Molly in Africa

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Final blog entry!

Well, I’m finishing up my time in Uganda and wow has it been wonderful!

The discussion group was great. I really enjoyed the five boys/men who participated and I was realizing yesterday that it really did go as well as I had hoped and in some ways, even better than I had hoped. We talked about such a wide variety of topics- from family to faith and how to overcome obstacles to planning for the future. I know that it will be a big task to try to compile all the information into a presentation but I’m so excited about the prospect of being able to share some of their stories with all of you.

As can be expected, I am not sure how I feel about leaving- it seems it changes day to day and sometimes even minute to minute. This morning I found myself surrounded by about 15 kids all singing and doing hand motions to a song I taught them and I couldn’t help but smile as I heard them singing this American children’s song with their Ugandan accents. Minutes later I found myself being wrapped in a huge hug by a different member of the rehabilitation class who quickly challenging me to a tickle fight that was filled with such uninhibited laughter that we drew the attention of many around us. When those joyful moments happen I can’t even imagine having to leave the CRO community again.

However, half an hour later when I was walking the streets, I found a couple kids that I knew from CRO who were back on the streets. This is not an immediate disappointment to me because often times it is hard for the kids to completely leave the street life at first so I know that sometimes it is just part of the process for them to still be on the street in the morning. Unfortunately, that was not the case for the three kids I saw. One of them was sniffing and therefore was rude to me (and the social worker I was with); the second one explained that he was back on the streets because one of the staff from CRO had chased him away last time he went and so he didn’t want to go back; the third one didn’t have a uniform and so was not allowed in to CRO. By the time I returned from the street walk I was frustrated and confused and wished that I could speak the languages here better so that I could be more helpful to both the children and the staff.

One of the hardest things about leaving this time is that when people ask when I’m coming back (which they all inevitably ask), I have to keep saying I don’t know if or when I’ll come back. While I was definitely sad to be leaving last time, I had this confidence that I would be back within the next two years. I still feel like I will return but I have no sense of how soon that will be.

Here are some of the things I will definitely miss once I leave Mbale: the greetings I receive from the children in the mornings, morning devotions with the staff, surprising locals by responding to the greetings they half jokingly give me in their local language, the conversations had in our discussion group, spending countless afternoons with Joshua and Moses, rolexes (my favorite food in Uganda- chapatti (a thin bread-like thing) rolled around a plain omelet with tomatoes), Iddi- the boy who stays with us and is possibly the nicest person in the world, of course the staff from CRO, randomly being asked to sing a solo in front of a group of children or people and being greeted by 75843029857 children as we walk home each day.

Alright, well it’s time to go enjoy this beautiful place that I am living… I arrive home on August 10th and return to school within a week from then- hope to catch many of you Chicago folks at that point!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Sorry for letting another three weeks pass before updating this blog… it’s hard to find time sometimes. Well, in the past two weeks I was having some problems with my health. Two Mondays ago, Erin and I were at CRO (as usual) and I had a fever and was just physically weak and extremely exhausted. After napping for most of the morning and the beginning of the afternoon in the nurse’s clinic, the nurse and the volunteer doctor said that I should probably go to the lab in town and get tested for malaria. As much as I tried to deny that it was malaria, the truth is I just don’t know how to diagnose myself with that and so I gave in and went with Dr. Tom to the lab. While there, they told me that I did indeed have malaria and they gave me an injection and lots of pills. I had to go in the next day for another shot and the following day I just got more pills. By the end of the week I was feeling back to normal health so I thought all was fine. On Wednesday of this past week, I woke up with a bad migraine headache and felt nauseous. I tried to get out of bed and within fifteen minutes I had chills and was sweating. I had to go back to bed but I was nervous about staying home alone so Erin stayed and was my personal nurse for the day (she did a great job). We went into town in the afternoon and I got tested for malaria again and again was diagnosed with it. This time it was a lesser form. I didn’t have to get any shots, but I was given more pills and had to stay home from work Thursday and Friday to try to rest up and recover. Moral of the story: malaria sucks- please be grateful that our mosquitoes at home are not as malicious.

Even though I feel like I’ve been MIA from CRO for the past two weeks, it does continue on… it’s so hard to try to explain what goes on there or what I do so I’m just going to tell you about one of the boys (Dan) and try to give you a visual here.

Dan. Dan is probably about 11 years old (although he doesn’t know) and has been with CRO since 2002. He refuses to go to school even though CRO has tried to send him twice I think which I believe that can mostly be attributed to the fact that he is addicted to sniffing fuel. He has refused to be resettled with a family or in a house of any kind so he sleeps on the streets each night. He has open wounds on his feet and arms almost every day from where he has been beaten or got into a fight. He’s skinny- to the point that when he was sitting on my lap the other day and I had my hands on his stomach, I could feel the outline of every rib through his shirt. Despite his addiction and his stubbornness, I think he has so much potential. I understand that the staff at CRO are probably really frustrated with him and don’t know what else they can do to help him after so many failed attempts. However, I can’t help but keep trying. One of the things I learned last time is that so many of these children don’t have positive affirming touches in their lives at all. Instead of growing up with hugs or a parent who rubs their back to get them to fall asleep, many of them haven’t grown up with a parent at all. Those that do have parents have often been abused or neglected. Dan gets a lot of rough treatment on the street and so what I have been doing this time is just trying to have really positive physical interactions with him. I greet him with a hug each day and then we usually hold hands or he’ll move my hands so that they are hugging him again or embracing him in some way. Last week, he even let me rub his back or he’d just come and sit on my lap and cuddle with me. I know that this is probably not changing his life and I know that he needs someone who can actually communicate with him to get him to make some of the huge fundamental changes in his life (like staying away from drugs), but I can’t help but feel like it’s good for him to feel some love as well. When he’s sitting on my lap and I have my arms wrapped around him, I can see how much he appreciates it and when he’s the one that is actually wrapping my arms around him, I can see how much he longs for this kind of love.

There’s so much more I should write about- like the children we find on the streets during the street walks, the night survey we went on a few weeks ago, the conversations that I have with some of the older kids which are so interesting and informative, the small group discussions that continue to go well, the fun times I’ve had with friends outside of CRO time or the strengthening of my friendship with Erin. Maybe one of those will make it into the next update.

Thank you to those of you who have emailed- I really do love hearing what’s going on at home.