Monday October 15th 2007 - boroboro
So yesterday was my North American attack. I must apologize to all readers. Part of me thought that since I may not get a chance to post these from Uganda that I could just delete them and say that I’ve never written. But that wouldn’t be fair. In all my travels I’ve permitted myself to have one North American attack in a week. You know like suddenly miss Mexican food, or wish you could have a mani/pedi right now, etc. I think the drive to Lira was a rough one and my accommodations weren’t as comforting as I thought and all my ugly came out.
I went to bed irritated and worried. Not only that, but I wasn’t really sure what I had gotten myself into. It seemed like I had walked into a very dangerous area. The truth is that I had walked into a dangerous area or an area where danger what rampant. I find out that the water and electricity do not always last. Normally I wouldn’t care, but since the hotel is kind of strange I sleep with the mini flashlight Geoff lent me around my neck. I didn’t sleep long. I woke up at 5am and just kind of stared around my room.
In the morning the gang called me over for breakfast. So I joined them in the main dining hall. The food was good. The toast was delicious. I sat with Rena and Kristen with the rest of the folks along the way. Martin has been keeping an eye on me. He knows I had a rough 24 hours.
We don’t have a plan yet. Rena left messages for the reverend Jacob and we’re waiting to hear from him. After breakfast Rena tried once more, and suddenly he answered. So the plan came through. .. in the meantime we all scurried to get ready. We met in the courtyard of the hotel. Ally our driver soon showed up, but in the meantime we had a great conversation about a matriarch or patriarch society. Which is better? How do you survive either one? But that short time in the courtyard made me repent. It was a beautiful morning. We sat under a tree and watched the cumulus clouds form above us. And I just repented for my thoughts the night before.
We got in the van and drove to Boroboro to the bishops’ campus. The campus is sent around many schools so as we drove near all the school children just waived. They were excited to see us and have an odd visual treat for the morning. The area is beautiful. It’s up on a plateau and there is tons of green land all over. We pulled in and I jumped down onto the ground. Went to go gather my purse and then suddenly I get a Lizzzzzz and I turn around and it was Marika. She gave me such a huge deep hug and it felt so good to see her. And then there was Dale. He hugged me too and he looked so happy. So free. Skinny, but happy. We did the introductions and went inside to figure out what we were up to.
The first day was home base care. We met with the chairperson over Boroboro and all of the volunteers. We had a plan to meet a few people in their neighborhood and to visit an amaranth farm. While I was loading up I heard a beep-beep and it was Marika cruising along Africa’s paths in a white jeep. So adorable. I loaded up and was ready to head out. Dale ended up driving out to the village because I think he was a little more comfortable with that area.
We stopped along the road and would make right & left turns into pathways that I thought a horse couldn’t even drive through much less a matatus. And there we go. In the midst of thickets. In the midst of bushes that whack at you. Through muddy puddles so deep we’re not sure to go around them or through it. One time we leaned so much to the right that the left side of my body lifted into the air. How these Matatus do it, I’ll never know. I took some video of it because I wanted friends of mine to see where I was. I kept thinking of my mother today and how she would have totally loved it. She would have talked and held every child we had visited. While we drive I think of my grandfather and how he loves car rides. On our trips to Monterey he picks out all the vegetables. He knows what each one is, even the seedlings. We hit a bumpy patch and for some reason I imagined Cynthia and I in our cowboy boots and hat singin ‘aya en mi ranchito’. And I started to giggle.
The first home we visited was that of a very healthy HIV+ woman. She lost her husband and father. She had lost a child but had some alive. She also took care of her blind grandmother who just sat under a hut’s shade all day long. She had her kids in school and took care of the farm. With the farm she was able to feed her kids and make extra money for a few extra things. She had several huts in her area, and looked quite strong. I felt so bad for the grandmother. She was blind and all the animals would come around her and pick at her. The pig would push her or the chickens would poke at her feet. She sat under the shades and just shooshed the flies away. My heart broke for her. You know how I love grannies!
