to reflect. We take for granted so many of the basic needs. Even when we whine and complain that we don’t have enough, we really do have it easy.

IMG-20160227-WA0023

The trek back down. It really is much steeper than it looks….

If that had been the place I was destined to live my life, could I? Could you? Would I? Would you?

Seeds of Hope.

I think I may have just traveled to the ‘ends of the earth’ this past week. Lake Bunyonyi, a crater lake, second deepest in Africa at an estimated 900+ m (6400 ft.) . It consists of twenty-nine islands, sits at an elevation of over 6000 feet and is 4 miles by 15 miles of finger-like inlets with islands dotting the water. Close by is the land of the gorillas nearly touching the border of Rwanda.

It is breath-taking…  glass waters, hilly islands of every shade of green, ethereal mist resting on the water, thatched roof huts and terraced gardens dotting the steep hillsides, paradise… mostly untouched by time.

As you first enter on the red dirt road there are a number of resorts but we were surprised to discover our destination was only to be reached by boat as we headed for the dock to climb on board for the fifteen minute boat ride to Itambira Island. Once there we were greeted by Sally and her team from Seeds of Hope. They are an NGO working to educate the people of the many islands using their small retreat as a means of sustainability.

The food was delicious the hospitality wonderful and the silence overwhelming. We wished we could stay for days!!!! I highly recommend it if you want absolute peace and quiet! I will conclude today’s post with some pictures of paradise. Tomorrow, Moses and the island of the pygmies.

Seed of Hope 1

Kampala South Rotary.

Good evening. It has been a wonderful day with another trip to Kikandwa. Before you wake tomorrow I will have the next chapter of Moses, Lake Bunyoni and the pygmies posted but in the meantime I want to post pictures from our health center in Kikandwa. A huge debt of thanks to Kampala South Rotary for your amazing partnership at Kikandwa Health Center. A large number of the team were at the center today for a day of nutrition education, examinations and immunizations. I am SO grateful that I can take for granted their love and support and commitment to KHC!!! Enjoy – I will be back later!
KHC 2-27 2 KHC 2-27 3 KHC 2-27 4 KHC 2-27 5 KHC 2-27 6 KHC 2-27 7 KHC 2-27 8 KHC 2-27 9 KHC 2-27 10

Meet My Moses.

Well I am back from my amazing travel to the western side of Uganda and I have so much to share over the next few days!

Today I want you to meet my Moses! Why he is MY Moses will be part of the story of the visit to the pygmies but you will need to be patient – that story comes later….

Raise your hand if you ever had to ride the bus to school! Now keep it up if you hated it like I did! Thankfully, it was for a short time and my big sister kept me safe in the dark while we waited at the bottom of the hill. We could take for granted, rain or snow, warm or cold, that big yellow bus would come to a grinding halt and we would climb on board. My kids were lucky, they lived close enough to walk and would find a ride on those miserable Midwest winter days.MY Moses

But this is not my story – it is Moses’s day. Here is Moses. I met him yesterday at Lake Bunyonyi, the most amazing,untouched place on earth! More on that later too. This is Moses’ story. Moses is 11. I asked him. He asked me how old I am, not realizing it is really not that polite of a question. I laughed when he asked and he said “100”? I just laughed again. He has two sisters and four brothers. Moses

Moses Village

Moses’ Village

is in Primary Five (5th grade).  This is the village where Moses lives. It is on the banks of one of the many islands on one of the deepest lakes in the world. Yes, an island. Moses has never left the group of islands. There is a small town, Kabale, just eight kilometers away but he has not been there. That means he has never driven in a car on a paved street. Each day he climbs barefoot into his school boat. The children go to the few 

School boat.

