Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 3, 2012

I am back home and have begun to adjust to the time change, but not necessarily to the "western way".  I had a wonderful experience and for my last blog (on this trip) I thought I would share with you some of the wonderful people I met that I have not already introduced you to along with some of the sights of Luweero.
(From the left) Margot, the Women's Income Generating Group Coordinator, Jamila, a wonderful neighbor that cooked dinner for us during the week, and Sadie, the Project Coordinator for Shanti Uganda.  Both Margot and Sadie are from Canada.
Mugwanya, we met one day as I was walking to work and he was on his bicycle.  He got off his bike and ended up walking all the way to Shanti Uganda with me.  I have already received an email from him.
 Emma, the lab technician that worked there on sight at Shanti Uganda.
Sara, one of the midwives, the youngest one as well.
Sister Florence and Sister Mary, both midwives, Sister Mary is the head midwife.
Joy, midwife and Sister Mary.
There is another midwife Ssanyu, but I never got the opportunity to work with her.
Florence demonstrating the "tippy tap" which was how you washed your hands after using the latrine.
 Haffsa, Jamila's mom standing outside of her kiosk, everyone seems to sell items outside of the homes.
Haffsa, she is beautiful just like her daughter Jamila.
 Jamila, working in her mom's store.
 Media, she owned the phone store and was so helpful to me every step of the way as I was trying to purchase and use a cell phone in Uganda.
 Flora, one of Media's employees.
 Media's cell phone store.
A water station.
 Eddie and Edith in one of their grocery stores, using the term "grocery store" is pushing it, items are extremely limited in Luweero.
 Eddie and Edith, they really where lovely.  Edith was the first person I met when I got to Luweero.
 A typical laundry mat.
 Jackie, who was one of the helpers at one of the grocery stores.

 Mike, worked with Jackie at the above grocery store.
 The bank.
David, who managed READ Uganda.
READ Uganda, the internet cafe, it is a non-profit that provides computer training and business skills.

So these were some of the people that touched my heart on a trip that I will always hold dear.  I look forward to visiting them all again.  I hope I can continue to travel and provide my birth doula services to those in developing countries and hopefully once again you will read a blog from the Traveling Birth Doula.

In gratitude and appreciation from home, via Uganda!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 28, 2012

There have not been any more births at Shanti Uganda, but I am hopeful there will be before I leave on Friday.  I cannot believe my time here is almost over.  I have learned so much and enjoyed every aspect of it.  Although we haven't had any births I have been able to develop and implement a Midwife and Doula Resource Binder, made a poster of the Mission since there was not one posted, taught some of the midwives about labor and birth positions, rearranged some things.  These may sound simple, but the process is not easy.  Access to basic items that you and I take for granted are not easily accessible here, such things as tape, markers, and printing.  Everything takes a little (sometimes a lot) longer in this wonderful country of Uganda.

I thought I would share some sights of Luwero, Uganda and Kasana Town:

We had 3 prenatal couples today.  The husbands all came with their wives.  This is a great success for Shanti Uganda because they encourage fathers to participate!

These three girls stop at Shanti Uganda everyday on their way home from school and call for me to come out and take their picture.  Of course I do, and then we laugh and smile and we take pictures and I show them to them on the camera or on my computer.

Tires provide hours of entertainment for neighborhood children.

A neighbor fixing breakfast in the morning hours.

In gratitude and appreciation from Uganda!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

 March 27, 2012

Thursdays are the busiest days around Shanti Uganda.  There are immunizations for the babies and young children.  An immunization chart is kept on each baby and the mother brings the chart back each time to be updated.  A father or grandmother may accompany the mother, but most mothers are on their own when they arrive. In addition, there are prenatal and antenatal appointments for the mothers, family planning consultation, prenatal yoga (thank you to Julie Clinard Townsend and Kyser-Roth for donating yoga pants for the women).  The Women’s Income Generating Group (WIGG) meets in the afternoon with Margot who is the WIGG Coordinator.  I often get to do some baby holding on these day, and it is heavenly.  As I have said on numerous occasions to many of you, if everyone could hold a content baby at the start of each day then I believe we would live in a peaceful world.  I just don’t think I will be able to get any legislation passed to make this a mandate.  I guess it is one of those, “If I were the leader of the World” concepts. 
Joy(left) and Sister Mary (right) give a baby an immunization, baby is not a happy camper.
 Mom and daughter.
 This mother was extremely attentive to her daughter and it was obvious that a bond had been developed.
This little girl could not keep her eyes off of me, the “Mzungu” but when I approached her she had the scariest, unhappiest face you could imagine.
Grandmother came to the appointment with a pregnant woman; with age comes wisdom and grace.

