March 6 --Kagoma Gate , chess and rainbows
Before we left for Uganda, Caren and I had one day of shopping
together to buy supplies for our trip. On our way back to my house
with bags of supplies, including puppets, antibiotic ointment, pain
relieving meds, books for children and stickers (never too many
stickers!), we saw an AMAZING rainbow--vivid, with a full arch. We
thought for sure that was a sign of good things to come. Indeed it
Yesterday as we arrived at Kagoma Gate, the kids were in school and
one class was outside. The teacher, Robert, was using a spray water
bottle demonstrating RAINBOWS to the kids. Before they went back into
the classroom, Ellie reached into her bag to hand him a random package
of stickers to give to the kids. They just happened to be shiny
rainbow stickers. Caren and I looked at each other and nearly cried
some of Denise's happy tears. It's a sign. A GOOD sign.
Then to the class room....in the Friendship School built by TGCA. (!!)
We sat in the back of the room with 82 students, most in uniforms
with TGCA patches on them, sitting in neat rows of wooden desk tables.
Each desk and bench sits four kids on a bench. These were 3rd and 4th
graders. Robert finished up his rainbow lesson. He passed around the
sheets of Rainbow stickers. The stickers were looked at, the colors
now making sense to the kids, they were passed row to row quietly and
then returned to their teacher with not one sticker removed from the
sheet. Stickers, mind you...If we were outside the classroom, stickers
put the kids into fits of giggles, begging for more. But this is
school. Mr. Robert's class. 82 students. I imagined a group that size
and that age in a class in America. It wouldn't be early as well
Mr. Roberts then moved on to the Chess lesson. A large magnetized
chest board was in front of the class. We learned about ranks and
files, horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, axis, how to identify
squares ( my version: the white one in the top row...kids version f3
or c6 or b7). We learned the names of the pieces and the kids were
asked, " who can tell me how to tell the king and a queen apart?" "
The knight looks like a ....??? ....ZEBRA! Yes!" ( not many horses in
Uganda). The queen's location here? Qf5. How many horizontal lines?
How many vertical lines? How many diagonal lines? Where is the small
square? A young boy came up to the front of the class and struggled
with placing the post it notes on the small square. Hands up in the
air...PICK ME!! Robert looked at the class and said "give him a
chance." He couldn't quite figure it out so another student came up
and got it. When someone does well, the kids clap. Clapclapclap
clapclapclap. Clap. Not a hint of teasing from the other students or
making fun of the child who didn't get the answer right. I was wowed
by the entire class.
Caren and I left the class before it was done knowing there were
several children with significant infected wounds to treat. One girl
had a wound on her lower leg that I feared may have gotten to the
bone. I wasn't sure where to find her. Moses said it wouldn't be long.
Little did I know she was one of the many well behaved kids in the
class. After the class, the girl joined Caren and I in another room
where we had her sit on a bench with her leg up on the bench. We had
some drapes and some sterile gloves, gauze, a wrap that is a cross
between tape and an ace bandage. We had saline and hydrogen peroxide
to irrigate (it actually looked more promising once cleaned out) and
had a tube of antibiotic ointment. We were also able to bring her oral
antibiotics as well and instructed an adult there how she needs to
As she was treated, more children lined up for us to look at their
wounds. We had enough supplies to treat 2 other children. This needs
assessment was easy. Caren and I will buy a large quantity of supplies
for us to have for a wound care clinic next week. We will also leave
supplies for Elizabeth to continue treatments. Elizabeth, our midwife,
has been working at Kagoma Gate 4 days a week. She has been aware of
these infected wounds but has had no way to address them. The kids get
cut chopping firewood or bringing animals out to graze in the more
wooded areas. I am very happy to be able to replace one day of working
at a jigger clinic with a day of wound care for the beautiful kids at
After leaving Kagoma we drove to Moses' church to see the sewing room
and to meet with Tabitha. Cecelia and Elizabeth were there. We met
Rose, the wife of the pastor. Ellie and Maureen attended to sewing
plans, Caren and I met with Elizabeth to discuss in details her needs
for the midwife project. One item we didn't anticipate: a bucket with
a lid to put placentas in. There will be a pit dug outside the clinic
to dispose of placentas. Of course! The placenta bucket....consider
As we chatted inside the large open sanctuary of the church, a skinny
looking chicken wandered around, happy to join us.
Next stop: to meet Andrew, Mark and Mama Koi Koi's beloved adopted
son who will hopefully soon be coming to Saratoga to live with his
American family and to seek treatment for advance sickle cell disease.
I'm not sure there could be a more precious child. His smile lights up
his face but because of the effects of sickle cell, we were told, he
has lost his ability to speak. Moses told us the some words are being
spoken now. I heard him speak one word after giving him hug #2,
telling him THAT hug was from Mark and Mama Koi Koi and "they want you
to know that they love you VERY VERY much!" With a big smile he slowly
spoke one word: "Mark."
Mama Andrew is a beautiful woman with 5 boys. Andrew is the oldest.
His 2 month old brother was sleeping on the floor of their very small,
modest home, approximately 8x10 (?) feet in size. Andrew has 2 Mothers
who love him very much, the beautiful mother who raised him and Mama
Koi Koi. Mama Andrew loves her son enough to let him go to live with
other parents who will hopefully make him well.
Our day ended with a chance to buy some things in town (Denise--I got
your bracelets at Faith's store!) then a birthday
celebration--Maureen's . We went to an Indian restaurant in Jinga,
with Yaseem joining us. Good food, fun evening.