School boat

schools scattered across the islands by boat. The sun takes its time rising above the hilly islands so the boats begin heading across the glassy water about 8:30 in the morning. They head back to the little clusters of homes dotted on the hills of the islands about five in the evening. What amazed me, and in fact brought me to tears, was his school. I will tell more about it in the pygmies’ story but let me show you using a couple of pictures. Clay walls, one chalk board, handmade bencheMoses' Schools. Now, this is the Primary One classroom but Moses’ was very similar. Where were the shiny desks, white boards, TV and DVD player and projection system, the maps, the games, the BOOKS??? I told him I lived in the United States and asked him if he had seen it on a map. He has never seen a woMoses' School2rld map. just one of Uganda. Moses is incredibly intelligent, speaks English quite well and has big dreams. I asked someone about teachers for this remote part of the world and was told that often teachers that are not strong academically end up in the remote areas. From what I read on the chalkboard, the Primary One teaching is doing his or her very best! Moses melted my heart. I asked him what he wanted to do one day. His response was “a doctor”. That means someone needs to be there for him all the way through secondary school and his parents will not ask him to stop so he can tend the garden. He will need to pass the tests for university. How will he learn biology and chemistry? He will have to compete against the students from the city schools and private schools for a government scholarship to university. He wants to become a doctor and come back to take care of the people of his village. I know full well the odds are not in his favor and I wish he could take for granted the opportunities most of the young people I know can but he is strong and smart and I wish him the very best and pray that God gives him the desire of his heart!! More on MY Moses later……

Kenai Has Arrived.

Kenai arrived today. He is Carly’s four month old puppy and ADORABLE! Today’s blog will be a pictorial of this handsome boy! Oh, and don’t worry if there are no blog posts for the next few days. I promise more for those still reading over the weekend at the latest!!

I really do have gorgeous eyes! I just need a haircut!

Sharon had been watching me and will miss me!!

Sharon had been watching me and will miss me!!

Mom – my size 4 sweater is already too small. May I have a size 8 please?

The patio is my favorite place - just like Deb!!

The patio is my favorite place – just like Deb!!

Clouds.Thunder.Rain.

I put on a sweater this afternoon! It has been four weeks since my arrival to Uganda and the first time I needed a sweater.

Catchment Tanks

Catchment Tanks

Why? Four weeks later it has finally rained! The clouds started to build in the usually cloudless sky, the thunder began to roar and then it rained! It is as if a catchment tank in the sky had been filling up for weeks and this afternoon the bottom fell out!

Rain 2Rain is precious here. In a land where more than 90% of the country relies on agriculture, rain matters. We take for granted our four distinct season but here at the equator the seasons are two – rainy and dry. The farmers say the patterns are changing and they can no longer take for granted when the rains will come and this is of great concern. Also, it seems as if each time I have been here when it rains, it pours. Not the gentle rains of Midwest summers that nourish the crops – the rain today as most days came in a torrent and ended much too soon. It is rain that stops traffic and causes everyone to dash for cover.Rain 1

So for now, as the we head into late afternoon it is surprisingly cool. The dust has settled for a while and the catchment tanks have filled back up a bit. It has been a nice change….

UNO.Dos.Tres.

Today’s blog will be quite brief. It will be another day sipping tea from the balcony patio, working on my computer, playing UNO with Carly and Timba, NTV news coverage streaming in the background.

UNO – For those of you following progress, Timba has taken a substantial lead in our UNO competition. Timba – 18, Carly – 14 and Deb – 10. I really need to step up my game….

DOS – A two man race. The election has boiled down to two candidates. The main opposition candidate, Besigye, has been removed from multiple locations by police multiple times in the past few days. The final results are due today at 4 pm. President Museveni has a substantial lead.  It has been quite interesting and I can take for granted it will continue to be as the day progresses.

TRES – Day three of being sequestered here in this lovely little apartment.

Stay posted…..

Ugandan ‘Snow Day’.

