A Little Window Into Life Here…

img_4328Fallen Limb:  I woke up yesterday morning and decided to stroll out to the yard of the guesthouse to enjoy the singing of the birds.  Upon taking only two steps outside I was confronted by a giant tree branch that had cracked and fallen onto the main pathway to the guesthouse entrance.  I took a moment to ponder all the various health and safety issues that could be entertained by this incident.  I even had a brief flashback to the Health and Safety concerns back home when we’d scour our workplace at scheduled times looking for any possible hazard.  But back to the tree lying across the entry way.  When I asked the receptionist if there was a storm last night she casually commented that there was no storm but only that the tree must be old.  Others were around but they too seemed uninterested in reflecting on what we might call at home a ‘near miss’.  Then the nightwatchman began offering a few thoughts which I appreciated because he did agree that it could have been dangerous however his main concern was that it did not hit a vehicle because there is often one parked right in that very spot.  When I suggested that it could also be risky had a person been walking on the path when the massive limb fell he kindly dismissed it citing that so long as God was with him (I’ll add / or ‘her’) he could ‘run away’ but a parked vehicle…’good enough, that would be a big problem’.

The Meaning in a Name:  After discussing the tree the nightwatchman and I exchanged names and I learned that he is called, ‘Bullet’.  ‘It’s a name’, and as he said, ‘you can’t change it once it has been given.’  I actually commented that I thought it was not only original but could have any number of cool meanings including being particularly ‘on point’ or ‘sharp’ or ‘fast’.  ‘Good enough’ I said, ‘but what is the origin of the name?’    He tilted his head back a bit looking reflective and said the best he could come up with was his ‘Grands’ meaning grandparents were from the north and that they would often be running away from the bullets of the LRA.  Hence, the name, ‘Bullet’.  My eyes just widened and stayed fixed on him even after he’d finished speaking.  As for the meaning of our names I’d say Bullets’ is up there in the area of significance.  As it turns out, no surprise, he stumbled considerably when dealing the name ‘Glenn’ but found my second name, ‘Pascoe’ to be ‘very easy’.   Interestingly, after several attempts at ‘Glenn’ he seemed to latch onto the pronunciation, ‘Grand’.  I’ll take it as it is considerably better than, ‘Gland’.

The Ugandan Receptionist:  It’s happened enough times now so let me try and put my finger on it.  It’s the experience of encountering a Ugandan receptionist.  I trust it is not going too far, and my Ugandan friends can lead me back to the path of truth if I’m going astray, but I have found that receptionists in Uganda can give you a look that seems to come from their very core.  It’s a look that registers zero interest in what you’ve come to say or do and yet, of course, they are lodged there at the central point of contact like an unavoidable trial that one must go through.  And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a government office or a place of business where they might want the customers.  In my way of thinking I see a receptionist as a pivotal person with the necessary soft skills to direct traffic in a seamless way.  I would also see it being a job where there is a certain logic to it and a finite number of possibilities for any interaction.  So it disturbs me but, even more, I find it perplexing every time I encounter this ‘look’.  It’s like in a movie when it cuts from a bustling city street to a scene in the country where there is only the sound of crickets and wind chimes.  I like to try and figure out what someone might be thinking or feeling but the Ugandan receptionist offers no clues.  It is like they are vaults of information committed to taking whatever answers they might have to your questions…to the grave with them.  I’ve been giving the benefit of the doubt in these situations for some time now.  I’ve assumed that there’s a disconnect due to language but I have to discount that as the reason because as soon as I’m leaving, totally unhelped, I can hear him or her talking a mile a minute in English to their friend on the phone with a pleasant, even engaging personality!  Again, I’m open to direction on this one.

img_4391A Time to Shoot:  When I was a young boy I was at my cousins’ place.  He lived in the country and lived a country lifestyle so one day we were playing around outside one day as boys do.   We began shooting his bebe gun.  I was under his influence otherwise I’m sure it would have never happened but I ended up shooting a sparrow.  Since that day I have vowed never to shoot a gun again. Until this morning.

I woke up to terrific crashing sounds.  Keep in mind that yesterday I woke up to find that a massive tree limb had fallen right outside the front entrance.  But these sounds kept coming.  Over and over it was like bowling balls were falling on the tin roof sheets right above my room, rolling down, then crashing through the trees.  There was also strange scratching sounds and tree branches breaking.  I remained patient for 4-5 seconds before going out to see what on earth was happening.  I told the staff on my way out that I thought the roof was caving in.  The staff member put two and two together very quickly and said, ‘it’s monkeys’.  When I reached outside and looked up there were dozens of monkeys ‘playing’ on the roof, swinging from the branches and then dropping 5-6 feet onto the tin-sheeted roof above my room, sliding down, and then jumping into the trees.  I’m not sure you can appreciate that type of sound.  I already have issues related to noises (i.e. loud img_4401chewing, clicking, etc.) but THIS?!   Furthermore, when I was looking up at the monkeys on the roof it was apparent that the neighbours’ tree had fallen, probably some time ago, and was leaning against our guesthouse!  Again, this was on the side of the house outside my room.  It was this very tree that the monkey’s were jumping off of onto our tin roof, sliding down, and then doing it all over again!  I don’t know.  Put it this way if a tree full of monkeys where to come crashing through the ceiling in my room and land with an amazing thud at the foot of my bed right now I would still be startled – I find life itself startling – but I would not be surprised.

I asked the staff if there was anything that we could do to deter the monkeys and they assured me that no matter what you do you cannot get rid of monkeys.  They’re not always around but when they’re around they’re really around.

I wrote this a couple days ago so ironically this morning I heard a great amount of thwacking sounds coming from just outside my window.  Upon looking outside into the neighbours yard I could see a whole crew of prisoners in their yellow outfits chopping down the tree that was leaning against our house!  I decided to leave right away.

Some sights & moments so far…


Still my favourite bumper flap here in Uganda…incidentally, this truck had no doors…of any kind…and to park it they had to put rocks in front and behind the tires:)


Going out to see some of our kids is the best part of this job…this is Shafik’s family.


Some of our newer patients waiting to be seen:  deteriorated hip joint due to infection, a girl who needs surgery on the roof of her mouth, and a gentleman who I referred to in the last blog who unfortunately needs an amputation from below the knee.


This is how our patients come and go for their appointments…


Femur fracture…13 year old boy…just arrived…


We had over 25 O4A patients come for reviews, intakes, tests today.  I haven’t fully appreciated the numbers of kids we see on a given day.  Two of our three staff were gone with 6 kids to specialist appointments in Entebbe leaving Olivia and I to hold down the fort.


These two were a comedy show in the clinic today.  Mr. Big Pants and his sister kept everyone entertained.


Let’s sign out with this one…Shakira – chipati, soda, & wounds healing so well!


Thank you for following along with our work!  We are so grateful for what you are allowing us to do.