Monday, December 12, 2011

tribute

i just watched this and cried. i miss this place. can we go back?

thanks aubs :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

3 months

3 months ago today i stepped off a plane bringing me back from uganda, and the best 18 weeks of my life. i have had some time to reflect on this experience. ok that just sounded good. really i began to forget about it- about the people, the love there, the beautiful landscape, etc. school just got busy. i got distracted with worries of money, the future, and having a social life.

then last sunday i took a look at my pictures and the videos from my time there. i was filled with such gratitude for the chance i had to go to Uganda, meet the people i met, and learn from their way of life. here is what i wrote about the experience in a letter to my brother on sunday:


While I was in Africa I found that there are so very many things that I take for granted that I didn’t have over there. When I first got home I would stand in the shower forever because I hadn’t had a hot shower in 4 months! Hot water is so wonderful and we take it for granted, or complain it isn’t hot enough. I also realized that I am blessed with a great knowledge of things that many people don’t even know about. As a “little” 21-year-old, I was teaching adults and even respected people in their villages about hand washing, nutrition, first aid—things that I have known pretty much my whole life. Those people were beyond grateful for everything we taught them—I can’t even tell you how many times they thanked us, wrote us notes, or brought us food.  They were so grateful and yet we had only shared something that they had never had the chance to learn! I realized there that education, and the opportunity to receive it, is a great blessing and something that I need to be more grateful for. 


at this time of year for thanksgiving and remembering christ's birth, i am so grateful for the small things- warm water, electricity, good roads, healthy food, a job, the opportunity to learn, the opportunity to help others. no, i will not forget Uganda, or the people of Mbale. that would be a travesty. but i will take what i learned and use it to make myself a better person and to make the world a better place!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

snapshots of uganda: 3

first day in Africa!
ok this isn't a post about an African, but about this amazing girl i was able to live with [in the same room] for 18 weeks.



Sarah Blackhurst.

at a clean water project in Namatala












i knew when i went to africa that i would meet many amazing people and i hoped that we would become friends. i was so blessed to live with Sarah for 18 weeks. right from the plane ride over she took me under her arm and adopted me as her "little sister" and accomplice. (disclaimer there are so very many people i could talk about and don't worry my friends, i will post about you too!)

sarah taught me so much while i was in uganda.
after the somehow sketchy boda tipped over

- how to ask good questions, and then really listen to the answers
- not to judge people by their appearances (abby taught me this too)
- how to stick with things even if its hard and people aren't helping you
- how to have fun even without money
- that it is so important to stay in tune with the spirit and read the scriptures daily
- what amazing music is played by escala, palladio, and bond
- to be patient with people who are different from you and try to see things from their perspective
- loyalty to your friends is number 1
- you can wake up at 8:45 and still look freaking hot by 9(ok only sarah could pull that off- i still can't do that)
- you can make any day special
- how to laugh when things go wrong


at Mbale Resort- don't worry about my hair. its freaky



miss sarah is getting married in january to mr. paul israelsen and i am so excited for both of them! i feel a little responsible for this love happening, but i don't really know why. ha ha. maybe its because i was of the only people who knew that they were "dating" while we were in africa! i win!







but no, Sarah is seriously amazing. she is hilarious. she can always make me laugh. she is completely honest with me. she is a good judge of character and i trust her opinion. oh did i mention she is so beautiful? she is really good at fixing things- from broken hearts, to broken beds.
fixing my broken bed
now for a picture overload.

making fried egg sandwiches for dinner

roommates for life!

sad that abby is leaving us
in the taxi going to torroro

where it all began- chicago airport
in front of Buckingham palace
sarah- you rock! love you girl!



Saturday, October 8, 2011

snapshots of uganda: 2

this is Mercy. she lives in Namatala and goes to Child of Hope Primary School.

Namatala is the biggest slum in Mbale and one of the biggest slums in all of Uganda. Child of Hope serves only one section of the slum. They educate one child from each family in hopes of improving the overall education of that family. Child of Hope also teaches families (mothers especially) income generating activities (IGA's), as well as health care practices. i had the opportunity to work with Child of Hope many times this summer.

[back to Mercy]
whenever i went to Child of Hope, Mercy was one of the first children to run up and hug me [they all would run and pretty much tackle you]. she would play hand clapping games with me. she was always happy. she always had a smile on her face and was excited to see me. she made me feel so loved. on my last day in Namatala I went to Child of Hope and found that Mercy was not feeling well. I sincerely hope she recovered quickly and did not have malaria! she is a ray of sunshine in the midst of poverty. i have great hopes for her future! love you Mercy!
video

