Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Uganda (Part 3): The Highlights

The blog post of random moments and fond memories...

You see, we just arrived in Uganda and came upon a MIRROR!!!! So this is how we look? Wow!
"Hello Face! It's great to see you again!"

It was our first Sunday in Uganda when we heard of a group that takes porridge to the patients and their caregivers at the local children's hospital every Monday morning. The hospital does not provide meals for these patients, neither does it provide care for the sick. Family members stay at the hospital providing care for their sick loved ones, as well as cook what food they can afford to buy and scrub their laundry. Mothers leave the rest of their children at home to fend for themselves until the sick child is healthy enough to return home. I met one mother who was juggling her responsibilities at home and with her child in the hospital. After the sick child was feed in the morning, she would return home to feed the rest of her child. In the evenings she would return to the hospital for the night.

Those Monday mornings were painfully early, but super rewarding. When I remember the porridge chef that had to get up at 4 am to make this meal happen, I counted it a blessing to be able to sleep till 5:20.

This critically malnourished child is 14! It seems so hopeless...

...until I hear about stories like this one. Just a few months ago this darling child was extremely malnourished as well, but has recovered and is now a healthy, energetic girl who loves attention and lots of hugs.

A tent for the caregivers to gather. Sometimes they bring the patients out for some fresh air. This is also part of the area that they use to wash their clothes (like the lady in the background) and cook their meals.

Rachel and Dorothy faithfully sacrifice their time for this ministry.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Uganda (Part 2): Clinic Days and Bible Stories in Ugandan Villages

Village Children's Ministry

Welcome Home Ministries also has Ministry Team that goes out to different villages, schools, etc. to have Bible classes with the children. One day we joined them on one of their ministry trips to the village. They are doing such a wonderful job, spreading the truth of the gospel through stories and singing.




After the Bible class, they all ran off to the ball field to play a game of "football", boys against girls.

Clinic Day

Welcome Home's Ministry Team also helps arrange clinic days. A doctor, a nurse practitioner, and a RN joined the team as well as the 5 of us volunteers. The first couple hours where pure chaos as more and more people crammed into this small building. It was hard to keep track of who was first. Forming lines and taking turns are foreign concepts to these villagers, it's an African thing.
There were at least 150 people crammed in this small building. As the sun rose high in the sky, the temperature under that tin roof also rose. 

This definitely wasn't the first time the team has set up a clinic. They calmed everyone down and got them sitting, until the different stations where set up.
This was the first booth the patients came too. I guess you could call it the "Vitals Booth". I checked blood pressures, Lora checked temperatures, Beth manned the scales, and Alex busily recorded it all in the patient's booklet. 
Then they had to wait in the second waiting area until they could be seen by the doctor or the nurse practitioner.

Doctor Yenta is originally from Denmark, but is currently working in Uganda. She's a kind lady with a big heart for Africans.

Elizabeth is working in a children's ward in Jinja as a nurse practitioner. Another wonderful woman with a beautiful heart.

Besides making sure everything was going okay and the staffs' needs were met, Val (RN) stayed busy with basic wound care. She's pretty much a pro at this. When we were finished at the "Vital Booth", I enjoyed holding the light for her and watching her bandage and then educate the patient on how to care for the their wounds so they heal properly.

They also had a corner for malaria testing and stand for medications and treatments.

Bananas anyone? Who could resist buying from such cute little vendor?

A Sole Hope [jigger removal] Clinic Day

Who is Sole Hope and what exactly are jiggers? Their website can explain these answers much better than I can.

We had it in our plans to visit Sole Hope at some point in our stay in Jinja, but when we got there we did not have a clinic day in mind. But after touring their facilities and hearing about their ministry, we were sure we wanted to do this and had it arranged. It was a great experience, and we were all thankful for the opportunity.
We had somewhat grown accustomed to seeing white people again, but it was a different story to spend the day with them. At first it was a bit overwhelming to be around so many Americans and the all too familiar American English, but by the end of the day I was amazed at how refreshing it turned out to be. Some where in Jinja on mission trips, others were there on the mission field. Each had a unique story and it was great being about to hear them.
The Sole Hope staff are pros at this. They had a wonderfully organized system in place. 

Waiting patiently in line.

A few volunteers where in charge of passing out sweets and stickers to each child that was treated. The strength of these children amazed me.

Beth and I spent most of the time washing/scrubbing little, dust black feet. A few came through and I wondered to myself how they could possibly still walk with all those jiggers behind their toes...

They were then carried to a waiting area until there was an opening with one of the jigger removers.

 Lora spent a lot of her time taking "footnotes" for Natasha, who by the way is a really neat person. Natasha and her husband, Adam, felt like God was calling them to Jinja to be "Servant Missionaries." They completely uprooted and moved to Uganda indefinitely with their two Vietnamese children to serve other organizations wherever they are needed. The Perryman's and their intern, Meaghan, are such amazing people and we greatly enjoyed spending time with them.

Natasha's daughter, Avi Joy, is well on the way to becoming a jigger pro.

Each person removing jiggers had someone looking over their should and marking on the footnotes where each jigger was, so when they come back to follow up they can tell if the patient has new jiggers and if the old ones were completely removed, as well as make sure the wounds are healing properly.