Yesterday was a ‘snow day’. You know, one of those times when  the media warns you that tomorrow you will need to stay put so you stock up from half-empty shelves at the grocery store on the way home, ready to hunker down.  Then the next day when you are stuck at home, you sleep in, then just putter around trying to find things to do. Maybe it is catching up on a project, maybe reading that book that has been on the shelf too long or catching up on all the Hallmark movies you recorded on Tivo,.But you can take for granted that by late in the day you want out, need out, begin to feel trapped.

That was yesterday and will be today. Now, let me clear things up. It did not actually snow here – not sure if it ever has except for on the magnificent  Rwenzori mountains on the far west side. You may recall, it was election day. For much of the day we were shut off from the rest of the world with no Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Internet or Satellite TV. It felt much like a snow day. The US embassy cautioned us to stay at home and we obliged. Timba did venture out to vote – twice, The first time there were not ballots. The second time – success.

So how did we spend our ‘snow day? Very well, I would say. Pancakes and bacon for a late morning breakfast, computer work, a short nap, fried chicken strips and mashed potatoes (all from scratch) for an early dinner and an evening of UNO topped off with a dish of ice cream. We have decided to keep a running tally of wins over the next few weeks. Here are the current standings: Carly – 4, Timba – 3, Deb – 2. I started slow but finished strong. We are competitive! Oh, and we are playing by South African rules. Maybe that was I started out slow – I kept learning new rules as I went along,. But no excuses or whining….. I will update you periodically on the standings. Day two is just beginning. We shall see what it brings….

Wishing you a wonderful Friday and hoping for a snow day for you if you need one!

Refreshed.Renewed.Ready.

Cup of Tea and Computer

A cup of tea and my computer – life is good.

I really had every intention of writing my blog this morning over my morning cup of tea but time escaped from me and here it is, though late in my day, perhaps still time for morning tea for you. Night falls quickly here just as the morning sun seems to rise so quickly so I will try to write before it gets too dark here on my patio (my favorite place). The first few days it was instant coffee but now the days begin with a cup of African tea (tea, tea masala and milk). If you want to try it when I get home let me know. I will have the tea masala.

It is election eve but for today, business as usual. Carly and I worked until mid-afternoon as we usually do, then went with Timba for a delicious late afternoon lunch at a restaurant I had not been to before. We capped the afternoon with some indulgence at Sparkles Saloon. Now, lest you think we were drinking mid-afternoon, in the states we would call it Salon. I find it funny how they add the extra letter. Carly and I each had a mani-pedi while Timba had a cut and shave. Then we ended with a brief stop at Nakumatt to prepare for potential hibernation the next few days before heading home.

I thought today I would answer the Most Frequently Asked Questions. Now that may mean just one or two people have asked as I don’t have that many readers but still let me indulge.

  1. Why Uganda for sabbatical? Iowa winters…. enough said. Okay, maybe a bit more of an explanation. You see, I go nonstop. Ask my daughter, sisters, colleagues or friends. They can take for granted that I will be busy, probably too busy. I LOVE all the incredible roles I get to play from teacher, to center director, to board member but they result in packed days. I needed to rest! Here is how Webster describes sabbatical. “A period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research”. That is what I am doing. I want to come back refreshed, renewed and ready to pick up where I left off. Besides, I LOVE Uganda. The country, the people and my friends here have a special place in my heart.
  2. Who are Carly and Timba that you always refer to? Excellent question. Carly is a former student that lives and works here in Uganda. She came to Uganda three times with me while a student at Drake and fell in love with the country. Okay, and perhaps a wonderful young man named Timba. Timba is a fitness trainer. Let me describe each of them… Carly is adventurous, generous-hearted, intelligent and absolutely a sweetheart! Timba is brave, intelligent, handsome and absolutely a gentleman! They are treating me with such kindness!

Keep sending your questions!

The sun has set, the lights of the far hills of the city are glimmering. Time to go in before the mosquitoes decide I am  late-evening dinner.

Peace.Prosperity.Prayer.

