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Published: July 20th 2016
The giraffes came very close to our safari vehicle. Some other muzungus scared them off or they would have walked right past us! These giraffes were only recently introduced to the park to try to increase tourism.
It’s been over 10 days since we left Rugazi and returned to Mbarara to work in the hospital.
Saying goodbye to our friends in Rugazi was hard. Everyone teared up at least a little bit. Two hours in the public taxi later, we arrived back in Mbarara. Our homes were waiting for us in what is known as the Expat Village. We scrambled to get supplies and stay organized because we had a weekend trip planned starting Thursday afternoon.
Our weekend trip included 2 nights at Lake Bunyoni and for some of us, a safari and night of camping at Lake Mburo. Silas is our contact (and now friend) that organized the safari for us. He picked me, Carrie, Dayna, Jill and Joline up on Thursday and we headed for Lake Mburo.
Lake Mburo National Park was amazing. We arrived in time for an evening game drive. Carrie and Joline had opted to do this on horseback so Jill, Dayna and I had the safari van to ourselves. We all took a turn sitting up on the luggage rack and then I came down and stayed in the cab. Silas was a great driver and very knowledgeable about
Lake Mburo is one of the only places to see zebra in Uganda.
the wildlife in the park. We saw water buck, zebra, giraffes, baboons, wart hogs, gazelles and impala. After the evening game drive we picked up Joline and Carrie and headed back to our camp beside the lake. We were the only ones at the campsite, which was located on a peninsula by the lake. We were able to peek through the trees and see hippos in the water!
Our cook, Sunday, prepared us supper. It was by far the best meal I had in Uganda to date: mushroom soup, rice, Irish potatoes, beef stew and a salad. After supper, we walked down to the bar right beside the lake for one drink and then we all retired to bed. Throughout the evening and night, we were guarded by Richard, or “Ranger Rick”, as we called him. He watched over our camp with his huge gun while we slept in our tents.
In the morning, we went for another game drive and saw many of the same animals. Sunday prepared us breakfast and a packed lunch. We packed up our campsite and headed back to Mbarara. Here we dropped off our camping supplies and then headed to meet the
Dayna and Jill
Dayna and Jill peeking into the cab of the safari van.
rest of the group that had left for Lake Bunyoni.
Lake Bunyoni was gorgeous. We stayed at a place right on the lake. Our room was a covered tent with beds. It opened onto a balcony that overlooked the lake. We hung out as a large group on Friday night (minus Joline, Dayna and Carrie who were in Bwindi to do their Gorilla Treck). Saturday we hiked for half an hour up a steep hill to another hotel, which had an amazing view. We went swimming again and for an evening boat ride. Sunday we canoed in the morning and then left back to Mbarara to prepare for our first day at the hospital.
Monday was our first day working at Mbarara Hospital. We reported to the Pediatric Ward for rounds at 8am. The hospital is situated right beside Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST). It’s hard to tell where the Hospital grounds start and end because each ward is in it’s own separate building. I’ve explored more of the grounds now and it’s actually a lot larger than I realized. Here we have finally met more Nutrition students from other Universities in Uganda.
We were rewarded after a day of presenting information in the community of Kahenda with this beautiful meal. It included matoke, beans, ground nuts, doodo and timber (fried cassava).
is a referral site for cases of malnutrition. When malnourished children are admitted to the hospital, they first stay in a small area within the pediatric building. Here the goal is to stop weight loss, get rid of any edema and balance blood and electrolyte levels. To achieve these goals, a special feeding formula called F-75 is prescribed. A powdered package is mixed with water to prepare enough of the formula for the entire ward. The caregivers of the children prepare the formula and feed their children ever 2 hours, day and night.
Once the children are stable enough, they graduate to the Natasha Nutrition Centre. This is located in a separate building, next to the Pediatric Ward. Here the procedure is much the same, except a more calorie dense formula is given and the child’s weight gain should increase. Children progress to eating millet porridge and then are ready for discharge. Upon discharge, children are sent home with packages of “PlumpyNut”. This product is made primarily of sugar and peanuts. It tastes good and adds extra calories to the child’s diet. Children are expected to return to the Natasha Nutrition Centre for follow up to ensure they are
Outside the church in Kahenda were some secondary students breaking for lunch. The girls were allowed to stay outside and talk to us while the boys had to go back to class.
still gaining weight and growing as they should.
Other than daily rounds, there is still not a lot for the nutrition students to do. We have taken weights, MUACs, temperatures and helped to measure edema. We have also been doing a lot of resource reading to learn more about malnutrition management in Uganda. Luckily, we have a close partnership with some other U of S students who are here with Vets Without Borders.
Sarah and the vets have organized distribution and training on the use of reusable menstrual pads. They have already gone to one school and plan to attend another next week. This work is very important because menstruation often prevents girls in developing countries from continuing to attend school. Disposable pads are a luxury, and most people cannot afford something so expensive.
The VWB students helped us to organize a cervical cancer screening day in Kahenda, last Tuesday. Here the nutrition students also did a short presentation about healthy eating. The nutrition students are currently planning a nutrition focused education and screening day in Kishoro for next Tuesday. We are also hoping to get permission from the director of Pediatrics to use resources to do
The nursing students presenting information on prevention, screening and treatment for cervical cancer.
a similar event at a nearby refugee camp. This proposed project is being headed by one of the Ugandan nutrition interns, Ahab. If permission is granted, I think the experience will be very eye-opening and highly educational.
The most exciting thing I have done since returning to Mbarara has got to be my day of goat wrangling. Last Friday, two of the vet students went to the hospital for the day. This meant that there was space in the vet vehicle for anyone interested in helping out with the goat project. Carrie and I were the lucky ones that got to tag along for the day.
The goat pass on project loans goats to impoverished women living with HIV. They raise and breed the goats and give goats back to the project for the following year. Goats are excellent animals for many reasons; they are hearty, easy to transport, and it is socially acceptable for women to own them. This project helps to empower women to improve their socioeconomic status, improve gender equality and improve family nutrition. The VWBs work with communities to ensure that members are well educated and that the project continues to be sustainable.
This was the largest pen we visited that day. It was very challenging to read the goat descriptions (colour, pattern, age, features and horn markings), to try to match the goats to our inventory!
My primary roles last Friday were data collector, photographer and finally, goat wrangler! Once I got ahold of a goat, I stood over top of it, squeezing just behind it’s shoulder blades with my legs. From here it was easy for me to check body condition and for signs of anemia. Someone would then vaccinate the goat for Brucella and give the goat an ear identification tag.
The day was super exciting. I got to see one of the vets, Ian, perform his first goat “surgery”, the draining of an abscess. The vet students also vaccinated a few cows, which are much larger and scarier than goats. We had so much fun and got so dirty. This Thursday is “Goat Hand Out Day”. On this day, goats are taken from previous beneficiaries and given to women who are new to the program. I would really like to attend because it’s apparently one of the best days of the whole summer. Can you imagine how happy you and everyone in your community would be if someone gave you and your family a few goats?!
Less than 3 weeks of work left before we wrap up our experience with a
This goat had an abscess. Luckily Ian and Dr. Claire Card came to the rescue. Helping out are the goat's owner and the paravet.
Thanks for reading!
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