Today (Saturday, July 2) was our first full day in Uganda, and we hit the ground running. After a morning orientation and instruction meeting, we all got into a 25-passenger bus, driven by a crazy man named Henry, who drove that bus like a race car through tiny dirt roads and “streets.” By “streets,” I mean occasionally paved and cratered like the surface of the moon. Ugandan traffic makes me want to get back to the L.A. freeways so I can relax.
The rest of our day, until evening, was spent at Jjokolera Village, about an hour’s drive away. We stopped and picked up three doctors on the way who were working with us for the day, and we were off to set up a medical clinic in a very small stone and wood church (with no electricity). People had been lining up for hours before we arrived, and even before the church was in sight we were greeted by dozens of little Ugandan children.
For the next six hours or so, our team divided up into smaller teams who worked crowd control, took vital signs, worked at our makeshift pharmacy, and played with kids outside. Since I don’t have any medical training, I was just moving around and helping wherever I could, and for a few hours I did all those things. Eventually I ended up helping in the pharmacy area, mixing powdered medicines and helping make sure the right bags of medications ended up with the right people. I wanted to ask people for their insurance information, but no one but me seemed to think that was funny.
**By the way – when school starts again in a few months, if I ever complain about a long day at school, you have permission to slap me.
So – the boda bodas. Actually, they’re just motorcycles of some kind, and they’re all over the place here. You’ll see guys carrying everything on them, and dodging through crazy traffic just like everyone else. But for us today, the boda bodas were life saving. There was a little 4-year-old girl named Naluga with a temperature of 105, who had to be taken to the closest hospital, about an hour away. Since it wasn’t workable to put this little girl onto our 25-passenger bus and let Henry drive her there like a crazy man (which is apparently the only way he knows how to drive), we hired a guy with a boda boda to drive her there. Which, to me, seemed a little crazy as well. But I was assured by a number of old Ugandan women that it was fine, that people did it all the time. I should point out here that old Ugandan women seem to be pretty smart.
So after praying for little Naluga, we put her and her grandmother on the boda boda and sent her off to the hospital. Later, we had to get another boda boda guy, to take a 17-year-old pregnant girl with malaria. Any of those problems by itself is a lot, including just being a 17-year-old girl in Uganda. But adding pregnancy and malaria to being a 17-year-old girl automatically makes you eligible for a boda boda ride.
So that was our day. Tomorrow is church, which we’ll walk to. Although I’m told we have the option of riding boda bodas there. I’ll walk.