Good morning. It is another day of bright sun here is the pearl of Africa. I am grateful for the breeze that blows between the patio and kitchen door. At home I take for granted my oven, microwave and stove but here I am getting much better at using a stove top only. Pancakes from scratch, no Bisquick mix this morning! They were delicious with my cup of tea and glass of juice while sitting on the patio enjoying the early morning sun. Life is good.

Today is a new national holiday here, just announced last week, so offices, the university and government offices are closed! It is honoring the late Bishop Janani Luwum. Here is a bit about him from one of the local newspapers, The New Vision“In May 1974, Bishop Janani Luwum succeeded his mentor Archbishop Erica Sabiti. Bishop Janani Luwum became the second African Archbishop of the Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire; and the second Bishop of Kampala Diocese. On February 16, 1977, Archbishop Janani Luwum was martyred at Nakasero by the regime of President, Gen Idi Amin Dada.”

This country has a deep history of both peace and conflict, of being ruled and self-rule. Two days from now this country will be conducting presidential and high level government elections. This happens once every five years and President Museveni has been in power for the past thirty.

On Sunday, to a packed house, the minister talked about the role of citizens in elections. He did not tell them how to vote but using scripture that they needed to vote and why.

There is uncertainty, even fear regarding the future of this beautiful country, so full of untapped potential. I would like to close with one of the scriptures from Sunday. Please pardon me for changing the words so slightly. I hope you will understand.

“Pray for the peace of Uganda. May all who love this country prosper. O Uganda, may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your government, homes and businesses.  This I ask for the sake of all  my friends who live here.  Psalm 122:6-8 TLB (word in italics changed)

May it be so….

 

Opportunity.Obstacles.Odds.

Happy Valentines Day. It has been a busy wonderful weekend and I have at least three blogs churning though my little brain. The Ugandan presidential debate last night, save for later, church, this morning, hmm, perhaps tomorrow, the village, later as well.

Let me begin with a shout out to all those who have dined with me over the years at Faze II or Faze III. Hands down,  they serve the best meat in Uganda! Carly, Timba and I all had pork for lunch after church today at Faze II. The ribs were not quite Woody’s or Jethro’s but still delicious. The butter chicken and naan are still my favorites but I have dined on plenty of Indian dishes lately so that will be for another time. Tradition has been to have butter chicken at Faze III the last meal before leaving the country, time will tell.

But now, drum roll…. today’s blog topic…

It is estimated that Uganda’s youth (under 30) unemployment rate is approximately 80%. That includes the vast numbers matriculating from Uganda’s universities each term. In stark contrast, word has it that my business college’s spring graduating class had 100% placement with many staying in town! While US college graduates cannot take that ideal job opportunity for granted – the odds are much more in their favor!

For ten years we have been partnering with a large business school here in Uganda, where each summer we bring together students from both universities to study sustainable development. Last evening I had the absolute delight of spending the evening with five amazing Ugandan young people from the class two years ago. We had a feast of beef stew and noodles and ice cream and cookies. We talked and laughed while the televised Ugandan presidential debate (all five hours of it) caught our attention from time to time.

There were nine in that class that joined us two years ago. A year ago they braved the mid west snow and bitter cold to spend time on our campus. Each has taken a special place in my heart. After officially graduating a few weeks ago, here are the stats: four are employed in Uganda, three are employed abroad, and two still looking for employment.  They are certainly defying the odds but it is still not 100%. I  have been impressed with each of them; articulate, intelligent, engaging,  and motivated. Maybe the key is entrepreneurship – a couple of them are trying it. Uganda is a land of lots of opportunities – but too many barriers as well. These amazing young people are the future of this country! My hope and prayer is that the country realizes their untapped potential for greatness! With love, I wish them the very best!

Projects. Progress.Possibilities.

It is almost the end of my third week here and there is finally a hint of rain and cooler weather. There were actually drops on the windshield as we reached the apartment!

