With a full heart (and stomach) I made the 6-hour drive back to Gulu this morning. I loved every second of my time in Kampala and was sad to see it end. I am truly blessed that I was given the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing week and to witness so many life changing procedures. Thank you to everyone for being so welcoming and making the last two weeks so special! Although I will miss the team from CNMC and everyone at UHI, even with the scorching heat, luke warm water and constant power outages, Gulu still feels more like home to me.
On Friday afternoon the remaining volunteers and I went to a local market so they could do some souvenir shopping. I didn’t buy much just because I knew I would be going back to Gulu and didn’t feel like trying to cram things into my bag. We got a little more than we bargained for when a local man face planted down the hill of the market and proceeded to have a seizure. Medically minded all of us rushed to his side where we were told “ don’t touch him this happens all the time.” I understand that we looked like a bunch of foreigners trying to intrude but the poor man was lying on his back and choking on the blood and dirt that had accumulated in his mouth. They proceeded to put a tarp over him until he “came to”. Unfortunately this was just one of those times where you have to respect cultural boundaries and honor their wishes, no matter how much you may disagree. Don’t worry though, he was up and “moving”, when we left.
Friday evening the 4 remaining doctors/nurses and I went to Ndere cultural center and had an awesome time. It was set up dinner theater style with coliseum seating. The show lasted about 2 and ½ hours and showcased dances from every region of Uganda, as well as Rwanda and Burundi. The dancers were absolutely INCREDIBLE and so much fun to watch. The pride they have for their culture and their country is truly inspirational. They taught us some “courting rituals” and marriage dances as well. Thinking I may need to bring some of those back to the US. At this point I’m thinking it can’t really hurt.
In addition, instead of being paid, all of the dancers are guaranteed school tuition. In Uganda you’ll find that a lot of tourist attractions will charge a lot more than they should yet pay the actual tour guides/ entertainers next to nothing.
It was nice to know that our money was going toward a good cause and furthering an education. The food they had was absolutely delicious as well, and I even tried goat for the first time. Not sure if it was because I hadn’t eaten in about 12 hours or not, but I thought it was really good! I know I shouldn’t have been eating meat on a Friday during lent but I honestly find it hard to keep track of what day it is here. Hoping the big man will cut me a break since I’m helping children in Africa….I’ve decided not to give up anything for lent this year simply because, in my opinion, its always lent in Gulu. I can’t really think of anything that I could give up that I’m not forced to give up anyway….
On Saturday morning we headed to Mulago to check on the patients one last time and then said our goodbyes. It was sad to say goodbye but incredible to witness how much progress all of our patients have made. We even brought all of the open-heart surgery kids out into the courtyard for a photo shoot. Our fearless leader Roel was moving everyone around and asking bystanders to move. Something only he could pull off without receiving an eye roll or a flat out no. Below you’ll find some of these photos! Some are mine but the better ones are Roel’s!
Off to the hospital tomorrow to check in with our nurses and all of the amazing work they did while I was away! Can’t wait to see them!
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