Saturday, August 2, 2014

Week 12: Farewell to Uganda

It’s been 12 weeks since I arrived in Uganda and it has been such an amazing journey! I have learnt and seen so many things that have made me grow as a person in ways I didn’t even imagine. I have come so far from being homesick and feeling out of place the first week to now where the way of life here has become second nature. No longer am I phased when I see a family of 5 on the back of a boda or masses of goats and cattle being led along the road by an 8 year old child. As much as I have enjoyed my time here there are a few things I will not miss too much like eating endless amounts of rice, beans, and matoke(steamed plantain) or being packed my sardines into a taxi and getting stuck beside overweight or smelly people. The memories of my time here will definitely last a lifetime and I will greatly miss the people that have made it that much better!
This week was a short week as Monday was a public holiday for the end of Ramadan. Taking advantage of the three day weekend, we hung around Mukono enjoying another quite day of relaxation. On Tuesday and Friday we were at ACHERU, I think this will be one of the things I miss most about my time in Uganda. It has been such a joy interacting with the amazing kids and staff. Being able to witness how far some of the kids have come is such a treat, from being in a wheelchair or on crutches with casts when we first arrived to now walking and running as kids should be and many even returning home. As you can see below the last couple visits to ACHERU were filled with many many pictures to cherish the memories of this great place, it was quite hard to choose a small selection to share with you all. On Friday, Kash and I brought a bubble solution and bubble wands that we had made for the kids to play with. They were having so much fun creating the biggest bubbles they had ever seen and then chasing them around popping them. It was a fantastic way to end our time with the kids and they were all truly enjoying it.
Kash and I with the ACHERU staff taking tea
Patience loves to pose for the camera
Story time with teacher Kash

With Gideon, he works in the reception area

With teacher Juliet on the left and the accountant Brenda on the right

With nurse Tom, physio Charles, and teacher Juliet
One last meal of rice and bean...won't miss this too much

Fun with bubbles!!

Wednesday was our last visit to Mukono Hospital where we observed three more procedures. The first was a simple C-section where everything went smoothly and there was a healthy baby boy peeing all over the baby table before we knew it. Next there was a young girl who had an obstruction in her ear that was to be removed. The doctor was looking all over for a paperclip to use for the procedure but apparently the hospital was all out. I then remembered when I was at St.Georges Medical School in Grenada the ENT doctor told us that a simple hairpin can be used when the fancier equipment was not around for such a procedure. Luckily, I had a few pins in my hair so I was able to aid the doctor and he quickly turned my hairpin into a tool for ear obstruction removal. It turned out to be what looked like a bit of plant and some cloth in the little girl’s ear. Who knows what she was doing to get that lodged in her ear but I think most people have some embarrassing story about things getting stuck in their ears or nose as a child. The last procedure we saw was on the same man that was in last week for incision and drainage of his abscesses. This week things were MUCH worse, he had severely enlarged testicles with some of the tissue being gangrenous. The smell in the operating theater was something else! The surgeon cut off the gangrenous tissue and removed the pus and who knows what from the enlarged testicles, fortunately it didn’t look like the testicle itself was rotten. The doctor packed up the wound and was going to take another look the next morning to determine if the testicle actually needed removal or if it looked like things would be okay now that the gangrenous tissue was removed. It was a very interesting procedure to end our time at the hospital with…I was feeling very sorry for the man as I imagine that would be bloody painful and he would not have been very comfortable leading up to the procedure or after it for that matter.

Thursday was our last visit to Mengo Hospital and my final visit to the chaos that is Kampala city center. It was a fairly routine day at Mengo, I was working in the lab taking blood samples from patients. There were not too many clients so things were quite slow giving us lots of time to hang around and chat with everyone for a final time.
The homecare and counselling triage area at Mengo

With Sarah the technician who works in the lab
One last monkey picture, they are eating ants off the wall beside the guest house
Now I am currently at the airport waiting for my flight to Kigali, in Rwanda, where I will meet up with my parents and brothers to begin our two weeks of touring around Rwanda and Tanzania. I am really looking forward to having some relaxation time and getting to see more East African countries with the famjam. I will probably do a post or two about our vacation so this isn’t quite the last blog post, just the last one about Uganda.

