Thursday, January 26, 2012

Safari / End of the week.

I apologize for the delay of this post, we haven't had the best internet connection and I am at a loss for words over this experience to be honest.

Over the weekend, we went on a little road trip to Murchison Falls National Park for a safari at Paraa! It was the time of my life. On the road trip we stopped in Misindi for lunch and at a rhino sanctuary and got to see some White Rhinos, wich are currently on the endangered list because of poaching.  We had AMAZING food, air conditioned rooms (OMG), and a beautiful view of the River Nile. Sunday morning we started with an early morning game drive.  We got up close with Giraffes, LIONS!, and many other deer-like animals.  At the end of the drive we got our first glimpse of the Elephants- they are truly majestic creatures along with the giraffes and lions.  Later that afternoon we rode a boat down the Nile to the Murchison water fall, which is truly an amazing thing to see.  So much water blasting through a tiny space into the water fall.  On the boat ride we saw a lot of hippos, and quite a few elephants up close!! A group of elephants rushed to the edge of the water at us and starting making mad elephant noises (is it snorting/honking? oh well) because they had a baby behind the trees and were being very protective.  It was scary but i felt safe on the boat.  The next morning we got up early again for a game drive, and then left the park for home right after that.  The weekend flew by.

The 2 dentists that did not go on the safari saw a small group of patients on Monday, and then it was back to normal on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Today is nearing the end of Thursday, and it is a national holiday here in Uganda so we had the day off.  It was so nice to get some last-minute shopping done and relax.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about what it is going to be like adjusting to life back at home after living here in Uganda for two weeks.  Pretty much the only word that comes to mind is Bitter.  I am bitter that life is so much more difficult for children here than it is for children back at home.  I am bitter that young girls are raped, and young boys are forced to join boy armys.  I am bitter that most of the children we see do not have both of their parents from a very young age.  I am bitter that people my age back at home can joke about these things and not have compassion for the real-life suffering.  I know i will be bitter the second my feet leave Ugandan soil and only God knows why.  I am bitter that some of these young children have known so much pain in their life that they don't even shed a tear during an extensive/painful procedure.  But I know God has a plan for all of them.  I have the support and patience of my family and good friends and I am extremely grateful for that.  I want all others to know of this because I know so many people are asking me to share all about it when I get home, but I will share when I am ready.

Tomorrow we have a half day, then packing the clinic away, and heading home.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Bakuyitaani (What are you called/what is your name)

Today (Friday) we saw 89 patients! Which brings the total for the end of this week to 347 children, simply amazing.  We would have had 90 patients, but the very last one made some friends with the first village that left in the afternoon, and ended up getting on the bus with them!  By God's grace may he make it back to his home.  That is the second boy this week to do that :)  Little wanderers.  The mechanics have gone to work designing repairs for the little trikes that the children go crazy for!! They have successfully repaired a wheel and a seat!! Probably other trike repairs as well that I have not heard about yet- you all would not believe how much the children enjoy these bikes.

Today was a fast paced day, but ended surprisingly way earlier than we thought it would!  I am happy I got to talk to my mom today :)  Leaving for the safari early in the morning!! I have been looking forward to this for quite some time :)  Talk to you all soon if we have internet there, if not we will be getting back late monday night, which is monday morning/afternoon back in the states.  Say a prayer today! Goodnight. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shika / Amazzi

Shika (pronounced sika with silent H, means Smile)

Amazzi (water)

Sorry for the delay... I have been having internet problems on my computer.

Wednesday we had around 65 patients give or take a few.  The children came from the countryside in the town about 2 or 3 hours away called Mityana.  Almost none of them could understand English, in contrast with the city kids we have been seeing.  I spent most of the day holding children while they were being worked on.  I enjoy doing this because I am helping, of course, but also because I am able to view the procedure and learn.  I learned Shika today, and it came in very handy when taking pictures of the children.  It is never hard to receive a smile after you show the children the picture of themselves, though.  It is so funny, how they love to have their picture taken.  I go to take a picture of one child, and they all swarm over and stand in line for their own picture.  The simplest things make their day…

Because of the heat, we had to make sure the children were getting plenty of water.  This resulted in more bodily fluid accidents, to say the least.  My day ended short when the young 3 year old girl I was holding urinated on my leg :P  At least I got to directly go take a shower, and by that point all patients had been seen by the Dentists.  The image that stuck out to me yesterday was one of the first patients of the day came in to the clinic wearing a Halloween witch costume, as her dress.  It was probably her nicest piece of clothing.  And the purse she brought in with her belongings was an old rice bag.

