Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Week 2: I’m starting to dislike Tuesdays

On Monday the community health volunteers (that’s me) went to the local health center (HC4, District health center) to see what it’s like. It’s quite different than the doctor’s offices back home! There’s one doctor and only a few nurses and they serve close to 100 patients per day. Since there’s only one doctor, he has to do administrative duties in addition to his medical practice. They’re stretched pretty thin. One nice thing about the medical system here is that all childhood immunizations are free. However “free” is a relative term. The cost of traveling to the health center frequently often limits which families can receive the free immunizations. Many families don’t receive them or don’t complete the schedule leaving children vulnerable to preventable diseases. The center also does HIV/AIDS testing and distributes drugs to positive patients (also “free”), has a once-monthly dental clinic (which is more extractions than preventative dentistry), a diabetes clinic, a small inpatient wing, and a maternity center. They have built a surgical theatre, but a lack of funds has prevented its opening. It seems that many projects in Uganda go uncompleted due to a lack of funds. I’ve seen multitudes of unfinished houses and structures. They at times seem to outnumber the completed buildings. Something is always under construction.
Tuesday once again brought the medical nurses who gave us Rabies #2 and meningitis shots. We also had a discussion, including skits, of proper first aid procedures. I’m really not good at all at getting shots and have started to dread Tuesdays :(
On Saturday we had a “class” with our language groups cooking at one person’s home. We all went to Zach’s homestay early that morning (around 9am) to begin cooking lunch. Cooking in Uganda is quite different than cooking in America. There aren’t any stoves or the regular equipment we’re used to, including knives that actually cut! We attempted to make tortillas, but that failed tremendously. Ven, my language instructor, made some amazing chapattis instead. We also had boiled matooke, rice, beans, guacamole, shredded chicken, passion fruit juice, and mozzarella cheese, our one luxury…and it was glorious! Haha. We made way too much food, but it was great anyway.
On Sunday a group of us went to Kampala. It was a nice change from the everyday stuff we do. We went alone, so we had to figure out how to get there and back safely! Luckily, another PCT, Lizz, had been to Rwanda before and knew her way around African transport. There were around 16 of us so we were able to get a whole matatu to ourselves. It was a tight fit, but it’s not a long drive at all. Before we got off the taxi, we arranged with the driver to pick us up at Garden City, a shopping center (mostly for wealthy Ugandans and Muzungus – white people or foreigners – like us) and drive us back to town instead of us walking to the taxi park, which was a ways away. I spent the day being lazy, and it was wonderful. We found a coffee shop in Kampala that kind of caters to Muzungus…it was opened by an ex-pat and has American and European style coffees and snacks/breakfast-y items. I had some really good green tea and a delicious croissant. After that, we went to an internet café where I was able to open many internet windows at once! Yay! I set up my twitter account to post on my blog sidebar by text message so now I’m able to give short little updates for only 220 shillings! Lucky you :)
After the internet café we went to a nearby pizza place (Pizza Inn, which is in the same building as the Chicken Inn and the Creamy Inn – ice cream) for lunch. It’s not too expensive, only 9000 shillings (4.50$) for a fairly large cheese pizza. It had started raining when we were in the internet café and had let up for a few minutes while we walked to the pizza place. After we got there and started eating, the rain started up again. Unfortunately a few of our group got unexpectedly stuck in the rain and were a little soaked by the time they met us at Pizza Inn.
After lunch me and three others went to the nicest hotel in Kampala to have some drinks and relax. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon. We met as arranged at Garden City at 5, and our taxi was not there. We called him and he said that he got delayed and to meet him on Kampala road so we started walking. He wasn’t at the new meeting spot and several other taxies pulled up trying to get us to ride with them. We had arranged to spend 2000 shillings on the ride back to town, but we got one of the other taxies down to 1500, so we took that one instead of our guy, who never did show up. He texted Lizz later that he was arrested by the traffic cops and that’s why he wasn’t able to pick us up! Who knows if that’s really true or not…it was a nice day anyway!

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