So we’re sitting on the porch at Dr. Waiswa’s (vice chairman of UDHA) beautiful Nile-side home in Jinja and rejoicing in the fast internet on his laptop! He has invited everyone to celebrate the work we’ve done as our stay here is coming to an end.

This week has been a busy, but incredibly rewarding one! We now have community health workers. Their training began bright and early Monday morning and wrapped up Thursday. The training went above and beyond our wildest expectations. We were so impressed by the dedication displayed by the elected CHW volunteers and the trainers. We were worried that the 4 day, 9-6, commitment would be too much for the volunteers — farmers and mothers without much “spare” time.  But each day we arrived to find them in their best clothes and eager to get to work — sitting at their desks and rereading their notes from the day before. They took their responsibilities seriously and we have no doubt they’ll continue to make UDHA, GlobeMed and us proud. It was great to see these older, respected community members so happy to be in a classroom and enthusiastically vying to answer questions. While the days were long, they were spirited debates with the trainers and lots of laughter — especially when Robert (the chosen “Energizer” of the group) would break up a session with a silly song or anecdote.

As for us, we passed the time attempting to follow the lesson (the topics ranged from exclusive breastfeeding to balanced diets to growth monitoring) and oohing and ahhing over Nangobi — the 4 month old daughter of one CHW who we volunteered to watch whenever possible. She was probably the most attentively looked after baby in Naigobya with the 4 of us (Marcia and Julie included) vying to hold her and rock her.  The training ended with us begging her mother to bring her over to the house some time next week because we’ll miss her when we don’t have the day-long training sessions!

The last day was spent doing “practicals” – in the morning the volunteers were trained in how to prepare nutritious baby food – porridge with ground fish added in, or sweet potatoes boiled in milk.  They broke into groups and a fierce competition ensued as each team attempted to put their newly acquired knowledge to use and create the best-tasting food.  After, we all went to the recently cleared model garden to plant carrots, spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, and chard so it can serve as an example backyard garden for the rest of the community.  The training ended with some wonderful thank-you speeches (Ugandans give speeches at any possible occasions) and the community health workers serenading our group with a song they had composed in our honor! The CHWs were happy to complete the training and are excited for their graduation Sunday morning.

We rested Friday and spent time with Marcia and Julie playing Phase 10 (a card game Erin brought) and watching episodes of Privileged, Season 1. The Ugandans in our group have grown very fond of Phase 10 and some of our best nights have been spent playing cards. Betty jokingly tells us she will scoop out our eyeballs when we skip her. Something that makes the act even more enjoyable. :) Needless to say we’re all very competitive.  After a lazy morning we finally got around to our task for the day. We were determined to climb Mount Mawembe, a steep, rocky mountain in the middle of the Naigobyan plains, and decided our climb would celebrate the end of our training. We set off with Ivan, Betty, Marcia and Julie by boda boda to the house of Dr Waiswa and Betty’s aunt. She proudly told us that she owns part of the mountain and her daughter, Mary, agreed to take us to the top.  Our three boda drivers and a horde of local children joined us in the adventure. The mountain that had seemed so harmless from below, soon proved to be quite the challenge. Micaela has enjoyed recounting our climb to all who ask — showing how we marched to the top, while Marcia and Julie sluggishly drug their feet and complained about the incline.  It’s mostly true, and the Ugandans have a good laugh at her impressions.  The terrain was rocky,  and we found ourselves sliding and having to really watch our footing- while meanwhile the neighborhood kids scampered by barefoot and cows peacefully munched grass along narrow plateaus.  The view from the top was spectacular- all of Naigobya and the surrounding communities were spread out beneath us.  Micaela was dragged into a cave at the summit with a bunch of local kids- she got stuck about halfway in but still spent enough time inside to be sufficiently freaked out- the walls were covered with writing and designs and were apparently the subject of many local myths- it definitely felt like some evil spirits were lurking in there.  Many of the children repeatedly asked us “What is Mt. Elgon?” – we later realized they were trying to trick us into saying “Mt. Elgon is taller than this mountain”- apparently local lore claims that if you compare Mawembe to another mountain you won’t return from your climb.

