Saturday, June 11th: Today I am spending the day working, while the rest of the group returns to the Nyamwegabira and Nyakatare clinics so that Kristen can meet the staff and perform an assessment from the clinical perspective. It is Paul’s job to update Kristen on what we have learned about each of these sites.
I must say that I am very homesick to see my wife and children. Whenever I am able, I grab a few moments down at the hospital (where the bandwidth is adequate) to skype. Being able to see my family while we talk, no matter how bad the connection, makes the time away bearable. A few times I have walked around the hospital carrying my laptop with skype running so that my family can see the people and surroundings. I know that taking care of four young children on her own is very challenging, and I am thankful I have a wife who is so selfless to allow Paul and me to do what we can here in Africa.
A little note about the picture below. A few days ago I talked about the mountain gorillas and the protected national forest (the impenetrable forest). There is another important facet to that story. In 1992, as the Ugandan government decided to put aside the land as a preserve (World Heritage Site) for the 350 or so remaining mountain gorillas, they had to evict the indigenous people who called the forest their home. A few thousand Batwa Pygmies were forced to leave their hunter/gatherer way of life in the forest, and adapt to an agrarian society in the communities of the Bwindi region. As I understand it, even after nearly 20 years out of the forest, many of these people long to go back to their old way of life, subsisting on what the forest provided. Many groups have been working to help these displaced tribes with education and skills to increase income, including Dr. Scott Kellerman who was mentioned previously. In fact, Bwindi hospital was founded originally as an open-air clinic for the Batwa in 2001.
As part of the economic program to improve the plight of the Batwa, the hotel had them come to perform their traditional dance while singing. Watching the Batwa perform, their joy for dancing became evident. It was as if someone threw a switch and these quiet people became electrified. Perhaps the most endearing aspect was watching the toddlers get involved, dancing and swaying to the music. At the conclusion, the Batwa displayed hand woven baskets for sale. (click to view the Batwa song and dance – Part #1 & Part #2)