I am sure some of you may be wondering what I am actually accomplishing as my typical blogs are about other observations during my day. Well, besides my blog, keeping up with email back home and navigating heavy traffic ( I can always take that for granted) consuming significant time, I am making progress and  if you continue to read, here is my report.

  1. I have worked with colleagues on the development of curriculum for three programs; two undergraduate and one graduate. There is one more to go. I will polish the proposals over the next week before we submit to the reviewing body. This work always includes a delicious Ugandan lunch!
  2. I have completed revisions on a draft of a journal article.
  3. I am working with Carly on an extensive business feasibility analysis and report.
  4. I have been assigned to the committee for a PhD. student and working with him on his dissertation proposal.
  5. I am consulting with other graduate students on possible dissertation topics.
  6. I am working with a Fulbright student on his research project and planning for a research article,.
  7. Met with a colleague regarding a research paper or case study based on work in western Uganda.

Yes, I think I have been productive but certainly enjoying the weather, food, and relaxation of life here in Uganda. I miss home, friends and family but am settled in a routine!

Oh, and the ants seem to be conquered!

Tomorrow should be a great day and I look forward to checking in afterward! Stay tuned.

Presidents.Politics.Pause.

It is late morning and my day has turned upside down. Not totally a bad thing as I stopped by Java House to up a Malindi Macchiato and stopped by BBrood for some wonderful dutch bread and am now settled back home at my flat with the patio and kitchen doors both flung open wide. The breeze is delightful and the coffee delicious.

But to explain why I am home, I must start from yesterday. I am working with a wonderful young man, Jake, on a project and yesterday met Jake and his mom for lunch on the other side of town. As my route wound through the streets of Kampala I encountered neighborhoods never before explored. Turning onto a street near my lunch destination my driver and I came to a halt in the middle of a rally for presidential opposition candidate Besigye. The massive parade numbered well over 1000, maybe many more, and they were coming straight for us! Excitement, fear, trepidation, sheer panic… Maybe some of each. I sat frozen as the cheering, screaming crowd, some of foot, some on bodas, some in vehicles streamed past. My driver assured me we were fine but I was not convinced. I wish I had been brave enough to take pictures so you could see. To my relief, only a few minutes late I arrived for a delightful conversation over lunch.

So that brings me to why I am sitting here at home enjoying the coffee and breeze. You see, I had a day long meeting planned at the university followed by dinner with a dear friend. First, my friend called early this morning and postponed until early next week as she was not planning to come to campus after all. She was planning to teach later today at a location off campus. Okay, no problem. So after breakfast we dutifully headed first to drop off Carly for work then deposit me on campus. Traffic was the worst I have seen today so it was taking some time. As we were nearing campus one of the colleagues participating in the meeting today called asking if I was still planning to come to campus. My first reaction was to look at my watch thinking perhaps I was late but I was not. “Why, yes”, was my questioning reply. He suggested perhaps we postpone until tomorrow as some of the others were staying away just as my friend.

So you may now ask why. President Museveni is scheduled to be on campus for a rally this afternoon. I know that when there were US presidential candidates with their entourage and all the reporters and the tight security  for all the pre-caucus activity the past several months on my home campus (we were the epicenter) my first option was to stay away if  at all possible.

So for today, I will take for granted that the campus will be full of crowds and excitement and am content to only imagine what it might have been like today…… Ugandan elections are now one week away. I can feel the anticipation and see the increased security around town building. I will watch his rally, like most here, on the evening news.

Laughs.Giggles.Play.

I must admit I don’t understand. Primary and secondary schools are still on break until after the presidential election. That means the kids have been home since before Christmas. In fact, it may be March before schools begin. No one has been able to clearly tell me why. One of my sisters is a high school principal. I wonder what she would think. The university I am working with here is in session so they were not impacted. I enjoy the atmosphere of an active campus. I even makes me miss being on my campus a bit….

