Geelong to Uganda

Geelong to Uganda
Google image of trip from Geelong (my home) in Australia to Karamoja, Uganda!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Veterinary Symposium in Kampala

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 :)


Extra Ordinary Women of Uganda

Extra Ordinary - Significant Women of Uganda.
"I love to catch the sunrise. I love the multifaceted aspect of being feminine. I love God. He inspires me to see the best in life, people, myself and my work." Jennifer Mypisi. Designer/Architect

"If I could speak to my younger self, I'd say; "Baby girl you can be all that and then some. Give life time. Give yourself time." Dr Paula Mundari. Physician.

"While in exile I had to carry my child on my back and walk to the market. I'd learnt that the high status I'd enjoyed before was - an addition to me and not who I truly am." Florence Nakyoni. Human Rights Activist.

"My day of courage dawned when I met President Amin. I didn't know whether I would come back alive or dead. I know who I am because of the commitments I have made in my life." Juliana Bezuidenhout. Girl Guide/Presidential Advisor.

"Every day is unique and when it is gone, it is gone forever." Maria Kiwanuka. Entrepreneur.

"I come from a strong line of women. I look at my grandmother, my aunts and my mum, and I know that I too can make it. I am emotional and intuitive." Gloria Wavumono. Fashion Designer.

"God comes first. Fear Him and have integrity." Leticia Kikonyogo. Deputy Chief Justice.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Karamoja Wedding

Back in August Summer and I went to an interesting cultural experience, a Catholic Karamajong wedding. The women in the animal skins are relatives of the bride's mother, who danced for most of the ceremony in the traditional Karamojong way, moving their whole bodies from side to side swinging the skins too. The place was packed, the whole town wanting to be part of the celebration. including us! A very fun day.





Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Fun Vet Story I Meant to Post a While Ago...

So right now I am not in Karamoja, but in fact in Zanzibar, on the coast of Tanzania. However, that doesn't mean I should deprive my blog from a post/s I wanted to post when I was in Karamoja, but because it is Karamoja, I couldn't.
  So... 'Treating & Trainings.' For the animal health side of the ministry we have continued our weekly program of vet treatments Mon to Fri, tick spraying on Wednesday and animal health trainings on Thursdays. One Wednesday we were spraying in Kasiapus, where we now also have a bible study in the village, and there was a cow that had been speared by the 'enemy'. I should explain that anyone who is not part of the person's family, village (extended family) or even tribe at large, is an enemy. Of course they have much more reason to call them so, as any stranger is likely to have a motive to or actually will steal /raid your animals and possibly kill or injure a family member in the process.
 Every night here 'enemies' are attacking someone else. It makes me think of the question 'who is your neighbour', the answer is much easier to come to grips with back home in the west, than for people here. Your 'neighbour' here that Christ was talking of (i.e. not your literal neighbour but anyone and everyone) could be someone who has killed your father. Or your neighbour is the woman who is your co-wife, whom you share your husband with. The same goes for Jesus' radical statement, 'love your enemy', again much easier to come to terms with back home. I dunno 'bout you but I don't really have any 'enemies'... (that I know of ;)
So anyway back to the bleeding cow. Symptoms: obvious wound, inappetant, anaemic, grinding teeth and 'pain posture', refusal to stand, not drinking, etc. I talked to Emmy and Olum (local animal health workers) about what we should do and we came up with
 #1 full history and examination,
 #2 discuss treatment and cost with owner,
 # 3 treat symptoms; iron for anaemia, pen/strep for wound and infection, multivitamins (mostly A & Es) to get the rumen moving again and the animal eating.
 #4 Advise the owner on antibiotic treatment course & the issue of resistance, get owner to wash wound with clean salt water. When we came back the week after for our weekly Bible group there, the cow was standing and eating and the wound was healing by secondary intention and best of all, happy cow happy owner, as they say here!
 It reminded me a bit of my first case in Karamoja, you may remember, when Dr Jean and Dr Michelle Beville were here and there was a cow that had been attacked by a hyena :)
When holidays are over we are beginning a new chicken project in October with brand new baby chicks and though not set, there is possibilities of doing another goat project and even starting a rabbit-keeping project where the people will be given the start-up bunnies, they will build an off-the-ground cage for them, and will breed with them to both sell and as a source of protein in their own diets too. Let's see what the future holds in my less than three months left here!
Love to you, Mel

Monday, 10 September 2012

Beautiful Zanzibar

Arrived safely in the land of Zanzibar!
Beach, coffee, spices, palaces & sultans, good food - like something from a fairytale...
An island in the Indian ocean, loosely part of Tanzania.