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Friday, September 30, 2011

snapshots of uganda: 1


we met this little Somalian girls at Lion's Children's Park while we were running the Blood Drive. there is a horrific famine in Somalia right now, not to include political unrest, which has resulted in millions from Somalia seeking refuge in neighboring countries. since it was Ramadan (a Muslim holiday where they fast from sun up to sun down every day for a month or so) there were many Somalian Muslim's living in Mbale.
these cute girls came up and started dancing to the music we had going and pretty soon we joined in! (Somalians are different from Ugandans in that they are taller, skinnier and usually lighter skinned. the men, especially have defining features.) it was so fun dancing with these girls! they didn't speak any English and we didn't speak Somali. But that's the great thing about Africa- you don't need words to speak volumes.
what i remember from this experience is that these girls were so happy! they loved life. yet, they were refugees. they had no home. i fell in love with their smiles and enthusiasm. 
since being home and reading more about the famine and hard ships in Somalia, i wish i could go back right now. go to Somalia. and in some way relieve the poverty in some way. 
someday i will go.
until then i will never forget these happy, dancing refugees. 

snapshots of uganda

since we all know my heart is still in uganda, i have decided that periodically i will write a post about someone i met there- american, ugandan, etc.  by doing this i hope to keep the flame burning in me so that i don't forget why i did what i did there and the impact it had on my life. i also hope to maybe inspire others to go out and do something good- for anyone, anywhere.

Monday, September 26, 2011

one month

I have been home for one month. weird! it really seems like just yesterday that i was here:













with these lovely people:














how time flies! when i first got home i really hated it. i cried when i left Uganda and I cried almost every day for the first week i was back in utah. i'm more used to it now. i don't cry about africa. but i do miss it. there is one thing i do NOT want to do. i don't want to forget the experience! sometimes we have amazing experiences, and then we forget about them after a year or two. i promise i will not do that. going to Uganda changed me. mostly for the better. i am more confident. more headstrong. more humble. less judgmental. a better communicator. i understand development work- somewhat. i lived in a third world country for 18 weeks! at first it was really hard. but by the time i left, it was horrible leaving. i think part of my heart will always be in Africa. where do i want to go next? Somalia!
these little somalian refugees stole my heart!














(I also want to go to India, China and Thailand. so stay posted, my adventures are not over.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You Know You've Lived in Africa for a Long Time When. . .


.  . . beans and rice is one of your favorite dishes
.  . . seeing two boys holding hands doesn’t even faze you (in Uganda, it is more common to see people of the same sex holding hands than people of opposite sexes. It’s just a cultural way of saying you are friends.)
.  . . you are used to cold showers (and you only shower twice a week. Oh, and forget about shaving regularly!)
.  .  . clothes you would never wear in the States start to look really cute
. . . you are really excited if the power stays on all day and all night
. . . you see a white person and have the uncontrollable urge to yell, “Mzungu!”
. . . waiting for up to an hour for a meeting or a class to begin is normal
. . . your day is made when you poop solid
. . . you find a rock in your food and you keep eating
. . . you see a dead cockroach in your bathroom and you leave it for a few days
. . . you think your clothes are clean when they don’t smell
. . . you start to argue over twenty cents
. . . you cancel your meetings when it rains
. . . you compare your chaco tan lines with others
. . . you think you’re really tan and then you shower and suddenly you’re not as tan as you thought
. . . all your clothes are crunchy because washing by hand you never get all of the soap out
. . . you have to drink all of your soda at the place you bought it because they charge you extra if you take the glass bottle
. . . you’re riding in a taxi and a random African sits in your lap and you’re okay with it because the 14-seater taxi only has 18 people and not 24
. . . you’ve had at least fifteen marriage proposals in the last week
. . . you sit on a motorcycle sideways (if you’re a girl), even when you’re wearing pants
. . . its normal to hold hands with a stranger when you first meet them
. . . you bargain over every price, regardless of what it is

Co-authored by Sarah Blackhurst, Suzanne Whitehead, Whitney Smith, Devin Wengert and Beka Arnesen

