Saturday, 4 August 2012

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”-Seth Godin

ebbanga ddene! (Long time!)...Apologies for this form of neglect!

            Please send this poor lost soul a tutorial on “how to blog”.

                        Appreciation in advance. God bless you as you will bless many !!

You know how you find those tiny windows in old castles, sometimes round, sometimes thin slits in the wall? When you look through them you get this tiny glimpse of the landscape outside, you know it? A view similar to that in a pair of binoculars when you're looking at one elephant among a herd in the distance. Well, that’s what I hope to give you here…a little glimpse of the vast landscape that makes up my life and the work I’ve been involved in these past months.

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”-Seth Godin

I love this quote, because to be honest, it is often exactly how my life and choices go. It presents a fright and so I try it! In life and fun these past few months that has included diving in the ocean, learning to ride a motocross motorcycle, water skiing, flying a small airplane, driving a boat, swimming in lake victoria and the indian ocean, and a few other little adventures. In work, when presented with challenges I try to have the same attitude and motivation!

Here are few windows:

Motivation seems to come and go, especially when you don’t know how to fit into a picture you’ve recently entered. The past few months I’ve learned a lot surrounding the work in the Ssese Islands of Lake Victoria where I’ve find myself working. Invited to work with Maternal Neonatal Child Health Care (MNCH)…rare to non-existent in these communities…what can my miniscule self do and what hope is there with this need? It’s been easy to let the fear of what it doesn’t look like swallow the hope of what’s possible and I think I let myself go to far down that road. So, now over the past few months, I think God has graciously and slowly been opening my eyes to see the need, some ideas to go about MNCH, and how maybe I can be a person to start emphasizing/caring/showing the importance, possibilities, and value in going above and beyond to care for children, particularly among these island communities. A few particular circumstances that have helped pick me up and push me to try:
  • Last year after coming across a woman with a very sick child in one of our camps, we spent the past year following and encouraging her in the care of the child when we visit the camp. Both maama and baby HIV+. Child was less than a year, but only a few kilos in weight with full-blown AIDS when we found them. Now almost a year later, I’ve received news of the child’s death. Maama had begun with some encouragement to take baby for testing and to get drugs and baby had some improvements along the way, but it seems something happened and baby’s health declined until the point of death. Unfortunately, we had not been in that camp for a little while and were unaware of this cascade. After the fact, I was informed baby died, but sadly baby died more from neglect, as it appeared to the community that the maama lost hope and disregarded the child until a few days before his death. Two sides of the coin…1) I can understand the maama’s discouragement and burden and now grief or relief (only she knows), but 2) I cannot understand neglecting a child to the point of death! This is one circumstance that spurred in me something I haven’t felt before. These maamas need teaching, support, an understanding of the value of human life, accountability, hope, and empowerment to take the best care of their children as is their God-given responsibility even to the point of death. I still have a heart for kids to know the value and care of their creator and sustainer even from an early age and believe it starts with the parents!
  • Upon arriving for a recent visit to another camp, one in which there is a small government health center, I received the news of the death of a 16 year old girl leaving behind an infant to the care of the grandma. Cause of death, hemorrhage during childbirth at a health center not equipped or staffed to handle such complications…tragic!
  • Walking through a camp, a boy of about 2-3 years runs by screaming (not from the sight of a white person this time, but rather from pain). Upon looking closer I spot two abnormal things: 1) A large swelling, looking like mastoiditis, 2) A string with an unripe eggplant tied around his neck. Upon inquiring, I’m informed that this is the traditional ‘treatment'. The maamas believe that the child will heal by the time the eggplant ripens there around their neck. Some die, some live with severe damage, some heal, but none are taken to the clinic for the proper antibiotic and pain management treatment and the children are left in excruciating pain with infection brewing near their airways and brains in hopes they will recover!
  • Maama after maama deciding to deliver from their homes/huts in the islands with health services a several hours boat ride away…I’d be terrified too of giving birth!
  • As Alice and I worked on translating into Luganda my teaching materials for our next round of community health teachings on Nutrition, I learned so much about MNCH in this cultural context! Whoever knew you don’t feed any children milk or meat or even certain vegetables in a village with a case of Measles! Truth of the matter is that is exactly the foods they need to get well and prevent complications! Or that you don’t give injections or place IV canulas in a child with measles when again the truth is that they often need just that! Just one example of cases where cultural beliefs hold strong sway over health care!
  • A short time helping in a Tanzanian clinic with maama after maama coming for antenatal care left me asking this question. How can/what can this start to look like in the next 5 years in the Uganda side of the islands?

I’ve left you with a few small windows…So, what do you see ‘outside’? Scare you? Scares me often…now picking up to give it a try! I'll be in touch with how it's going this next month, God willing!

The newest edition to a couple who run a clinic in one of our camps! Didn't even know she was pregnant, haha, welcome to Africa :)

Maama, baby, and me!

Boyovu Company! Thanks Dogs and Boys for watching out for us! This is a cobra for those wondering...

Inside toilet and shower in the islands!

view from the front door of the island house

Island house from the outside...what a blessing it is!

Deworming for everyone!!

If this doesn't scare you from staring a cobra in the face and force you to turn on your heels to run I don't know what will!

ready to replace now blind maama as guard dogs!