Five days in and I can’t believe it. Time flies. This morning we went to Katira Medical Clinic with the IA team. Rural villages in Uganda run slowly. And while they are always happy to have visitors, they aren’t always present at the scheduled time. The IA staff are all aware of this, and accept it as a reality of the work they do. At every official visit with the IA team, if a man is speaking, he will make an excuse for the community being late, and shortly thereafter, mention how he will not take up too much of our time, and then proceeds to speak for what feels like an eternity. Women greeting us never seem to do this, but for some reason, these male community leaders don’t understand what brevity means. It’s like when someone says “long story short,” and then makes the long story longer.
In spite of the never ending remarks, I met and interviewed Lydia, the head nurse and midwife at Katira’s medical clinic. Wow, what a sharp witted woman! . She loved sharing her stories of work with us, and when we were timid about asking a more sensitive question, she said, “If you meet a quiet midwife, I tell you, she is no midwife at all!” Midwives are known as the outgoing, jovial bunch of the rural medical community in Uganda, and Lydia is exactly that type. “I see everything people normally look away from. Childbirth and everything that goes with it. Don’t worry about asking me anything.” I wish I could adopt her as an aunt; she would make family gatherings a hoot!
Today is also the big day of the Buyinda Medical Clinic solar system installation. On our drive from Katira, we met a car which had some trouble getting started. Issa and Davis took the helm and we learned how they jump start cars in Uganda: with a few wires, and bare fingers on the battery terminals! Earlier that morning, I had been speaking with the manager of the hotel we are staying at. One remark he made about Ugandans was their tenacity to keep machinery running. Unlike us in the west, they don’t simply toss things out when they stop working. It’s a skill that many of us in the west have lost. Bare hands on batteries or otherwise, I see great utility for function and repair daily in Uganda.
At Katira Medical Clinic, the village had shown up dancing and singing to celebrate the installation of the solar system. After the customarily brief remarks, and the exchange of a chicken from the community to IA (yes, a calm, live chicken was handed to IA’s founder and CEO Sivan), Rose was given the honor of turning on the lights for the first time. After dark, we interviewed her again under the solar powered lights, and she was kind enough to pose for a powerful picture in front of the brightly illuminated health clinic.