Where Death is Just Another Part of Life


Last month I spent three mornings a week (about 12 hours total each week) at Mbale Regional Hospital, volunteering in either the Pediatric Acute Care Unit or the Surgical Theater. There I came to know the dire need that Uganda needs for improved health care. Mbale Regional is a huge hospital, serving millions of people. It is very understaffed and under equipped. The staff who work there, however, are smart and innovative. They are trying their best to help the people who are ill. As you walk through the hospital you will see people lining all the walk ways and sitting everywhere, waiting for a doctor to see them. Pregnant women wait patiently outside a full delivery room until there is a bed available for them to deliver their baby. It is the most hopeless hopeful place I have ever been.
I once saw a mother holding her baby’s hand as the clinical officer drew blood for testing. I knew that if I was with my child in this hospital as it was (under staffed, ill equipped, dirty, and dark), I would be totally hopeless. However, as I watched this woman staring up at the clinician, I saw her eyes were full of HOPE. Compared to the health care we have in the US, Mbale Regional Hospital is the pit of despair, but for people who have never ever had even remote access to health care, it is a beckon of hope.
One sunny day I was in the surgical ward, waiting for an emergency to come up, because there were no scheduled surgeries. Andy and I cleaned and then folded gauze bandages for hours. Finally an emergency came in.  Any medical student loves seeing any kind of surgery and it (almost) excited when an emergency happens. Sometimes I see patients as nothing more than science. I was excited to see what emergency procedure we would be doing, when they carried in a little baby and laid her on the metal surgical bed in the pre-op area.  She was premature and had been badly burned. Her face—nose, eye lids, and lips—and arms were so burned they looked charred, like charcoal. Her little chest moved up and down, barely enough to be noticed. It was shocking—and horrifying. Even the medical staff in the theater was dismayed.  There wasn’t much to be done except try to relieve the pressure caused on the limbs by the burns.  I handed plaster (medical tape) to the clinical officer (a mere intern) as she cut open the burned arms to decrease the pressure and keep the blood flowing.  All I could think of was that this little girl was only a few days old and already was suffering so much hurt. A few days later, when I went back to the hospital I inquired about the baby.  No one knew what had happened to her. I assume she died. There is no way she could eat with her lips burned closed. It is heart wrenching for me to think she could not be saved. It is my first instinct to try to save a life at all costs. But, I do know that she is in a better place and is out of pain.
A few weeks later, in the pediatric ward, a toddler died while on the examination table. His mother walked out crying (Ugandans never cry) and the father held onto the limp body. Eventually they draped a coat over the boy and the father too, left.
Before I came to Uganda I had never seen death, but now I have stared it in the faith. I have watched as faithful nurses and doctors have tried, despite a limited supply of medicine and technology, to save every child who comes across them. I have a new appreciation for the healthcare we have in the US. I am grateful I will not have to have my baby in a mud hut, on a wooden bed. I am grateful that if my child gets sick or hurt, I can instantly get quality care for him. I am grateful health care has been prioritized and that so many people in America want to be doctors.  I will never forget the experiences I had at Mbale Regional Hospital. In fact, they have inspired me. I will come back to this place and do anything I can to improve the quality of healthcare given here. The people have the heart, they just need the road blocks removed.

CURE Hospital


CURE Hospital is one of my favorite places in Mbale. Run by an NGO, called CURE, they specialize in pediatric neurosurgery—mostly spina bifida and hydrocephalus—serving all of East Africa.  You may not know, but my biggest dream (regarding Africa) is to find an underserved population and start a hospital to serve them. So, walking into this hospital was like walking into my dream!
CURE is probably the nicest hospital in Uganda.  It is clean and bright. They have the latest medical technology.  Each patient has their own bed, with clean sheets. They provide support for the family and continually go to the field to find new patients and to check up on old patients. They also have paper-bead-making IGA (income generating activity) for patients, and they sell the necklaces and earrings at the hospital. This is a “charity” hospital, but they do require that patients pay what they can to help pay for the surgery and treatment. Although they do not pay the highest salary, and most of the staff would be making more if they worked at a government facility, they still have a very loyal staff.  These are Ugandans, and other East Africans, who want to make a change and do some good.
In Eastern Africa, especially in the villages, there is a stigma about hydrocephalus and spina bifida. If your child is afflicted with one of these maladies, it is assumed that you (the mother) did something wrong or that the child is bewitched. They become outcasts to society. If left untreated, hydrocephalus causes the brain to swell, resulting in the entire skull expanding, sometimes to grotesque proportions.  Pressure on nerves can cause damage such as blindness. The procedure to fix hydrocephalus is very simple, and the one that CURE uses, is very non-invasive.
I was involved in a project at the hospital it which we volunteers taught nutrition, hygiene and first aid classes to the mothers who were there with their children.  We taught people from Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia about how to eat a balanced diet, how to wash their hands and why it was important, and what to do if their child fell out of a mango tree. Most of the women were very excited to learn this information and put it to use. I don’t know for sure if every single woman will implement what we taught, but I hope that this knowledge will be a key factor in improving, or even saving, a few lives.
I want to come back to CURE. I don’t know when. Maybe I will do a medical internship there (while we have been here there have been medical interns from the States, Italy, Eastern Europe, and other places).  Or maybe I will just come back to visit. I would love to explore their other hospitals around the world. They are doing a great work and I am grateful for the chance I had to work with them.

A "Somehow Sketchy" Boda

Here in Mbale one of the cheapest, most common forms of transportation is the boda-boda, or boda for short.  A boda is a motorcycle with a long seat. They zoom in and out of traffic and swerve to avoid any obstacle—pot holes, other bodas, cars. Women ride side saddle while men straddle. Boda accidents are quite common but I have been fortunate enough to have avoided getting in an accident for the last three months . . . until last Thursday.
Abby and I on our favorite boda, driven by Habeeb



Sarah Blackhurst and I were on our way to Manafwa High School to help teach an Empowerment class. It had been raining all day and the roads are always a lot more slick after rain—mostly because there is red mud everywhere and the roads are poorly paved. We didn’t really think anything of it. I’ve ridden bodas through torrential rainstorms before and been totally fine—except for getting soaking wet. As we squished on the back of the boda (yes, we ride double) and started up the hill out of Senior Quarters, I became a little worried. I felt like his boda was about to break down or run out of gas. Then we would have to find a new boda. So, I said to Sarah, “This boda is somehow sketchy.” Not more than 2 minutes later, our boda driver tried to swerve onto a bit of paved road to avoid driving in the mud. In what seemed like a slow motion movie we tipped over onto our backs (remember we were riding side saddle, so the boda tipped to the right). Luckily we had backpacks on which protected our heads and most of our backs, but we were still pretty shaken up. I had red mud all down the back of my pink striped dress and my arm was a little sore from landing on the gravel. As I looked at Sarah and saw that she didn’t look much better than me, the hilarity of the situation registered and I burst out laughing! I could not believe how funny we must look! We had the lesson plan for the empowerment class, so we had to continue onward to town. As we got back on bodas (we took two different ones for the rest of the way), I had to bite my lips to keep from laughing.


