Friday, December 11, 2009

uganda in december

is quite warm and probably unlike the weather any of you are experiencing at the moment. we have had a cool stretch, but cool is around 25 or 26 degrees celcius (77-79 degrees F). we are just finishing our 3rd week here and things are going okay. we are both trying to piece together what exactly we are doing at KCCC and how our skills can actually be put to use here. the pace of life in africa is very different from that in the US. every interaction has to start with several minutes of pleasantries. i even met a woman the other night who is british and has been in kampala volunteering at the main public hospital as a midwife. the hospital is called mulago hospital and it provides care for "free": that is, if you cannot afford to go anywhere else you go there and you will get services, eventually. if you need any supplies, like iv fluids or even the cannula to put the iv into your vein, or antibiotics or hardware for a bone fracture or supplies to deliver a baby or diapers for the baby, whatever you need--you buy it and have it brought. if you cannot afford, you don't get it. it is of course, woefully underfunded and understaffed and the docs and nurses are underpaid and family members of the patients wait in the hallways on straw mats, bring in food for the patients and everyone generally looks miserable. anyways, the point of the story was that this woman, this midwife, was telling me that she came upon a woman on the labor and delivery ward who was hemorrhaging and laying on the floor unconscious. she ran down the hallway to get a doctor and told him he needed to come with her that moment. because she did not take 5 minutes to ask how he was, how he was doing, how he was finding his morning, he was offended and she had to backpedal to get him just to come help resuscitate this woman.
its nice to be greeted so often and to really take the time to ask how you are, but it definitely gets in the way of the more western attitude of getting things done. you do not just walk into someone's office and ask for something. you stop, you chat, you pause, and then you ask. guy is better at it than me, if you can guess.
people also love to stop and take tea. the office comes to a screeching halt at about 10:30 or 11 am when tea is served with a little snack. even the docs leave their patients in the hallway, waiting, in order to take their tea. there are two different phrases we have learned here: kati and kati kati--"now" and "now now." now basically means some time in the next few hours, or maybe next few days. now now means it might get done today.
anyways, we are getting some things done and i am learning patience. its good for me and you need it because you wait for a lot of things and you realize that we are pretty spoiled with everything instantaneous, at our fingertips. we are headed to jinja this weekend which is the head of the nile river. there is supposed to be amazing white water rafting there which we will do at some point, but not this weekend. we are going to camp and chill out and get out of the smog and noise and craziness that is kampala for a few rejuvinate. so far we are still alive, have not contracted malaria or gotten hit by a car or fallen into the many holes that are built into the sidewalks and which you have to watch the ground for or else you would definitely break a leg if you weren't paying attention. rather, we are doing great and are happy and enjoying the experience.
i hope this finds you all well and staying warm. more news and pics soon.


  1. Yeah Rusha,

    Hang in there. I'm sure you'll settle nicely. If rafting on Nile isn't your thing, you might try some kayaking on Lake Victoria...and yes those are shells of snails that carry shistosomiasis on the shores :) Merry Christmas. -Will

  2. Rusha: Another great post. Loved the pics. Pls slow down the slide shows!! Hope you have a great time on safari with your folks. I'm very jealous. Try to keep your dad healthy.

    unc greg

  3. Wow--so amazing to read this and keep up with your life there so far..I can relate to the different pace and way of working. That also exists in the UK to a lesser extent. So, when I first started working here, I was occasionally viewed as "rude" when trying to do my work. I've learned how to adjust over time, but it was a struggle at first.. Great to know that you guys are well, happy and enjoying the newness of it all! Soak it all up while you can!! xx