Friday, August 3, 2012

Last Days in Pallisa

In the past few weeks we have managed to collect interviews from six sub counties in the Pallisa District. Unbeknownst at the time, we spoke to a bubbly witch doctor and watched her treat a child with seizures. We have learned the species of trees that provide roots and leaves for herbal remedies. However, one can argue that traditional medicine is a dying art in this region. As Western religion gains momentum, traditional healing seems to fade away; or at least the community's willingness to openly discuss these practices has diminished.

Our time is winding down with only three days left in country. Even in the midst of the recent Ebola outbreak, bitter sweet seems too bland a description for our emotions as we near departure. As we prepare to pack up, give away, and say goodbye we acknowledge that as our time here comes to an end, so does summertime. Given that many of us will most likely never make it back to this hidden corner of the world, it is difficult to pinpoint how to spend our last hours. Soon we will be back in school half a world away, surrounded by those who have never heard of Pallisa, Uganda.

Lessons learned from my time here are endless, and I can only expect more to follow in the upcoming months as I readapt to life at home. If nothing else, I have gained an entirely new insight into the complexity of international aid and globalization. A few weeks ago I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and one particular excerpt seems to capture a very important take-home message: “You can’t just sashay into the jungle aiming to change it all over to the Christian style, without expecting the jungle to change you right back... If it was as easy as they thought it would be, why, they’d be done by now, and Africa would look just like America with more palm trees.”  So many good intentions but no easy answers.

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