Ugandans are so nice! Even if something is not their fault, they will apologize. So, for the rest of the day, random Ugandans were asking what happened and then expressing their sincere apologies—“sorry, sorry, sorry.” Although we were probably the laughing stock of Namatala (the biggest slum in Mbale) as we traipsed through the market, we didn’t mind. I may have ruined an entire outfit and had mud soaked through my clothing all the way to my underwear, but it was worth the memories!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

in denial

i leave in 18 days
i have already said good bye to all the kids at Impact
i will be saying many more good byes
i feel like this is not real life
we all know that i hate good byes
here is a list of the people i have to say good bye to:
the babies at Gongama babies home
all the wonderful church members
our guard, David
people at CURE hospital and Mbale Regional
and other random friends
i wish time would slow down a little.

i never expected that 3 1/2 months would go by SO QUICKLY
its really scaring me
there is so much at home that is unknown.
so much here that i know and love
these are the happiest people, the prettiest land, the best feeling i have ever had.

so yes you could say that i am in denial about leaving
but then again, who wouldn't be?

Farewell Impact Primary School

For the last 12 weeks I have been holding a student leadership course at a local primary school- Impact.  This is sort of my "baby" project. I stumbled upon it. I came here thinking I would just be doing health related projects. However, there is a HUGE need to empowerment and life skills to be taught to school age children.

We taught the class to all of P7 (ages 12 and up), as well as the class monitors (sort of like a class president) from all the other classes. There were so many kids who I met there who are just on fire! They are smart and sharp and have big plans for their lives.

As I said good bye to the students, it was surreal. I don't really feel like I am leaving. Do I really only have 18 days left here? AH. That is a little freaky.  I will miss these kids! I loved going and seeing Gerald's smiling face, tickling little Benjamin and Joel, and singing "OH Happy Day"with all of them.

It has been a great experience to work with this school! I hope that all those kids DO follow their dreams and are able to make a change- in their lives and in Uganda!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

just a short clip...



if you wanna see what we have been doing here in Mbale, watch this cool video!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

sprinting to the finish line

i only have 5 weeks left here!

AAAAAAAGGGH!

I was really worried that when the second wavers left that all the projects would fizzle out. thank goodness for the awesome third wavers who are jumping right in to Uganda! I am now project lead on four projects- the CURE trainings, Mbale Hospital volunteering, handwashing outreaches, and the leadership class. I have kept really busy with them. Which is great! I do not want to be lame and die out these last five weeks. i want to keep sprinting hard core to the finish!

why?
I am not ready to leave! this place is honestly the best place I have ever been. I am content and happy. For the most part I live the Hakuna Matata lifestyle. The people here are the happiest people on the planet. They don't most of the "conviences" that we have in the US, but they have something more. They have family. They have community. They have relationships with God and with others that are undeniably strong. I love seeing children playing with homemade soccer balls (made from banana leaves and plastic bags) or homemade metal cars.  everyone here is so ready to learn knew things. they all want to make their life better than it was. they want to make Uganda a better place. They have such great hopes for the future. I hope and pray that they will all be fulfilled.

Well, I am almost out of time but I am going to really try to post more often in these last 5 weeks. Until later then...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

the 5 senses of Uganda

Uganda smells like.....
- burning piles of garbage (i call them cancer piles)
- matooke and posho cooking
- raw cow stomach, intestines and fish in the market
- sewage in the gutters of the street

























Uganda sounds like....
-crazy sounding birds that wake you up at 6 am 
- honking buses and yelling boda drivers
- rain pouring down
- drums and dancing
- children singing
- kids yelling "mzungu!"
boys from Sonset soccer academy





























Uganda tastes like....
- fresh pineapple 
- rolex (chipati and fried eggs)
- a LOT of oil
- cadbury chocolate
- "Nice" biscuits
Aubs making a delicious chipati concoction


















Uganda feels like....
- the hot hot sun beating down
- getting caught in a sudden downpour
- dancing for an hour, even though you are sweating bullets
- laughing with kids
- happiness
Becca, me, Kaylen after getting caught in a rainstorm





















Uganda looks like....
- the greenest place you will ever see
- the happiest people
- insane roads
- busy busy busy, everywhere
- a lush garden
- red dirt
the view outside our compound!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

tippy taps

whats a tippy tap?

its a handwashing station. many people in uganda don't wash their hands and so they get really bad diseases that are born by fecal matter. so for one of our projects we build a handwashing station at a school and then teach them about handwashing
this is a tippy tap we built at St. Kizitos baby home!

