Wednesday, 18 November 2009

An odd week!

After a failed attempt to send out my prayer letter, I thought I'd blog instead!
Thank you very much to the 35 people who got in touch to tell me I forgot to attach my prayer letter to the email. I know! But I can't get my computer to the internet very often, and there aren't many places fast enough to upload. So hold your horses, it should be with you by friday. I expect you all to be waiting with baited breath.

At the moment the machine I use for CD4 counts (A FACScalibur, for those in the know) isn't working, so I have nothing to do until my colleague or the technician arrives. We had an inspection the other day by head office and our funders, USAID, as we are 30 days behind the required average turnaround time for child HIV tests (It should be 10 days and we're at 40). The reasons are almost completely beyond the lab's control - we can go for weeks without required chemicals or with broken machines, and this makes a huge backlog of samples to process.

A family who also works with AIM have been taking in abandoned babies, and at the moment they have a beautiful baby girl called Amy. She was found in a plastic bag next to the children's ward at my hospital, and it looks like she has TB. She's also being tested for HIV as we speak, but that may take a while (see above!) though I have asked that the girl who does the tests rushes it through. The results depend on her HIV status, as there's a family that may take her if she's positive, and if not then she'll go to an orphanage. It seems almost like a lose-lose situation for this little girl, so please be praying for her!

I'm also helping out a lady whose daughter has been offered a suspicious sounding scholarship for East London University. The courses they're offering her don't even appear on the uni web page, and they're asking for $300 for 'processing fees' and have told her she needs $7000 for school fees and $6000 for living costs, both of which are unrealistic. She has no contact details, and none of the names or organisations she has appear anywhere online. It sounds like cruel people are trying to scam smart students out of an awful lot of money, and doesn't seem like an unusual situation here. It makes me very angry, especially as this girl is getting very excited and it's her mum, not her, that's worried about whether it's legit, so I think her hopes may be completely destroyed soon...

On a more uplifting note, I got a love letter yesterday! However, it's not cute, it's quite creepy, and not from the bf back home, but from a Ugandan I met in a cafe last week. Apparently I agreed to be his girlfriend, and he loves me forever, even though I'm an English lady!

My hair is sadly very orange right now, as the only shampoo I could get was head and shoulders, which strips hair of all exciting pink or purple very quickly..

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Termites, anyone?

Well it's been a little longer than expected between blog posts, sorry everyone! My access to the net is sporadic and generally at other people's houses, and sitting on their computer for the time it takes to fill in a blog post is a little anti-social. But right now I'm at work, where arrival times seem fairly flexible, and the lady I'm working with isn't here yet, so I'm on the lab computer. Lou early for work - who'd've thought?

I'm settling in nicely here, and it's starting to take on a feel of 'normality', although the definition of normality is changing somewhat.
Here's a timetable for a normal-looking day:
- Get up 7.30
- Leave the house 8.10 on a boda-boda (a motorbike taxi)
- Arrive work 8.25 (there might be someone here) and clean the machines for the day's work
- Sit and have 'tea' (African v milky tea and a chapatti) at 9.00ish
- Go down to phlebotomy and hang around with the guys who work there waiting for blood samples from private patients, run them if any come in
- 13.00 lunch (generally matoke, rice, posho and beans with a soda, all for the bargain price of shx2000 = $1)
- 14.00 Run samples from phlobotomy, hope the power doesn't go off and we have gloves. As I work in the HIV clinic, all blood samples are HIV+ so safety is a v big deal here
- 16-17.00 Go home, depends on amount of samples we have in today - could be 20-100

The evenings will generally be spent either in an AIM meeting, at a women's or a discipleship Bible study or watching films at someone's house. I also need to prepare studies for the girls I meet individually for discipleship and fun banter.

There are some surprising challenges, including a bizarre need to find things to do when actually time is best spent getting to know work colleagues.

We have just got through the termite season, which is when millions of termites descend on the city for hours at a time, dive bombing lights and people before mating, spinning around in circles to lose their wings and then all the males dying. Fried termites are quite the delicacy here, and people wait excitedly for termite season. Now it's over, Mbarara is looking forward to grasshopper season. Anyone hungry?