Me working at the hospital in Mbarara
This is my first time blogging, so please bear with me as I try to sum up two amazing weeks!!
I hope everyone had a great Canada Day long weekend. Canada Day here was a great day for us. Montana and Ian went to work for the day, while James and I had the day off. In the evening, they celebrated Canada Day by throwing a BBQ and having a few drinks with the girls from Vets without Borders and a few locals from Uganda. It was a great way to start the weekend!! On a personal note, being in Uganda, I am learning first hand how fortunate I am to be born in Canada. There are many reasons I am thankful to be Canadian - too many to list here. Through this experience, I can say I have a much greater appreciation for being Canadian. I have also learned many things being in Uganda and really admire the locals. They know how to do everything without power or water. They are extremely resilient and have a lot of strength. With everything that they have gone through and all that they may have lost, they are the
happiest, friendly and welcoming people you could possibly meet.
The community placement of our journey is now over and we have begun working at the Mbarara hospital. Our time in Ruhija was an amazing experience and it is safe to say we were all sad to leave the community because we really loved the people and the work. By our last week there, we were really starting to feel like we had fully adjusted to living in Ruhija. At first, we wondered how we were going to do it, having iffy power, no running water and no internet connection to be able to access the outside world. But we adjusted and got used to it and by the end, it felt really nice to be disconnected. We learned we did not need a bathtub full of hot water - only a few inches of water in a basin to wash the basics is really all we needed. We did not do our hair, we did not wear makeup and we wore whatever we felt was the cleanest. This experience definitely makes a person more mindful.
While clinic work was slow at times, the work in the community was very rewarding. We got off to a slow start wondering if we were going to make much of a difference, but by our last week and putting our project into motion, it felt like we were really contributing to the community. On our last day, we held our sensitization on Cervical Cancer and HPV. We talked about the risk factors, some symptoms and the HPV vaccination. We had a great turnout, with many people sticking around to ask questions and inquire about the HPV vaccination. It was very clear that members of the community really want to do what they can for a better health and a better community - they just need the tools to do it. On Saturday June 25th we all got up and got ready to leave as we were supposed to be picked up at 10. However, it came at 845. We definitely were not ready as we still wanted to have our farewell breakfast!! Good old Ugandan time keeping. There were a number of people in the community we were sad to say goodbye too. Everyone was to welcoming and treated us so well. And the kids-we definitely will not forget. As during our time in Ruija, we always had little followers. We have now been in Mbarara for a week now. James has been spending his time in the malnutrition area, Montana in Obstetrics, I have been in pediatrics and Ian has been keeping busy working on the goat project with Vets Without Borders (stay tuned for updates from them!). The hospital was not ready for us on the Monday so we ended up not starting work until Tuesday. However, on Monday afternoon we headed to our respective units for a quick tour. The hospital here is not like they are at home. It is made up of multiple single story buildings and each building is a specific unit. One building is internal medicine, one is pediatrics, one is emergency, etc. There are no separate or private hospital rooms here. Instead there is around 40ish (I can only speak to pediatrics) beds in one large room. Overcrowding is extremely evident as beds are only a couple feet apart, with three or four patients to a bed and patients are sleeping on the floor beside the beds. Patients get examined in the open room with no privacy-curtains do not exist. There are windows on the unit, however, many people from outside can look inside and see everything that is going on in the unit. The conditions at the hospital are very poor. Medical supplies are limited, medications are not always in stock, the power is unpredictable, ceiling tiles are moldy and the smell can be overwhelming at times. There is also a huge difference in sanitation. There is no cleaning beds in between patients or cleaning weigh scales in between use and the pediatric unit has one bathroom. In our afterhours, we spend our time hanging out and enjoying this beautiful weather - it is always hot and sunny. We like to walk to the market as well as lots and lots of streets of vendors and little shops selling all sorts of different things. I have finally started doing some souvenir shopping! The African leather sandals were a huge hit among the group! I am really loving the market. There is a lot more variety than the spaghetti, rice and potatoes that we have been eating. I am loving the different kind of fresh produce, beans, meat and other items that we may want and it all being fresh! I think that is the latest from here in Mbarara. Hope everything is going well at home! Until Next time!Richele
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