Saturday, July 7, 2012

Spring of Hope

Yesterday, I spent my day at a clinic called Spring of Hope. It is a clinic outreach program that is located in the village Kangulumana, which is about a 45 minute drive from Amani. People living in the village can come to the clinic and pick up medication for epilepsy. Also, physical therapy and occupational therapy is available for those especially with cerebral palsy. I spent the morning counting out medicine and the other half of our group played with the kids. Each pack of medication provided enough for a month. I found out that this clinic was placed specifically in this village because of the large amount of practice of witchcraft within it.  Children with cerebral palsy or any other disabilities were frowned upon. By providing services and training parents with such children, Spring of Hope wants to reverse these wronged assumptions. One of the volunteers from Spring of Hope brought a lot of donated clothes with her. After dividing everything up, we were able to pick out a new outfit to give to children and some village kids close by. It was so much fun being able to see the faces of the children light up when they were given their new clothes. It was even more humbling seeing the gratefulness in the eyes of the mother or grandmother caring for the child.
Now, being outside of Jinja and being in a village meant that there was a language barrier. Hardly any of the people spoke English. I was a little worried about how I would communicate with them since I have only picked up a limited amount of Lugandan since being here.  I have learned that smiles and laughs are a universal language. There was this young girl about the age of 10 or 11 that I will never forget. We were outside playing with the muslim school kids that went to school next door to the clinic. This girl came right up to me, smiled and grabbed both of my hands. She turned over my palms and gently touched my arms, laughing and saying “Muzungu!” She had this quiet, mature nature. As she rambled on in Lugandan, I found myself wishing I knew her story. It is not an uncommon sight to see young children caring for their younger siblings and taking on adult responsibilities. This girl also seemed fascinated with my hair. That day I wore it in two braids and whenever the breeze would blow a few strands into my eyes, she would tentatively brush them out of the way. She had a very motherly air about herself and I am sure she has had a lot of responsibility in her young life.

It is so easy to have your heart break for the people of Uganda.  Next to the clinic there was a set of small brick buildings that I found out were houses. It is really hard to describe it but they were sort of these small common areas, like a court yard where laundry hung out to dry and small coal fires were made to cook food. Anyways, we had walked over there with one of the little boys that lived there. It was exactly how I had originally pictured Africa. There were young women holding these chubby, naked babies wearing only these beaded thongs. Chickens were running around and women were laughing, hanging laundry out on the line. I guess word had gotten around that we were giving out clothes and the women rushed towards us, literally pushing their naked babies into our arms, asking us to get clothes for them. We of course went and picked out some clothing items for them. It was one of those “ Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I am in Africa” moments. I tend to have those a lot :)

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