Thursday we saw more Mildmay patients, and about five or six patients from Kids of Africa.  We only saw about 45 patients today, so we worked right through lunch and were done around 2 pm.  Some of the younger children would walk up to you and say “madam”, and get on their knees in front of you as a sign of respect.  It was a very humbling experience, but for their culture it is just tradition.

The patient that stuck out the most for me today was an 8-year-old girl from the Kids of Africa group.  The children in that group are either orphaned or abandoned.  She was abandoned when she was about 3-years-old (a guess from her care-taker, showing that her “age” was also a guess).  She was missing all of the teeth on the left side of her mouth, and had a hole large enough to fit your finger through leading to her sinus cavity.  She could barely open her mouth.  At first the Doctors thought it was a cleft palette, but the caretaker told them that when they received her, her mouth smelled terrible, leading them to think it was an infection of some sort.  We do not know what actually happened, except that she has had surgery to remove her teeth on the left side along with whatever else has left her with the hole in her mouth.  By God’s grace she is still surviving…

Tonight we went into town for some Scottish dancing lessons.  It was nice to have a slower paced day today to recover from all the excitement of the past week.  The bar was nice and outdoors, playing 80’s American music!  It was a nice break.  I didn’t join the dancing lessons, but watching the others at the end was fun enough for me :)  Being here makes me appreciate home so much; peaceful nights, American food, ICE, and so many other things I take for granted.  I am really missing my loved ones tonight.  Because of Internet problems, by the time you get this message it will be Friday for me.  And then Safari Saturday through Monday- that I have been looking forward to for a long time :) Goodnight.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


"Yasama!" (open). 

Today was a shorter day. We saw 85 patients today and around 60 today. But I am very exhausted physically and emotionally.  My arms still feel like jello from having to restrain the last patient of the day who was 8 years old.  It took 7 adults to restrain her!!! 

The day started with breakfast and then heading over to the clinic to check the children in and take their photos.  I am in charge of taking their pictures :) I get them to smile and then show them what they look like. Their smile upon seeing the photo is bigger.  We print the photos and give them to the child after their appointment.  Each child is numbered 1 through whatever the last child in the order they stand in line.  Families wake up extremely early in order to walk all the way to Mildmay and get a good place in line.  We ask them if they are HIV positive, (which they all are), ask them if they are TB positive and if they are Malaria positive. 

The patient that stood out to me today was a little boy that came from hospice.  He was deaf, and in this environment with such low education, he doesn't even know how to communicate.  He would sit alone while the other children play.  I went up to him and tried to get him to play but he was so sick he did not have the drive.  During his procedure, I helped hold his arms and legs.  I just kept rubbing and squeezing his hands.  He would look up at me scared once they began, and i would nod my head "yes", and he calmed down.  Dr. Sally who was working on him explained to me why he did not cry that much or struggle because of how sick he was, he lost his will.  I instantly could not keep my tears back.  Poor boy... Deaf and doesn't know how to communicate and can not understand what is going on.  I helped him put on his new shoes we gave him, and even gave him a little foot massage.  Later that day I went outside to him and tried to play with him again.  He started motioning for me to follow me, and I thought I had finally made a break through!! He finally understood I was his friend.  I followed him down the hill out of site, where he then gave me his backpack, walked to the sewer, crouched and defecated and urinated out in the open.  I was shocked, and instantly turned my back to him to give him some dignity... I have no words for this event, except that it triggered something in me.  The walk back up the hill was hard.

Another boy that came in today from hospice broke my heart.  His father and brother passed away and his mother passed away just last week... He was found alone in his home.  He is watched over in hospice, and today when the nurse went to check on him he was asleep with a burning fever. 

These children are the same as any other child in the world.  It is not their fault...


Monday, January 16, 2012

First days in Uganda

I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE FOR HOW LONG THIS IS…. So much has gone on!!  Thanks for taking the time to read :)

It’s been a couple days since my last update, and it has been a nice break from technology. ;) The only thing I truly miss is being able to talk to my loved ones any time I want… As I am sitting here typing this, I am listening to country music and feeling right at home for the most part! I’ll try to update each day and then post this all at once.