That leads me to think about the neighborhood just beyond my patio door…IMG_20160209_184208

Do you remember the long evenings of summer playing with the neighbor kids until we could barely see each other and our moms finally called us home? Catching fireflies, playing hide-and-go-seek or kick-the-can? Rolling down the hill until we staggered or shrieking as we ran through a sprinkler? Laughing, giggling, sharing secrets? Our moms could take for granted we were safe and would come home dirty, tired, dropping exhausted into bed. They are good memories from a long time ago. But summer vacation always came to an end and as the hours of daylight shortened a new school year once again began.

Each evening as I begin to prepare for the night ahead I hear the giggles, laughter and shrieks of joy just beyond my patio. It makes me smile and remember the long days of summer. Perhaps that is also why it is so quiet as I drink my coffee early in the morning.

I suspect evenings may change whenever school finally resumes.

Coffee.Coolness.Contemplation.

Good morning.

Last night the internet was not working. I wish I could take for granted that when I open my tablet it will be functioning. I have paid good money for a hot spot so shouldn’t it? The internet coverage has greatly improved over the past three or four years here but at peak demand times it still can be iffy.

Anyway, if you want to know a bit more about where I am staying let me begin with describing this morning. In our second floor apartment we have a small balcony with an amazing view. I love getting up early when the city is quiet except for the sound of birds chirping and the occasional rooster crowing in the distance. That quiet will soon evaporate  as the city comes to life. My favorite chair at the patio table faces east and I love to watch the sun rise over the trees and hills of Kampala. I am still amazed at a world where the sun shines for exactly twelve hours, 365 days every year. A cup of coffee, my devotional, a cool morning breeze and the sunrise – what more could I ask for? IMG_20160210_071957

Let me conclude with a quote from my devotional reading this morning, “Don’t fall into the trap of being constantly on the go.”

May you find a time of solitude today! Blessings.The sun has now risen and is hiding in the clouds. Back to my coffee….

Think.Say.Do.

For those wondering, the vinegar was not successful and a version of Doom for crawling insects resulted in only limited success. Our intermediate survival strategy is baggies for everything edible. But tomorrow the big guns are supposed to arrive. We are supposed to have the apartment fumigated! We are waiting in anticipation! Wish us luck!

Today was quite productive with my colleagues at the university but I want to focus on this evening. Let me preface this with -the food at KFC is the same in Kampala as Des Moines but I dIicovered that you must carefully articulate your order at the drive through speaker.

But I digressed…

My fellow Rotarians will be glad to hear that I have been faithfully making up my absences from my home Rotary club while here in Uganda. In case you are not familiar, you can find out about this amazing civic organization at Rotary International. Three Rotary clubs, Kampala South, Kampala Sunrise and Des Moines AM  have been incredible partners in our work here in Uganda. This evening Carly and I attended one of the local clubs. We listened to an interesting talk on Islamic Finance. Carly asked if all Rotary clubs are the same. So that led me to think about what can be taken for granted no matter which club you attend. From my experience I believe you will:

  • be warmly greeted upon arrival and introduced during the meeting
  • a sergeant will collect ‘fines’
  • there will be an interesting guest speaker
  • some type of meal or refreshment will be served
  • and at some point you will recite the four-way-test

Let me conclude this evening with the Rotary four-way-test. It really does succinctly state why I believe in the club and goes as follows:

Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

 

Avacado.Ammunition.Ants

Carly has waged a battled… against ants. Ants in the bed, in the bread, on the fruit. They are a formidable foe but thanks to the wisdom of Google the battle is on. You can see our ammunition.

Weapons of choice.

Weapons of choice.

We favor the weapon ‘Doom’ (or the bravery of Timba) for the bigger opponents like spiders but a spray bottle mixture of vinegar and water is our choice for those pesky tiny ants. Wish us luck! I will be bring an update.

I don’t typically buy avocado, mango or pineapple at the store back home as they often are disappointing.Yesterday as we returned from the village we stopped to stock up on produce.