Friday, July 8, 2011

pictures to follow i promise

ok i have 4 minutes. aah! I am still a live. 
i lov africa.
i might come home with a black baby named scovia.
or maybe i'll bring home benjamin from impact.
or gerald (aka jared) and his sister, sandra.
i'll put up pictures tomorrow when i am on a better computer with faster internet.

Friday, July 1, 2011

project update

umm ok a month later.... i finally post. sorry about the long absence. in case you are wondering, i have not died in africa. but i have been sucked in. i absolutely love it here! i only have 10 minutes but i want to give a quick update on the three BIG projects i am working on. (i'll try to post some pictures tomorrow.)

#1- CURE Hospital Trainings.
CURE Hospital is an NGO in Mbale that specializes in pediatric neurosurgery- specifically hydrocephalis. It is a great facility and run by awesome staff. A group of us go every week and teach the mothers (who are there with a child getting surgery). We teach nutrition and boiling water (me), handwashing and basic hygiene (Aubrey and Rem), and First Aid (Jenner and Paul). I was really nervous to teach nutrition at first, since i am not an expert, but it is really fun! I just teach the 5 food groups and show them foods that they have here which are included in each group. We are hoping to spread the classes to the Regional Hospital and surrounding villages.
i love this hospital!


#2- Leadership Class at Impact Primary School
Impact school is my favorite. I love the kids there SO much! I had this great idea to start a student government. It turned into a leadership class, ebcause these kids don't really get much leadership training or opportunity.  We go once a week and teach all of P7 and then 2 or 3 kids from all the other classes (they are the class monitors).   I love teaching there because I hope to empower these students (most of whom are orphans) and show them they can make their life better than it is now!
me and some girls

human pyramid in p7

the P1-P4 class monitors


#3- Volunteering at Mbale REgional Hospital.
Ever since the mango tree and boy experience i have wanted to do somethuing in the hospital. We started volunteering there a few weeks ago. my goal ultitmately is to make contacts and friends with staff there so that i can remain in contact with the hospital when i go home. i want to create my own NGO to provide the hospital with suipplies and possibly volunteer doctors (to go over there like once a year). I volunteer in the pediatric acute care unit of monday and the surgery (OR) ward on Thursday and Friday. I have been able to see some crazy and sad stuff. i am more convinced that I WILL come back and help these people one day! they deserve a chance at a healthy, long life. And the staff deserve the supplies and equipment to fit their training.
this is what we had to wear in the surgical ward. i felt legit.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

the boy and the mango tree

Monday night of last week, we were all hanging out at the house when suddenly Suzanne (our CD) and Jenner (a boy on the team) rushed out saying that
there was an emergency. They are both EMT's and Charles (a man from
church) had called them saying aboy had fallen out of a mango tree! So
they rushed over there. Charles had already picked up the boy
(something very bad to do because the boy had fallen on his head!) and
taken him to a "hospital". When Jenner and Suzanne got there the boy
was lying on the one bed in the "hospital", unconscious with blood and
cerebral spinal fluid coming out of his ears and nose. All the
villagers (these are the same people who we had a dance party with
last week) were just sitting there, sure that he was dead. But he
wasn't. After a while of searching, Suzanne and Jenner were able to
contact the only ambulence in Mbale to come get them. The ambulence
had a stretcher, but NO neck brace or straps to hold the boy down.
Suzanne and Jenner jumped in the back to help stabilize the boy (his
name is Ivan) on the way to the hospital. Can you imagine going on the
bumby roads in a sketchy ambulence when you already might have brain
damage? Ivan was unconscious for most of it (thankfully), but
sometimes he would wake up and thrash out. They finally got to a
private hospital- they didn't go to the regional state hospital
because there mayn't have even been a doctor on duty. At Mt. Elgon
hospital the doctors there didnt' even really know what to do, so
Suzanne and Jenner ended up doing alot of it. they didn't even have
any gloves for them! Ivan needed a CT scan, but becaus this is a
private hospital (not a state hospital, where all services are free)
they had to pay BEFORE the procedure could happen. the family of
course did not have the money (250 thousand shillings- or about $150)
to pay for it. Finally Jenner convinced the doctor to just do the
scan! He asked anyone on the team who was willing, to donate 20
thousand shillings to help pay for it. HELP doesn't do stuff like
that, but if individuals are willing to do that they can. the scan
discovered that he had a skull fracture and a subdural hematoma (blood
on the brain) that was starting to clot. there was nothing else they
could do at that time so they simply put Ivan in a room for the night.
If he lived they would evaluate him in teh morning. In the morning
Jenner and Suzanne went back over there  and had Ivan referred to CURE
hospital- the very reputable neurosurgery hospital here. He is VERY
lucky that CURE is so close because he probably would have died! He
was able to get into surgery that afternoon and did great. From this
week learned of the dire situation the healthcare system is in. About
70 kids (probably more) die from head injuries every day in Uganda.
That is so many! The villagers, and even Charles, had no idea what to
do when Ivan fell and took him for dead. Even the doctors were
unskilled and had very limited supplies. It is sad to see the poor healthcare system here. It has really impacted me. As a result, I am trying to find a way to get supplies over here to at least one of the hospitals!

