Sunday, March 31, 2013

“30 Sites and 30 Nights”—March 31, 2013 (Day 12)



Name: Marcy MacAulay

Age: 57

Home Town: New Ulm, Minnesota

What you did before Peace Corps: Registered Nurse of 30 years

Program Sector: Community Health

Number of months spent in Uganda: 18

Host Organization: Arua School of Comprehensive Nursing

Site location: West Nile district, Arua town

Language spoken at your site: Lugbara

Marcy is living in Arua with her husband, who is also a volunteer. She is working with Arua School of Comprehensive Nursing where she is a ward supervisor, computer teacher, and administrative helper. She is making duty rosters and follows up with 400 students on the ward of the hospital. In addition to her primary project, Marcy has also worked on a couple secondary projects. She does marketing and transportation of goods made at a tailoring workshop on the hospital grounds that is run by and benefits HIV+ mothers. “The tailors create 100% cotton Congolese wax dyed napkins, placemats, aprons, pot holders, tablecloths and rag rugs. I have sought out markets at Christmas that we have participated in in Kampala, and I look for suitcases going to U.S. to take a bunch of our products for the Christmas season.” She has also made a video about malaria that was sent to a church in Minnesota that got them to donate mosquito nets for the pediatric ward of the hospital.

Marcy does most of her food shopping at the local market. She also has running water in her house, however in the rainy season she collects rain water.

Some of Marcy’s favorite things about her site are being able to volunteer with her husband, the people in her community, the town she is living in, the availability of fresh produce, other missionaries in the area, having a toilet and running water, and the kids that live around her. Her favorite moments at site are when she gets to be involved in births at the hospital and teaching the students at the nursing school. She says her biggest challenges are the lack of staff on the wards or the staff not showing up and all the last minute decisions that could have been made sooner.

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This morning, Marcy and Tom invited me to go with them to a sunrise church service for Easter. So we got up at 5 AM and made our way over to where the service was being held. There is a rather large ex-pat community in Arua and this service was just with the ex-pats, but there were quite a few of them. It was really nice despite the fact that it rained on us a few times. And then after the service there was a potluck breakfast, so a whole bunch of people made all kinds of breakfast foods. There were so many good breads and cakes that I couldn't stop eating. So by around 9 AM everything was wrapping up, so we returned to Marcy and Tom's house.

Two of Marcy's nursing school students
Once we got back to Marcy and Tom's house, I promptly took a nap. I had been up since 5 AM and it was time for some serious sleep. After almost a 3 hour nap, I got up and Marcy took me around to show me the hospital and Arua Town. She gave me a really nice tour. I had never been in a Ugandan hospital before and it is something that I don't think words can really describe. Basically for the most part, the hospital staff doesn't really do much more than care for the patients health, so every patient needs a caregiver, who is usually a family member, that cleans them up every day and brings them food. Many of the patients don't even get beds, they just lie on mats on the floor. There is no such thing as pain medicine and a lot of the hospital staff is not really qualified to care for patients. Even when there is a qualified doctor, they will often shirk their duties and go to lunch and maybe not even come back for the rest of the day. I think this was something I was definitely glad I got to see, but it is also something that you never forget.

One of the vendors in the fabric market
After touring the nursing school and the hospital, Marcy took me into Arua Town. She took me all the way down to the fabric market. Arua's markets are somewhat well known, at least among Peace Corps volunteers. The fabric market is one of the most memorable because you can get many different kinds of fabric not just from Uganda, but also from the Congo and Niger. Unfortunately there weren't many vendors at the market, partly because of the holiday and partly because of the rain. In fact, the entire tour Marcy gave me was in the rain. It actually started to rain much harder when we went into town and we waited it out in the market a little before heading back to Marcy's house.

Finally I ended my Easter day by going to another volunteer's house, Betty, for a small Easter party. Many of the Peace Corps volunteers in the area came as well as several ex-pats that are around. A lot of people made food and we ate and drank and had a good time. Betty's house is just outside town and I'm going back out that way to visit George tomorrow.
The group that came to Betty's for Easter

Overall, today was a good day. I couldn't have picked a better place to spend Easter.

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