End of Our Journey

As we come to the last day of our experience, we wanted to reflect on a few unique characteristics about Uganda:

Things you may find on the back of a boda-boda:

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  1. Family of 5
  2. Family of 3 plus 2 goats
  3. A peacock of jerrycans – a jerrycan is a 20 L container that people carry water in
  4. 2 ladies riding side saddle in skirts holding babies
  5. Men in business suits
  6. A flat screen TV
  7. A satellite dish
  8. A rolled up tin roof
  9. A man in a full leg cast leaving the hospital with his crutches

In addition, we have had many adventures that were not always “mom approved:”

  1. Climbed on windows 4-5 feet off the ground to paint the occupational therapy classroom
  2. Went to the rhino sanctuary and got a tad too close for their comfort
  3. White water rafted on the Nile River. Class 5 rapids. May or may not have had a few questionable falls out of the boat.

Throughout all of our time, there are many things we will be missing about Uganda:

  1. Fresh fruit – aka the best pineapple you have had in your life. (And a shout out for the mango and papaya for Adrienne)
  2. Children screaming “Mzungu!!!” as we traveled through the villages (Mzungu means white/educated/European/wealthy)
  3. Large, open air markets
  4. Having a Nile Special beer on the Nile River
  5. Dancing with all of the kids at Nkokonjeru and fist bumping Solomon (the kid we were able to raise enough money to send to school)
  6. Chapati….so good
  7. Fresh chicken and eggs, and the delicious sauce to top it off
  8. The lush green landscape and rolling hills
  9. The wildlife – the “coo-coo for coco puffs” bird, the safari animals, and the beautiful butterflies
  10. Hodge-podge family dinners and intense card games
  11. All of the welcoming locals

Although we will miss all of these things, we are definitely looking forward to coming back to the states to see our friends and family and share all of our stories with you. Thank you so much for following our journey!!

Providence Home

Hi Everyone! Alex and Alyssa here. We just got back from a rewarding week at Providence Home, an orphanage for kids with and without disabilities. You can check out their Facebook here.

To give you an idea, Providence Home has two dormitories for boys and girls respectively, a dormitory for older adults with disabilities, a convent for the four sisters who run the home, a retirement home for nuns, a bakery, a 60 acre farm, two classrooms, a craft and leather workshop, a garden, a physical therapy room, and an occupational therapy room. We were very surprised with all that was going on at Providence Home, it’s quite the operation there. However, the nuns do an amazing job keeping everything running smoothly. We were very comfortable, well fed, and welcomed the entire time we were there.

Our week was split up into a couple of different projects. Our first big project was painting the occupational therapy classroom. Over three afternoons, we were able to get the OT classroom completely painted. It looks amazing, complete with some animals, kids, and a tree drawn by our resident artist (Alyssa). Although the process was a little messy, we got all of the kids to put their hand prints on the wall to complete the project!  We were really happy with how everything turned out.

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On Tuesday and Wednesday, we did some evaluations and treated some of the retired sisters who reside at the home. We were able to provide some home treatment plans to keep them moving, singing, dancing, and leading their usual lives. A few of them had some major spunk to them, especially the 102 year old nun who loved taking care of a stray kitten who roamed the grounds.

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Jessica and Alyssa working with one of the nuns.

Every Friday, Ronald the OT runs a Cerebral Palsy (CP) clinic for families to bring in their children from the community for evaluation and treatment. We were able to help him out and see over 20 patients on the day which broke up to about 4-5 patients for each pair of students.

(Along with one wandering cow, who was promptly discharged by Tyler)

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While the projects and treatment sessions were really beneficial and educational, the highlight of the trip was just being with the kids and being apart of their family for the week. The sisters have created an incredible community where everyone supports one another and where everyone is loved. They were always watching out for one other, whether it was helping each other get around or just playing and laughing with one other. It’s really hard to put into words how large of an impact this experience had on us. For example, yesterday one of the kids was pushing another kid in a wheelchair at full sprinting speed home from school. Another example, when all the kids were doing their laundry (which they do by themselves every week); two best friends, Barbara and Jeraldene, were doing laundry together. Since Jeraldene was lying half in the bucket of rinse water, Barbara helped her ring out the clothes and hang them up to dry.11406939_10153067884429125_6116630989934966080_n

Being around this community was truly a blessing. They are all so positive and loving, especially to us strangers who they just met on Monday and made us feel at home right away. We will really miss being greeted by their smiles and hugs and fist bumps every day. They shared so much joy with us. There are no words to describe this experience properly. Hopefully some of the pictures below can show you a little more.

For those who helped support us in our fundraising, we decided to put our money toward a special cause. One of the newer boys, Solomon, could not afford to go to school, which is roughly 70 dollars a trimester. With the money we raised, we were able to send him to school for a total of 4 years! This is especially great news for his best friend, Musisi, who will now be able to go to school with him. Thank you to everyone who supported us, we truly appreciate your contributions.

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Solomon is front and center, Musisi is the boy on the bottom left.

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The group with Sister Angeline, the head sister at the home.

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We finished the week with a dance party with all the kids! If there’s one thing these kids know how to do well, it’s dance.

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One of the girls, Bridget, putting her handprint on the wall

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Playing games the first day with all the kids and Sister Regina

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Godfrey participating in the relay race.

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Tyler playing jump rope with a few of the kids.