But fortunately, we all did- and Betty’s cousin had chairs and a meal waiting for us before we set back off home. 

So plans for next week-

Tomorrow- GRADUATION DAY! (Micaela expects to be crying through the ceremony, Erin expects to be cuddling Nangobi).  The entire community has been invited to the ceremony after which the community health workers will give a brief talk and demonstrate their newfound skills – like taking MUAC and weight measurements.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday:  We’ll be wrapping up loose project ends, meeting with the nurse, and observing a few of the community health workers perform their first home visits.  We’re not looking forward to saying our goodbyes in Naigobya- we’ve come to really love the community!

Thursday – Sunday: We’ll be in Iganga, doing project reports, finalizing the workplan and budget and holding meetings to discuss the project activities in the upcoming year. 

We leave from Entebbe on Sunday at 2 pm and we’ll be in the good old USA on August 2!

Hello Everyone!

So much has happened since our last entry! First, we want to thank everyone for their messages, thoughts and prayers last Sunday when two suicide bombs exploded in Kampala.  Fortunately, at the time we were both curled up under our mosquito nets in sleepy, little Naigobya but the attacks did give us a scare- exactly a week before we were out for the night in Kampala, and on the same street as the Ethiopian Restaurant that was bombed.  We were debating staying in one of the larger cities to watch the World Cup Final, but were both so weary of travel that we decided to forgo the game and spend the night playing cards with Julie and Marcia in Naigobya.  Even now we cannot believe that so many lives were lost and our hearts go out to the families affected by the attack.

On a happier note, we’ve made some major strides in the project this past week, with the full team assembled in Naigobya.  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we held community meetings for each of the three major areas of the village.  The meetings went above and beyond all of our expections- we are so impressed with the enthusiam and dedication from the community and our team at UDHA.  All of the meetings had huge turnouts (once we accounted for the 2 hour or so delay of “African time”)- members from over 80% of the all the village households attended.  Betty was a magnificent facilitator- she really knows how to work a crowd.  We provided the “mzungu factor” – which meant that we sat back and let the Naigobya residents lead the meeting, but were able to pop in with some key Lusoga phrases- something that never fails to amaze and amuse people here.

The community meetings are an integral part of our project because we designed them to accomplish a bunch of things- during the meetings we introduce the project, UDHA and our team, present the results of the baseline survey, lead discussions about nutritional issues  in the community, gain input on possible solutions/project plans, and facilitate the selection of community health workers.  Community health workers (CHW) are residents of Naigobya who have been nominated by their neighbors- (we broke Naigobya into 11 “neighborhoods” of 25-30 houses, and each “neighborhood” choses a member to represent them as their community health worker.)  In this project, the CHWs will be responsible for monitoring the weight, height and MUAC of the children under-5  in their neighborhood and provide referrals for severely malnourished children to the clinic.  They will also hold monthly sensitization workshops regarding home gardens, nutritious food preparation, balanced diets and other topics of interest.  When Betty asked the meeting attendees how our project could best impact the nutritional status of the community discussions ranged from family planning, to poisoning moles- the CHWs will have plenty to discuss in their workshops, and we are lucky because they will be receiving excellent training from a nutritionist at the Iganga District Hospital.

On Friday we broke the ground on our model garden- this will be land that will be used in training the VHTs on home gardens, and that the CHWs can use in the future for demonstrations etc.  We casually mentioned during the meetings that we would be working on the garden on Friday, but we were both skeptical that people would show up.  But on Friday morning at 7:30 Betty woke us up saying that a group of people had already arrived at our house to work.  So we spent Friday learning how to hoe and are nursing sore shoulders and blistered hands today!

Today (Sunday) we are in Iganga meeting with UDHA about the partnership and about the sustainability of the projects we’ve been working on (Nutrition for us and Peer Mentorship for Michaela and Aleena).  We will return to Naigobya by boda tonight so that we are ready for the community health worker training that begins early Monday morning and goes through Thursday. We can’t wait!