The days have been fairly quiet at the Birth House.  I went and helped Sister Florence clean on Saturday and I really enjoyed being of service and getting to know Sister Florence.  She shared her lunch with me, greens (seasoned to perfection, but not the same taste as our southern greens and Chapati (a flat bread similar to flour tortillas). I have had a lot of great meals here, but I do believe this one ranked right up there with the others!  A side note - about the term “sister”, it is not used as it would be in the Catholic Church meaning a nun.  “Sister’ is reserved in midwifery for the women that have achieved a particular level of education in the practice of midwifery.  It is a term of respect.  Another form of respect that you will find in Uganada is that often when young girls approach an older woman the young girls will kneel down to greet their elder.  This too is a type of respect shown for older women by the younger ones.  I have not experienced it, but I would not expect to either as I am not known to these young girls.

In gratitude and appreciation from Uganda!

Monday, March 26, 2012

March 23, 2012

Well the power has been off every time I have been available to post my blog.  The power tends to come on late at night and go off early in the morning, so most days are spent without electricity. Some days I manage to get a hot cup of coffee in before the electricity goes off, but those days are far and few between.  Then when the electricity is on the internet is down at the internet café.  I am at least glad that I purchased a phone to communicate with the family, otherwise Wake would not survive……….I know this is true.

I got to attend my first birth yesterday.  It was quite amazing.  The mother did not make a noise the entire time she was in labor or during the birth.  Sister Mary said this is typical of Ugandan women as they do not want to push energy out via their voice, instead they wish to send the energy down to assist the baby.  I found it fascinating to watch.  Birth practices are very different here.  I did not like that the woman had to labor and birth on a piece of plastic laid across the vinyl covered mattress, so I am busy trying to find a remedy to this problem.  They cannot use sheets as they have no way to sanitize them so I am thinking something along the line of those plastic table cloths that have a soft backing on them???  If anyone has any other suggestions please let me know because I plan to implement something as soon as I am back in the US.  It needs to be something soft, waterproof and disposable.
 Here is a photo of the happy momma (Christine), papa and baby girl.  The father had ridden home on his bicycle to get a flask for water and the baby was born while he was gone, but he was so very excited when he returned and discovered that his daughter had arrived. It was encouraging to see a father that excited and involved in his wife’s birth.  I do think the future generation may hold the key.

March 25, 2012

I finally got to post a blog today.  It was however not easy.  I woke early while the power was still on and walked to the local internet café but after many trips back and forth it still was not open, not to mention the electricity went out and came back on twice during this time.  Shanti Uganda rents from the owners of the internet cafe and I asked Adrine and she said that David the manager was tending to a sick family member and that she was going to open the café in 30 minutes.  I heard Adrine leave in her car so I followed on foot, only to find her car not there and the café still closed.  I decided to walk to the other side of town and try the internet café owned by the dioceses.  Once I arrived it was closed although the sign said they are open Monday through Sunday 8am to 8pm.  I then walked back home and passed Adrine and her husband Joseph who said the power was out but that she was going to open the internet café.  I walked on home to find the power on and left for the café immediately.  After many times of losing the internet and then getting it back I got my blog posted, yeah!!!  I was frustrated many time, but to no avail as I find it gets me nowhere, nor will it ever get me closer to my desire.

This evening Ben picked me up to take me to Christina’s, a local bar, and on the way we stopped at a motel (Luwero Safari Village) that is under construction and looks as though it will be a great place to stay.  They are providing a living history environment with all the traditional aspects of Ugandan living.  The following are the photos from the facility:
The Sign that will hang at the entrance.
 The owner, Saleem along with one of the employees
 One of the huts that will be an accommodation with a living area and two bedrooms.  Traditionally it would have been a living room for the man and a bedroom for each of his two wives with a bath between.
 Beds made in the traditional way. They are to be stained, but I thought they were great just the way they were.
 Furniture will be traditional as are these chairs and benches.

 (Above 2)The cutest money I ever have seen, Logan, although he had several names as everyone that comes to Luwero Safari Village names him something else.  He was so calm; Yes, I did want to kidnap him, I knew I could never get him through customs and Takoda would never forgive me.
These will be the only zebras I see on this visit to Africa, but I guessed that you all would want to see some wildlife, thus I share.

After the Luwero Safari Village Ben took me to Christina’s, a wonderful small hotel and bar within walking distance of our home………….never knew it was there.  We sat outside under the stars and drank a local beer.  After the waiter brought the 3rd round it was getting dark and I knew it was time to return to the house.  It was however great to finally drink something cold!

 This is the closest to a smile that I could get from Saul, Cato’s first born.
 A young girl enjoys one of the dolls I brought to give out.  Her mother was there for a prenatal appointment.  When I tried to approach the girl she got the saddest look on her face, she was going to cry at any moment, so I admired her from afar.

In gratitude and appreciation from Uganda!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

 March 20, 2012

Today (3/20) and yesterday (3/19) I spent most of the day at the Birth House.  It has been very slow and there have not been any women laboring or birthing.  I have spent my time typing information into the computer, organizing materials, reading reports and getting to know the women and men at Shanti Uganda.  I had the opportunity to take some photos of the facility to share:
I really enjoy spending time at the Birth House because there is such a wonderful breeze there.  The house we live in is inside of a compound and the tall stone walls keep the heat in and the breeze out.  At the Birth House you can sit just about anywhere inside or outside and catch the breeze.  Today I sat under a tall shade tree on a yoga mat on top of a thatched mat and read through some information on Midwifery in Uganda.  It was quite pleasant.  The heat is really bad here, especially at night when you get into bed and pull the mosquito net down around your bed. 

