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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Awesome - Sister Rosemary St. Monica's Gulu

We passed over the Equator on the way to Gulu. 
Have you ever seen how water is clockwise on one side of the Equator and counter clockwise on the other?
We are a bunch of happy faces on the bus, despite the long 5+ hour ride to Gulu!
Awesome describes our experience at Sister Rosemary's school, St. Monica's. Students are educated, but even more they are taught a skill, so that they may be independent for life. Sister Rosemary was the 2007 recipient of the CNN Hero award.

Tailoring is the primary skill, but students can also learn the hospitality industry by working at the school. Girls have varied life experiences, but many were sex slaves during the war. One young lady told me how she was taken at 5 and had "been with many, many men". She was a beautiful young woman. Other girls returned with children and could not find their families after the war or were not accepted into their families. Sister Rosemary's arms were open. She, in fact, protected girls during the war on her compound and refused the soldiers demands for the girls. She told the soldiers they would have to kill her first. The soldiers never returned.

The girls danced for us and with us on more than one occasion.
Sister Rosemary joins in the dancing.  Her charisma and constant smile has a contagious effect on the girls

Every night Stan led "reflections". We each spoke about what we had seen or learned that day. Sometimes our discussions were philosophical, but the attempt was to expand our experience.
Betsy Morath is a friend from Fenton.  We had dinner with Betsy and her husband Jim a number of weeks before we left for Africa and she expressed her sincere interest at accompanying us. An opening came up and Betsy was in!  She is a Dental Hygienist and was extremely useful. She brought over 300 toothbrushes/toothpaste. She demonstrated good hygiene to each class and usually a teacher session as well. She is a light that shines 24/7.  So glad she joined us.
Alan is one amazing guy. He is a police officer, working on his PHD.  His father was a high level government executive and is now retired. His mother is an attorney. Alan carries two guns tucked in the back of his pants. He is constantly aware and amazing in time of need. Alan expressed he hopes to be President of Uganda. All of us believe he will someday get his wish.
This Sister is from South Sudan. She has tribal markings on her forehead. The nuns in S. Sudan wear white with red piping.
This is Sister Rosemary's purse, made from pop tops from cans and made into a purse by Ugandan women.
The girls danced for us while beating these gourds.  They asked us to join in. We are not so great, but they didn't care. They smiled from ear to ear!
Who is that old lady with the white hair. Since Ugandans seldom have any white hair, one of the children said I must be really old. Righto!

Stan brought us scrubs. The back is inscribed - Pros for Africa. Don't we look professional?
All clothing, sheets and towels are washed by hand and hung on the line to dry. Half of the group stayed at St. Monica and the sheets were washed daily.  Anything you wanted washed could be left on your bed and it would be returned clean, later in the day.
Notice the woman with the blue basket on her head. The women are masters of carrying extremely heavy things on their heads. We often saw women with huge yellow jugs on their heads.
Betsy shared a room with Amrita, a Pediatrics resident and a 4th year medical student accepted into an OB/GYN program. The mosquito nets are a requirement in Uganda.
The Pharmacy traveled with us to each location and Barb Grogg is probably the most organized person I have ever met. She remembers where every item is stored. The drugs were purchased or donated in the US.
James is an Emergency Doctor and Mike is an ENT. Mike looked into every child's ears.  He is also the Sticker Man.
This is a woman from the community who came to visit the doctor.
My little buddy, Margaret, who helped me with translation. She is so beautiful inside and out!
These are the purses made from can pop tops. Small, large, with or without straps and in a multitude of colors. Love them!

Doesn't Isaac look excited about the purses? They go well with his AK-47, don't you think?
Dr. Henryne Louden, from New Orleans, LA.  Aunt of Tommy Harris of football fame.
Mike and Harriet Shaw from Tulsa. Mike is an ENT and Harriet is skeletal/muscular specialist. They both graduated from MSU!
Scott Drew, Dermatologist from Ohio. This is how we all felt at the end of the day. Exhausting!
Is that beer the Sister's are drinking? You bet it is. Sister Rosemary said  "the evening is better with a beer."




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