Picking up right where I last left off…. right before we got to work.
Monday was our first day in the village. It was wonderful, difficult, refreshing, miraculous and Gods fingerprints were all over.
We set up in Bubenge, a rural village outside of Iganga. Far down a dirt road, tucked amongst trees, was an old, warn down, health center. It was our home base for the day.Smiles above after a long successful first day. We saw over 400 patients on Day 1.
We provided triage– vital signs, weights. Lab tests– rapid malaria and HIV, medical doctor & physician assistant consultations with diagnoses & prescriptions, meetings with counselors, free medications for their symptoms, free treatment for malaria.
Day 2 was similar to day 1. Same location, lots of patients.
During some much appreciated breaks when we’d Triage all the patients for a bit, those of us working Triage had some time to play with the kids. I loved it. One boy in particular stole my heart. In between smiling at me shyly, following me around everywhere, holding my hand and asking me, in his own language and way, to make a balloon hand for him– we found a translator to translate that his name was Sinan, age 8.
I’ll never forget this little boy.
One of the hardest parts about my Africa trip– and it even causes heart ache and stress for me to type it now– was taking our lunch breaks in the village. I absolutely hated eating there. We had food delivered to us from Musana and we’d take quick breaks.
We were working hard, seeing many patients, it was hot and humid out… we were hungry.
But do you know who was hot and even hungrier? The Ugandan people we were serving.
And that’s why taking a 10-15 min break to sit in a van to eat, when you know they know what you’re doing in the van, was heart wrenching.
One of the gals in my group reminded me that I needed to eat to keep my own strength up to serve them. Who would I help if I refused to eat? So I ate. And hated every moment.
Late Tuesday afternoon I sat in the front seat, turned away from the window. Sinan, the boy, found me anyway. He stood outside the van window. I tried to eat quickly, discretely.
Eventually, because he wouldn’t give up staring, I began playing a game with him through the window. When I got out of the van to walk back to the Triage station I was surprised to feel a little hand grab mine. I looked down to see Sinan, holding my hand and walking me back. It was the first time that day he held my hand…. but not the last. During games and songs later he’d make sure out of all the children… he was the one next to me.
Can you guess which little boy in the blue shirt is my little friend? Hint: it’s all in the eyes.
That afternoon as I said goodbye to the kiddos, he some how, despite not speaking English otherwise, came up to me and said “I had fun.” He must have asked the older girl he was with to teach him how to say that… I think she was his sister. They were collecting water bottles as our van prepared to leave the day…. undoubtedly to sell for money, or to use for something else. Our trash, their treasure.
This day is a day I’ll never forget.