From: Meghan Gilbert
Sent: Monday, October 05, 2009 5:23 AM
Subject: Africa Update Numero Tres
The last few weeks have been quite eventful! The rainy season is in full force here which means malaria is rampant. Almost everyday mothers and fathers bring their children to the parish looking for help and anointing. It's tough seeing the little ones suffering so much and being with them during their final hours. Just two days ago, while Fr. Francis was away, I helped a young couple take their baby boy to the clinic. His malaria was severe and we got the news that he passed away last night. I was holding his hand less than 24 hours prior which makes all these experiences so much more personal. There's not much to do except commend their souls to God--I am consoled by the fact that there are many more little saints in heaven. Something that adds to the severity of sickness is the traditional remedies people use. A common one is to make surface cuts on the chest, back, or stomach in an attempt to ease the troubled breathing. I've seen some of these cuts, many aren't big but they're deep. It's really disturbing. Also, I just learned the other day that when babies are teething, since fevers and diarrhea are common during this time, many parents try to get rid of the symptoms by cutting into the gums and extracting the teeth they believe are causing the problems.. The people are in dire need of education which they're slowly getting. Please continue to pray for the people here, especially during this difficult season.
A few weeks ago, I got the chance to see monkeys in the wild! It was really fun to watch them doing the things you'd expect them to do like playing and picking things off each others backs. I took lots of pictures and even some video. I think the best part of that day, however, might have been that I got to eat a cheeseburger on the way back from the forest. Yes, a cheeseburger! After two months of plantains and rice, I don't think I've ever enjoyed a cheeseburger as much as I did that night!
Some of you may have seen or heard about the riots in Kampala a few weeks back. They were due to tribal conflicts between the Buganda tribe and the central government. Luckily, as I am in the southwest of the country, I was far removed from the violence. Though it was a little nerve-wracking seeing the news and hoping it didn't spread. Everything seems to be under control for now, but that definitely showed the underlying tribal tensions that exist all over the country, how volatile the situation really is, and how quickly some of these tribal conflicts can turn violent. In addition to the riots, I've been getting e-mails from the U.S. State Department warning me of Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab militants lurking in East Africa. There's been some recent military activity in Somalia, with a few retaliatory attacks on U.S. and other western interests. Yikes! But so far, so good. Sometimes I do wish I was a little less conspicuous though...
Yesterday I had the chance to visit with the girls at Ave Maria Secondary School near the village. They were so much fun to spend time with and they asked me all sorts of great questions about America and what I thought of Africa so far. They showed me a lot of their traditional dances, and dang, the way they shake and move is unlike anything I've ever seen before. I even joined in during one of the dances. I must say, I was pretty good! The girls were impressed!
Today I'm off to Kampala for a few days to renew my visa. I must say, I'm looking forward to a change of scenery for a little while. Well, I can't believe I'm already almost halfway done. The time is flying! Again, thanks for all your prayers and know that y'all are in mine.
P.S. GO TIGERS!!! This is so intense!