Geelong to Uganda

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

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Only Two Months Remaining

Thursday week ago we arrived back in Nabilatuk at 8:30 pm after driving 6 hours (for me) from Soroti and a total of 11 hours for Summer, from Jinja. The roads were rough but now that it is dry season, it's the pot holes causing the pain, not the mud that slides you any which way that you pray the truck won't flip over.

So glad to be back and with us came 100 chicks (tiny-tiny - "They're so fluffy I'm gunna die!" - 'Despicable Me' quote) that had hatched Wednesday evening. Thus they've only just entered this crazy world to be brought up to Karamoja so they can get used to the harsh climate, necessary basically from birth. The first three weeks with them, (most of October) are the most crucial. They need to be taught to drink and feed and they must be kept warm at all times (between 30-35 degrees Celsius). So the first week we will sleep in the chicken hut with them, wake every two hours to encourage them to eat and drink by tapping on their feeders and making chicken noises, bababababeraaaa! - I kid you not.  Then from there we will check on them at 9pm, 12 am, 3am and 6am (Summer and I rotating times).
The fire in the pot keeps them warm
 Valentina, a local woman employed by KACHEP, who was there for the last chicken project knows what you have to do to make this a success, and she is the real mother hen of the three of us. I really like looking after them too, I want them to succeed very badly! The plan is that 5 pre-chosen 'vulnerable' community members will each receive 10 chickens (They will be given out in February when they're already laying and have had all their vaccinations) and KACHEP will have 50 chickens for income generating to help cover the cost of the feed- which is very expensive because there is really only one company in Uganda actually selling quality feed, so the demand is there.

Every week the chicks  will get a vaccination (every Thursday), continuing for four weeks. The first is starting from day 7 (age 7 days) which is for Newcastle Disease, then day 14 and day 21 for Infectious Bursa Disease (Gumburo) and day 28 for Infectious Bronchitis. A month later they will be vaccinated for Typhoid and then they are pretty much done except for boosters for Newcastle Disease and a vaccine for Fowl Pox early January.

Last week Summer and I did the first 'Bible Club' at the local primary school as an afterschool program and it was probably the highlight of the week! We had the whole school to start with and Summer told the story of David and Goliath and did 1 Samuel 16:7 as the memory verse. Then Summer took the grade 3s and did some English teaching and I took the grade 6s and did soccer sports with them! Drills then a game, and jump rope for the girls who weren't into soccer.
I am so happy that the village Bible studies are going again and now it's our goal in the next 6 weeks to turn them over completely to the women who host them. So they will be the ones to tell the group the story and ask the questions, not us. Pray for that :)

Only 2 months left here for me. October and November, then at the beginning of December I will pack my bags, leaving a lot of my clothes for women here, go down to Jinja, spend a week with friends there, then head to Kenya to meet my sponsor child. On the 14th I start my journey home, flying first to Singapore to spend a week with my good buddy Sonja Graml who is a ministry worker there and then fly back to Melbourne, arriving 2 days before Christmas. It's going to be a hectic three months before I return to the land of Aus. Let's see what God has in store for me!

 Things you can be praying for:

 - Pray I don't check out too early and that I can continue to make the most of every opportunity while I am here.

 - Pray for the success of the chicken project: that it can be a blessing to the Nabilatuk community

 - Praise point that a German couple, Simon (Bible storier) and Carina (veterinarian) are coming out here next year to join Summer as the start of a new team but continue to pray for workers for this harvest.

 - Pray for our ministry activities still on-going; Bible studies and storying, vet treatments and trainings, 'Bible club' at the local primary school with a bible talk & memory verse, and soccer & skipping games with me and English learning for the kids with Summer. 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Ride for Refuge

Dennis' Story

 "It was dark when they came in to my village and set it on fire. It was 1993, West Uganda and I don't remember much of that night, I don't remember how they killed my mum and my dad, only of hearing it afterward, I just remember being taken. Kony and his men kidnapped us small ones and made us walk for days and days with no food or water. We were all tied together as we marched along and beat us if we were slow. One boy tied with us died in those few days of marching, but they wouldn't untie him, they made us drag him along with us. We reached a river that was higher than we were tall. All I remember was fear as we crossed, still all tied together as a group.

