Saturday, April 28, 2012

On a Winning team!

Everyone likes to root for winners. Yet, as a Furman Alumnus and die-hard Cub and Bear fan, I have learned to root as much for next year as the current one.

This is not the case with Christ School.  Our boys team rolled through the district regular season with a record of 4-1.  As we entered the District tournament I was a bit skeptical.  Last season we had a great team, but a poor choice of field for the tournament and questionable refereeing led to a frustrating defeat.  In the defeat, our boys held their composure despite unbelievable taunting on the field by opposing teams and fans.  I was proud of them and weary of corruption.

This is year was a different story.  We beat our rival Symbia in the Semi-Finals on their own turf and then defeated Nyahuka Parents, the team that beat us in our first game 4-1 in the championship.  We were elated.

As district champions, we advanced to the Regional tournament in Fort Portal. Travelling to another area, seeing other schools, competing on a bigger level is a wonderful character-building step for these kids.  To my knowledge, Christ School has only won one game out of our district in our 14-year history.   When the coach texted me with the news that our boys won their first game, we cheered so loudly, I am sure they heard us over the mountain.  They went on to win three of four games and advanced to the National Tournament on the other side of Uganda in Tororo!!!

The girls have matched the boys stride for stride.  We had our second district tournament this year with 6 schools competing.  We won the district last year by default because the boys rioted during the championship and disrupted the play.  A political riot erupted in the host city of the Nationals and the girls were forced to stay home. 

This is not the case this year!  The girls tournament went well and our girls won the district championship.  The National tournament is being played in Fort Portal and Amy and I travelled to see them.  We found them on the field preparing for the first match.  They were so proud and giggly.  We took some photos and then Amy and I went off to the local market and splurged as Soccer mom and dad to buy drinks, apples and biscuits for each of the girls.  We arrived just in time to see kick off.  The ground was flooded- being rainy season.  The game was not delayed; again it is rainy season so what’s the point?  The opposing team was head and shoulders taller than our girls. Our girls were not intimidated and played their hearts out.  There were a few that tip-toed through the mud-puddles, but we have a couple that could run circles around some of the boys with their ball-handling skills.  

Amy and I cheered as loudly as we could.  Somehow a few of the water bottles we bought for the girls ended up in the hands of a couple of local people.  When they found out it was our water and we were from just over the mountain, they rallied the whole crowd to cheer for our team.  We scored twice in the second half to lead 2-1.  Amy and I nearly tore our hair out as we watched the clock slowly countdown.  With two minutes left, the opposing team took the ball into our goal box and kicked a hard shot across the goal.  Our keeper made an amazing save.  Another opposing player kicked the ricocheted ball back toward the goal and it was miraculously stopped in the water of a mud-puddle.  For a second, all the girls looked at the ball and each other- debating who was willing to get muddy. One of ours stepped in, cleared the ball and a few seconds later the whistle blew ending the game.  So much fun! 

I love our students, I love winning and I am growing into being an avid Football fan.  The sport has done wonders for building community at our school and our relationship with people in the Bundibugyo community.  Mostly, it has helped us raise leaders from our students.  When I look at the alumni who are now working as CSB teachers, the ones who have started a new primary school in an underserved village, the ones who are advocating through self-started NGO’s for the abused and motherless…these were students who played football. 

I have to admit that winning can be costly.  We run a shoestring budget at our school, so this is a shameless request for money to send the students to the national tournaments.  We used money that was budgeted for next term’s operating costs to get the students to the tournament. Now we need to replace it before the term starts.  The cost to send these two teams (40 students and 5 teachers) to the tournaments is $4300.  If you so desire, please send money to World Harvest Mission Christ School Fund at this link.

Thanks so much!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Measles a Tropical Disease?

As I practice medicine in Uganda, I find myself constantly flipping through my Oxford Tropical Medicine Handbook looking for clues on what a child has or best options for treatment of the disease. I have become decently versed in malaria, typhoid dysentery, helminths (worms) and several other infections known to be most common in the tropical world.