As of today we have two weeks left in Uganda, and we cannot believe the time has gone by so quickly! We are savoring our last weeks here, but also look forward to coming home and seeing all of you again!

Musibye Bulungi (Have a good day!)
Micaela and Erin

Hello everyone,

As many of you have probably heard, there were two bomb attacks that took place in Kampala on Sunday night. The bombs were targeting locations where people had gathered to view the World Cup final match. The bombs killed 72 people and injured hundreds more.

We would like to inform you that while we are shook up and deeply saddened by this tragic event, Michaela, Aleena, Micaela, and Erin as well as their friends and the staff at UDHA are all safe. Iganga and Naigobya are three and four hours away from Kampala respectively. Communication via internet and cell phone has become increasingly difficult since the attacks, but hopefully will be improving soon.

Our thoughts go out to those who have lost loved ones.

This past weekend found us on our second adventure, this time at Queen Elizabeth National Park in the southwest region of Uganda. The drive down was gorgeous as we got our first glimpse of the Rwenzori Mountains and passed numerous villages perched high on the hills. We went with a Kampala-based outfitter, Red Chili. And as fate would have it, the other party going to Queen Elizabeth this weekend included a GlobeMed member from Rhodes, Chris! We were in the dorm the night before, when he saw Aleena in her GlobeMed shirt. Small World!

We really enjoyed hanging out with his group – a team of nurses and medical anthropologists working on a baseline survey for the NIH – who took us under their wing during the trip and who we hope to meet up with again before leaving. So the park was amazing. We stayed at Simba Safari Camp and, although they lost power for 36 hours (Micaela and Aleena were heartbroken to miss the Ghana-Uraguay game), we loved it! The first day found us hiking through a local village on a community walk with the Rwenzori Conservation Trust. There we met with a local women’s cooperative who performed some local songs for us and asked us many questions about America.

Later that afternoon we took a boat tour of the Kazinga Channel, a natural waterway between Lakes George and Edward. On the drive to the channel, Michaela spotted an elephant deep in the bush. We all hung out of the open-roofed van snapping pictures and exclaiming about our good luck for 10 minutes before finally moving on. Imagine our surprise when we rounded the next corner and saw the Kazinga Channel before us with several herds of elephants lining its banks. From the boat we had a spectacular view of the elephants, water buffalo, hippos, baboons, crocodile, kob (antelope), monkeys, waterhogs (PUMA!), waterbuck, bushbuck and an enormous array of brightly colored bird species that Micaela was determined to identify. We passed a fishing village on the bluff above the channel. Their brightly colored wooden canoes dotted the shorline and we were shocked to see people in a scene that resembled something from Planet Earth. Even now as we write about it a week later, we get excited and can’t believe our luck.

On the way back to Simba, we drove along Crater Drive. Our van bumped along the high ridges formed by a volcano once upon a time. The craters were giant and the views incredible. Some of the craters formed salty lakes while others were spotted with cacti or filled with trees.  At the end we stopped by the Queen Eliz. Visitors Center that was constructed for the Queen’s last visit in 2002 (I think). It was beautiful and sat on top of a bluff overlooking the best view of the entire drive.

The next day we left camp before sunrise for our game drive along the Kasyeni Plains. The sunrise over the Savannah was unforgettable. We saw lots of warthogs, kob, buffalo, and bushback. Our driver, Medie, told us the best way to see a lion was to look at the body language of the herds. Thirty minutes later this paid off when we spotted a group of anxious-looking kob. Medie spotted a lion deep in the bush. Even with him pointing, it took the rest of us a few minutes to pick out the lion in the high, tan grass. She gradually came closer and closer to the road, allowing us incredible views. We were all hanging out of the roof, something that scared Erin when the lion suddenly looked up at us from a mere 15 feet away. The experience was surreal, made even more special by the fact that it was only the four of us, our driver, and a park ranger watching the lion. She crossed the road in front of our vehicle and to Erin’s relief did not attack the car (ha ha). We were surprised to see that the bushback herd on the other side of the road cautiously followed the lion. Our guide, Godfrey, informed us that it was their way of ensuring that she didn’t hide to ambush them later.

