Here it is, my new name. After a week of correcting everyone that I work with (besides Twalib), I have accepted my fate. The A in Amy is not a sound that is commonly used in Acholi, which is why I believe they are struggling with the pronunciation. I just laugh because if they think my name is hard to pronounce, do they think Obutomangwo is easy? When writing your name here you write your last name first (Scheel Amy), so most people go by their last name. I should have just started off as Scheel, since that is all I have been called for the last 4 years of my life anyway. I have come to find that all of the last names here are extremely “African” and hard to pronounce while their first names are very generic like Michael or Susan (with the occasional Shakira or Cinderella). It is also very common for names we consider gender specific to be assigned to both sexes. We had about 3 female Kevins’ the past couple of weeks and well, if you know my history, you know this is funny.


Yes, even when I send an email and sign it “Amy” I get this back

We are up to 34 enrolled participants, which is awesome! In addition, I have been learning how to identify the markers of RHD, as well as other cardiac abnormalities, on the echo machine (merry Christmas mom!). Dilated cardiomyopathy or mitral valve regurgitation? I’m your girl.

On Tuesday afternoon we traveled to St. Mauritz again to search for our controls and they even gathered the whole school so that we could talk to the students about RHD. We only had to take a break every 10 seconds so they could laugh at me when I talked….I’ll take it. I can’t say enough good things about the teachers at this school. Everyone was so supportive and appreciative of what we are doing. Seeing as this is a Catholic School, their headmistress is a nun, and let me tell you- she has the biggest heart. I think we ended up staying an extra 2 hours just to talk with her. She expressed concern about her fellow sisters so we will be bringing an echo machine up in March to look at all of their hearts as well. For those of you that don’t know, my great aunt is a Maryknoll nun and she has been one of my main inspirations and one of the reasons why I am so passionate about serving in underprivileged areas. I couldn’t help but see Aunt Helen in this nun and I felt right at home.


Some of my new pals at St. Mauritz

On Tuesday night, Twalib handed me two CV’s and said, “ I have to hire one of them, rate these and let me know who you would hire.” Although I was honored and more than happy to help I’m going to go ahead and guess that my BS degree does not qualify me to help fill a Physician position. He has even asked me to sit in on their interviews to let him know my opinion. I am so happy that he did because listening to the interviews helped me brainstorm potential questions for medical school interviews, so it was definitely good practice. Long story short- we picked the same person, so maybe I can just skip the med- school thing (am I sounding like my brother yet?).

On Wednesday, we screened children in the morning and then headed to Unifat primary school in the afternoon. We had originally planned to use this school to recruit controls, however we decided that it is not economically representative of the majority of those that are presenting with RHD. This was the school I previously mentioned that cost about 200,000 shillings. We returned to deliver results of a previous screening study and to find those children that we had concerns about. In a way, I am happy that we will be using controls from a different school, simply because I did not get the same accepting vibe that we received at St. Mauritz. In addition, all the teachers were carrying sticks to encourage children to behave, and if not, they would be hit. I think no matter what the situation that is hard to witness.


Dr. Twalib talking to the students at Unifat about RHD

 Thank you to everyone that has reached out to me about the blog! I have really enjoyed writing about my experiences so far and I am glad that you all have enjoyed reading about my time here. I am going to aim to have about 3 posts a week because I think that is probably more realistic. Also thank you Ingrao for being my very own blog promoter!

Hope you all are having a great week.