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DAY 24


Friday 5.15 am as I start to write yesterday’s account and I’m cold and, no wonder, my thermometer registers a mere 79.9 degrees F, the first time I’ve seen it drop below the 80 and 90 mark since my arrival. Humidity is high at 60%. Should I dig out my jacket or should I enjoy the chilly breeze on my back from the open window?

The rains change so much and even our working day was affected by it. It was an outreach day in Opwateta in Pallisa district with Ruth, Michael and Sam, the dentist, joining us. The main road from Kumi to Pallisa is being converted from a badly pot-holed murram road to a main highway and the roadworks are extensive being one of the causes of our extreme dust conditions we have had to endure in the past weeks. Today the dust was just slightly less thanks to the rains as the enormous dumpers were filled with the red earth but still scattering clouds of dust in all directions. There are huge boulders impeding progress and each of these has to be blasted to smithereens. We see the preparations as they drill holes presumably for the dynamite but, thankfully, we are well past when the fuse is lit. They say it is an Arabian company which has the contract. I feel sorry for the poor villagers who live in these dirty conditions and, even more so perhaps, for those whose villages have had to be destroyed to make way for progress and the wide highway. However, the completed road will eliminate the need to pass through Mbale to reach Kampala which will shorten the route and be a great improvement for the travellers. We would only have passed this way on the old road when the Mbale road was too badly pot-holed or if the vehicle tyres were risky!

Arriving at Opwateta Health Clinic, we saw few people waiting for us as agriculture supersedes all else and, now the ground was refreshed with the rains, it needed ploughing by the yoked oxen and planted with groundnuts for the second half of the year’s crop. A few parents and elderly had chosen to attend the clinic and so we settled down to a short day’s work.

I had seen this sixteen year old in previous years, a CP girl with moderate learning difficulties but who had passed her Primary 4 exams and so was capable of some form of employment. She would like to learn how to sew so, on our next visit in October, we shall do a home visit and meet a tailor who may be willing to teach her the basics. A mother who could speak reasonable English had brought her baby who had outgrown his abduction boots, essential for the continuing process of the Ponseti method for the correction of club feet. She needed replacements but pleaded poverty. However, she did not look so destitute as many uas to need financial assistance especially when she brought out a bottle of juice and a packet of biscuits! I was not popular when I pointed out that she did have money and could pay herself. She was so peeved that she spent the rest of the clinic telling everyone something I could not make out but I doubt I was popular with her. When compared to those with nothing, she was not in dire straits as so many are.

A father struggled to carry his lanky thirteen year old daughter with protruding teeth and wearing a pink net party dress with thick pink leggings and obviously in her very best clothes to attend the clinic; a cerebral palsy girl with some form of awareness deep down in her personality but little hope of bringing this to the surface. A wheelchair and encouragement for the father to continue with the exercises he had been taught was all we had to offer.

Adeke had had corrective surgery for Blount’s Disease and needed the metal work removing from her legs but the family had no financial means of managing this so here was a true case in need of financial assistance. The fact that the mother claimed to have had sixteen children (no multiple births) was not the poor girl’s fault!

And the day wore on until we remained with the dear old souls with their aches and pains. The descriptions and expressions of those describing their agony were beyond belief but, knowing their hardships endured throughout their lives, I can understand why their bodies are reeked in wear and tear, poor souls.

The day was done, we were back early and I planned to finish my book before all else. As I turned to the last page, I decided I must choose my reading matter more carefully when here as I was disturbed by its content dwelling on the relationship between the dying father and his young son. I have a Harry Potter book waiting but another more factual one to wade through first.

Supper of greens and Irish was so welcome and delicious that I cleaned the dishes and then regretted my greed. Dan, the young IT man who works for the hospital, called to show me how to find my internet bundle balance and I was pleasantly surprised that it appears I have enough left for the remainder of my stay. I Skyped my husband, Chris, and caught up with the news, all that is apart from what is going on in Westminster. I shall take what comes!

No more rain!


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