After about 20 minutes of slackjawed lion watching, we called the other van to come see our lion, and we headed off in search of more predators. We were still exclaiming over our good luck when, five minutes later, Medi told us to quiet down and check out the pack of hyenas on the road ahead of us. There were two crossing the road, and they waited until two more had joined them. Then the pack drunkenly trotted into the distance. We were impressed by how alike they (and the warthogs we were constantly spotting) were to their counterparts in the Lion King. Nice work Disney!

That afternoon we walked through Maramagambo Forest, a completely different (and slightly less exciting) ecosystem than our morning drive through the Savannah. We saw a variety of monkeys in the treetops and some interesting birds, but it was impossible for it to compete with our big game encounter that morning. We did see a few cool things: a family of baboons hanging out by the reception area, a tree home to hundreds of camarant birds (so many that the entire tree and a surrounding 15 foot radius was completely white from their smelly droppings). We (Micaela and Erin), having recently read the Poisonwood Bible, been educated on the numerous deadly snakes in the region by Godfrey, and told by the nurses in the other group that there was little you could do about a snake bite, enjoyed the excursion less than the others. We were constantly looking on the path, something that came in handy when Erin realized she and Micaela were standing in Red ants. Ouch. But that made the walk a bit stressful.

Our last evening at camp, two women from a local craft cooperative gave us a lesson in making local crafts – specifically the traditional straw baskets and paper beads. As it turns out, Erin is quite the little basket weaver and she bought the materials in the hopes that she will (granted 10 years from now) can finish the one she started with the women.

The next day the rest of the group went home to Kampala while Erin and Micaela remained at Queen Elizabeth. We are happy to announce to our friends and family that Erin has now joined the crafts cooperative as an apprentice weaver, and Micaela will soon be starting her park ranger training so she can finally distinguish a bee-eater from an African Fish Eagle, and can likewise scare naiive tourists about the dangers of snakes and predators.

Just kidding. But we wish.

We arrived in Kampala on Sunday evening- in time to celebrate Independence Day with our fellow Americans at a barbeque thrown by the United States’ Embassy. The barbeque was lots of fun, but definitely gave us a taste of what reverse culture shock will be like when we come home. It was strange to see so many mzungus, especially the little kids running around in their red white and blue outfits, with glowsticks and facepaint. The fireworks were excellent, a little low (we were sure some of the tree in the compound were about to be set ablaze) but gave some of the ones we see back home a run for their money. We were joking before the show about that song “I’m proud to be an American”. Five minutes later, it was the accompaniment for the fireworks (ha ha). From the show to the marines serving drinks to the hotdogs, burgers and coldslaw, the whole affair could have been in the middle of the U.S. The only reminders that we were in Uganda were the traditional tribal dancers who performed and the many 20-somethings wearing the chacos and backpacks that marked us as volunteers. We were happy to go out with the other group afterward and got a small glimpse into Kampala night-life.

The next morning we were sad to part ways with them, but excited to get back to Naigobya and our project. We spent the morning in Kampala at the many craft stores and were back in Iganga by Monday evening. Tuesday morning we caught a taxi to Kaliro and bodas to Naigobya (don’t worry Mom and Dad, they went slow!). We spent yesterday finishing data entry from the nutrition assessment and reviewing the workplan with the team and Dr Waiswa. Today Erin and Marsha are travelling to Iganga to meet with a data analysis specialist who will help us compile and analyze the results from the baseline, while Micaela, Julie and Betty will meet with the nurse at the Naigobya Clinic and visiting Sub-county officials to seek the leaders’ support of our upcoming project events.

