Monday, March 30, 2015

Day 9 - Parents Day / Kyangwali Camp

Well, the pepto tablets didn't do the trick last night. Definitely spent some quality time on the toilet during the night. Bleh. I have no idea what it was from. Honestly I think it's either that stupid bug (my stomach has felt a little queasy since then) or more likely just pure dehydration. I haven't been drinking enough water and this sun...its relentless. You can't escape it and you rarely stop sweating. I mean how do you stay hydrated when you are sweating buckets?! I think my body is just pissed at me. Oh, and of course I got smoked in the sun yesterday. Was outside for less than two hours (in a tank top, of course) in the morning before I put sunblock on. Sometimes I make really poor decisions. ;)

I was up and in the bathroom before my alarm went off at 7:15. Took my sweet time getting ready and packed up. I miraculously managed to fit everything I've purchased in all the countries in my giant suitcase. I can't hardly lift it, but I got everything in!  I guess that art supplies took up almost half the bag. Oh also managed to fit my smelly boot (in a plastic bag) inside my backpack! One less thing to carry...

Had to take a couple breaks to lay back down (felt light headed) but eventually met Sean for breakfast at 7:45. Was feeling pretty sick by then and didn't want to eat, but choked down some Weetabix and toast. And chugged two bottles of water. When that didn't help I took some oral rehydration powder that cured me when I was sick (from dehydration again) in Spain last year. 

Surprisingly, Emma showed up right at 8am! Couldn't believe it! We weren't quite done eating, so quickly finished up and grabbed our bags from the rooms. Joshua showed up too and had our official letters from the Ugandan government - office of prime minister I think - allowing us access to the refugee camp. 

We were supposed to deliver it to the refugee office in Hoima and meet the regional refugee director at 8:30. We showed up at 8:34 and it wasn't open yet. Nothing is open in Uganda this early! I could have told them that. ;) So we left. Will try again before we leave town. 

Drove to the hostel to drop something off and then Emma said we would drive straight to the camp. Now. Because it was "better to travel early."

Wait, what?? No way. I am staying for this parents day thing! I'm taking pictures of the girls with my Polaroid! I let it go for a few minutes (while I pouted) but I was so mad about it that I decided to say something. I told Emma I wanted to stay. He said we couldn't because we needed to get to the camp to deliver letters and make our presence to the camp director. And I got that. But the camp director will be there later! I told him it was really important for me to stay here and see the girls presentation and performances for their parents ... and to take pictures. He didn't get the Polaroid camera thing or what I was talking about, so I pulled it out and took a picture of him. And he was in awe. He literally thought it was magic. So he said we could stay. :)

(And I also bribed him with my new hat from South Africa.  I'm never going to wear that thing again anyways, and he loved it!)

The girls had the hostel all decorated with flowers (or colorful weeds) tied to string and had written stuff in the dirt with crushed rocks. Inventive little things, these girls. The place was buzzing with excitement. Everyone rushing around cleaning everything and getting ready. 

Of course as soon as Immaculate saw me I had a permanent figure attached to my side. Which was fine by me. I took a Polaroid of us and when I told her it would print off you should have seen her face. She shot a look at me like I was crazy. And when I told her to shake it to develop it and get the image to show up, she REALLY thought I was crazy. But when our faces showed up on that picture, she almost had tears in her eyes. She kept staring at it and then up at me. "Oh I love it so very much." And then went off to show everyone. I told her to keep it so she wouldn't forget me, jokingly, and she said, "Oh I could never!!" Haha. She thinks I'm alright. And I think she's pretty awesome. :) Isn't she beautiful?! 

I asked her if her mother was coming from the camp today and she said no, she was too sick to travel. Not exactly sure what that means or what she is sick with. And her father is gone. So I told her I would be her mother today. :)

Sean and I were out of water, and I HAVE to make myself drink a ton today. I was already feeling better - from three bottles of water. I'm sure it's dehydration now because i don't have stomach cramps or anything like what I would have if I ate or drank something bad. Thank goodness. Diarrhea at this place (the girls hostel) would have been terrible. The hole in the ground smells so bad I can't even shut the door. Squatting over that thing is just no fun. 

So anyways, we set off down the hill and then up the road to a little shop to get some water. 

The first shop we stopped at - and by "shop" I mean a small wooden shack on the side of the road that you walk up to, not actually go in - didn't have anyone in it. So I peeked around the corner and a woman saw me and squealed and put her hands up over her mouth. Not every day a muzungu walks up here I guess. I asked her for water but she didn't understand me (that accent) so I showed her my empty bottle and said "WA-TER" really slow and pointed to the cooler. She opened it and said, "Oh, the water it is not here." Ummmm okay? We will walk to another one. She definitely screamed and laughed again as we walked off. So funny...

