July 05, 2007

Babies

The week is nearly at an end again. Incredibly I have been here for nearly a month. Honestly the time has gone by so quickly, and I am happy that I have another 2 months ahead of me and I have no doubt that I am going to be very said to leave at the end of my time. The work is still going slowly, but I have come to accept that this is just the pace, so I just have to be patient, and be around so that when people decide that they are ready for their interview I will be there!

I have also taken on another small volunteering role. I can only really get to the Hospital on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and as there is day-care on a Tuesday I only have Thursday to give. I am going to start working at a children's orphanage next week. I am not sure how long I will work there for. I went this week but they had loads of volunteers and I will only stay as long as I am some use! It was very interesting to see how the children cared for each other, this was when they weren't fighting and biting each other for toys of course, the girls especially took care of the boys. I am actually quite surprised at this, as initially I thought it was simply because the oldest child is female and that it was more to do with her being the oldest rather than her sex. But I saw another small girl going around the other children and she was making sure that they were all dressed properly, this is because they like to take off their trousers! It did make me question how young females develop a care role, and if perhaps it really is a combination of natural instinct as well as social 'grooming', or even just pure instinct. The children did seem to have developed a support network around themselves. It was also amazing to see how well there all were considering that they were constantly putting toys in their mouths that were covered with each others urine! It does make you realised how unnecessarily germ obsessed we have become at home. There was many a fall as the wet patches on the tiled floor created rather a slippy environment. The children obviously knew that the white volunteers were a soft touch, they took floor advantage of our newness to the situation to clamber for hugs, kisses and to give us the occasional bite. The 'mama's' who work there full time obviously have other thing to worry about, like getting clothes ready for a mass of small children who are constantly wetting themselves (there are no nappies if you are wondering why quite so much wee is flying about the place) and preparing meals and trying to potty train them! All in all its a well run organisation with the kids following a well established routine. They are all pretty obedient too, obviously not for us as we don't speak Luganda and they know we are too soft, but for the mama's they do what they are told.

There are a mass of volunteers at the minute, July is peak season, the town is flooded with 'people who care'. This is very nice to see, but does remind me that once September arrives and everyone goes home there will be a lot of empty spaces. It really is amazing that people volunteer and give up their time to give something back, but we could all do to remember that when we leave the people are still there, and the problems don't just go away.

I hope that I will have some time to get involved with other projects here. In terms of planning this should be in month three. I have next month to finish collecting data and start on the analysis. Jerry and I have been pretty efficient (if I do say so myself) in typing up the transcripts as soon as we are done interviewing. The volunteers are also working out well, its been interesting trying to coordinate things, making sure that both languages are typed and backed up before the next set of interviews are taken. This won't sound like a challenge, but with limited resources it is! I am pretty happy with the way that things are shaping up, even though I had originally anticipated to have finished all of the interviews by now!

I have been fortunate, in one respect, to have not been too involved with the children and the service, as I need to remain neutral for an effective analysis, and this has meant that I have not become as emotionally involved as the other members of staff. I think that sometimes it is easy to forget that this is a Hospice service, and especially as I have mentioned before, that because often the children are in such good spirits that it is easy to forget that many of them are very sick. A death of a child is always sad, but it is more upsetting when it happens on a ward and the carer is pestered about the body being taken away. When children die here the bodies are often transported back home on the public bus. I have complete respect for all of the staff here and the job that they are doing, everyone would like to save lives, but this is a very unique and difficult situation where the rewards of the job are very different but just as valuable as those that 'save'.

It is always nice to finish these blogs with a nice comical story, something lighthearted and fun. I am not sure as of yet where my inspiration will come from as I haven't been getting myself into as much trouble as usual, I blame having a real job. I did rather enjoy the staff party that we had last friday, it was a goat bbq (the goat skin was kindly left out on the lawn for all to view and smell when the arrived to work on monday morning!) and there was the promise of dancing. This promise was firmly kept and they rigged up rather an impressive soundsystem. I must say that it was a rather unusual experience to dance in the daylight and without the confidence boosting aid that is alcohol, but it was rather liberating. All that was needed was to accept that fact that I was going to look horrendous dancing to traditional music, and as there was nothing much I could do about it, it was just best to forget about it and shake like I had the natural rhythm of a Ugandan women! Oh and as an aside we were sure that we saw the male nurse muching on the goat’s genitalia (for those that are immature enough this should have raised a smile).


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