17-23rd September Oliotya!Heya, from Kampala, Uganda at Mackerere University, where I have spent this last week, listening to lectures, meeting other veterinary students and doing surgery practicals in the afternoons. The program has been run by the Ugandan Christian Veterinary Mission and has been fantastic fun; learning, laughing and loving each other (as my new US friends say). Five Americans flew over for the time (some are staying a bit longer as well) on a mission trip, they're mostly small animal veterinary surgeons who have been doing the lectures & surgeries (they brought all the vet materials we're using over with them!).
The week has also been a great opportunity to hear of the faith of the students and to fellowship with them. The lectures have been on many different topics, ranging from 'client communication' to complex surgeries to common skin diseases. In most of the lectures we've looked at the theoretical side of certain surgeries; cystotomy, gastrotomy, enterotomy, intestinal anastamoses, speys, neuters, opthamological surgeries, even fluid therapy for post operation, etc.
The students seemed really excited that I was a student too (as all the other mzungus we're real docs haha) and very interested to hear what vet work in Karamoja is like! Many of the students still hold to their culture of segregation of the Karamajong even subconsciously looking down on them as lesser than they are, which comes out when I speak to them about my work. Back home we have such a culture of being politically correct and even if you secretly think badly of someone you would never show it or say it. Of course, ignorance in what the K'jong are really like (these students and most of the Ugandans living outside of Karamoja have never been or met a traditional K'jong, they just know what they've been told of them) will always breed distance and even disdain or fear. That seems to be a fact of culture clashes throughout history and throughout the world today, even a funny example of this is the way the Karamajong harshly judge a woman for wearing pants. To the women down here at the bottom of Uganda in Kampala, wearing pants is a sign of an educated woman. To the Karamajong, wearing pants is saying that you are basically a prostitute (no joke, from their mouths not mine), showing the shape of your legs is very provocative. A simple thing like that means two very different things to two different people of the same country.
Getting to know the yanks and also the two new couples joining CLIDE (one couple are from the US, the other from England) has also been a real highlight of the week. They are a really jovial group of people & we get along like houses-a-fire :) Usually we have the dining room to ourselves at meal times because our group is so loud laughing and joking around with each other! Plus there is 11 or more of us at any one time together too which is fun after being used to 2 plus (Summer & I plus our local friends) in Nabilatuk.
Outreach.... So on Thursday afternoon we drove about 5 hours to a village called Namaingo (pronounced Namai-yingo) for large animal treatments (cattle, goats, pigs, sheep, etc.) and outreach (talking to anyone interested about Jesus). This village is classified as a 'hard to reach' area in Christian circles which just means an area of a high Muslim population and possibly hostile to hearing about Jesus, which we saw in reality a few times.
Our purpose was simply to show the love of Jesus by serving them in a way that means a LOT to them, i.e. treating their animals, and if anyone was interested, talking about Jesus too! The first morning, I almost got heatstroke because we were treating from 9am to 1pm in direct sun (there were no trees around) and I hadn't brought my akubra down with me. But we treated heaps of animals, saw a lot of Trypanosomyasis, East Coast Fever, Anaplasmosis, lumpy skin disease, mites (mange/scabies), ticks, lice, ringworm, etc. Also an aborting cow, which we narrowed down the diagnosis to leptospirosis or brucellosis. A cow with a dislocated hip; we looked so funny, about 10 of us trying to rotate & push the hip to pop the femur back in, but sadly we couldn't get it in :( But the small animal vets assure me that it is hard enough to do in a dog, let alone a 200kg cow. We tick sprayed and dewormed everything (until we ran out of medicine) and just had a great time. I was able to teach the students a lot too which was awesome from my work with all these diseases all year and they also didn't have very safe animal handling skills, so we talked about where to stand when you are injecting in the flank muscles, etc. They were so much fun, every morning and evening we'd have a worship singing and praise time and I can't help thinking that when I go home worship won't be the same, Africans are so passionate :)
So, in the afternoon of the first day (Friday) we were going to two villages (our group was split up) but at the first location, there were no animals! Then we heard that there was a rumour being spread around by the villagers that we were going to kill their animals if we treated them. So we went to the second location and we got the same story and some of the students said, maybe we should just go back to town but Dr Val disagreed and said, "let's see why God has brought us here". So we sat down with the town chief/mayor and some local council members (and the whole village in addition crowded around us) and introduced ourselves and what we were there to do. It transpired that the story originated from the fact that there was a veterinary group that came to them a few years ago distributing vaccinations to their animals. The vaccines however were no good/seriously dodgy (probably well expired or poorly made) and they made the injection site necrotic (dead) and the animals got a systemic infection and died!
So, wow that's really bad and we had to do some damage control and assure them that we were not going to bring them bad medicines. But eep! I couldn't believe such a thing had happened!
That day I didn't do much treating of animals but I spoke to the people who had gathered there and got to know them and they wanted to know why we had come, where I was from, and a few of them wanted to become Christians! (they call it being 'born again' here - based on the fact that when you become a Christian your life changes and you put off your old self and put on your new self, like being born again..because so many people here call themselves Christians when they really aren't) so we prayed with them and it was so amazing to see the smiles on their faces! We talked with them about getting a group of new elievers together to pray regularly and fellowship together. Christianity is not a solo sport haha.
All in all it was a fantastic fantastic week! I joked with another full time missionary there how much I loved gate crashing other people's short term missions 'cause they are just so much fun! A few of the visiting vets are flying back to America tonight and I'm really gunna miss them! One of them was Paris Hilton's vet (not the reason I am going to miss her however haha). This afternoon we drive to Soroti to do some more vet work with the remainder of the mission group and we'll then continue on to Moroto/Kangole in Karamoja for a bit more. You may remember this is the place I spent some time with Dr Val and CLIDE and also did the brucellosis testing. For my birthday I secretly hoping for a solo surgery here in Africa. I have already done half a spay and half a neuter, so hopes are high! 6 days to go :)