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The kids sang and danced for us during our welcoming ceremony.

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Alex retrieving the dynamic duo (Solomon and Musisi) in the rain to get their hand prints on the tree in the OT classroom.

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Ronald (aka the resident OT aka Superman)

The weekend

We took a short break for the weekend. We took a trip to go see the Nile and some wildlife in Uganda’s largest national park.   

        

Learning experiences at Mulago Hospital 

Oliyotya! (This means “how are you” in Luganda)

Nicole and Rachel up for the blog post this time:

What exciting and long days at Mulago Hospital! In the mornings on Tuesday and Wednesday we have continued to have Lugandan lessons from our wonderful teacher Susan. I don’t think any of us will be fluent anytime soon, but a couple of us have gotten quite good and are using the useful phrases while working with some of patients. After language lessons we have been dividing up into groups of 3 or 4 to visit and treat some patients in different wards. We have been treating everything from spinal cord injuries and laminecotomeis in the Spinal Ward to open and closed fractures in the Orthopedic Ward. Another day was visiting the Neuro Ward with patients with strokes and ICU with a patient with Guillian-Barre. In the afternoons we have been helping out with their Back School. In the back school, we have been helping out one-on- one with people who have more acute pain. Throughout the week we have been experiencing a very busy hospital undergoing renovation. 

On Thursday morning we started our two day in-service to all the physios in the department on spinal mobilizations. So far we have received very good feedback and the physios are eager to learn and asking a lot of great questions. Tomorrow we will be review cervical mobs and learning thoracic and lumbar. 

Also, we are gearing up for the Safari!!! We will be leaving tomorrow after a short morning a the hospital. Can’t wait to wave to the rhinos and all of the animals near and on the Nile River!! 

The first 3 days:

5/25/15

Hey everyone, Adrienne here. Sorry we haven’t been able to post much. Our internet hasn’t been working. We are all doing well after 31 hours of travel, 2 days of touring around Kampala and our first day at Mulago hospital. The city is much more hilly than I expected and very lush with vegetation, palm trees and flowering plants. The guest house on campus in which we are staying has an incredible yard and lovely garden, not to mention a great space for throwing a Frisbee J Surprisingly there haven’t been that many bugs. It is a bit humid and the temperature can get hotter in the afternoon with the sun out, but the evenings and mornings have been nice and cool.

On our first day in the city, we toured around in a van with 2 students from Makarere University as our guides. We then visited the historic Old Kampala National Mosque that stands on top of a hill in the city. We were able to get an incredible 360 degree view of the city. Mom, you would have loved the vista J We then had a buffet of authentic Ugandan food for lunch and went shopping at a market.

For our second day, Sunday, we accompanied one of our hosts to her church in a suburb of Kampala. Then we went out to lunch with a group of 2nd-year medical students from UW-Madison who are participating in their own global health learning experience. We will be seeing these students again when we go on a safari this weekend. The restaurant was very nice and served a variety of foods from many cultures. It was great to eat delicious food and chat with the medical students who had already spent a week studying and spending time at Mulago hospital. They were leaving for 2 different villages to continue their global health experience.

Sunday evening we attended a N’dere dance performance. SO incredible. There are many tribes and cultures in Uganda and this dance group shows some of these different cultures through unique musical instruments, dance styles, clothing and singing. The areas represented last night were West Nile, Northeast, Northcentral, Northwest, West, and central Uganda, as well as Burundi. There were people from all over the world in the audience as this is a big attraction – China, England, Norway, Canada, Stockholm, Zimbabwe, Texas, Ohio, New York among others. A highlight of the night was getting to go onstage and dance with the dancers. It was so fun and surreal to be learning African dance from incredible African dancers with my awesome classmates and PT leaders and others from all over the world!

Today started our week of morning Lugandan language lessons followed by working with Ugandan Physiotherapists at Mulago hospital for the rest of the day. There are many languages spoken throughout Uganda as there are many tribes; however, Lugandan is one of the most widely spoken languages in Uganda as it is the official language of the Bugunda Kingdom, the largest Kingdom in Uganda. In Uganda, kings play more of a ceremonial role as there is an elected President and other government officials who make the political decisions. We learned more Ugandan history as well as some proper Lugandan greetings and responses. I forgot how hard it is to learn a new language! –Katrina, I commend you even more for becoming fluent in Chinese these past few years! –After language lessons, we were warmly welcomed by the PT department managers and split into 2 groups. Alex, Jess, Nicole and Alyssa along with our PT leader, Sara, went on a tour of the hospital and then worked with Ugandan PTs to perform evaluations on 1 to 3 year olds with cerebral palsy. Tyler, Rachel and myself along with our other PT leader, Jen, spent the time in the outpatient orthopedic clinic of Mulago hospital. We saw a variety of cases from neck pain to post-stroke to knee flexion contractures to shoulder injuries. It was also neat to meet and interact with a couple 2nd year PT students from Makerere University as they worked with patients.

After our lunch break, we all attended back classes which are exercise classes led by a PT for people with different back pain issues. For the last class of the day, the PT wanted us to practice teaching some exercises. It was a great experience teaching the participants about diaphragmatic breathing, the role of the transverse abdominus, different plank exercises and bridging. We ended the day with a nice homemade family dinner at our guest house compliments to Tyler, shared our experiences from our first day at the hospital and discussed plans for the rest of the week.