Evening food market by the waterfront;
 authentic Zanzibarian dessert pizza... yumm

I wanted to hear a really good sermon on Sunday morning in Zanzibar and God provided!!!
There's a new missionary family from the USA (only been here 3 months) at at the Anglican church in Stone Town! The sermon was on Luke 6:27-38 :) And they invited me for vollyball and dinner at their place, yay friends!

 A Zanzibarian palace for Sultans, turned museum: fascinating.

The drive to Jinja (the 'big smoke' 2nd to Kampala in smokiness)

Summer & Me near Seretiyo, Kapchorwa District, Uganda.
The drive from Nabilatuk to Jinja took a gruelling 11 hours (normally takes 6 hours). Then next day another few hours to Kampala. Need a holiday now!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Daily Life photos ;)

Beauty & hard work

Cute kids 

Edula making

Cows - every individual is so special there is no
Karamojan word for herd

Dikdik I wanted to rescue

Harvest time - sorghum

Joy comes with age too

Kids of Karamoja

Mt Hyena

Old man wants his photo taken too

Neem oil group

Our house - sunflowers!

Sheep - they look like goats!

Vet studies with an audience!



What I wanted to say when I couldn't

August 2012
Mixing Animal Work With Bible Work
 I can't believe it is August! Where has the year gone?! I only have 4.5 months left here in Karamoja Uganda. Since my last post about the neem oil production, we have gotten over sicknesses.

 I have spent time running chicken and goat trainings for the KACHEP recipient women (5 women who each recieved 10 chickens and 3 lots of 10 women who each recieved a goat) which were more reflections/feedback on how they found the projects rather than actual trainings and were very insightful as to the way forward for these projects. All of the chicken recipient women appreciated the income generating aspect (selling eggs) for buying food for their families and helping to cover costs of school fees, or for some even just being able to send their children to school, where otherwise they wouldn't have been able to do.
Goat Training song time
They glowed over the success of the project and were eager to hear our decision to start another chicken project in October because of its success!
On these training days Summer told the story of Lydia in the 1st century church (Acts 16), a women who opened her house to Paul and the gospel and became a place people could come to, to worship and pray together. We encouraged these women that they, as women of influence in their communities, could also be women like Lydia in their own homes and villages. Through this we have begun 4 bible studies in 4 different villages, with 4 of the 5 chicken recipient women leading & hosting them. It has been really great to see, but much prayer is needed for them to continue as it really needs to be something they take on and continue for themselves, even when life happens and they are distracted by other things, e.g. sorghum harvest or working in the gardens. We want to encourage them to make time for God in their lives if He is to be their Lord while understanding the pressures of life in Karamoja. 
Tick Spraying Day
On Mondays we travel about an hour to a village called Okutoot that we have a relationship with through tick spraying their animals. Anna Moru is the woman in charge of this group and is learning the bible stories from us orally and then is sharing them with her community. Along with prayer and the story, there are three questions that help us learn more from each story; what does this passage teach us of God (1), of people (2) and if we believe this story and its teachings to be true, what can we learn from this passage to put into practise and obey in our lives? Every week we aim to go and share a different story with her and her family, for her then to pass the story and 3 questions with other families in her village.
On Tuesdays we go to a village about half an hours drive away (or 2 hours walk) called Kassiapus, whom again we have a friendship with through the cattle spraying as well as the chicken project, and we have storied and prayed with them for a long time already. Now that they are interested in going deeper with the Bible we have started this same group there, the main woman leading is Toto Joyce.

The third is of course our own with KACHEP at our house and the fourth is in a more local village (within easy walking distance) with a woman called Anna Aisu who is a strong believer herself. We hope to kick start them off this month and then see what God does with them when they have the tools to continue it themselves, in a 'pay it forward' kind of philosophy :)
Hugs Melissa
"God wants to bless us where we are." Joel Osteen