Disclaimer: The views expressed on this website are entirely my own and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.
So, I have been in Uganda for three months now. It seems like a lot longer. I love the way Ugandans start school, celebrations, meetings, gatherings, etc. with songs and prayer. It is such a great way to acknowledge God’s presence in everything they do.
The students have had exams all week this last week. Monday and Tuesday the 47 students who will be graduating in November took their written exams. These were essays such as “describe the duties of the advanced nurse”, “discuss Malaria”, or “describe the pelvis anatomy”. They were 4-5 hours long each day. Then Tuesday they set up for skills testing in a classroom with all their equipment on 4 tables down the middle of the room. There were 10 stations, 4 with beds. They had 5 minutes for each station. Even though they did it with 2 students, 5 minutes is barely enough time to complete the task. They brought in 7 pregnant mothers from the hospital who were there for check-ups to let the students do their OB exams. By helping, they got their check-up and a free meal. Here they use the old fetal scopes which consist of a bell style wood piece with a hole in the middle. They could find the baby’s heartbeat easily, but I couldn’t hear a thing! Ugandans have excellent hearing. They speak softly and can hear easily from long distances. I guess it proves that mine is definitely on the downswing! The examiners are instructors that come from nursing schools all over Uganda.
On Friday we celebrated the end of the exam week. The students put on a fantastic night of dancing and entertainment for the examiners, school staff, and guests. We had representatives from the Ministry of Health (governing board for nurses), the governing board of the school, the hospital, and many Ugandan nursing schools. I have attached some pictures. Note the bell-type wraps on the legs of some of the dancers. They are made with seeds inside and sound kind of like a canasta.
I have learned a little more about the hospital situation here. The Government provides the money for the hospital and it is allocated to specific areas such as medications, paper supplies, cleaning supplies. Under each area they can be specific to what type of medication, how much paper supplies, etc. Many times they do not have the supplies or medications to treat a specific disease. The patients need to bring their own bedding, towels, etc. when they come and if they are not able to supply them, then they often sleep right on the mattress – maybe they have a blanket or sheet over them, maybe not. It is the family member’s responsibility to bring in food for the patient. The hospital provides food only to those who are very sick, have no money, and have no one to help care for them – and then usually only once a day. Today, I went with her to the hospital on an errand and while we were in one of the wards I asked her where they washed their hands. She took me to a side room with a sink but there was no water available Many times they bring in water if needed but their jugs were empty. It is very sorry conditions. Think how many times you use water in one day…. The city pumps are having a problem so parts of the city have been without running water for 3 weeks now (including me)! In this case, or if you don’t have running water, it is collected from wells in “jerry cans”. You learn very creative ways of conserving water.
When I got home today there were a couple of students preparing chia outside. This is a small seed which has great antioxidant, omega 3 fatty acids, and mineral benefits. I tried some and I don’t think it has a lot of flavor, but the advantages are great. Here are a couple of online references you can check out if you want: http://www.thechiaco.com.au/content/what-chia and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17476690 So, it starts as a wheat looking plant which they harvest and dry. Then when it is dry they roll it and crush it in their hands. Next they shake the chia out of bowls and the seeds fall to the ground and the lighter stems blow away. Obviously this does not work well if there is no breeze. They do this maybe two or three times. Lastly they put the chia in a bowl and shake gently. The rest of the stems will rise to the top so they can be removed from the bowl. At the bottom you have the seeds which can be made into a drink, put on salads or cereals, or mixed into a variety of foods. They accomplished the amount of seed that is in the blue basin in about 2.5 hours. Well done girls!
Interesting Ugandan speech:
Their speech is often abrupt: “you go” or “you bring” but this is not considered rude.
Please is kind of insinuated in any requests and if you are speaking Runyoro the last letter can be changed to make it a polite request.
It is very common to hear “umm” when you ask a question and it may be accompanied by raised eyebrows. At first I wondered if they understood my question, but soon I discovered that it means yes. It is very easy to pick up, so by the time I get home I am sure this will be part of my vocabulary as I find myself saying umm sometimes now.
A few days ago a staff member came into the lab, greeted me, and asked “are you lost?” I kind of looked dumbfounded and said “ummm, no, I am right here!” Well, they got a kick out of that since “are you lost?” is a slang type way of saying “I haven’t seen you for awhile”.
Ugandlish is an English version that we are taught in PC training. There are more, but these are the ones I hear the most:
“I am reaching” – I am almost there
“short call” – pee
“long call” – you can figure that one out J
“You are smart” – well dressed, look good
“Extend” – move over/down
“Are you sure?” – are you serious?
“now” – in progress, could be anytime
“now, now” – immediately, right now
“Stubborn” is kind of an attitude which may be cocky, lazy, obnoxious, incorrigible, etc.