Friday, May 20, 2011

pictures deleted

Hey all,
So tomorrow I was going to write a stinking awesome post complete with epic stories and pictures. Sadly, today as I was fiddling around with my camera I accidentally reformatted my memory card deleting all my pictures!!!! I amost cried. Luckily, they are [probably] not lost forever, but I will have to wait until I get home in order to have my brother retrieve them. So there will be no pictures tomorrow. However, epic stories will still be in the post! Until tomorrow,

Beka

Saturday, May 14, 2011

dance party!

Well uploading pictures is a little crazy here so I wont be able to do it today. It all just depends on the computer you are using. So hopefully next week. But there are a few pictures on facebook that people from my group have stuck up.
It's weird to think that I have been here for one week! It seems like i got here forever ago.So last time I wrote you I believe our water was off. On Tuesday it got turned back on. It was wonderful!  I finally was able to wash my hair. We went out to some clinics on tuesday. We went to CURE which does surgeries for spina bifida and hydroencenphalitis. They mostly do them on children. CURE is an NGO hospital run by an American but staffed by all Ugandans. They make everyone pay for the surgeries, but not a set price, just whatever they can pay. It is a really important work because there are so many children who have these conditions and so many bad stigmas attached to them.  Next we went to the Mbale Regional Hospital run by the government. Talk about squalor. They have such limited staff and supplies. IT is filthy there. They have no clean bedding and the people even line the hallway waiting to get a bed. It is so sad. HOwever the head doctor is not dumb or uneducated! He has had to be very innovative in his approaches to treatment because they are so limited. He could also tell just from the cry of a child that they had one of 3 illnesses! He is doing th ebest he can with what the government offers. There are probably 20 doctors who cover 13 districts- about 6 million people (numbers might be off). We are so blessed to have good healthcare! 
On wednesday we went to schools. BOth the schools we went to are private schools and are run by churches. I think that was the day I e-mailed last. WE also went to an Indian restaraunt for lunch. I got vegetable curry, rice and naan. It was real good. Indian food is very popular here and they have quite a few Indians living here.
On Thursday we weren't sure if we were gonna go into the city. It was the day that the opposition leader returned from Kenya and riots were possible. However, with the reassurance that we would be ok, we got a taxi. OUr friend Charles, from church, brought along his police friend to protect us if need be. However, both Musevini and the opposition like Americans, so chances of them targetting us are slim. And if there ever is a riot while we are in town, don't worry because we have a plan. We will immediately catch a Boda back to our house, or if that is not safe, then we will go to the Rix's (missionary couple). So first we went and learned about Charles's NGO that he satarted. They give small loans to people, many of them disabled, so that they can start their own business. Next he took us to an AIDS support group. It was interesting becase I've never met anyone with AIDS. They are just normal people. They were so kind to us and although most did not speak english they tried to talk to us as much as they could. Then we went to a small village. When we got there the men were in the middle of making a homemade xylophone out of banana wood! How cool is that! There were a TON of children there. SO we sang songs with them for a while until the xylophone was finished. Suddenyle it was like a HUGE party! Everyone was dancing and singing with the xylophone and other instruments they had. And when I say everyone- I mean from the old grannies to the tiny babies. they thought we danced pretty funny. But they loved it. I was amazed at these people, who have so little could dance with no cares in the world. The kids were adorable! WE were hot and sweaty and thirsty but we kept dancing. That was probably the highlight of my trip so far. AFter the dancing we sat down and talked. Come to find out, most of the children were orphans. Many of them are being raised by their grandma's because their parents are dead. They dont have money for school and most of them eat only 1 meal per day. I hope we can do something to help them! That afternoon we went to a BBQ at our neighbors. They are a bucnh of old men miners from South AFrica. they are really nice and always invite us over- becasue they never see anyone from the outside world.
i danced with this cute for like a half hour!


On Friday we went to another school in one of the poorest slums in Uganda. Most of the people there are from the North and came down here as refugees. As we walked thruogh the slums, children came from all over and attached themselves to us! Although they were totally filthy and ragged, you can't help but love them. They mostly know very lttle english beyond "Mzungu how are you?" but they are so adorable! Their parents go into town every day to work and leave them to care for their siblings. They literally live in mud and grass huts. you know how you picture them- round, mud, grass roofs? like in national geographic pictures. this is REAL. sometimes 10 people live and sleep in these tiny rooms! The sanitation is horrible too. During lunch break I went to the market and got my first street food. don't worry, i watched him cook it so it would be safe. i got rolex- which is chipati (like a tortilla) with fried eggs in the middle. SOOOO good! I'll try to learn how to make chipati so you guys can try it. That afternoon we met with an NGO in senior quarters (where we live). we walked there in the POURING rain. Adam, i'm sure its like the philippines. It is like a bucket got dumped on your head. This NGO sells baskets and other Uganda crafts that are way cool! I'll probably be buying some stuff for ya'll from them. They are a Christian group who tries to help especially small remote villages. Last night the hotel next door to us put on a movie night for us. Something about the Ugandans I have met is taht they all want us to be happy here. Every place we go they feed us or offer us soda. The hotel is very accomidating and lets us use their kitchen and bathrooms (when ours don't work). the people at the church are so nice too!
Today is our day off and I've just been doing laundry (by hand) and cleaning. I also had interviews with our CD's. They are really great in helping us make goals. They also are helping me cope with homesickness. They are awesome.Tonight we are going to eat at a hotel because it is Whitney (one of our cd's) birthday tomorrow. We are also getting a cake made by one of the investigators at church! I miss American food a lot more than I thought I would!!