Since the last update there has been a lot going on!  After our brief stop in Amsterdam, we headed off on another 10-hour flight.  For some reason, we flew past Entebbe, Uganda (where the airport is) and made a pit stop in Kigali, Rwanda.  There was not much to see, since it was around 9 pm and pitch black, but I couldn’t help remembering the movie “Hotel Rwanda” and getting the chills of the nation’s history.  Flying over Africa was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced.  For almost the entire flight the sky was cloudless, leaving the scenery below in full view.  I fell asleep for the first five hours of the flight, it had been a really weird day and it felt like it never ended because we flew ahead so many hours.  Once the sun had set it felt like it rose just two hours later!  So some sleep was much needed.  I woke up in time to look out the window just as we were passing over the mouth of the Nile- so amazing.  As the sunset, it was another very beautiful sight.  Watching the sun fall over the desert from 35,000 feet in the air will always stay in my memory. 

Once we finally landed in Entebbe, it was HUMID!!!!! (compared to the MN weather I had just come from).  I quickly peeled off my sweatshirt.  Customs took a long time, especially since we were seated in the second to last row on a flight holding a couple hundred people (a guess?? There were a lot...).  Once we finally got through, got our baggage, and some much needed bottled water (water in Uganda has bacteria in it that our immune systems are not accustomed to), it was so amazing to finally smell the fresh air… And oddly the first memory the scent of the air triggered was my grandparent’s farm in the summer!!  I don’t even know how but I swear it was the same smell (fresh warm air with a breeze…).  It wasn’t soon before we got the scent of burning garbage.  Ugandans burn all of their garbage- let me tell you it smells like crap when this is going on.  Literally ;) We crammed our entire luggage into a tiny bus and a small SUV and then piled on top of each other for about a half hour drive to Kampala and the Mildmay Center.  It was cool driving around Lake Victoria; smelled like the cabin on a summer night.  The Mildmay Center is a facility that provides treatment for children with HIV/AIDS.  A gate and a guard surround it so I feel pretty safe. :) The first night here was pretty scary in all honesty.  It is not like a typical night in America that is for sure…  For starters, it is so DARK!! There are few streetlights and none of the homes were lit.  It looked like a ghost town and every once in a while you would see a person walking out of an ally… Haha so sorry to say I was a little uncomfortable when we first arrived.  Our rooms are really cute, two beds, desk, and we even have our own bathroom in the room!! Not so bad :) After getting all settled in and taking a much-needed (ICE COLD) shower, I started to head off to bed when all the sudden this music started BLASTING! 

My roommate Kenzie has been on this trip four times and she has helped me learn a lot fast.  She told me that the music is from the club down the street and is usually on until around 4 am every night… Ok I could not believe that the club was down the street the music is that loud!!  I love that about Uganda so far though, pretty much all throughout the day you can hear music around you, along with the birds chirping.  Luckily, I had earplugs and sleeping pills.  
The next day (Saturday), was the day we all set up the dental clinic.  It was a lot of work and a lot of hands were thankfully there to help! We were done by mid-afternoon.  Lunch was my first meal here, and to say the least it was interesting.  Rice, potatoes, “beef”…, and some veggies.  I tried to eat as much as I could but I admit the meals they served us on the airplane were 100 times better.  We at least had ice on the plane!  Something I take for granted every day but would really enjoy right about now.  Dinner was the same pretty much… there were rice, potatoes, vegetables, and “lamb” or liver.  I ate more this time but I am so happy I brought breakfast bars, granola, and chocolate bars- a real treat.  After dinner a group of us went down the road to the gas station/grocery store to buy water and whatever else we needed.  I got a 1.5 liter of water and when converted over, it was only barely 50 US cents… unbelievable the conversion rate.  One USD is equal to about 2400 shillings.  At the store it was really interesting, we were just stared at by just about everyone in the store.  I have never known the feeling of being a minority until now, and I will admit it is a really different feeling!  People here are very proud of their country, and their husbands/wives!  One man came up to Kenzie and I while we were making bags of toothbrushes/toothpaste for the kids, and after saying hello he pointed to a woman a couple yards away and proclaimed, “that is my wife!!” as she waved.

Sunday started with an early breakfast, then some of the group and I loaded into the center’s bus and headed to Watoto Church… Some of you may have heard of it before, I guess it is really well known and the choir tours around the world.  The experience was amazing, and moving.  And it is only day two here and I am sick of being stared at… Everywhere we go everyone stares us at.  “Mazugu” (sp?) means “white person” and we hear that a lot.  After mass we loaded on the bus and half of the group went to a hotel swimming pool while I took the more adventurous route, for lack of a better description.  I went shopping in the black market with a couple other woman and one man (poor guy ;).  It was my first real go at haggling prices, even though I felt bad asking for lower when the most they would ask for was actually equivalent to about 12 or 13 dollars.  Got a lot of souvenirs though!

