Apologies for not writing for a while; we have been without power for about five days now! But with two fully charged computers, we can now update you on what we have been doing in the last couple of days, which have been pretty jam-packed!
After a relaxing Sunday afternoon spent at Wilfred’s house, the Project Officer for women’s rights groups, we were ready for another week of work in the field. Monday, we drove about two hours north to Anaka in Nwoya District. We first stopped in at the district offices, trying to locate someone so we could sign their Visitor’s Book. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful. Nwoya is a new district in Uganda, so all of the government officials were recruited from Gulu town. On the weekends, they return to Gulu and only come to Anaka during the workweek. Apparently they were late coming to work because we only got to Anaka around 2 pm. It is just another example of the inefficiency present in some parts of the Ugandan government.
Instead of waiting around for the district officials, we went straight to the hospital. The super-connected Franny brought us into the office of the hospital matron, someone she had worked with at Gulu Independent Hospital a few years back. She grabbed another one of her staff to take us on a tour of the hospital, which was quite depressing. A nationwide Measles and Polio Vaccination campaign was happening from Saturday until Monday, so many of the doctors and health professionals were out in the field vaccinating. We later learned from Rocky, Pamela’s friend who used to work for GWED-G and now works for the American Refugee Council, that all of the doctors like to go into the field for vaccination because they get compensated for their efforts. This meant the hospital was completely deserted, by both patients and staff. Even the reception and dispensary windows were closed.
The few patients we saw were about five mothers waiting to deliver, and more children in the pediatric wing, most of who were suffering from malnutrition. We also learned that there were not many patients in the hospital because in addition to lack of transport, it is also rainy season, meaning people are farming in their gardens. In most cases, livelihood is more important than health to many people, so they will not forsake their gardening for a journey to the hospital. They also know that the hospital probably will not have the drugs they need, even if they did make the trek. Government hospitals often lack equipment and medicines, which discourages patients from seeking medical attention.
On a slightly happier note, we were able to visit GlobeMed at UCLA’s partner organization, Nwoya Youth Center, which was right across from the hospital. It was so awesome to connect to not just our own partner, but also to another chapter’s partner. We were really able to experience the power of the GlobeMed network.
In preparation for our long drive home, we stocked up on some sugar cane. While Franny and Juliet had no trouble eating the sugar cane, we struggled quite a bit with the hard peel. We ended our day with a good dose of puppy love at Kristina’s house. Juliet conquered her fear of dogs by holding Kristina’s little puppy, Carlos. Playing with Kristina’s puppies definitely made me miss my dogs a little bit less!