Friday, 12 November 2010

Uganda Wishes - Peace, Happy and 2015

This is Happy!
“Don’t be too attached to the outcome, it may not be what you expect,” said Kelly, one of my housemates during a lunch break.
We were talking about what we wanted to do for Friends of Mengo Canada. My mind wondered over to what I hoped to accomplish during my six weeks here.
“We’re not here to fulfill our dreams,” she added looking at me sternly.
Just then we both jumped up to head down to the AIDS clinic.
I’d spent a bit of the morning speaking with the Administrator at Sanyu Babies Home. Then took a crack at feeding Francis. A young orphan with Cerebral Palsy. He never cried. But awkwardly bent backwards when the sit-up position became too uncomfortable. Loud noises seem to startle him. Yet he found humour in the dilly dally's that draped over his bed.
My intentions here in Uganda are to document the hope. What makes people smile? What gives them joy? What keeps them going in the face of such adversity?
As we walked towards the clinic, we swarmed Dr. Edith on her way to her office. Dr. Edith is in charge of the AIDS clinic at Mengo
As soon as she sat down Kelly drilled her on her staff’s needs today then left the room. The list was small, yet significant:
  • Soap dispensers
  • A Nitrous Oxide Cylinder
  • A fan for the staff room
  • Portable telephones
  • A paved area for the TB tent outside
  • An upright bookcase with a lock
It wasn’t news to Dr. Edith what I was here to do. She asked me about my experience helping out in triage. Essentially weighing in and recording HIV/AIDS patients. Then invited me to come for tomorrow’s session. The Post (HIV testing) Club. I would be permitted to talk to patients one on one.
A steady stream of doctors with patients and nurses came in to speak with her while I sat. Her desk was full of paperwork. A small laptop to her right. A leftover sandwich with saran wrap. Boxes of supplies along the floor to the wall.
She asked me where else I was going. I told her next week it was the lab and records.
In her Ugandan tone she looked at me seriously and asked me bluntly. If I could see how things can be made better, or if I could think of ways to improve efficiency to make sure I let her know.
We’re on the outside looking in after all. Strangers in a strange land. It’s all new to me.
I knew her time was sparse so I took the opportunity to ask her what her wish is today for Uganda and for her people.
“It may come true or not. My wish is for by 2015 we move from this clinic to a cure. Patients are cured and discharged.”
A woman clearly ill with HIV/AIDS sat alone at reception. Her skin in a rash. Face gaunt. Pain struck her eyes as she looked on.
“The battle looses meaning when you keep doing this,” Dr. Edith added.
I digested her wish and pictured 2015. Instead of the steady stream of patients travelling to Mengo with their plastic bags and medicine containers, they were living their lives the way they should. Like Happy (pictured above) who I met on the way to Sanyu one morning. Freely running around in a courtyard. Living up to her name.
What is your wish for the world? I then asked.
“Peace,” she stated.
Then she told me her brother is in Somalia fighting in the army. The cellular phone was held up. The tears filled in.
Someone else came into the office to ask for help. 
I then thanked her for her time and excused myself for the day.

No comments: