Molly in Africa

Friday, November 24, 2006

Weekend in Kampala, Malaria and CRO work… busy week!

As many of you know, I LOVE details and have a very hard time telling (or writing) short concise stories. I am going to try really hard with this post. If you would like the detailed version, feel free to send me an email, but for now here’s the short version:

Weekend in Kampala: was WONDERFUL! I stayed with my friends Krista and Gabe in their guest house and that was nice. Friday night I had dinner with them and Katie (another SIT student) at one of their regular dinner spots in Kampala and that was really fun and just nice to relax with them.
On Saturday, Gabe and I went to the wedding of one of Esther’s friends. [Esther is the woman I’m staying with in Mbale.] The wedding was pretty similar to American weddings, so not too exciting and it was in Luganda which was a huge bummer and meant that I just did a lot of daydreaming. On Saturday evening, I met up with my friend Eric for sodas. Eric works at CRO in Mbale, but is taking a short course in Kampala these weeks and it was really fun to meet up outside of the CRO context. After that, I went to a birthday party for two of the SIT students at the house that they are renting just outside Kampala. It was really weird to be with that many white people again… all ten of them! Just imagine how hard it is going to be for me when I’m back in America! It was also hard for me sometimes because many of them are having very different experiences than I am with their practicum. Many of them are doing mostly office work and then they go out to party each weekend (or sometimes even every night)! Many of them are staying in a really nice house with toilets, hot showers and they eat mostly American food. I, on the other hand, am still living with a Ugandan which means I eat mostly Ugandan food. I don’t have a toilet- just a fancy pit latrine- and I only have cold showers. My job is also very hands on and I am constantly faced with new challenges here. Also, I have made friends with many Ugandans and I don’t spend any time with Americans. Many of the SIT kids have made a little muzungu network in Kampala and are not making Ugandan friends. I LOVE the way I am spending my practicum time and in no way am I jealous (well maybe the hot showers and toilet…) but it’s just hard to relate to them or for them to relate to me.
On Sunday, I didn’t feel good in the morning and so I had a pretty lazy morning. I met up with Eric again for lunch before leaving Kampala and then took a taxi for the four hour trip back to Mbale.

Malaria: On Monday, I didn’t feel much better than Sunday and I ended up staying home from work (other than a quick one hour visit to set some things up for Tuesday). On Monday night, I was really not feeling good- really bad stomach ache and headache and then just missing home because when you’re sick you just want to be as comfortable as possible and for me that means being 3,000 miles from where I currently am so that was frustrating. Anyway, Esther insisted that we go to the clinic because she was worried that I had Malaria. Many of my co-workers had mentioned that as well, so I figured I should go. The labs were closed, but the doctor (who is a friend of mine) clinically diagnosed me with Malaria and started me on treatment for it (which included an anti-malarial medicine, a medicine for my upset stomach and a medicine for body aches). By the next evening I was feeling a ton better- definitely not 100% but way way better. I had even gone to work on Tuesday for the full day! So I’m still on the meds, but my last dose is tonight and I’m already feeling normal again.

CRO work: Last week I mentioned that I had done a lot of boring typing and thankfully that has stopped for the time being, but I’ll probably do a little more of it next week before I leave just because I’ve almost finished all of it. Last Wednesday, I spent the day with the nurse at CRO who I really enjoy- Nurse Esther. I sat in the clinic at CRO with her for the morning and then around lunch time we paid a visit to the hospital where one of the new CRO kids was taken the night before. While the lab test results were not back yet, she probably had TB. We talked to her for a bit, then to her mother and older sister and then Nurse Esther bought some medication for her and paid the hospital some money for her care. It was really an interesting experience seeing the hospital there. At some point, I hope I can talk more about that.
Then on Thursday, I went with Teacher Nicholas and Thomas (one of the Norwegians) to visit the local schools to check on attendance of CRO sponsored students. The attendance was really good and it was again interesting to see the schools here. I think the kids enjoyed having two muzungus asking about them at school too- we may have elevated their social status! Hahah.
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, the staff has been out on staff retreat, but CRO has still been in session each day. I’ve begun my interviews of the kids for my big practicum paper and the interviews have gone really well. I’m interviewing kids of all ages and just asking about their experiences and about CRO. I hope that next week when I get back, I can interview maybe ten more kids and then some staff but for now, it will do for writing a big part of my paper.

Some thoughts about your financial support- I’ve heard rumors that some people from home are interested in supporting CRO financially and I’m really excited about that. I would actually like to suggest possibly setting up a special fund at CRO because I have found some specific areas that could use more financial support than others. Specifically, I’d like to see if there would be a way for many of us to combine our money to start some kind of scholarship fund for university students through CRO. There isn’t much money for university level studies and it’s such a shame that some of these kids who have worked so hard and really deserve the chance to go to university and have been accepted are not able to go simply because the money isn’t there. So, if you’re interested, please send me a quick email so that I can get an idea of what kind of support there is now and how much further fundraising would need to be done. Hopefully when my parents come, we could talk to CRO together and figure out more details. If you would still prefer to just give CRO a general donation, that’s fine too and I will look into how to do that best.

Finally some thoughts about some friendships that I have here:
- Thomas and Eivind (the Norwegians): I’ve really enjoyed working with them and being able to share our reactions to events that we see. We’ve definitely formed friendships beyond that as well and that’s been fun. Last week, they had me over for dinner one night and made Norwegian waffles which were delicious and this week, they came over for dinner at my house.
- Emma (short for Emmanuel): is a new friend I’ve made this past week. He is a former CRO kid, but he’s studying at the medical school at Makerere University. He’s on government sponsorship which means he did really really well in secondary school. He’s home now because of the strikes at Makerere which caused the school to close early for holiday. He’s a really intelligent guy and has a great personality too so we’ve enjoyed each other’s company this past week.
- Charles: It has become increasingly difficult to be friends with someone who is in a completely different economic bracket than I am. His hut was broken into last week and so many of his things were stolen and he really has no money at all and is just down on his luck. I went with him to the hospital on Tuesday because he had some eye pain and it turned out he had an inflamed iris. I paid for some medicine for him which I was happy to do but it’s such a weird dynamic to always have to pay for things for someone else.

Ok, this is another long post, sorry about that… but I just had a lot to say I guess. I’m in Kampala now and celebrated Thanksgiving last night with my fellow Americans. We had turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, so it was a decent substitute. In addition to the fourteen SIT students who came (two were not able to make it home from practicum), some of the SIT staff joined us and it was great to see them again and share one an American tradition with them after they’ve shared so much of their culture with us. I definitely missed the Hogan festivities that surround Thanksgiving- this is the first one I’ve had to miss. Even when my dad had eye surgery so my parents couldn’t go, I remember taking a train with David up to Delevan with my trumpet and his guitar beneath our feet. I’ll be happy to be back in America next year to be with family again.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that everyone travels safely this weekend!


At 3:22 PM, November 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Malaria?! I skipped to that part first, then read the rest. Get your rest, eat well, and take care of yourself. Glad to hear you are feeling better.

It is so good to hear that you are trying and it sounds like succeeding in immersing yourself in this experience. What an opportunity you have made for yourself; you must be learning incredible things, some of which aren't even possible to put into words.

Take care of yourself, Molly Hogan Heineman!
Love ya,

At 10:29 PM, November 25, 2006, Anonymous Luke said...

Hey Molly!

You were the celebrity talk off the evening tonight at the annual dessert for Carrie's friends. Malaria!? Holy cow! Kieran said it's more like just a cold, but we're concerned nonetheless.

The whole gang wanted to say hello, so here's a photo of everyone waving to you:

Carrie's friends wave hello!

Take care,
- Luke

At 8:55 AM, November 28, 2006, Anonymous Aunt Katy said...

Great, good work, Mol!
I was with your worried Grandma last night, assuring her you're healing up fine; so do that, please? I'm determined to get something in the mail to you before I leave on retreat, so I'm going about that now.
I'm so happy for your upcoming reunion with Mom & Dad and their adventure in Africa! Whee!

At 9:04 AM, November 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly -
Your Mom shared the link to your pictures - seeing those combined with your vivid descriptive blogs is a real gift for those of us who will probably never get there. What an amazing experience!! I love seeing your smiles and those of the children you are working with. Looks like they could use some new playground equipment though!
Also, your Mom assures that you are feeling back to normal again - bit of a scare and can imagine that being sick and far away was not easy. Glad you got treatment quickly!
Take care!
Anne P

At 3:27 PM, November 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved the latest set of pictures. I especially enjoy seeing the beautiful smiling children playing and having fun.


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