After the black market we walked into the main city part of Kampala for lunch at a “really nice” restaurant.  This basically means there was a little air conditioner in the corner, and we also got milkshakes and French fries!  After I finished half of my actually delicious sandwich, a baby cockroach climbed up onto my plate, I screamed super loud and jumped on top of my chair, causing a little entertainment for everyone else ;) Quickly lost my appetite, though.  After I went and walked to the bathroom where there was a huge dead cockroach on the ground in front, and it was pretty much five minutes of being frozen hoping it wasn’t playing dead.  When I got back apparently the waiter thought they were kidding when they told him there was a cockroach crawling on our food… Apparently they are that common haha.

After lunch we walked to the “shopping mall” which wasn’t really much but it did have a grocery store in it.  While waiting outside, I was playing with two little kids making “silly faces”.  I noticed one of the boys did not really want to play, so I told him to smile and he did.  

The finale of the shopping adventure was finding a taxi… While waiting outside, this man came up to Molly and me and offered us a taxi ride, we told him we had eight people… and he still insisted he could fit us all! So we told him we needed a ride to Mildmay, and he told us it would cost 50,000 UGX, which is a really low price for a taxi ride!  So we told him to meet us downstairs in 20 minutes.  We ended up getting done early, and he was no where to be found so we headed to the road to find a taxi driver and I honestly thought we were going to be mugged.  All of these men swarmed around us “Muzugus” and kept acting like they knew us! It was really scary and luckily a policewoman came over and helped us sort things out.  One of the drivers actually pulled his car, and I mean LITTLE CAR, up onto the curb as if he thought eight more people would fit inside.  Which actually makes sense, because that is just how it is here.  But we ended up finally all crammed into a minivan with no AC stuck in traffic… and the driver would randomly roll the windows up so we wouldn’t get pulled over by the police… Sketchy, but hey we made it back in one piece and almost killed a guy on a motor bike…

First day of clinic was today.  Ill add more details later but... Wow... is all I can say.  Today was very fun, but it was very emotional.  It breaks my heart into a million pieces and if you know me really well, I do not like to talk about things that make me upset.  Pictures speak a thousand words and I will upload them once I get to a decent speed internet (aka back to the USA).  One story that made tears pour from my eyes was one small 7 year old patient who looked like he was about 4 because he was so malnourished.  I had to help hold his arms and legs because he was so afraid... Once the Dentist opened his mouth... My heart broke.  ALL of his teeth were so decayed and he was in so much pain.  The did not have enough time to do the full work so they only worked on his right side.  They extracted all of the teeth on that side except for 2, which they crowned.  They are planning for something similar when he comes back in a week.  After spending the day with all of them you can not help but think of your siblings, or any other children you may know, and then you realize they are just like every other kid... They just want to play and have fun and be like every other child... Just say a prayer.  Goodnight.

            Well this quickly turned into a novel… Sorry :) Hope all is well back home.  Say a prayer today :) 

Thursday, January 12, 2012


We made it to the Netherlands!  The flight was long, but went surprisingly quicker than i thought it would! it is 7:30 AM here, (12:30 AM at home) so I feel kind of loopy right now. Everyone is just beginning their day here and I'm about ready to go to sleep!  It was sort of freaky flying all the way over the ocean for the first time, but it went so quickly thankfully. As we started to descend it was the coolest thing to see the lights of the Amsterdam outside of my window- a picture could not have captured that moment. 

We have another flight in a few hours and then get into Uganda at around 10:30 tonight Ugandan time (1:30 pm home time?? I don't even know at this point I'm so confused :P ) We will not be able to connect to the internet in Uganda until Monday I am pretty sure, so it will be a couple days until my next post, hopefully a lot to talk about :)

Keep the prayers coming! Love you all!

"No matter where you are in the world, the moon is never bigger than your thumb."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Well, we leave tomorrow afternoon for the adventure of a lifetime!! So many months of preparing and waiting are finally about to pay off ;)  But on a serious note I want to thank all of the people who have helped me along the way, especially my DAD and MOM!! Couldn't have done all of this without them, that is for sure.

Tomorrow we take off from MPLS airport and make a stop in Amsterdam about 8 and a half hours later... Then another 10 hours of flying and we will be there! :) please keep my group and me in your thoughts and prayers over the next 48 hours, and the next 2 weeks!! We will need it.

Next time I update will probably be in Africa- Can't wait!