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Published: July 17th 2019
The last week has been jam packed with travel across the country in a giant green mystery machine-esque van. This week has been filled with emotional lability. It began when we had to leave Rugazi and I had to say goodbye to what had become my Ugandan family. Leaving the health workers, community members, and Ugandan students that we had lived with for the last month proved more difficult than I expected. Then our supervisors picked us up to travel to Kampala and Gulu to administer preliminary surveys and attend meetings for their research project on health-seeking behaviours in adolescent girls. We stayed in relatively lavish accommodations and ate at fancy restaurants; this incited waves of guilt. I left people I cared about and who grew to care about me, for what? To live in the lap of luxury? I was really struggling being away from everyone, and it also didn't help that I didn't touch a patient all week. I felt like I was parading around the country on a cloud of privilege and it made me very uncomfortable. Thankfully the rest of my African family (the other Canadian students), were feeling similarly and were an incredible support system throughout the week.
Aside from the emotional turmoil, the week was filled with many sights. Spending time in Kampala, the capital of the country was eye-opening. The city is full of the wealthiest people in the country and the hustle and bustle is constant: a stark contrast from the villages I had grown accustomed to. We stayed at a very nice hostel that was the highlight for me, since all six of us girls stayed together in one dorm and enjoyed our time having drinks on the hostel patio and playing games.
Gulu was much more subdued than Kampala. We spent our time there touring the Gulu Referral Hospital and testing our supervisor's survey on nurses there. We visited Amani Uganda, a women's collective that employs and teaches sewing and entrepreneurial skills to women who were abducted by the LRA during the war. We purchased some of their wares and were able to see some women at work. The women at Amani bring their young children to work, which I thought was an important family-based intervention.
We then headed back to Mbarara, where we began our work in the hospital. I am spending two weeks in the surgical emergency department and I have been a part of so many trauma cases already. I'm so excited to develop my knowledge of emergency medicine in the next two weeks.
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