The first week of volunteering in Uganda has gone by fast even though we are in a world where things are much slower. In many ways I feel like I’m at big kid church camp. It’s just camp is just on the River Nile. A few nights we’ve heard the hippos as they come out to graze.
The Team House that we are staying in has six bedrooms, each with its own toilet and shower. We have a solar panel system for electric power and hot water. It’s the end of the dry season, so we’ve had hot, sunny days which means a warm water shower.
Dr. Carena from Waco, TX and her mom, Christine, are here. They have been coming for seven years. Dr. Kevin from CA and his friend, Danon a videographer, are here. Allisa and Chelsey are nurses that are repeat visitors/volunteers. We have all our meals together and share limited wifi and clothesline space. Two very important online activities.
Most Ugandans have been given American sounding names. Richard is the mechanic and welder. The sound of grinding metal rings out all over RG as he works to complete the 180 hospital beds needed for the hospital that is being constructed. We hauled four extra pieces of luggage over that contained a portable digital XRay machine. We were glad TSA didn’t ask us to operate it.
We did stir some interest flying into Casablanca, Morocco. We had an overnight there and they wouldn’t let us take it into Morocco. They locked the stuff up in customs office. Which worked out fine because that kept it safe overnight and yes, a little “money for coffee” the next morning and we got them back to continue on to Africa.
The vision of RG is to have a medical school and eventually a hotel/resort here on the Nile. We sat with the McCalls and listened to how God has provided as they were faithful to make this happen. Amazing stories, especially considering it wasn’t that long ago this area was overrun with the LRA, Lord’s Resistance Army.
Genocide, slavery, and total destruction of the country ensued. Many of the workers have horror stories of their lives, running for safety, education and life totally disrupted. The 140 orphans at this campus are some of the casualties. HIV/AIDS has also taken its toll on the population.
The children are finding a new normal. Though they may look ragged and poor, this life affords them a bed, food, clothes, education and… safety. They have care for their wounds-physical and spiritual. They are loved and protected. These will be Uganda’s leaders. We want them to be educated and compassionate and not use terror to rule.
I organized a ward full of donated medical supplies that I could hardly identify. I taught a sewing class for the mommas as they begin to sell crafts. They use a Singer treadle sewing machine so no button-hole feature, so I taught them how to make a buttonhole by hand. My mom would be proud.
RG has expanded their agricultural with a hope to be self sufficient. Emmanuel hatched their own eggs and the chicken flock has more than doubled. This means protein for a diet of mainly cassava, rice and beans.
Each momma gets a chicken a week to cook for her kids. A highlight of the week was when Doug offered to kill our weekly chicken. They use a what we would consider a dull knife and chop the head off. Doug did the spin and snap move. They were so impressed that he was asked to demonstrate for the mommas and drew quite a crowd! Again, my momma would be proud.
These wonderful people are full of love and potential. It makes a person feel good to be able to assist others who are not in a position to return the favor. We feel so blessed to be able to help. We are all in this world together.
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.