Sunday, July 16, 2017

3 of my Lingering Thoughts in Uganda

It has been about 7 weeks already! We have done and been almost everywhere in South of Uganda, even to Rwanda, as well as compiled a lot of data for our research. As our stay comes close to an end here (two weeks left!), here are few things of MANY that I have learned from my time here.

1.  Enjoy Moments of Simplicity in Life
I love our workdays and being able to talk to people! However, there Is nothing like a calming morning to start out. My favorite moments begin with a hot cup of African milk tea laid beside me on the front steps of the patio. I sit where I can feel the sunlight warming my face as if the day wishing me a good morning. After my cup, I stretch facing the sun to bask in its glory and sit in silence to live in my experience. It is living and appreciating these simple moments in life that help maintain a beautiful perspective on life.  

2.  Importance to Cherish & Cultivate Love and Friendship
This week we visited the Rwandan Genocide Memorial in Kigali. This wonderfully-created memorial documented one of the world’s most violent ethnic cleansing/genocide. It was a time in Rwanda where neighbors killed neighbors, friends killed friends, family members killed family members based on ethnic status. Leaving me in tears, I left in a status of shock of the violent capacity reached from the persecution of the Tutsis. It not only gave me a perspective on the harsh effects of colonialism in African countries and government-enforced ethnic division, but also stressed the importance to cultivate and cherish the love of family and friendships. Our time in Ishaka has been exceptionally wonderful solely because of the love of our close friends here. We work with some of them as coworkers but we also set aside times to share stories, laughs, and devour food J together. Fostering close friendships. This is what makes experiencing another culture and place worthwhile to me the most.

3.  Barrier to Screening & Treatment for Cervical Cancer

When we were in Kampala at a market that sells many local tourist merchandise, I stayed in one shop a little longer than the rest partly due to their ability to speak Swahili. When explaining that we were in Uganda for research on cervical cancer and HPV to the vendor. She shrugged off her own concerns for cancer by saying that she’d rather not get screened like her mom (who was diagnosed with bone cancer) because she would not have enough money for treatment and travel. She’d rather not know. “Treatment does not exist for those who do not have enough wealth” were her words of concern. Unfortunately, this is a concern prevalent among many individuals we have interviewed. Treatment services for cancer are not as widely-available for Ugandans. If diagnosed here, patients are referred to far locations for treatment. For some it is so much of a barrier to pay for cost of travel and treatment that hope is lost and individuals are skeptic about treatment opportunities. This is one of many of our research findings. Our research has been able to uncover a lot on how cervical cancer and HPV affects and is perceived by members of communities. 

Stay tuned for much more! J

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