 Central Room of Main Building (Top 3 photos)
Antepartum Room (Main Building)
 One of many inlaid floor designs
 Water source for Shanti Uganda – collects rain water and is filtrated for use
Mural Artwork done by a volunteer
Cato, gardener and all around “handy man” 

I brought several small tubes of Moravian Cookies with me to Uganda (thanks to Susan Doran) and have been passing them out.  I gave some to Ben, the driver for Shanti Uganda and Medina, the woman who has helped me so much with my phone purchase (bless her heart I have been a “stupid American” when it comes to purchasing, using, and understanding cell phones here).  I brought a tin to the Birth House today to share.  Everyone loved them and talked about how good they were. When I give them to someone, I always give a brief history of the Moravians and then talk about other items that they are known for and how the items are made in North Carolina.   Florence, one of the birth attendants at the Birth House, asked if she could keep the empty tube today and was so excited when I gave it to her. I had gone to her home yesterday and she shared some sweet bananas so we are becoming good friends.
 Florence (in pink) and Family in front of her home, see the sweet bananas to the left, yum, yum!

A baby asleep on the front porch, still not sure who she belonged to.  
Florence’s two boys (right) and a friend (left)
 A well-loved, but very tired momma.

Overall, my experience has been great thus far.  Everyone is very friendly and helpful.  I am trying to learn some Lugandan words, but I find them very difficult to learn.  I have resorted to having David (the manager of the Internet Café) speak various simple words into the digital microphone that I brought with me, then as I walk the 34 – 40 minutes to the Birth House I listen and practice and then I do the same on the return trip.  It seems to be helping, but each morning I feel as though I am back where I was the day before trying to imprint the words into my long term memory.

Before I end, I wanted to share another “Mzungu” story with you.  This morning as I was walking back from the Internet Café (I had left the house while the electricity was still on in hopes of posting my blog, however it was off by the time I finished the 10 minute walk to the Internet Café and still remains off 9 hours later) I came across a couple and their young daughter, maybe 2 years old.  The daughter sat on the ground crying, refusing to take another step.  Her parents stood 20 feet a head of her trying to entice her with a coin.  As soon as the mother saw me coming toward them she said something to the little girl in Lugandan that contained the word “Mzungu”.  The little girls jumped up off the ground, began to run toward her parents, and ran a large U to get past me, obviously scared of me.  I am guessing her mother told her something like, “The mean white lady is going to steal you if you don’t get up and come here.”  I had to smile as I am sure that little girl’s thoughts about me were similar to the same thoughts my grandmother and her friends had about gypsy’s when they were growing up and it was rumored that they would steal young children.

March 21, 2012

Last night some friends of Sadie’s and Margot’s came over for dinner and to celebrate Sara’s (woman who is for CO and works for the Peace Corps teaching English to Ugandan teachers) 31st birthday.  Sara is the oldest of the group so that tells you about the gap in age between me and “them”.   There was a couple from Ireland that work in the northern part of Uganda and help to install irrigation systems and a young woman from Japan who works here in Luwero as a teacher at the special needs school.  They were a lively bunch and I enjoyed playing BINGO with them and felt all around welcomed. We even had two birthday cakes that had been cooked in Dutch ovens, a type of a lemon pound cake the other was similar to a chocolate pound cake.  Cooking in a Dutch oven sounds difficult to me, but these women evidently are very adept at such type of baking.

I got up early this morning to post to my blog and had planned to attach the above blog to it, but it took forever to upload the photos and then I hit the wrong button and forgot to save my work, so today’s blog is combined with the 2nd part of yesterday’s, making for a long read I do realize.

There was a baby girl born this morning at Shanti Uganda, but I was not there.  I did however get to meet the mother and baby.  I am hopeful that I will be present for a birth or two, but it has been rather slow and is common women tend to go into labor during the night time hours.
Mother and baby girl!

I thought it would be fun to take a few pictures on my walk from here at the volunteer house to the birth house so I did that this morning on the walk in and here they are:
A couple owns the volunteer house and they live in the front of the house.  The volunteer section is in the back and is reached by the sidewalk to the left.
  As I walk out of the gate to the house and turn right headed toward the Shanti Uganda Birth House.
 Some children I met along the way today.  I took their picture and then showed it to them on the camera and they all giggled in delight.
 This is the long and hilly, never ending road that I spend the most time on during my walk to the Birth House.  Did I mention how hot the walk is?  It is HOT!
 Handmade bricks sitting out to dry. Most bricks are mud red, but these were a wonderful tan color.
 The biggest ant hill that I have ever witnessed.
 You know you are close when you see this sign welcoming everyone to Shanti Uganda.
Shanti Uganda! The main building connected by breezeway to the Birth House.

In gratitude and appreciation from Uganda!