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Monday, March 25, 2013

Blessings of Joy - how blessed we are in the US!

Blessings of Joy and the Mweruka Village Primary School. The most need of all our visits. Stan and Barb had visited only briefly after meeting a Ugandan at their church in Tulsa who was involved with the school.  Little did they know how much these children need until their first visit.
We drove onto a narrow road, which continued to narrow to a path. Along the way we unloaded the bus in the rain and the guys pushed us out of a mud hole. Notice Isaac with his AK47 at his side.  We literally drove down a footpath to get to the school.
A typical home of a student or teacher. Teachers finish high school and go to 4 years of college to become teachers. Some return to the communities to teach the local children.
This was our greeting at the school. 300 cheering, smiling children, mostly in their school uniforms.
The principal gave us a room and we started planning for the pharmacy and the stations of examination for the doctors.
Henryne is from New Orleans. Her home was destroyed by Katrina. She was the first female medical student accepted into Tulane. Henryne is a practicing pediatrician.
How could you not help this sweet face. The girls and boys all have short hair to eliminate growth of insects or rashes on their heads. Unfortunately, the same blade is used on many heads and head fungus was a problem for every child. All needed to be treated for tapeworms and had distended stomachs and pain in the abdomen. Such an easy fix to help them feel better.

The easiest way to tell the girls is by their skirts.  All women wear skirts in Uganda. Most schools have uniforms, which are the only clothing they have. Saturday is wash day, so the clothing is washed once a week. Water is carried in yellow containers, sometimes for miles, to their homes for cooking and cleaning.
One of the two cooks. Children are served lunch of rice gruel.  They have their own containers that are not washed. Many children are only fed one meal a day.
I could not help myself.  Many, many pictures of darling children in my file.  They love to see their picture in the camera and videos. Most had not seen a video and rarely a photograph.
Lunch cooking over the open fire for lunch for the children.
The trip is lead by the Assoc Dean from Oklahoma State. These are three residents about to begin their programs. James, whose parents came from Vietnam. His girlfriend Sarah joined us as well. Her parents were "boat people" from Vietnam.  Ana is beginning a Radiology program.  JJ, is an army Ranger who will begin his Osteopathic training in Hawaii at the Army Hospital shortly.
Mike a/k/a the Stickerman is an ENT from Tulsa Oklahoma.  His wife, Harriet, is a specialist in musculature and skeleton manipulation.
Alan is also in the Army.  He is holding hands with the children outside the bus just before leaving for the day. He begins his Ob/Gyn residence shortly.
Notice the smile on the face of this darling little boy.
This woman is the grandmother of this baby. The baby is believed to be seriously ill with HIV.  His father was killed in an automobile accident and his mother, believed to be ill with HIV could not care for him.  Few of the children in Southern Uganda have parents. Their parents died of HIV and they are cared for by grandparents, siblings or guardians.
Latrine at Blessings of Joy. Hygiene problems abound.
The local Rotary Club joined us to translate for the children and community.  English is the language most spoken in Uganda as the British ruled Uganda for many years, but there are 130 dialects and many people do not speak English. 
We attended a local Rotary meeting as the Tulsa Rotary is partnering with the local Rotary and the National Group should be assisting in funding to build a latrine for Blessings of Joy.

 Know any other Rotary Groups who might like to partner up to a great cause?
The children sang for us! They sang their school song along with arm and leg motions and also a song about Jesus. They were so talented and well behaved.
I hope this recording of the children works!
Isn't she darling?
Jim and Betsy spent a lot of time checking eyesight.  When I tested over 100 children, I found only a few that were 20/20, with most reporting poor eyesight.  2 children could not even see the big "E".  I broke 1/2 way through to talk to Stan to ask if I was doing something wrong. He said that was not a surprise, as the children had such poor nutrition.  We brought children's vitamins to disperse, but not as many as needed.
Jim took blood pressure and talked to the adults with the help of a local translator.
Stan and Barb Grogg along with the principal.  He wore a suit every day.

Every day was grueling, but such a pleasure!

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