There was another shop just a little further up the road and on the other side. And they bad water. The lady working said something and up popped a little head from behind the counter with wide eyes as he looked at us. :) Such an adventure, just for water. 

We walked back up to the hostel and just sat around and waited. The girls thing was supposed to start at 9. At 10:30, one parent had showed up. By 11:45, there were about six parents there.  And no one was the least bit bothered by it. #AfricaTime 

The girls were dancing and singing and enjoying themselves. Emma and Joshua went in to town to eat, and Sean and I sat around and waited. As the few parents trickled in, I took their pictures. They didn't have any pictures of themselves and had never seen this Polaroid thing. The reactions were priceless every time the image started to show up. They called it Muzungu Magic!! 

Emma eventually said we couldn't wait any longer so I just took pictures of the girls individually to either keep for themselves or to give to their parents. And then they started the presentation/program. 

At noon, on the dot, it started pouring. Emma. Was. Pissed. This was exactly why he wanted to go early. Once it rains, the road to the camp is impassable. Oops. :/

We didn't stay too long. The girls sang and did a little skit, I got up and talked a little on Beth's behalf (she is still fighting flight delays to get here!), and then we left. Thankfully it has stopped raining by that point of I would have had to hear about it forever. ;)

We stopped in town at a gas station and Sean and I ran next door to a little market to get water and snacks. I found some cookies and some biscuits. It's about as good as it got there. On top of dehydration my body is probably pissed that I've hardly had any fruits or veggies - just starches and a little meat. I can't wait to detox when I get home. Might do a juice cleanse or something... 

From there we set off for Kyangwali. It was about a two hour drive. Started out nice on a paved road. Then it started raining. Just a quick rain again though! Emma said if we ran in to rain "in the jungle" we would be pushing the car. And when we pulled off to the dirt road and then in to the jungle (like a real one!) I saw why. Low uneven road, Pot holes galore. Didn't look fun. But I lucked out. No pushing. It didn't rain again. 

We saw tons of baboons in the jungle. Emma said "we fear these ones" - but he was the one hand feeding the ones near lake Albert two days ago! I guess these ones are more wild and aggressive towards humans. I kept the windows up and doors shut. :)

Just outside the camp, we stopped at the ThinkHumanity Health Clinic. Last time I was here in Uganda, the health clinic was in Hoima, but they decided to move it closer to the majority of the people they serve...which is here near the camp. 

I'm sure it's on the nicer side for out here, but man, it was shocking to me. One little pharmacy, a "laboratory" which consisted of a telescope, an exam room that had a scanning machine and a "birthing table," one male ward, one female ward, and one maternity ward. Each ward had two or three beds in it. Nothing was clean. I mean I know they're doing the best they can with the resources available, but wow. I am praying I don't get any more sick than I already am. Not interested in going there to get an iv drip!

The laboratory ^^

Scanning machine ^^

They paraded me through the whole clinic - even when the wards had patients in them! There was a poor baby that honestly made me physically sick. There is a good chance he isn't going to make it. And everyone was just kind of sitting around looking at him. He had malaria, which the doctor said 8 out of 10 people have that come in, but that had turned in to what they thought was measles, pneumonia, and an eye infection. He was just laying there too weak to even open his eyes or properly cry (just moaning) and laying in his own puddle of blood/urine. He was peeing blood. Maybe 9 months old. Ugh. It killed me. And they don't have the resources to help him! 

I have always said I would love to be a nurse over here. The medical field has always interested me (turned down nursing school a few years ago) and I have this pull to Africa and helping these people. But there is absolutely zero chance I could see that day in and day out. Just watching babies die because they can't take them anywhere?  Because there is no help. No options. ?? No way. I couldn't do it. :( 

We kept driving down the road and came to the entrance of the camp. There were guards and a big gate. It would have been more intimidating but Emma was driving and he knew the guy working. He knows everyone here! He came to the camp when he was 9 from DRC (Congo) and grew up there. So did Joshua and Zeiko! So I was in good company. This was their home. 

The camp was much larger and more spread out than I expected. My knowledge of refugee camps is what I've seen on tv. UNICEF tarps strung together - one on top of the next. But the camp here is much more open. It's huge and over 20,000 people live here. Some families have been here for over 20 years! Mostly Congolese but there are some Sudanese and Rwandans too. No one is allowed to build anything "permanent" because it isn't meant to be a permanent living space. All the homes are sticks and mud and thatched roofs. ThinkHumanity was dug 6 wells in the camp but access to clean water is definitely still an issue. Anyways, I could go on and on with facts about the camp. The guys were full of them and it was all really interesting. 

We drove down the main road for 10 minutes or so and then came up to St Patrick's where we would be staying.  A church, a building that was the kitchen, a building that had a dining room and a few rooms to stay in, and then 4 African Huts outside. Beth had booked those for us. 

