Mulago Hospital

On Tuesday morning I took my students to the Mulago National Referral Hospital, a free, government-run hospital in Kampala. You can read about the visit on the GYPA blog, but I think Jasmine gives a more accurate picture:

“have you seen the nurse?”

that’s a question you will hear alot in mulago hospital. especially after 1am. i had to ask too. on a whole other floor, in a different year.

you walk/run to the nurse’s room/station only to find no one, then you go round the whole floor. knocking on the doors of each room asking ‘have you seen the nurse?’

if you are lucky, you will find her in one of the rooms. if you are not, like i was, you’ll run back to your room, check on your patient, then try the nurse’s room again.maybe she’d have come back.

marburg, schmarburg

Tomorrow afternoon, the American delegates for the Global Youth Partnership for Africa’s conference on Youth, Development & Health arrive, meaning that blogging time will be limited as I guide American and Ugandan youth leaders around the country.

I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but my public health experience is limited to a basic familiarity with the ABC policy and the knowledge that, generally speaking, clean = good and dirty = things like cholera and tuberculosis. That’s okay, though — it looks like I’m about to get a crash course in health disaster management:

Uganda: Ebola-Like Virus Hits Kamwenge
Uganda: Marburg Feared in Kampala

Oh, goody.

My little brother’s greatest worry when I told him I was moving to Uganda was that I would contract Ebola, a disease he studied extensively in school and consequently fears like the plague (ba-dum ching). If I remember correctly, I laughed, patted his head and told him I’d be “just fine.” Look who’s obsessive-compulsively washing her hands now?

blogger hates me

Well, not exactly. But I did get flagged as spam, which shut down my ability to post until a “human” (I’m quoting the Blogger notice) reviewed JF and gave me the green light.

Thanks, human.

And, now that I’m back, I’ve been tagged by Glenna to participate in the 8 Random Things meme. It feels a bit hypocritical, given my last Global Voices post about the blogren being all fun & games.

But then, what’s the matter with fun & games? So here goes (I’m skipping the rules because everyone’s already been tagged except for Josh — your turn):

I hate these. I think they’re a waste of energy, pixels and kilobytes. (Grumble, grumble, arrrgh…. 27th, I’m turning into a pirate already.)

Until three years ago, my biggest aspiration was to work for the CIA. In my defense: they teach you languages. For free. And they pay you for the ones you already know.

I was supremely relieved (and thoroughly amused) today when I noticed that I’m not the only one who edits local media in my head.

In my book, barbecue sauce is its own food group and should be applied to most other foods, including mashed potatoes and omlettes.

I read so much that as a kid I could never clean my room without constant parental prompting — I’d get caught up in the copyright tags attached to toys, old homework and the backs of cereal boxes.

I never travel without my pillow.

For all the times that I’ve sheepishly introduced myself as a Russian major attempting to work in East Africa, I wouldn’t trade my degree for the world.

I bought a ticket home this week. Talk about mixed emotions. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have hated this experience, the number of times I have curled up on my bed and cursed everything: corruption, poverty, the Anopheles mosquito, incompetence, bureacracy, misplaced deference, war, rain, matooke.

And then there are the wonderful things: Breakdance Project Uganda, the Nagenda Academy and the visionary behind it, watching the sun rise during the early-morning bus rides north, the French-speaking owner of Maq Foods in Gulu, the youth leaders I’ve met working for GYPA, my 27 housemates (and counting), the blogren.

My good friend Chris recently left Uganda after a year in Gulu. I’ve been reading his blog a lot lately as he grapples with returning to the States, and this post made me miss Uganda already. In the words of Locus Amoenus: “Funny then, how Uganda always seems to redeem itself when you want to lay under the mosquito net and sob.”

agreeing with the LRA, part 7043281

Earlier this month the Government of Uganda backtracked on the most recent section of the peace agreement, which in theory promised that a special blend of traditional and national justice mechanisms would be established to deal with war criminals on both sides of the conflict. The government is now planning to set up a special tribunal for LRA members but handle UPDF members through court marshals.

The most surprising part of the Reuters report was that conflict analysts are saying the LRA is being too soft in their demands.

In case you didn’t get that: conflict analysts are saying the LRA is being too soft in their demands.

Weird. For so long the LRA has been vilified from all sides — it’s odd to hear someone supporting their arguments and saying they should push harder for what they want.

Two weeks ago I helped run a conflict simulation for the participants at GYPA’s Immersion on youth, development and peace-building. As part of the debriefing, we talked about the multiplicity of actors in any prolonged conflict situation and the importance of recognizing that each actor has interests that, whether or not we agree with them, are legitimate and need to be addressed in order to build sustainable peace.

This is becoming increasingly clear to me as I find myself repeatedly siding with the LRA. Uganda-CAN recently reported that the LRA has agreed to discuss the release of abductees. They’ve been adamantly opposed to this since the beginning of the talks — it doesn’t make sense that they would suddenly change their minds, especially given the government’s alterations to the implied terms of the last agreement.

I’m worried that peace is becoming so desirable, and the top commanders of the LRA so afraid of punishment, that they’re starting to give in haphazardly. This bodes poorly for durable peace — the likelihood that LRA combatants will abide by an agreement made hurriedly and only in order to achieve something is slim.

I never thought I’d say this, but I hope that the LRA refuses to concede its positions for the sake of reaching a peace agreement.

why I love my job

Overheard at GYPA’s Student Global Ambassador Immersion, a conference for Ugandan and American youth on peacebuilding and development, in the past four days:

“I’m really glad you’re all women. I’m learning that women can organize things without men.”

“Finance. That’s money.”

“The North East States Organization has been absent from the Siwa-Nizwa conflict for the past decade because it has been brokering a peace deal between Burkistan, Murkistan, Burmurkistan, and four other countries whose names I can’t recall because I haven’t yet made them up.”