Dr. Paul Neumann | Jul 19, 2012
Dr. Paul Neumann is in Uganda and wrote this blog post of his experiences there.
A day of service is over as I sit on the narrow concrete patio in front of my hotel room in Kisoro, Uganda. It has been raining. The normally smoky air is clearing and the bar across the street is revving up their sound system with a dense beat and unintelligible words. Rumbling overhead thunder belittles the distorted synthesized rhythm from the bar. Heavy woven baskets ride on thick haired women with bright dresses somehow moving elegantly through the mud.
A large, wet and irate bird preens itself suspiciously on the iron railing near me. A yellow beak pushes black and white oily feathers askew. His head cocks cruelly as he shuffles on dirty and surprisingly large claws. His black and very shiny eyes do not leave me. Startled, he flies to the north. His dark eyes will see something different there.
Five kilometers away, over ten thousand souls are wandering behind a wooden fence. They are in a transit center after fleeing from their homes.
A transit center is not a place to stay. It is limbo - not heaven and certainly closer to hell. You don't get to stay there. You are there but to be registered and moved somewhere else eventually. People mill about with swarms of children underfoot. An occasional goat or chicken protests and then moves loudly out of the way. The ground is rocky with sharp volcanic stone and few patches of trampled grass. The air is perfumed with feces, wood smoke and urine.
You sleep under plastic, crowded with other bodies. The crowded sleeping is good since the nights are cold. Last week, two babies rolled too far from their mothers and died from exposure without blankets.
During the day, we treat little bodies dry and depleted from days of diarrhea. Bodies with malnutrition, bullet holes, infections with viruses, bacteria and worms of unimaginable variety. Swollen bellies under thin arms and yellow eyes. Infants with limbs swollen with infection.
The transit center is a coarse mix of laughing children, broken bodies, broken souls and broken lives. Two meals of sorghum porridge a day and a crowded tent to share. A miserable place but better than where these Congolese are coming from. Daily, the families arrive. Over 16,000 refugees have been registered so far.
Read more about Dr. Neumann's experiences in his blog Nyakabande Transit Center Refugee Crisis