DAY TWENTY ONE
MONDAY 25 MARCH 2019
If I was wearing socks today, I’d be pulling them up and making a huge effort to manage the day ahead but socks are not required so here goes!
What could start the week off better than to be greeted by Obwongo pacing up and down hoping to catch a glance of me inside and wanting 10,000/= to buy the hide of this enormous cow which was being slaughtered down the road so that he could make my (and 100 others, no doubt) arigidigi? Then Joseph sat himself down repeating pasca pasca until I realised he meant Easter. He wanted to be able to buy some meat. With my fingers crossed, I told both of them I had no money but did find Joseph, who I do feel sorry for, a filthy 1,000/= note (20p) which I would rather be without.
Fieldwork with Rose so off we went and branched left along a different route to town. Here, the scene was idyllic and a place where I would wish to live if necessary. A sense of peace and orderliness but, hidden in those huts, was the usual hardships felt by all the peasant farmers. We had passed this way to visit three homes of discharged patients from the Nutrition Unit. They had maintained their improvements but their stories were sad. Little Agwang had a cleft palate which had only been discovered when she was in hospital and, when fed milk from the spoon, it came down its nose. She will be seen by the plastics team who come in October.
On to town where we stopped at the prison to distribute the AFRIpads to the women prisoners. Locked in behind the metal gates, we gave them out but, as ever, I hadn’t thought it through well enough. They didn’t wear panties which are necessary so I gave the lady prison officer some money and she would buy a load and give each one a couple of pairs.
Onwards we went along the incredibly dusty roads with visibility reduced to almost zero when passing another vehicle. Windows must be wound up (not electric) as soon as a vehicle is seen in the distance but still the dust gets inside. We found Okalang sitting alone on the veranda of his mud hut with a cloth wrapped round his head which made me mistake him for a girl. His spindly arms and legs stuck out of his tiny body like an insect and his face looked like one of an old man with the worries of the world on his shoulders. He had been to KH, then transferred to Soroti and was followed up for cancer tests which proved negative. We could not leave him without doing something so, after much counselling, the mother promised to bring him to KH and the remaining four children would be looked after by the eldest daughter. No food could be found in their home and so we gave money for transport to hospital, immediate food and also for a goat which would motivate them so much, something it has taken me time to realise.
Amongo, a six year old, had been admitted to the Nutrition Unit when she went to the hospital having fractured her right hip last August. She was still using one crutch having not returned for follow-up. She was fine and so I encouraged her to walk to the vehicle while holding my hand but I needed to carry her over the hot sand. We found a doll made from a sock by Lynne, some stickers and a colouring book which diverted her attention from her hip. It would take time for her to gain confidence but I told the mother she would be using that crutch into old age if she did not try.
Ochoma and Olupot were doing well and we had one boy left to see, a 15 year old who was not at home. I welcomed the rest sitting under a huge mango tree with a pleasant breeze cooling me a little. Someone had been to look for him and, as he was the last on our day’s list, there was no urgency for us to proceed. However, the time came when we gave up and so, driving along a track, who should we see in the distance but Ekirat. He had been herding the cows for his father having previously been to school for the day. A slight boy, smallish for his age and HIV +. The father must have struggled so much to educate this boy as far as Senior 3 but he had finally reached the limit of his ability to pay and he was behind in payments. This prolonged dry season has caused a lot of hardship which has side effects on every aspect of the lives of these people. The boy was an appealing child, yes, still a child compared to other 15 year olds. On talking to the father, not a young man himself and obviously hard-working and caring, it became apparent that it wouldn’t take a fortune to enable this boy to attend school each day knowing the debt had been paid and surely we could manage the next term’s fees as well. The arrival of the rains should alleviate the situation for the following term so it is important to decide how far to go with the support. I would like to return in October to see how things are going and if more assistance was required as this boy has a hard life ahead of him anyway and why not help him in what may be his short life.
Life is hard for so many and here I am complaining about the dust but, oh dear, my eyes were sore and painful and streaming with tears. A shower didn’t help and I soon fell asleep hoping that tomorrow would prove to be easier.