PS this is just a letter I send my family each week. I dont have time to write both. But hopefully next week I'll have picutres to put up! Sorry about all the spelling mistakes.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

welcome to Uganda!

well I made it here in one piece with all my luggage! We travelled a total of 2 days, hitting up three different continents, 4 countries and flying about 24 hours total. Phew. It was a long one. Where to start? So much has happened! I think I'll skip over the flying and the layovers and London because I simply don't have time. We flew into Uganda about 9 am yesterday (Friday) morning. We met our CDs (country directors), Suzanne and Whitney, at the Airport where they introduced us to our bus driver Fred. He is legit. The bus ride was looong. But fun! Our team is bonding so well already. I guess when you have been travelling together for 2 days you get pretty close ha ha. I was going to try to upload some pictures but they aren't working today. Anways, Uganda is ca-razy. The traffic is insane! There are no rules. Trucks go as fast as they want even if there are people in the way! Little motorcycle taxis, called boda boda's whiz around and between cars. And people selling things come right up to your window and try to get you to buy their products.
back of the taxi= always a party

We stopped at a couple places on our way to Mbale. First we got a fridge in Mukono. There was this adorable little boy who would not stop waving at us! We even taught him to blow kisses! Pretty soon a bunch of kids were there, all waving and blowing kisses (even though they had no idea what they were doing). After Mukono we stopped at an orphanage that HELP built back in 2007, run by a lady named Margaret. She is really cool! Something about Ugandans is that they are really friendly, so the fact that Margaret hugged us, without knowing us, isn't too strange. The kids there were so adorable! They loved us! And we loved them. They live in such small, cramped, dirty situations, but they are so happy!
cute boy in mukono :)

whit and some boys at the orphanage

I'm out of time for today, but I am loving it here! I'll post again soon ASAP!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

poopy face

welp i am in heathrow. waiting. we are {hopefully} going to explore the city! i'm super pooped from the flight but hey i've never been to London! lemme outta here!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the inspiration behind the title for this blog


after the big earthquake in haiti last year this video was made and i LOVE it. we really are the world! those around us are our brothers and sisters. it is up to us to lend a helping hand. we are asked to "lift the hands that hang hopelessly down." i feel a strong connection to people. i know we are all Children of God. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve His children in Uganda!

8 days!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

day trip planning


as you may, or may not know, i have a 12 hour layover in London. basically a city i only dreamed about seeing in real life. 12 hours isn't long so i want to see as much of the city as i possibly can! today i googled "places to see in london" and the results were pretty much endless. after looking at about 20 different places that sounded cheap/free and interesting. HOLY CANOLI. can i please say that i need waaaay more than 12 puny hours in London!? here are just a few places i am dying to see
why yes, i am a history nerd. i've read every WWII book out there and Churchill is one of my heroes! To be in the rooms he was in would be inspiring!
they have Monet, Rembrandt, van Gogh (they have his "Sunflowers"!!), Michelangelo, and oh boy i could go on and on.
i would be content to just see these. hmm, i think i will
i really don't think i have to say much about this. i mean it's Shakespeare people! the playwright who pretty much started it all. Baaagh i want to go there
-The London Eye:
it's like a ferris wheel in the middle of the city. coool. costs a bit of money (15 pounds) but worth it?
-Buckingham Palace:
the Queen lives here! plus they have those cool guards. not to mention all the history behind this magnificent structure! it costs to go inside, but maybe if i just stand outside i'll get that royal feeling.
you may not know that i lurv Harry Potter. just a little. you can go see the platform! maybe i'll go to Hogwarts instead of Africa! learning to be a wizard is important too right?
each are unique shopping/ cultural centers. i love shopping and i love learning about other cultures!! also, where else am i gonna get some cool gifts for my family?
i kind of consider this the Times Square of London. the center. i just want to stand here. it is beautiful.
oh how i wish i had time to see an opera! (or a play on the West End.) but i don't. they also do ballets, jazz concerts, and contemporary concerts here. 

phew, i feel like i barely scratched the surface. ( i did only get through 4 pages of places to see and i didn't mention all the places.) so out of these attractions (or others you know about already) what should i do while in the great city?? 




Wednesday, April 13, 2011

three weeks

in 21 days i will be flying over the Atlantic Ocean, on my way to Uganda! AH!  Before I leave I have a huge list of things to accomplish including:

- pass my finals (hopefully with grades that improve my GPA instead of lowering it)
- run a half marathon (this saturday!)
- get my malaria pills
-find a suitcase big enough to carry everything to Uganda
-get a haircut
-celebrate 2 birthdays, 2 graduations, and an early Mother's Day (shh that last one is a surprise)

i have two 12 hour flights on my journey to Africa. since i am an unseasoned traveler i need advice. what should i take to keep me occupied on these loooong flights??? granted, i hope to be asleep during most of the flight, but what if i can't sleep? should i take drugs?
ok that sounded a bit dramatic.

but seriously, any travel tips you have will be greatly appreciated!