It’s been a great 5 weeks and we can’t wait to see what the next 3 will hold for us.  As always, we will post again when we can and keep you updated on our latest accomplishments and adventures! Sula Bulungi! (good night!) 

- Erin & Micaela

_____________________________________________________

For the GlobeMed-ers out there, here are some project updates:

- We have mapped Naigobya A, a subset of Naigobya with about 270 households. From that group we have surveyed 100 homes with children under age five. The baseline questions included topics about the family’s diet, spending habits, farming trends and nutritional challenges. We weighed and measured the children (weight, height, mid upper arm circumference (MUAC). And we sensitized the community about our work we will be doing over the course of the the year.

- We have entered the results from the 100 surveys into Epi Info, a program we are learning to use and that will hopefully simplify the analyzing process.

- Next week we will be holding three community meetings to present and discuss the results of the baseline assessment, gain the community’s input in deciding how to address the nutritional challenges identified, and to explain the Community Health Worker role and allow each group of thirty households to select their CHW from among them.

- We hope to begin work on a model garden (location to be determined by the community). The CHWs will be overseen by the health unit nurse and we hope they will be measuring all children under 5 every 3 months as well as hold educational meetings with households several times a month. They will also be promoting our “target foods” and holding food preparation demonstrations.

-We will be meeting with local farming groups soon to discuss the factors constraining production and what can be done, as well as to discuss the feasibility of the community adopting crops that are nutritious but that they are not used to growing/eating. 

- Currently we are attaining child health cards so that the children’s health status will be tracked over time. This will help the clinic and CHWs to identify any important changes in child health and will allow us to assess our project at the end of the year.

- We will know more details after our meetings next week and will update when we can.

 

Hello Everyone. First off, we’d like to apologize for the delay in posting. We’ve been living in Naigobya for the last week- it’s a wonderful village, with scenic views of rolling green hills, mud brick, thatched roof huts, colorful traditional dresses , welcoming people and lots and lots of douma (or roasted corn). But communication out of Naigobya is challenging to say the least- we have no internet, and cell phone service is scant- we joke that we’ll have to resort to climbing trees soon.

Highlights of the first week:

-our house! It’s gorgeous! We are fortunate to be living in Dr. Waiswa’s brother’s house, in a compound with his mother. We share the space with the rest of our team: Betty, Dr. Waiswa’s sister and community mobilizer extraordinaire, Ivan-the-Great, our Project Coordinator and strong but silent leader, and Marcia and Julie, two Makere Univ. recent graduates who are our data analysis experts and converted card sharks.

-community mapping- we spent the first 2 days undertaking the arduous task of mapping all the homes in the village, a process that required us to follow winding footpaths and trek through cornfields (Naigobya doesn’t exactly have the orderly streets we’re used to at home), but gave us a nice introductory tour of the area

-on Sunday morning we went to church, it was a Catholic service but unlike one that either of us have ever been to before- lots and lots of beautiful singing and drumming. the priest asked us to stand mid-service and introduce ourselves and after the service we had a receiving line of people wanting to greet us and welcome us to the community.

-we are 4/5 done with our baseline assessment! We split up into 3 teams and visited 79 houses over 2.5 days, surveying mothers about household food production and consumption, and weighing, measuring height and mid-upper arm circumference of their children under 5. For the most part the interviews went smoothly, although we had a few children who were terrified beyond consolation at the sight of our pale mzungu faces- after the first day we started bringing stickers as an attempt to distract them from the fact that we were shoving them into a sling and hoisting them into the air.

-we both have been LOVING the multitude of farm animals that we get to interact with on a daily basis, they’re slightly more annoying at 6 am when the racket begins, but we’ve played with baby goats, week-old piglets, pink chickens and milked a cow!

This weekend we came back to Iganga and then rode a packed matatu (local mini van taxi which carries on average 20 people) with Michaela and Aleena to Jinja to go rafting on the Nile! It was AWESOME! We went on a day-long trip, which covered about 8 grade 4 and 5 rapids. We capsized on 3 of them, a terrifying but exhilarating experience which sent us all shooting out of the raft and underwater. Our favorite was “Overtime” an 8ft waterfall which we to rafted down backwards, lost our guide and another team member in the process, got stuck at the base of the falls, and still the 4 of us managed to stay in the raft.

