Why the long faces…

Every day a half-dozen young men, each with long faces, queue up on this bench, awaiting a date with the surgeon…for their circumcisions.

the bench

It is a good health practice, supported by Bwindi Community Hospital, to help them avoid the HIV/AIDS plague.

I find it a fascinating scene. The anxious young men, fumbling through literature, flashing a nervous smile.

My colleague in communications needled me and said “…maybe you should stop there for a touchup…”

Um, no…

House Call

If you happen to get sick in the middle of Africa, it’s good to be miserable within 50 meters of the finest private hospital in Uganda.

BCH sign

Felt some chills which were followed by a nice fever on Sunday night. I excused myself from a dinner engagement and headed to bed. Monday dawned with a warm forehead and general misery. The guest house manager summoned a doctor who, hang on to your hat, made a house call.

She took vitals, asked questions, then lowered the boom. “We need to test you for malaria.”

I had all the hallmarks: fever, lethargy, loss of appetite. I’m all for an authentic African experience but isn’t that taking it a bit too far?

Got to see the hospital workings up close and personal and was relieved when blood smear came back NEGATIVE.

So a bit of a setback as I’ve been shuffling around like an octogenarian with an appetite of a six-year-old.

But I feel better today. My head is clear. I have some video editing to do. The mosquitoes can wait.

Real-Life Drama

It’s Saturday morning and business as usual. Morning devotions were held at 8 a.m. Doctors and nurses made their rounds. Administrators were on duty. This visitor sat on the balcony and watched the activities of the day unfold.

The balcony at the Bwindi Community Hospital administration building overlooks the grounds. From a strategic seat looking north, you can see the main hospital wing, an outside meeting area, and a volleyball court. A nursing school, under construction, is beyond the trees in the distance.

Looking up from my ubiquitous iDevice, a real-life drama unfolds before my eyes. A woman drops to her knees. Maybe she fainted or was overcome by pain or something. She bowed her head. Then the baby cried.

In an instant, staff surrounds her with privacy screens. Nurses and others rush to support the mother and newborn. A gurney arrived. Health care at the hospital responded on the double. It was impressive to watch.

After the mother was moved inside, a second child was born–her second set of twins, I was told.

Outside in the sunlight, the comings and goings never slowed. Real life goes on.

It’s All There…If You Know Where to Look

Truth is revealed in many ways and sometimes from the unlikeliest sources.

One of my former bosses, a TV news director in Monterey, Calif., once bellowed a comment across the newsroom I’ve always remembered: “It’s all there, if you know where to look.” What he was referring to was the obvious. It’s right in front of you. Sometimes it blinds us. Open your eyes or your mind and you will find what you’re looking for. It’s right where it’s always been.

As I count down the days to my second African sojourn in 10 months, many incredible stories and and video opportunities await me near the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and among the lives of the Batwa Pygmies.

Education and health care are of primary focus. The Batwa Development Program (BDP) provides education for Batwa children. Batwa women are trained to knit and tailor clothing.

The Batwa and their neighbors receive health care visits to their communities by the Bwindi Community Hospital (BCH) and BDP. They learn about the importance of pre-natal care, hygiene, clean water, sanitation and nutrition.

From our experience it will be like going back in time. Supporting the Kellermann Foundation through the BDP and BCH can improve the lives of the Batwa.

I will document and report the work that’s being done. I hope and pray that I know where to look because everything awaits me there.