I guess I don't know what I was expecting in a refugee camp, but I thought it would be a bit nicer than this. The size is fine but it's quite dirty, no electricity, the bathroom is pretty gross. Probably would have been fine if I was feeling 100% too. I'm just a little more high maintenance when I'm sick. ;)

I had to have Sean come help me with the mosquito net in my room, and wasn't pleased when a lizard ran across my wall. He better not manage to get in bed with me tonight. :/ (Speaking of Sean, I remember thinking when Beth emailed me saying  a guy was coming, oh great I have to keep track of a British kid. But man I'm  so glad he's been around. He's really fun and these couple of days would have been much less exciting without him!) 

Bats and geese and chickens and dogs and lizards and insects -- all things I ran in to at st Patrick's in the first 30 minutes.  I'm all up for a little adventure, but not so much when I'm sick. I just want a decent bed and ac and a clean toilet. :( Oh and electricity would be nice too! That's all. ;)

It was afternoon - around 3 - when Emma dropped us off. He had friends he wanted to go visit and said he would be back in an hour or hour and a half. Sean and I just kind of looked at each other like well now what? We just got dropped off in the middle of a refugee camp. No power. Nothing to do. So we decided to set off on foot and just walk a ways down the road to check it out. The guys said we were safe here! 

Every house we passed had kids sitting around. And every one of those kids started following us. The braver ones getting closer and closer yelling Muzungu!! I felt like the pied piper. More and more kids just trailing along the dirt road. And hey followed us all the way back to the parking lot at the compound where we were staying! 

With no toys and no way of entertaining them, I had Sean run back to my room to get my Polaroid. I told them I had a magic trick for them. Another win for the Polaroid. They loved it!!

When we got back and the kids tired of is, I sat out on the patio of the main buildings and turned music on my iPad and typed this for awhile.  It was cooling off as the clouds moved in. Better than the stifling heat earlier! Not much to do. We couldn't really walk anywhere since the sun was starting to go down. No electricity (or Internet) so we couldn't play on our phones. I didn't want to read. Just sat there. Waiting. For several hours. (No joke.)

We went to dinner around 7:30 in the dining room. More of the same. Except they had grilled fish. Like, the whole fish. Eyeballs included. No thank you. 

Oh and the guy that owns the place said they have a solar powered generator that they run for two hours every night for charging during dinner time! Sweeeet. I really needed to charge my phone so I could take pics the next day - and my iPad so I could have my white noise app tonight and listen to some music out here. :)

I finally called Emma - who was supposed to be back a couple of hours ago - and asked him to bring me water. I ran our hours ago. He didn't mention why he was so late, but he showed up 2 minutes later with two bottles of water. Finally! 

And then Jim and Beth finally showed up a little after 8. I couldn't believe they actually came that late. And in the rain! They had Zaiko with them and Moses (my driver from...whatever day I got here) drove them. He is from Kampala and it was his first time in Kyangwali. They had some trouble with the police getting in after dark, but they knew the guys I guess so they let them pass. 

They were a little out of it after traveling for almost three days to get here, but it was great to finally meet them and have them here with us. (I've "known" Beth for years but this was the first time we actually met face to face! She and Jim are just great. Really awesome couple and so fun to be around! Sean and I chatted with them while they ate and heard some fun stories from all their trips here to the camp. 

I was just wiped by that point, and they were too. So we all lit our headlamps and headed to our African huts for the night. I've chugged a ton of water today but still not feeling 100%. :(

When I got in my room, there absolutely was something flying around somewhere in the thatched roof. I decided I just wanted it out - and needed to know what it was, so I stood there shooting my headband up at the spots I could here it flying to get it out. It was the only thing I could think to do, but it never came out. I probably would have screamed if it did, haha. And then what? When I had a flying animal coming at me? I don't think things through all the time. ;) I'm guessing it was a bat since I saw one earlier. And it shouldn't be able to get me once I'm under the mosquito net, which is where I am now. And I checked twice all the way around to make sure I'm sealed in. AND I'm in my sleep sack, which is hot and uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as bed bugs would be. The sheets aren't the cleanest to say the least. There was definitely rat poop on them. So yeah I'll deal with sweating in a sticky sleepsack. :) 

Anyways, my visitor in the roof.  still a little creepy and really annoying to hear that thing up there. It won't stop! At least there is a nice rain and tons of frogs and crickets and other random sounds to kind of drown it out... 

Okay off to sleep. Hopefully.

Tomorrow is the big day! Breakfast is at 8am. Handing out nets starting at 10am. 5,000 is going to take awhile! 

1 comment:

  1. Will be in Kyangwali soon. Thank you for the informative article.