Hope everyone is doing well!                                                                                    


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Week 11: Classes Finishing, C-sections, and Cats

This week has been pretty low key so it will likely be a short not too exciting post, sorry in advance if it bores you.

This week lectures finished on Tuesday and then the student had their exam for organizational development on Wednesday. Kash and I put together to multiple choice section of the exam again. This time we made it much simpler with more basic English and not testing as many definitions. This proved to be successful as many of the student had near perfect marks on our section and nobody was close to failing the section. The students were much happier with us, it was a good last impression for them to have of us.
Around the UCU campus
Fairly typical lunch in Uganda, I will not miss having this everyday
Wednesday evening we were at the Mukono Hospital again to observe surgeries, this week there were 5 procedures we got to see. The first was a young man who had had his fingers crushed, the tip of his pinky was missing and the tip of the ring finger was only partially attached. The surgeon did his best to repair the partially detached finger and then stitched up the pinky to try and make it cosmetically pleasing. Next we saw an inguinal hernia repair on another young man and two C-sections. The first caesarean as an added bonus to the woman the surgeon removed quite a bit of fat tissue from her stomach as he had her open and he figured she would appreciate it. He also worried that the fat would hang over the wound and disrupt the healing but really he wanted to make her skinny. The second caesarean was a bit more exciting as the baby would not breathe on her own. After both the midwife and anesthesiologist being unable to get her to breathe the surgeon tried and luckily was eventually successful and the stubborn little one came around and took her first breath on her own. The last procedure was an abscess incision and drainage on a man who had quite a few abscesses around his groin. It has been awesome getting to see so many different procedures the past few weeks but it is a shame Mukono hospital is not bigger as most of the really cool procedure are done at the national referral hospital in Kampala.
This is the main road in Mukono
Thursday we returned to Mengo hospital where we had not been since classes had started. The staff there were happy to see us as they had thought we had gone home already and didn’t say goodbye. There I was working in the triage and Kash was taking blood. I was working with a nursing student who was very interested in Canada and was asking tons of questions about life in Canada. In high school here students take geography and one of the things they learn about are the Canadian prairies so they are always proud to show off their minimal knowledge of Canada.
The craziness that is Kampala, there are always so many people no matter what time of day it is
 Friday I spent the day at ACHERU giving the kids their weekly test. It is going to be sad to say goodbye to that place as the kids and staff are so amazing and it is always so fun being there. There was a new young boy there this week who I was doing some colouring with, the only problem was that he did understand that I don’t speak Luganda. He kept saying “teacher” and then rambling on in Luganda, I had no clue what he was saying so he would say it again and again until the actual teacher would come over and tell me what he wanted. It’s strangely fun interacting with the kids with limited talking as the young ones know very little English and I know even less Luganda. I have gotten quite good at communicating with some of them without using actual words.

This past week the cat, Bubbles, that belongs to Save the Mothers, another Canadian organization, has been extra friendly. Typically she will come around once or twice a week but this week she’s barely left our guesthouse and barges into our rooms when we open the doors. This may have something to do with us starting to feed her… However we are rather regretting feeding her as she is still a kitten and quite a nuisance, she loves chewing on cords and anytime there is food around she tried to eat it. Yet it is nice to have an animal around to cuddle while we watch movies and stuff.

Bubbles burrowed in my duvet not wanting to be kicked back outside
We have come a long way from our microwaved noodles and eggplant the first week
Well that’s all for now, it has been a quite Saturday spent studying for the MCAT. I am now entering my last week here in Uganda before I go to Rwanda to meet my family for 2 weeks of vacation there and in Tanzania. I am so excited to see my family and travel around but it will also be sad saying goodbye to this place I have called home for the past 3 months!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 10: Horseback Safari

Another exciting week has passed and the reality that I only have 2 more left is starting to sink in. It will definitely be bittersweet saying goodbye to this amazing country.

