Uganda, the Congo, and Refugees.
The good, The BAD, and the Ugly.
With over 100,000 refugees spilling over borders into Kyaka 2, a remote refugee settlement in western Uganda, it’s inevitable to have some bad. And there is bad. And the bad is a very different bad than what you know.
Lack of food. Even though the World Food Program is in the camp, there’s still an obvious lack of food. Thank mother nature for bananas, but one can’t live off of bananas alone. Some have tried. There was plenty of children that Dr.Suzanne saw who were malnourished. Some she saved, others she couldn’t.
There’s very little water. The zone that I worked in most of the time lived off of 4.9 liters a day of bacteria filled water per person. Again, that’s for drinking, showering, cooking, brushing teeth, cleaning,…they use less water in one day than Westerners use in one flush of the toilet.
The one and only hospital in this vast refugee settlement where Suzanne worked was over crowded, with some patients lying on the floor waiting to be seen. Like Suzanne, the other doctors made do with what they had but still lacked basic diagnostic and therapy options to do a proper work up on the refugee patients.
Children dying, too many, from preventable diseases.
Using rape as a weapon of war.
Over 100,000 refugees, zero toilet paper. Defecating outside. The few latrine walls became the toilet paper.
There was a week when we were the only volunteers in this whole settlement.
Knowing that the hardship that happens in Africa is because the people that live there are black, and would never happen if the continent was full of white people.
The obnoxious singing/screaming of the overnight church services.
The slow pace of things.
The Ugandan doctors helping the Congolese refugees would have to work a second job so that they could afford to feed their own kids.
Lots and lots of malaria. Even a co-volunteer nurse from Canada who was only there for 2 weeks got malaria. The refugees would receive treated mosquito nets. They also need string/rope to build their basic bamboo and mud huts. They can’t afford to buy string. So they would cut their mosquito nets into thin string and use this to build their huts. Everybody did this. This is why thousands of children in this settlement die. A simple UN gift of string would save hundreds of lives. Heartbreaking, but true.
Getting used to things that are not acceptable.