We visited other homes but the stigma of HIV/AIDS is so big in this area. The volunteer workers have a lot to work on, but they are doing such a great job. Everyone at the rev office has done some kind of training with these guys. They’re volunteering and are supposed to have no more than 10 clients. In the first month they got over 30 clients with 100 more requests each.
THE LABORERS ARE FEW
We met one group of women Dorcas & Agnes who have lost their children and husbands. They still have some children and take care of a widowers children too. Dorcas looked the healthier of the two and still had her father around. She took care of the land and her home was spotless. Agnes didn’t look like she was feeling well at all. She looked like she was running a dizzying fever. She sat there as the children flocked around her. There must have been a dozen kids. Agnes wanted to burst into tears crying. There was something there but we couldn’t crack it. There were too many North Americans for that visit. The widower stood up and said ‘we’re strong we can manage’, ‘my wife died of cancer not HIV, I don’t have it’, we asked if he had been tested he said yes and it was negative. ‘ALL NEGATIVE’ and then we looked at him all of us in silent questions. And his demeanor changed. He knew he had lied to us. Dorcas & Agnes, and this widower were all HIV+ non on ARV’s and were soon going to leave about 12 kids behind.
Why no ARV’s. Because Uganda gov’t still regulates the distribution of the pills. They even regulate the distribution of the non-free pills. So hospitals in Uganda on average go a week a month w/out pills. So people who can get free medication need it. And that’s the thing about ARV’s it’s a drug that needs to be taken twice a day, daily. No misses.
So even though there is now a great group of volunteers to help break the stigma and help the family get tested. When some find out that they are positive there is hope for medication but it’s not routinely. The other side note is that we’re out in the country and the hospital is super far away. How many people actually travel to get their medication. It’s a crazy situation here. I’m confident that the volunteers are doing above and beyond what they can but they do need more long term man power and someone who can influence the bigwigs of this nation.
We stopped by a bicycle repair shop. There were tons of boys and men there. We went to the back of the repair shop outside near a field. We heard one woman give her testimony and then her husband came out. He was going to publicly speak and tell us of his condition. I didn’t video it, because it wasn’t the right time. The man was fragile and nervous, and I just wanted it to be a personal moment. It’s a big thing in this village for a man to stand up while he’s still somewhat healthy and running a business to say I’m HIV+.
That was our last visit for the day. It was incredible. People living in regions that a van can barely travel through are dealing with such humongous issues. All of this is too big to process in one blog. It truly is.
We had a late lunch provided by the reverend crew. We casaba and chuck steak n sauce, with black beans. It was quite tasty. They don’t use cutlery in Uganda fyi. We eat with our fingers.
We came back to the hotel and I showered and got ready for an evening with Dale & Marika. We went to the Lillian Towers hotel. A gorgeous place w/ internet. Why are we not there again? I had the spiciest pizza of my life. Cynthia & Shannon would have loved it. Three fanta orange sodas later I recovered from my swollen chillied lips. Delicious. Cheeseeeeeeeeeee.
Marika, Dale & I talked about everything under the sun. Me and missions. VFC & FPC. How they are and how they’re feeling. I saw their home early that day. It’s so gorgeous. It has the cutest kitchen and pantry. Their living room is so pretty too. They have a big master bedroom that dale made shelves in their closet for. And they have a great guest room too. Their bathroom is a western one and they are quite blessed. They have more land than I’ve seen any 30 something year old couple have. Marika has planted flowers and daisies along her pathway, and tons of fruit trees along with tons of vegetables too. She’s becoming quite the gardener. I was so happy to see them happy. I took a photograph of them on their land in front of their home and it was precious. God bless them.
I came home and crashed out. Forgot to take my malaria pill and I did right before I went to bed. Woke up with the craziest dreams. Strange.
I’m now about to log off and get ready for our next adventure.