Sunday, March 17, 2019

Blog 4

Blog 4
Jinja, Uganda
March 17, 2019

Hello again from very hot Jinja, Uganda.  No rain in sight, and everyday is warmer than the day before.  Climate change?  It appears so, since this is the rainy season.
There are a lot of good things about Africa:  nice people, interesting cultures, food, scenery, fauna and flora, and much much more.
But in our jobs, we are seeing and learning about many bad things also.  In 2004, then President George W. Bush introduced PEPFAR to this continent and elsewhere.  PEPFAR (Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).  For the first time hope began to replace despair.  People with HIV/AIDS could live a relatively healthy and long life.  Even live to see their grandchildren be born and grow up. That was 15 years ago.
We learned in 2004 that in order to take the AIDS drugs, it was important to have food, or otherwise the ARV’s (anti retro virus) drugs would not work, make you sick and you wouldn’t take them.  Now we are learning that in certain parts of Uganda, around here, and probably elsewhere, where people are so poor that they can’t buy and/or grow food and don’t have money to buy food. Or, in very rural places, they can’t get to the places where the ARV’s are available, because they don’t have money for transit, and it is too far too walk. There are other issues as well, there is still a heavy stigma against anyone who has aids, so people hide from the truth and don’t get tested or medicated.  And last but not least there are many in Eastern Uganda who believe in witchcraft, so they may think their neighbor is making them sick, but it is not HIV. And now on top of all of that, our current president has made heavy cuts to the global health portion of his budget so ARV’s may not be as available in the future. (Of course, his budget will have to pass and that is unlikely). Unfortunately, many children who were born with HIV may attend boarding school where the teachers have too many kids to worry about and therefore, do not attend to the medical needs of the HIV kids, no reminders to take their meds and no food.
The other big health issue here is cancer.  The government is beginning to push people to get tested for cervical cancer and breast cancer since these are two that if diagnosed early can be cured.  Slowly women are being tested but there are many that it is too late for.
As someone at work told us just the other day, the world is going one way, and Uganda s going in an opposite direction.  And often, it does feel like that in many different kinds of ways.  Very unfortunate and sad!
So what do we do?  We need to find and develop new and different ways to solve these problems.  Work smarter!  And Harder!
The people that we work with both at Rays of Hope and St. Francis are not giving up.  They are dedicated and compassionate about solving these and other problems.  We are proud to be a part of these teams.
We have put a few photos on this blog of a few of our work colleagues.  We have met lots of dedicated people here in Uganda and they are trying as hard as they can to make changes and take care of the very sick as well as work with the younger population with education. 
We continue to work hard to impart some of our knowledge with the employees of these organizations, hoping that will assist to make their lives easier so they can continue to deal with the big problems.
Bye for now!  We’ll be home in less than a month.
Katende Peter and Hinda


Blogger Jonis said...

Your contributions there are so valuable, both in terms of the knowledge and skills you share and for your validation of their value and importance. I can appreciate what a struggle it must be to remain upbeat in the face of so much suffering. Your testimony about the value of generous PEPFAR funding will have an impact on our elected Representatives when they come to vote on the budget.
And I hope it rains soon.

9:44 AM  

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