Friday, August 6, 2010

Girls Camp

Let me start off by saying sorry for all the horrible typos and grammar mistakes. typing on this computer is like being a monkey. i have to slam each key down and the backspace doesn’t really work. i give up at a certain point so bare with me!

Today we started our day early! Went headed out to Bujagali Falls. Basically an amazing view of some rapids where people kayak and white water raft down the Nile. We drank smoothies and sat on a beautiful balcony overlooking the Nile, a small island in between and a completely amazing luscious view of nature.  We journey closer to the falls where many people were watching and waiting for people to float on by, it was peaceful and beautiful. I also found 2 amazing  green jewel beetles (dead! yes!) and tons of HUGE ants. They were kid of scary so i left them alone.  I also had a small attack by red ants that swarmed my feet while standing near a cliff over looking the falls. it hurt like hell and i ran away throwing my shoes off to get them away. A little boy can over and helped me get them off. We did a little shopping ate some lunch over the Nile and say thousands of butterflies. Most people who know me know how much i love insects. I’ve seen many things i recognize from work along with many i’ve never imagined. They are everywhere! I see hundreds of dragonflies a day. They must be the most widely populated insect in this country. They are constantly swarming us. All the others girls have started keep their eyes open now as well. We found numerous caterpillars as well! besides insects, another thing i love about Uganda is the food. AMAZING! i’ve loved everything i have consumed so far! i’m definitely going to miss the food!

After having a beautiful morning Vanessa, Michelle, Dana , Rita and I headed out to MOHM to talk with the children from the orphanage and church members about “girl issues” . We called the lesson “girls camp” AKA puberty camp. Dana and Vanessa are nurses in the state and created a lesson plan to help educate these woman, ages ranging from 9-25 on becoming a woman, sex, sanitation,pregnancy,STD’s and everything in between.  It is extremely taboo for the parents of these young woman to get any advice. They never talk about it, or when they actually do, its fairly ridiculous the things they are told. The meeting was formatted so that the ladies could anonymously submit any question they have. This went over really well. Everyone had a question, many of them more than one.  We explained menstrual cycles, when to determine when you can get pregnant and preventative measures. Vanessa and Dana were amazing at both explaining and addressing the issues that concern these woman. We had some amazing education posters donated from my work that were key tools for explaing and showing visualization for these woman.

We heard a lot of crazy questions, though, im grateful the woman felt comfortable enough to ask them.  We also learned from the girls trip out to find condoms to use in class that getting a condom in Uganda is almost virtually impossible. Every market they tried said they were out and not sure when they would get more. They told them to visit the hospital where even THERE they weren’t sure they had any. I think its safe to say that not only can these people not afford condoms but even if they wanted to, they are almost impossible or extremely difficult to even get a hold of.  It was strange to see little girls some even aged as close as 7 years of age to be taking notes on preventing AIDS. this was a hard thing to watch. I wanted to tell her, “no! you dont need to worry, you are 7 you shouldnt have to worry about AIDS or sex or anything for that matter.” She should be worried about who she will play with after school. But its not the case. She is worried about ever finding a real home. she is worried about if she will be able to continue to go to school, when she will eat, and getting AIDS. She does need to worry, and the saddest part is that she is just one example.

I’ve heard some taboo things here so far but none as much as things i heard today. Rita told us that growing up she was told to never clean herself with warm water. That it is bad for girls. ONLY GIRLS. men can clean themselves in warm water.  When we asked Rita why they said this, she said they gave no reason.  Others believed and were told that condoms actually CAUSED sexually transmitted diseases. Again, thinking of how this spread is a scary thought. another asked if it was true that if you drink a glass of cold water after giving birth that you would die!  These are just a few examples of what were many questions and comments.  Some believed they would get AIDS from washing the clothing of another person whom had AIDS. It was obvious during the meeting that these woman had a lot of questions and concerns.  Tomorrow is my day off, but i want to head back for the 2nd day of camp. We are going to finish answering questions, showing the girls how to make pads, and have condom train lessons along with more information for the older woman. by this i mean about 11 and up. It’s scary to realize how little these woman know, but more rewarding to know that they want help, are seeking it and that we can provide it.  This has felt really important to me. If their mothers or teachers wont do it, than who will? it feels good to say that we will.

Posted by Michelle J on July 25

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