August 12, 2009 6e

by

Meeting face to face with the poorest of the poor is a daunting experience. I’ve been reading “The Source” and find that the rural Ugandan people live pretty much the same as people probably lived in 2200 B.C., except the Ugandan people have mattresses and mosquito nets. An 8 year old girl might wake up at 5:00, climb out of a tiny, leaky, mud thatched hut, hoe the garden for an hour, walk a mile to the well, carry 5 gallons back on her head, walk a couple of miles to school (having no student books or paper). After walking home, she would hoe again, then grind sorghum and millet into flour with a stone, and help cook dinner.

Could I live like this? I do love the out of doors, and during the dry season you won’t find more beautiful breezy weather. I could get my sugar fix by chomping on sugar cane. I don’t mind squatting in the smelly latrines. Families are close, which is nice, though 1/2 of them die far too soon. OK I can’t carry water on my head, and the hunger would be perfectly awful.

I could probably do it for a week, or until I got a bladder infection or kidney stone. How do people live with zero medication? No, I couldn’t do it without my malaria meds. The mosquitoes here are tinier, faster and sneakier than our clunky ones. By the time you see your hear them the damage is done.

When meds are available, word spreads (most villages have a couple of radios used for music and local news). When Dr Bill (a very smart and very hilarious Dr. from Nebraska) showed up in a rural village over 1,000 people were waiting. He listened through a translator, then prescribed pain meds, Cipro, Claridon, one vitamin and worm pill each, and even more importantly, malaria and elephantitus meds. (Early elephantitus can be cured with a few cheap pills.)

Maggots growing in a boy’s infected shoulder was gross, as well as other things I won’t mention here. After many people had waited for four hours, down came the long downpour of rain and hail. After that, people came in shivering and soaking wet. No, I wouldn’t want to live like this!

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