Exhausted and sore from the rafting, we spent Sunday in Jinja perusing local craft shops and indulging in American food (we had the BEST muesli and yoghurt, strawberry smoothies ever!) In the evening we piled back into a matatu and came back to Iganga.

We’ve spent the past 2 days here in meetings with UDHA staff to begin the data analysis of the baseline survey and finalize our workplan and budget for the rest of the project. This morning we’re about to go to Iganga hospital to consult with a nutritionist about proposing new target foods for the community.

In the afternoon we’ll be heading out to Kampala for the start of a 4 day trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park. So excited! We’ll be back in Iganga on Monday for more meetings, so hopefully we’ll be able to update then!

Hi from Micaela and Erin!

We’re sitting in the UDHA office in Iganga now- counting down the minutes until the US-England game, which we will watch with Ivan, the caretaker of the clinic and an avid England fan (we want to set up a bracket with him!)

It’s hard to believe we’ve already been here for three days.   We arrived in Entebbe on Wednesday and were happy to see Irene waiting for us with a “GlobeMed” sign.  The ride to Kampala was beautiful – we drove along Lake Victoria crammed in the backseat of a pickup truck but all hanging out the windows trying to snap pictures of the landscape.  We decided to drive straight to Iganga, instead of spending the night in Kampala, but stopped along the way at “Ling Ling’s ” (local Chinese food- interesting) to meet Dr. Waiswa and his sister- both are amazing people and got us even more excited for our stay in Naigobya- they said their mother is anxious to meet us, and will treat us like second children.

In Iganga, we’re staying at the UDHA headquarters, which we share with a private clinic.  They have recently expanded and our rooms are very nice, we have a bathroom to share and a kitchen as well.  The staff at UDHA and the clinic have been incredibly welcoming- insisting on accompanying us everywhere, cooking for us, and teaching us some Lusoga. 

On our first day, we went for a walk with Aleena around the neighborhood and were greeted with hordes of children shouting “mzungu, mzungu!” (white person) and wanting to “bonga” or fist pump (We think we have Evan, a member of last year’s trip, to thank for that).  Olive, one of the UDHA staff, told us that the children running up to touch us are checking if our body temperatures are different than theirs- so cute! We passed the afternoon meeting various local officials.  It was quite as experience- everyone here is very formal, so the greeting proccess takes some time.  We would shuffle into a room, pile onto a bench, exchange “hello, how are you” with every other person in the room, and then oftentimes, had to leave again when we realized that the actual person we were looking for, wasn’t there.  We also visited the main street of Iganga, a hectic road full of matatus (mini vans), careening boda bodas (motorcycle taxis), bicycles, pedestrians, and various animals – we even saw a bicyclist transporting a goat over his shoulders.  We bought cell phones, sim cards and visited the local produce market to pick up some food for the week- bananas, pineapples, mangos, spinach, tomatos etc.

Yesterday, we spent the day in meetings with the UDHA staff discussing the project budget and workplan.  We were both impressed with the organization and efficiency displayed by the staff and know we will learn a lot working with them this summer.  We’re still working out some of the project details, but we’ll post the plans when we finalize them.  The highlight of yesterday was the delicious meal that Deborah, the youth coordinator at UDHA, prepared for us- rice with peas, cassave with red beans, avocado and spinach, pineapple and jackfruit.  Deborah doesn’t believe we can cook for ourselves, so she has promised to give us some lessons- although we doubt we’ll ever be able to rival this meal- it was so good!

