Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ignorant & Irresponsible Alex

I'm not sure what to title this entry other than Ignorant and Irresponsible Alex.

It is one of my most humble moments thus far on this trip. I'm telling the story because I think we have all had these moments...what makes it ignorant is me not fully forgetting the fact that I'm in Uganda and not the Western world.

When I was playing with the kids at Message of Hope last week...there was a little boy who was playing with bricks by himself building a wall. He wasn't engaged in the soccer game I was playing with the boys, so I wandered over to play with him. Most of the kids dont speak or understand english, I'm left to engage them by making funny faces or silly expressions to connect. I started to take the bricks and make a card-table-like-house. Before I realized it all the kids surrounded me and were all watching the Mizungu. They were all squealing and laughing. I was kneeled down, it was the first time I was looking up at them, they were all looking down at me. A neat and different perspective to be looking at these kids.

They all were saying the Ugandan word for "house"...pronounced: umba. I repeated "umba" and then said "HOUSE". I pointed at a kid and said "HOUSE". No one said anything. I did it again..."UMBA"...then "HOUSE". One little daring kid said "OOOUUSSEEE" All the others laughed. I said their word for house...all of them giggled.....I probably said it wrong. :)

I pointed at another kid gave him 3 bricks and asked him to make a house. He did...the other kids all started grabbing their own bricks and doing the same.

At this moment there was a split second I thought "someone could get hurt"...but dismissed it. I learned this day to GO WITH YOUR GUT when ever this happens....ESPECIALLY when you're with children and a developing country.

It wasn't long until all the kids started looking at the ground, I didn't get it. They were all talking and pointing. I was so confused, I couldn't understand. Eventually I saw blood....I tracked it back to a little girls foot. The tip of her big toe was skinned pretty badly and bleeding...I assume she dropped a brick on it. **She wasn't crying or upset. This is what we're all noticing, most kids don't cry when they're upset or hurting.

Note to self: "Oh no." (I think I chose another word for the "no" in "Oh no")

I brought her over to the director, Irene. She washed the shoe-less girls foot off and said "she'll be fine". I talked to Irene about cleaning it with soap and bandaging it up....she kept insisting the little girl would be fine. The scope of the situation hit's not an option...they dont have cleaner or bandages. She's going to keep playing with us, an open wound, no shoes.

Someone on the team had antibacterial wipes and a bandaid. The little girl didn't have shoes to protect her toe.

Again, the scope of it hit me....she could get an infection and need to go to the hospital. After my financial training & consult, I know very well these organizations dont have funds to feed these kids well...or excess funds for hospital/doctor visits.

One of my worst moments.


Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin said...

Alex, that has to be incredibly frustrating. It is amazing that in some countries a band-aid is a luxury. Keep up the incredible work--you guys are making a difference one life at a time. Tiff and I are excited to help Fount soon with our medical skills and knowledge.

Regina said...

Hi Alex, When is your last day?...Really enjoying reading your blog and the others too...Does Tara intend to post? I'm curious to hear about her sewing experience with the women..Love, Regina