Classes continued this week going on in their usual manner. This week, Edward tasked Kash and I with putting together a short multiple choice test for the students from questions in the textbook’s teacher’s manual. We did this and thought we had created a good test that would challenge the students slightly but wasn’t too difficult, oh were we proved wrong. After giving the students the test one of them said he was traumatized from it so he didn’t want to participate in the class discussion. Marking the tests was tough as we really wanted the students to do well but this was not the case and many were around the 50% mark. The next day we went over the test with the students and it seemed much of the English used in the questions was too complex for the students, so they were unable to fully understand many of the questions and answers. The next test we put together will be much easier and we will revise to questions from the book to make the English simpler. It was slightly upsetting seeing the students so upset over their less than stellar marks.  
Relaxing on campus using the Wi-Fi as it was problematic in the guesthouse as per usual
Some of the students working on a group assignment
On Thursday we went out to ACHERU after classes, it seems everyone is recovering nicely from last week’s tragedy and the place is back to its normal cheerful atmosphere. Now that we have been around ACHERU for quite some time, many of the children that were originally there and really warmed up to us are beginning to be discharged and going back home. It is awesome to see the kids healing and getting healthy enough to go home but it is also tough to say goodbye to the ones that were so fun and I had special connections with. Luckily there is high demand for ACHERU’s services so as the healthy children leave, new children arrive. One of the nurses at ACHERU, Betty, has an 8 month old son Joshua who accompanies her to work every day and is such a cute baby. Typically, Joshua is passed around among the staff and the mothers while Betty is working. Kash and I have held him before but he is only content with us for short periods of time then he becomes weary of the Mzungu’s. On Thursday as we arrived, Betty was just heading back to work after her break so she asked if I would take Joshua. Amazingly, Joshua was happy with me and I got to cart him around for a couple hours. It was hard work to carrying a baby while also trying to work with the other children, I have so much more respect for mothers with multiple children now!

Joshua and I, notice he's not terrified of the Mzungu

Peace and Patience, two of the younger kids that I work with most of the time

Handing out stickers at the end of the day, who doesn't love getting stickers?
This weekend Kash’s friend Arwen, who is also a Uvic student and doing her co-op in Nairobi, came to visit and we went on a two day overnight horseback riding trip. The trip was lots of fun with 4-5 hours of riding each day through varying landscapes. Saturday we mostly went along the Nile and through the local villages, there was one section along a maize plantation where we were given the opportunity to gallop on the horses. This was pretty much first time for all of us on the trip to gallop so we were slightly nervous but everything went smoothly and it was amazing! That afternoon we arrived at the lodge called The Haven which is located right on the Nile with a fantastic view. It was a lovely place with great food, a pool, hammocks, and comfortable accommodations.  When we arrived, the horses were put into the paddock on the property and my horse quickly began to roll around in the grass. Unfortunately, somebody had thrown a glass bottle onto the grass so my horse rolled on and shattered the bottle cutting his neck in the process. Luckily the wound was not too deep so he was just fine and able to be ridden back to the stables for further treatment the next day. The next day after the best breakfast I have had in 10 weeks, we set off to begin the return journey. The route we took back was completely different, we were doing up and down mountains/hills, through a rainforest, and through massive sugar plantations. The ride was longer on Sunday but since it was not in and around the villages as much we were able to go much faster. Luckily my body was no too sore as Kash and I had ridden the weekend prior to get our muscles back in the game. However, some of the soreness is unavoidable and today my bottom is quite sore and slightly bruised. All in all, it was a really fun weekend and the guides and guy that runs the whole thing were so fun which made it that much better.
On the back of a Boda Boda

Day 1 post riding with Kash and Arwen

Our group for the weekend, the other two girls were from the UK

Jack Daniel's cut from rolling on the glass bottle

Dan and Francis washing down Nile Gold after a rather dusty ride

Me with my trusty horse for the weekend, JD 

The view of the Nile just down the hill from the Haven

I could have stayed there happily all day

Watching the sunset

Gorgeous colours with the view of the Nile from the Haven

Fresh coffee, my book, and the Nile in the background made for a relaxing morning

Riding in a section of the rainforest

Kash and Arwen at the top of one of the hills

Just before setting off on a gallop through the sugar cane plantation
Hope you all have had a great week.