Today, however, I learned a new disease- measles. In my relatively short career in medicine, I have not come across a case of this once common infection. Near universal vaccinations have made measles all but disappear in the US. Vaccines ($19 lifetime cost) have reduced measles mortality by 75% since 2000. Additionally, Vitamin A supplementation in nutrition deficient areas is said to reduce mortality by an additional 50%. Vitamin A supplementation costs $1.25 and stays in the child's system for 6 months. Measles is both preventable and treatable.

However, 20 Million people a year still acquire the disease. 385 children die from measles a day. Most of these deaths occur in areas that are poor and the health system is broken or disjointed. In such places, vaccines are not given regularly and supportive care is not available to treat the complications of measles such as pneumonia to prevent death. Since most of these populations live near the equator, measles has become a tropical disease.

We went 8 months in our area about a year ago without any vaccines. Our refrigeration was not working, breaking the cold chain and causing us not to have vaccines for children. Two weeks ago, we had a child with a fever, congestion, facial rash and mucosal white spots in the mouth. Some pneumonic popped in my head from medical school days and I asked the nurse if it may be measles. She had seen many cases and concurred. So we isolated him, treated him, alerted the district and prayed there would be no other cases. Today I walked into the health center to find 7 cases of measles and diagnosed another.

Prayerfully, we have all of these children on adequate supportive care that will prevent death. This makes me thankful we are here. It also is a painful reminder of the massive discrepancy in healthcare between the western world and the majority world.

today, yesterday, and yesterday's yesterday

37 children on the pediatrics ward
Measles outbreak confirmed
Malaria increase as beginning of wet season and planting season
Unpacking three trunks of canned and boxed food for our next 6 weeks
A week's worth of laundry now hanging on the line
Enjoying fresh baked bread
Back to baking and planning meals
Cleaning up detached insect wings from last night's eruption of thousands of flying termites
First day back to RMS brings smiles to Lilli and Patton
Baby Bunny Anna constantly held, snuggled, fed
Rich prayer time with teammate Lesley
Cell phone network down so texts and calls not happening
Truffle the cow is not happy with arranged marriage to Mr Cow and continually moos in annoyance
Finally back online
Grateful for time with grandparents, for teammates who "hold down the fort", for safe return of Pamela, for making order from chaos, for break from the heat as now in rainy season, for health

Women's Prayer and Bible Study
Electricity out
Started unpacking, unpacking, unpacking
Car cleaned from some unfortunate spills and muddy puddles in the journey
A Bundi First: Washing Machine in Bundibugyo! Successful hook up to water system, but no electricity means no washing...a downside to modern appliances.
A thank you (for helping with washer) lunch with Josh
Greet neighbors and friends
Two week tall grass mowed
Flower garden zinnias bloomed!
Pamela successfully travels back to Bundi via plane, taxi, big bus, small bus, motorcycle, vehicle
Chilli, cornbread, muffins to host teammates Chrissy, Ann, Pamela
Even the sound of nearby pub's music is sweet noise to sleepy heads

Yesterday's yesterday:
Woke up in Fort Portal, ready to be back in Bundi
Call that our vehicle was fixed; thankful as a leaky sunroof in wet season is a disaster
Goodbyes to our generous hosting friends, the Calhouns
Packed up our veggies and meats from nearby guesthouse fridge/freezer
Made good on a promise of adding Baby Bunny Anna to our menagerie (to help Lilli and Patton grieve the loss of Miss Anna) from kind friends, the Wootens
Last minute purchase of butter, apples from Andrew's and cheese from Duchess
Located CSB girls football team in time to cheer for them as they sloshed through a muddy field, played with great heart (and some bare feet!), and found success in a 2-1 victory!
Fueled up
Ordered pizza and ate on the way
Bouncy, Muddy, Packed, Loaded Down, but joyful trip home
Greeted by teammates and two dogs (who each have wounds from our absence)
Thankful for delicious meal of quiche and homemade rolls from Stevens
So happy to be in our own beds, under our own nets...home

Sunday, April 8, 2012

easter joys

We are blessed to have Travis's parents with us for this Easter season. Thanks to Chris Tomlin's "Name of Jesus" for the music behind the photos of the past few days of Easter. These photos include the Team Seder Supper, Community Life, Easter Egg Hunt, Easter Worship at New Life Bundimalinga Church, and the Easter Dinner with CSB Teachers and Families.

Praise to God for the work He did to bring us to himself through Jesus! Webele Yesu!