Saturdays are usually a day off here, so we had time to explore in the morning and walked to the main street to look for a converter for Erin’s computer.  No luck so far, but we’ll keep looking, and maybe send for one from Jinja.  We also bought a basin to wash our clothes in- something else Deborah is wary of- she says she’ll bring a camera when we try. Later we again ventured to Main Street. We bought minutes for our cell phones — something we were anxious to purchase as we can now recieve phone calls from home! As well as pillows and a shelf for clothing. While we were out we also checked out the local internet cafe. It looks promising, so you can expect more frequent blog posts.  We passed the evening playing cards in Aleena and Michaela’s room and gearing up for the ‘Big game’.

Tomorrow a member of UDHA’s Board is throwing us a Welcome Party. We are excited to meet more locals and “get down” with our new friends on the UDHA staff. The current plan is that we’re going to Naigobya on Tuesday, so hopefully we will be able to post again one more time.

Love Love Love.
Micaela and Erin

June 9, 2010

Greetings from Addis! We are here in Ethiopia for the next hour before we leave for Entebbe, Uganda.  We are finally in AFRICA! Since leaving Dubai the temperature has dropped 20 degrees.  It seems surreal that in a few short hours we will be stepping off the plane in Uganda, and meeting Irene, a woman who works for UDHA and who we know through email correspondence for the last 6 months.  The four of us have passed the last few hours watching in-flight movies, and writing a list of the many things we will need to purchase in Kampala- gum boots, water treatment drops, cell phones, mosquito nets – oh my!

Our journey has been long but we have been enjoying ourselves thus far and appreciate our glimpses (however brief) of such interesting cities!

Highlights today: delicious mango smoothies at the airport, Michaela K and Aleena’s last iced latte, no plane induced ankle swelling (yet) and being able to sit together this flight!

10 pm JUNE 8TH 2010

Tonight finds us in the luxurious Millenium Hotel in Dubai counting our meal vouchers and lying with our feet in the air decrease foot/ankle/cankle swelling (Aleena’s are scary).  We met up yesterday at the JFK airport in New York: highlights included Aleena and Erin eating with Micaela A and her family, Aleena being asked if she was an unaccompanied minor, and some seriously impressive baggage cart maneuvering. The plane was enormous and had beautiful starry ceilings, the food was surprisingly good (we got menus!) and they had individual entertainment consoles so we didn’t sleep as much as we should have (considering it was a 13 hour flight) Sidenote: Micaela A was asked if Michaela K was her mother.

Many of the people who were traveling on the flight and through the airport were on their way to the World Cup. At one point an immigration clad in a traditional Arabian white robe and headdress eagerly placed a sombrero on his head while it’s enthusiastic Mexican owner cheered him on.  That’s globalization for you.

Tomorrow we will head off to Entebbe and spend the night in Kampala from there we will go to Iganga on Thursday and hope to post again then.

Hey everyone!
Well.. it’s the day before Micaela Atkins, Michaela Kupfer, Erin Thimmesch, and Aleena Agrawal depart for Uganda on behalf of WashU GlobeMed’s GrOW Trip. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Riley will not be able to join us, but we hope she recovers quickly and all will be well soon! We’ll miss you, love!
I’m pretty sure I’m not just speaking for myself when I say there is a lot of excitement hectic-ness in the air. It’s hard to believe it’s actually finally happening – this is, after all, a trip that we’ve been working on since.. January? UDHA seems to be really excited to see us, and we’re quite excited to see them. We’ve gotten a bunch of toys for the kids at the youth center, cool headlights for ourselves (and a pocket knife that I’m particularly proud of), and some awesome WashU gear for UDHA. We’ve got plans for a safari, a trip the waterfalls, and an excursion down the Nile. The 4 of us will rendezvous in NY tomorrow from where we will begin our journey. Then we’ll spend a night in Dubai, then one in Kampala after we’ve arrived in Uganda. After that, we have orientation at UDHA for 4 or 5 days, where we get to meet everyone and adjust to our new surroundings. We’ll update this as soon as we can once we’re settled, so keep posted!  Feel free to ask any questions, or comment! Thanks for reading, and I hope your summers are going well!
Love,
Aleena & the GrOW Trippers

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