Monday, April 4, 2011

countdown

in  one month from today i will be flying over the Atlantic Ocean! headed for London, and then Uganda. I am so. . .  excited/nervous/scared/thrilled/fill-in-the-emotion.

i have a list that is miles long to get done!

i just need to survive finals and then i'll be ready to get my stuff together!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

i see london, i see france....

feel free to fill in the rest.

i have my flight plans! ok i've had them for a few weeks now, i just haven't had time to post on here about how exciting they are. [having 3 blogs can be time consuming, therefore you neglect them, especially if you are a full-time student with a part time job.] here is the jist of it-
fly out from SLC International the morning of may 4th
arrive in Chicago O'Hara airport at 3:20- 2.5 hour layover
fly overnight to LONDON   arriving at 7:50 am on may 5th
12 hour layover in London- we are going to see the city!!!!! (excited much?)
fly overnight to Nairobi, Kenya arriving may 6th- 1.5 hour layover
fly to ENTEBBE, UGANDA arriving late morning of may 6th

initially upon getting my flight plans i was dancing. literally. my roommates thought i was ca-razy. well, i am. crazy for Africa (and London)! two days later i was freaking out. 
#1- i've only flown once before in my life and that was to Dallas, Texas with a big group. i will probably be pretty much alone on my flight from SLC to Chicago to England. (I found out Sunday that there is another girl, Sarah, who is flying with me. fear assuaged.) 
#2- i've never been out of the country (canada doesn't count). what do i do at customs? i don't want anyone to be looking at that passport picture. it looks nast. what about a visa? what if we miss a connection? what if the plane is hijacked by crazed penguins like in Madagascar 2? (ok that last one probably won't happen, but it could.) travelling is scary. but i've always wanted to travel, so this is my first step at becoming a pro.
other concerns include... sleeping on planes. everyone says it's impossible. i already know i can't sleep in cars, so this will be interesting. going to the bathroom. i know this is basic, but i read a book once that basically told me that airplane bathrooms are the armpit of bacterial infection. i don't think i can avoid it though on my overnight flights... especially with how much water I guzzle everyday. airplane food. on my flight to dallas all we got was lame potato chips and soda pop. being the health freak i am, i was not impressed. (at least the peanuts they used to give out had protein.) i hope the dinner i am fed is not some lame microwave dinner that sends my body into spasms because of the strange ingredients. sitting next to weird people. have you ever seen Red Eye? well that movie is a little freaky. what if i sat by someone like that? i will definitely have a sharp pen on hand to stab into their neck. ok, ok, that is highly unlikely to occur. i am going to be friendly and talk to said person. my goal is to give away a few pass along cards! what if i get bored? flying to Dallas was excited because it was my first flight and it was only an hour and a half. i pretty much stared out the window the whole time. my flight to Uganda is much longer. i will probably get bored, because i easily do. i'll fidget. read two pages in a book. stare out the window (if i am lucky enough to get a window seat). poke my neighbor (if we are friends). and ask when we're going to be there. being bored is a scary thing.

so yes, now all you seasoned travelers need to give me advice and tips so that my veeeery long flight is a little more enjoyable.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

1.

i've put off posting on this blog because the "first post" has such huge expectations. it has to epic. inspiring. humorous. after worry for weeks about how i was going to make this post just perfect, i've decided to give up. and tell you the story that let to the creation of this blog.

for about three years now i've been obsessed with going to Africa. people ask me why i want to go and honestly, i don't really know why. its not because i love little black children (although they are adorable) and it's not because i want to satisfy some guilt of living in a wealthy country. i have simply been interested in Africa and black people almost my entire life. i also love serving and helping people. these two loves have melded into going to Africa to help people. so searching began.

i started searching in earnest my sophomore year of college. i applied and was accepted to BYU field studies program to Ghana. a few weeks after acceptance i told them i would not be travelling with them. it just didn't feel right. the summer and fall of 2010 i kind of gave up on my dream of Africa, because i thought i'd be getting married soon. however, one day, while on Facebook (social networking isn't all bad), i saw an advertisement for HELP International. after checking out their website, i was hooked. i applied that weekend and was accepted within two weeks to go to Mbale Uganda from May 4 to August 24.

i am so thrilled for this opportunity! being able to help our brothers and sisters in Uganda is a dream come true! i hope to be able to change at least one person's life. i have made my motto for the trip (and for my life, really) the quote to the right. Ghandi- "Be the change you wish to see in the world." This blog will chronicle my adventures in Africa. I will be doing humanitarian aid. The great thing about HELP is that we choose our projects. They always do the basics- adobe ovens, farming, business development, orphanages, literacy. But we also can make our own individualized projects. I really want to do something with the health over there. I don't know how much of a change I can do by simply working in a hospital, so I am leaning toward health education or HIV/AIDS prevention and education.

I hope you will follow me on my journey to the other side of the earth