Once I escaped from the LRA and I just ran. I had no plan, I just ran and ran until I could go no further. I thought I was free but they caught up with me and beat me as they brought me back to do their work of terrorising. That's all we seemed to ever do.

Quite a few years later the Ugandan police found us and arrested us. It was in prison that I found peace. A Christian group was advocating for the education of ex-child soldiers so that on release we could have some skills to get employment. I learnt how to lay cement & bricks, build structures like houses and walls and I learnt about Jesus. I could not forgive myself before this for all that I had done and I could not forgive those who had made me do it either. It was only through having Jesus in my life and knowing that he takes all that sin and pain away by his work on the cross that I could let it all go and be who I am today.

When I was released from prison I tried to return to my village. I am a Cholie by tribe and I went back to see if any of my people were there, but no one would accept me home. Too many of my tribe were fearful of what we had done in our past and wouldn't let us come home. That is why I came here to Soroti, but now I feel happy to be able to minister to boys who have been put through what I was put through. Together, with the help of our mighty God, we can strive to let go of the past and make decisions to change our future, knowing that God alone will come again to judge the living and the dead, to bring justice, and that I am covered and protected by the blood of Jesus Christ."  

This is the testimony of one of the members that I heard on Saturday's bike ride "Ride for refuge" to raise awareness for ex-child soldiers. We rode 25km to the Obalinga mass grave site, where 360 people are buried. They are all people who died in the LRA insurgence on the 16th June 2003. When we got there the site was all over grown with weeds and so we had to hoe and slash the whole area (hard work in the African sun!). We then had a memorial ceremony and cycled back to our base to have lunch together.

 Many of the men who cycled have similar stories as Dennis, but many have not been able to adjust to normal life again like he has. Many are in severe inner turmoil, suffering greatly over their sense of identity (as rejection from family members and tribe members is very common), over guilt and over anger. Many are angry with God, not believing that he was suffering along with them as he watched every evil and wicked deed they were a part of, not knowing that he is the opposite to all of that, he is love. Many don't know what to do with themselves and see Jesus as their only hope but don't know where to go from there.

So much prayer and wisdom is needed for them and for the patient souls who are working with them, walking with them each step of the way, hearing their stories, and letting God heal them and bring them back to Him, for His purposes. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Small animal surgery at Dr Val's


Wednesday 26/9/12

 Today Dr Liz from Oregan in the US, and I did 8 surgeries (2 neuters and 6 spays) and yes, I got my birthday wish, I completed a whole spay and neuter, solo. Most of the others I did half of, and Liz did the other half, as I am not very efficient at it yet.
For the vets interested out there, here is some info on doing surgery on an office desk :) We did it all 'clean' as opposed to aseptic. It was 'field work' so we did the surgeries on the only space available, on someone's desk in the CLIDE* office! We gave the dogs Acepromazine first to chill them out a little, then a mix of ketamine and Valium (50% of each in the required dose, IV) and then gave half of that dose again once the dog was prepped for surgery and we were beginning and then as needed, we topped up with Propofol.
 On the field, as they say, you use whatever you have and these all worked really well! The animals went down and woke up really smoothly. Antibiotics were given afterwards because the surgery was 'clean' not aseptic and because they will most likely be rolling around in bacteria-ridden dirt before too long.

The cats were given what is called 'kitty magic' - I think the drug companies came up with that one- which is 0.1ml each of Torbugesic, Ketamine and Dexdomitor for every 5kg. Ooh and I learnt a new trick it's called the 'clove-hitch knot' and I've used it with tying up horses and boats before but never seen it in a surgery, so that was cool to learn. Hopefully we'll get to do some more next week as well and when we go to Karamoja on Wed next week, there as well :)

 *CLIDE stands for Community Livestock-Integrated Development (consultancy), it has four offices, two in Karamoja, one here in Soroti and one in Kampala. It is another Christian Veterinarian Mission outlet here in Uganda.