I think most of the team would agree that the past week has been the craziest week we’ve had yet here in Uganda. We managed to do 4 outreaches in one week. So I feel quite heavily the weight of recounting how the past week unfolded, but I will do my best.
I would say that this week could be summarized by saying that we all did things that we never thought we’d get to, or have to, do. So here goes:
Observe surgery from the Operating Room: On Tuesday and Wednesday, the team headed to two different clinics to hold eye screenings and surgeries for nearby communities. We facilitated the event while local eye doctors and nurses screened 119 men, women, and children and performed 12 surgeries. In addition to our more simple tasks of recording patients’ information, pointing to letters on the eye chart, and leading patients to various rooms, we had the opportunity to actually look in on the cataract surgeries. On Wednesday, we were able to screen 209 and operate on 6 patients. The patients received new pairs of glasses, prescriptions, and their surgeries free of charge! They were so grateful, and we were grateful to be participating. Though lunch was no where to be found, the team rocked it with patience.
Sing the National Anthem at a Sporting Event: On Thursday, we had an HIV/AIDS outreach in a community called Kiyindi. We ran an all-day football tournament for 6 primary and 2 secondary schools and invited teachers, parents, and local leaders to attend as well as the schools. It was so much fun—we had over 1500 people play in football gaes with trainings on business and financial planning in between. We also had an HIV/AIDS screening station set up and were able to screen close to 100 adults. Additionally, some of the school choirs performed about the horrors that result from AIDS. At the request of CCCWA, our partner, the HELP girl volunteers performed a “American dance number” to Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” (I don’t think the adults knew what to think about that because they just gave us blank stares as we danced.) At the end of the tournament, we had a final football game between the HELP International team members and the CCWA team. The kids (and adults) thought it was hilarious and we got them all to cheer for the muzungus. In the end, we tied 1-1. Congrats to Nicole and Rob and all those who worked so hard on this event!
Hold (Down) Screaming Children While They Receive Anesthesia: On Friday, we partnered with another NGO to hold dental screenings at Nagalama Primary School. First, the dentists screened them for decaying teeth that needed extraction. They then sent them into be numbed, and lastly, to have their teeth extracted. The day started out quite joyfully with an assembly where the children welcomed us with songs and dances. Eventually though, the children started to realize that the arrival of Muzungus did not mean all fun and games. The students were screened in order of grade so we started with the Baby Class, which is like 3 to 5 year olds. They were so happy to open up their mouths to let the dentists examine and receive the white extraction slips that sent them to receive anesthesia. Then the screams started. As the children heard their peers crying out, they became more and more distraught at receiving the white slips of paper. The volunteers were spread out—some were writing those slips of death, others were holding down children to keep them from slapping away the syringes of Lidokaine, others were sanitizing the needles, and others were holding down those in the extraction room. I got to experience the anesthesia room for the afternoon portion, and it was heartbreaking to feel the small bodies tense up, shout out in pain, and strain to escape the long needle being pushed into their gums. But we knew we were doing good, and we were able to have about 200 tooth extractions out of the 900 screened. It was quite an emotionally exhausting day. Congrats to Megan on both the dental and eye outreaches! That was quite a task!
This week, we sadly lose two valued members of our team. Jessica and Nicole are heading back to our homeland, and, oh, how we will miss them!
Lastly, we have now upped the number of people crammed into our taxi up to 21. (Legally, they are allowed to carry 14.)