Towards the end the crowds of children kept pressing in closer and closer to get a better view of what was actually going on. Time and time again they had to be told to go away. I was amazed at how the native staff handled this. The natives that I was used to being around would have gotten all up in a wad and started yelling, but apparently these are not your typical natives. Instead in their native tongue, they calmly asked the children to leave. What was even more amazing was that the children actually took them serious. I guess it goes to show that yelling and screaming really isn't necessary. A firm command will do just fine. 

The process of removing the jiggers is so painful, but the strength of these children is incredible. Only a few cried, but the pain was evident in many of their eyes.

We had such a super team of staff and volunteers that day. So much compassion. 

 Razor blades and large safety pins are their main instruments in jigger removal.

This jigger was lodged behind this child's toenail. the white sack you can see there is the egg sack from the jigger. The actual jigger is an itty, bitty black speck that can be found behind the sack (not visible on picture). The entire eggs sack and the jigger must be removed. A small hole is left where the jigger and it's egg sack had been. Sometimes the hole is as large as a pea.

After the jiggers have been removed and the wounds have been bandaged the child is carried to shoe fitters.

Jigger free and a proud owner of these new shoes!

There are so many ways you can lend a helping hand and a willing pocket book to this wonderful ministry, so I'm going to send you to their website to learn more about getting involved. And if you ever find yourself in Jinja and need a place to stay, they have a gorgeous guesthouse that you WILL LOVE!!! The neat thing about this guesthouse is that it also helps financially support this ministry.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Uganda (Part 1): Welcome Home Babies' Home

When the aircraft we were aboard touched down in Entebbe, Uganda, we didn't have to slightest clue what the next three weeks ahead of us held. Our morning had been quite eventful already. 
It was a crazy day at the ferry port that Wednesday morning. With only a half hour to secure our boarding passes and board, we were all a bit anxious. Kim already had her pass so she crabbed some of our luggage and ran ahead to board, and I ran off to find the ticket booth only to discover our tickets had been sold out from under us. Thankfully there was room on the next ferry, but we lost valuable time. When we reached mainland we had to scramble to get to the airport. Traffic was insane! We arrived at the airport with only had an hour to check in our bags, go through immigration, and two security screenings. I was thankful we made it on the plane, but a little upset at how stressful our day had been so far. The Africans have been teaching this American to slow down a bit and enjoy whatever ride I find myself on, but apparently I'm a slow learner. It was a good thing I had some time to relax and refocus before bouncing over more bumps in the road.
A crowd of taxi drivers were waiting outside the airport eager to provide transportation for these three American ladies. We scanned to crowd looking for someone who was expecting us, maybe a sign with our names or something. Nothing. Since I had the man's number, I borrowed a random ever-so-helpful taxi driver's phone to find out where he was. He did not know he was expected to pick anyone up and was still in Jinja, 3 hours away! He graciously made arrangements with the kind, random ever-so-helpful taxi driver, who we later discovered was Samuel. Samuel kindly took us to a local food join for some grub. Breakfast was a long time ago and it was now around 5 pm. Then we set out for Jinja. The 3 hour trip turned into a 5 hour trip, due to heavy traffic in Kampala. Really it wasn't to much of an issue. We were all so happy to be in Uganda. 
An hour before arriving in Jinja, I called ahead to let them know about what time we would be getting there. I really wasn't surprised by their surprise that someone was on their way. Some fast arrangements were made and a lovely room at Ebenezer Guesthouse was ready and waiting when these weary souls arrived after 10pm. It had been a rough day, but we were still smiling.
Coming from Zanzibar where it is 90% muslim, you can imagine the culture shock we experienced upon entering this 66% Christian country. The mosques on every corner where now churches on every corner. Business names made some kind of reference to God and/or His character. The differences continued. In Uganda the air was much cooler and fresher than in Zanzibar. We were amazed when people around us were complaining about the heat. At the guesthouse we had a complete westernized restroom; shower, hot water, a large mirror, a toilet. It took some getting used to... There in Jinja, everything was so developed. Everyone knew English. Few even knew Swahili, so we lost most of what we had learned. :( For the first several days, I really didn't like it so much, especially being surrounded by SO many white people. But since I knew that if I don't leave the past in the past and embrace the present, I am going to miss out on so much, so adjust I did! :) In fact we all adjusted quite well and fell in love with that city.
We went to Jinja to volunteer at Welcome Home's baby home. What that all involved, we had to show up to find out. Earlier I had written about our daily schedule and shared more information about Welcome Home. http://shiningvessels.blogspot.com/2015_02_01_archive.html At the time I wasn't able to upload pictures so here are some pictures for you!
(This is the first post of several about our time in Uganda. The rest will follow over the course of the next several days, so stay tuned!)

The front gate.

One of the play areas.

Snack time with the babies.

A lot of our days were filled with entertaining the kids and loving on them.

Across the street was this great playing field. We spent many afternoons running around in the hot sun, tossing balls, and and just enjoying hanging out together.


Building relationships with the staff while sorting beans.

One day we made jello cake for the children.

Hand crafted paper beads.
Many Ugandans make jewelry from paper. At times you could find staff working on their little projects while the children were napping. Some afternoons a few of the older children gathered in the small library to roll paper into beads. One of our last days at Welcome Home, the staff set up a small market to give us opportunity to purchase some of their crafts. 

Our home for 3 weeks. The Ebenezer staff did a great job at cleaning our room, cooking breakfast every morning, and meeting all our needs. 

Welcome Home volunteer pals. Leah and Kate Martin are volunteering at Welcome Home for six months.
More imprints left on our hearts...