Saturday, 20 November 2010

Who are We?

Please note: I'll be out of Internet range for the next four days. 
Look forward to posting when I return.

“Ugandans need to stop having babies.”
I hear this from a doctor in the AIDS clinic at Mengo Hospital. After I was told a patient may have to wait all day for treatment when their file is lost. Having spent a day in record keeping we Mzungus (non-African person) have grand ideas for speeding up the process of record keeping. But will it really help?
According to the doctor, Uganda has the highest fertility rate. Average 6.7.
Only two women a month come into the Mengo Hospital AIDS clinic for IUD’s. There’s 4,300 active files. 2,100 of which are on medication for HIV/AIDS. I read in today’s headlines, regardless of the education it’s on the rise. What’s wrong with this picture?
Throughout the day I smell something electrical burning. I’m reminded it’s the incinerator burning toxic waste. Plastics. Garbage.
We at Jjaajja Gwen’s Guesthouse (there’s seven of us) decide to seek a dinner out and jump into a special hire (taxi). There’s a jam. We wait. The roads are like washed up river beds. Full of potholes. Nothing’s flat. The traffic police stand on a street corner talking on a cellular phone. No direction. There are no traffic lights. Not a single stop sign. Roundabouts. Like head butting, no one gives way. We wait. There are inches between us and the next car. I sit and trust. The boda-bodas squeeze through. Where is everyone going? Pedestrians have no right of way. There are no sidewalks. Quickly they squeeze through or scurry along side. Horns honk. It’s utter chaos.
With the windows down you smell diesel. Smog. When you get home you need a shower.
“Another grimy day in Africa,” reflects M.C.
We have so much in Canada to what we see in Kampala.
“Is it fixable?” Martha asks.
“What do you mean, Africa? Uganda?” I say.
We read about 200 female circumcisions planned for next month. Here in Uganda.
The local paper said the law banning circumcisions was passed in April.
We talk about the dysfunction. The big picture.
“I have a strong belief in the human spirit,” reflects M.C.
The women here dress impeccably. Their hair is beautiful. Their smiles are bright. The vegetation and foliage is full of colour. The climate is comfortable. The pace, except for the traffic is calm, tranquil, relaxed.
I can see what I think needs to be fixed. Then I surmise it’s not up to me to say or to judge. It’s up to Africa to rebuild Africa. Us Mzungus need only pass through.
We are only visitors.

No comments: