This story is from Pat.
Tuesday and Wednesday we traveled through Ugandan "snow" to get to the "decongested" areas of Bolo Village and Awere in Pader (pa-DARE) District. Each day provided 2-3 hours of "African massage
," thanks to the rough ride on the roads that are mostly rutted dirt. But we never complain--just roll with the ruts. The outreach clinics were attempting to treat 400+ patients
which wasn't possible. Darkness arrived first, therefore the district was divided further in order to "decongest" the number of patients. We are often intrigued by the choice of words.
The clinics of our two towns were set up under a large tree. Doctors work from a small table and two plastic stools
. The organization is incredible. Each patient arrives with his/her medical record. Triage happens first, then patients are directed to the appropriate stations based on symptoms. Notations are made regarding the concerns. Prescriptions are recorded in the patient's own book, then the book is taken to the dispensary--another table set up with the meds and a couple of chairs. A similar notation is made in the patient's clinic record.
I spent time working with Harriet who wrote the prescriptions on small envelopes. I filled them. I must admit to counting one prescription of 60 pills 3 times!!! Pastor Jim and Felix were having an interesting conversation nearby and my ears just wouldn't stay attached to my head.
These clinics are not supported by the UNHCR
but rather by the Ugandan government
. These are Ugandan people who were displaced during the Joseph Kony reign of terror, not refugees from other countries.
Medication is not always readily available
and testing for malaria is not conducted. Rather meds are prescribed based on presenting symptoms.
When we arrived in a small village nearby, we were met by 70-80 school kids of all ages and an equal number of adults all quietly sitting under a huge mango tree patiently waiting to see the doctors.
It didn't take long for that to change after the munis (white people) got there. With the help of a young lad, Jim presented an active drama of young David. He had them in his hand in no time! Eduardo followed up with an active version of "Hallelu-hallelu-hallelu-halleluja, praise ye the Lord." Divided into two groups singing, jumping up and down, Eduardo became the Pied Piper with the kids. There was such joy in their faces. Then they sang for us, what a blessing! Those were truly "God moments."
This is the village where nodding syndrome
first presented. We saw the young girl who had been in the video now looking healthy, leading her blind father around. What a change and what courage. A different anti-seizure medicine has been used which seems to be making a dramatic difference. The problem is that it is very expensive and cannot be provided beyond 2 months for each patient.
Along with the good news of progress came the disturbing news that adults are now presenting with the same nodding syndrome symptoms
. To our unaccustomed eyes, the situation seemed so very discouraging. To the MTI staff the improvement was remarkable. It's been said that perspective is everything. I must agree.
Yesterday we divided into two groups. Deb, Frank/camera and I went to a nearby village to provide the same assistance. A team from the District Ministry of Health
and some volunteers from a major bank in Uganda were there, too.
It was good to see local Ugandan volunteers distributing needed items
to their own people. The blankets they brought were so appreciated.
Nodding syndrome includes difficulty for the body to maintain appropriate temperatures especially at night. The children were so cold at night. During the conflict, the health infrastructure was completely destroyed. MTI is partnering with the Ministry of Health in a 3-year program with the intent of being able to fully transfer this service to the the government. Good development requires an exit plan.
Upon our return today the electricity was off, the water was tepid but no one thought of complaining. We were reminded in devotions the other day of the need to give thanks--we all woke up that morning. Some did not. We all had something to eat. Some did not. We all had someone to love. Some do not. As I sit here writing it's raining very hard. What is that song about "rain in Africa"? We're experiencing it. Some of us open our patio doors to listen, others keep them closed tightly to keep the lizards out. At dinner, conversation wound around to what precautions might be taken at airports given the reported cases of Ebola here in Uganda. We determined there was nothing to do but wait and see. We're reminded that rather than worrying, just cast our cares into His hands and be not afraid. Good advice.
Some might wonder where God was when this hideous conflict was going on. I don't know how to answer that. Over 800 killed, burned alive, hacked or shot in one village alone. But I can tell you He is very present now. We see Him in the daily activities of the MTI staff, in the arms of the old woman who has taken in a baby whose mother died, in the courageous act of a young boy who brings his convulsing little brother to the clinic after his mother left, in the joyful singing of the school kids. Yes, God is very present. I'm so grateful to be here to see it.