Beneath the mango tree

The internet cafe where I sit now is a fair distance from my house and
usually leaves me dusty and sweaty but not today. The rain has blessed
all with it’s sweet, cool presence. Before today, rain fell shortly in
pockets, but today it lingers and is a much needed relief from the hot
and dry weather. The past week has been especially dusty. I returned
home from the projects orange which incited much laughter from Tony.
Red dirt is my new accessory these days-which is just fine with me.

I began the week at the medical clinic where I was tasked with handing
out medication. Many were for malaria. The treatment of malaria here
is just like a common cold in the states. Overall cases and deaths
from malaria are much lower in the area. The drugs in Uganda come from
India and are less effective than those you would find in the US. This
means that more pills must be given out making it a challenge to keep
medications stocked. I also learned how to test for HIV and malaria.
After showing me twice, the doctor was more than willing to let me
poke a stranger-me, a history major. I passed that day as I’m a bit
hesitant about poking people with needles however small, but I suspect
I’ll be testing patients no problem by the end of my time here. I
enjoy working at the clinic, learning and building important skills
that I wouldn’t gain anywhere else.

This week we said goodbye to Jacky. Her impact upon Hopeline and the
family cannot be put into words. Though she will return later this
year, her presence is still very much missed. The last two days of the
week we spent with the Mayindo and Bulyantete women, celebrating
Jacky’s time here and saying goodbye. At Mayindo, I learned how to
prepare matooke the traditional way. The process of peeling and
wrapping the matooke in banana leaves is precise and your performance
is used to judge whether or not you’re ready for a husband. I’m not
sure it’s used so much anymore, but much laughter was had at my poor
wrapping skills. I did alright at making kabalagala (sort of like
banana pancakes), so perhaps I’d make an okay wife.

At Bulyantete, I made chapatis. I love chapatis, so I was more than
willing to learn. It’s something I will definitely be making at home.
Part way through the day, we walked to the to get water. The distance
traveled everyday, 4 or more times a day, just for water is
outstanding. With any luck, construction on a new, better positioned
well will begin this week. The Bulyantete women recently began a brick
making business, for which water is essential. The new well will make
there work a bit easier.

We spent the last few hours of our week in the shade of a mango tree,
with thunder and rain showers circling our spot among the trees. Good
food, laughter and love filled the air as the women said goodbye, if
only for a little while, to a friend and sister. Tomorrow, I begin my
time volunteering alone until the next volunteer arrives at the end of
this month. It’s sure to be a challenging but enlightening week as I
get know everyone a bit better. Thus far, it’s been hard to tell where
the students are in their education as well as where the ladies are
with English. I’m hoping to share a bit of basketball with the boys
this week, but we’ll have to see. For now, I’m enjoying the last few
hours of my Sunday in the cool aftermath of the rain.

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