The amazing bounty!

The amazing bounty!

After fourteen trips to Uganda I can take for granted that the avocado, pineapple and mango will be absolutely juicy and ripe as well as inexpensive. It really is amazing! This morning it was fresh mango and pineapple for breakfast before heading to church and at lunch Timba prepared potatoes with onion, tomato and green pepper. Yum!

Life is good in Uganda. Just hoping the ants have met their match!

At a loss for words…

Today was an overwhelming day at Kikandwa Health Centre!

I am SO blessed! I am the proud mother of a son and a daughter. They are both healthy, well educated, pursuing careers they are passionate about and mostly beautiful, inside and out! When I was pregnant I did not want to know if I was carrying a boy or a girl. I just prayed they would be healthy. Would they have ten fingers and ten toes, eyes that see, ears that hear and a heart that beats steady and strong? I was so fortunate that they were healthy and strong. I also could take for granted that I would receive the best prenatal care that insurance would buy. Vitamins, ultrasounds, regular checkups, expert advice, safe, well-equipped delivery room – all for granted.

Today I stood in front of a room of women with tears stinging my eyes knowing they could not take for granted the same. Rural Uganda. In Uganda (both urban and rural) in 2014, 356 mothers died per 100,000 births versus 14 in the United States. The infant mortality rate was 39 deaths per 1000 in Uganda versus 6 per 1000 in the US. The rural death rate is undoubtedly higher than in the city. That is compounded by the preventable transmission of HIV from infected mother to baby and those that end up with complications causing life-long dependencies.

I had the joy of looking in their eyes, briefly speaking to them and distributing about 120 Mama Kits. A Mama Kit contains everything they need to have a clean and safe birth. Most Uganda hospitals require Mama Kits and the mother in labor is often turned away if she does not have one. Thanks to Shining City Foundation for supplying the Mama Kits! We will need a new supply after today!

When we started our project to bring together an amazing team to build KHC four years ago, the village elders said the priority must be given to mothers and children. As of now, the facility is not capable of caring for women during labor and delivery. The staff is handling pre-natal care well and has had one emergency delivery but there is still so much more they want to do!

So our students that have traveled to the clinic over the past two years are working to raise the $60,000 needed for the next phase. So far they have about $5500. If you are touched and want to help, please see their site at Connect Uganda or contribute through Shining City Foundation. Our goal is to have a building dedicated to mothers in labor and overnight staff housing very soon!  The staff and the mothers need it today!

Oh, and by the way, they did HIV screenings, immunizations and took care of ill patients as well today. I am so proud of Isaac and his amazing staff. They humble and inspire me!

I am SO blessed…..

 

 

 

Kikandwa Health Centre

KHC 6Feb16

Arriving at Kikandwa Health Center – a huge crowd!

KHC - Isaac

Isaac – KHC Health Officer

KHC - Mamas

At least 120 pregnant Mamas!!

KHC - Mamas2

An overflow crowd!

KHC - Ill Child

In the meantime there was still other work to do. This baby had a very high fever and was waiting diagnosis.

Carly & Timba

Carly and Timba – you two are amazing!!!

 

Mama Kits3

What an honor to hand out Mama Kits – Thanks Shining City Foundation!!

 

Friday.Family.Friends.

It is Friday evening, the sun is beginning to set and there is a breeze coming in through the open patio door. It has been a good week and I feel settled here. It is time to look back over what I have accomplished thus far and consider the week ahead, then enjoy rest and weekend activities. Supper will be ham and beans and corn bread (if we can get the oven working…). I picked up some bread at a bakery earlier today so we will be okay either way.

Nothing profound today, just a good day. I am coming to take for granted the ability to communicate back home. I just finished a string of emails to my colleagues, it is morning there. The blog keeps me connected and reflecting. The days are flying by.

I like hearing from family and friends so if you have a moment drop me a line!