An actual update
So, while some of you may have been content with random musings about Kampala’s food and atmosphere and how I feel about not living at home, some of you are probably wondering “what on earth are you doing there?”
The whole first month consisted of figuring that out, and that has also stretched some into the second month, so that I alternate between feeling like so much has happened and like I’ve accomplished nothing.
As soon as we came in October, our contact who leads the outreach to the street boys in the Kisenyi slum left for a trip to America, and didn’t come back for almost a month and a half. So I’ve only been able to do that specific type of outreach once while I’ve been here. Then we started going to a school called Raising Up Hope for Uganda (RUHU) run by the same man who does the slum outreach. RUHU is a primary school (nursery classes up to roughly 5th grade) for the village/town of Nakuwadde in Bulenga (so it’s outside of Kampala proper), but it also functions as a home for mostly teenage boys and girls who are not able to live with their parents. Our work there was mostly dealing with intestinal parasites by giving the children deworming medicine and treating ringworm fungus on children’s heads. Before treatment, we would give each class a lesson on proper hygiene, and I would also give a little talk about how we are made in God’s image. If we’re all little pictures of God running around the earth, we are definitely special and worthy of being taken care of. And owe it to ourselves to take good care of ourselves as well. If the kids are able to carry out the hygiene piece of things, then they’ll be much less likely to get ringworm and parasites, but some of the things that it would be good for them to do are either impossible (always wash with soap) or against the culture of kids (don’t share with sick people, only use your own towel etc.). We’d like to keep going to RUHU some, to keep doing follow-up and to keep building relationships with the teachers and kids. We’ll see what we end up doing in the new year.
Also during that first month, we visited and started to apply to volunteer at a hospital in Naguru, which is (I think) in Kampala, but sort of on the outside. It’s a smallish hospital with an emergency room, a children’s ward, a maternity ward, and a general medical ward. There’s also a teenage center there, which is basically a place where teenagers can get free health care and counseling. They have free disease testing (HIV, TB, etc., and pregnancy tests too), and mental health counseling, and teens can come in and have a consult with a doctor about whatever might be going on with them. When I get back I’ll spend some time at this teenage center, hopefully being helpful in some way (I still have no idea how I got placed there—it’s kind of a long story), and maybe get a better idea of what life is like for teenagers here. Heidi and Wanda (my partners in crime/loving people) are going to be working more closely with patients in the hospital, since they both actually have medical training, unlike Miss Elizabeth who showed up to Africa with “no skills” as I was told by an official at the hospital.
One of the things that Heidi and Wanda and I wanted to work on was finding ways to support women who have unwanted pregnancies. Abortion is illegal in Uganda, but it’s still widespread. And because it’s illegal, it’s normally a pretty dangerous procedure, not only ending the life of the child, but endangering the health and well-being of the mother as well. We were basically trying to figure out how we could help women who don’t want to be pregnant to make it through their pregnancies. We’ve gone around some places and talked with different people and read papers and studies about the situation in Uganda. That’s actually how we ended up at the teenage center at first—we were trying to get information about teenage pregnancy, and ended up talking for around two hours with some of the workers there about pregnancy, circumcision, HIV, the nightlife industry, rape, human trafficking, and other things. That’s one of the nice things about Uganda: you can just show up somewhere unannounced, and often people will take time to talk with you and answer your questions.
Another time we just showed up somewhere and made a valuable contact was about a month ago, when we walked into a crisis pregnancy center in Kampala and asked about what they do and how we could help. This organization takes in girls from 10-18 who are pregnant and have nowhere to go (families kicked them out, they have no family, there’s not enough at home to take care of them, etc.). They take care of their antenatal visits and deliver costs, they feed them and teach them to cook. They teach them English. They teach them agriculture and candle making and sewing and knitting. They do Bible study with them. I’m going to be helping with some of these activities, mainly agriculture, English, and knitting, as well as helping out with office work. Most of the staff members aren’t very computer literate, so there’s a lot of admin work that piles up and takes longer than it needs to. Who knew I’d be working in an office in Uganda!
Not sure how coherent that is, but that’s a mini update on some of the work I’ve been involved with.k