Have you ever been in a stormy period in your life? What did you do at that time?
What did I do? I went to Uganda. Who recognizes my personal story in which I took a major decision about which I feel happy and proud to this day? A jump in the dark which feels a bit uncomfortable but you nevertheless feel sure: yes, I want this! In the coming weeks you can read that story. Today part #1.
It’s June 2012. I’m in the midst of an uncertain and stormy period in my relationship which has lasted for 6,5 years. I’ve decided to go to Uganda within two weeks to work in a refuge for four weeks, called Amecet. I switched from a modus of waiting what is going to happen to taking control myself. Which feels very good immediately after taking the decision. In Amecet orphans and sick children are being taken care of for a short or longer period and when the family can manage, the child is brought back to the family. It became an extraordinary journey…
Two weeks later I arrive at Soroti after a long but steady journey. At 11 a.m. I’m on the bus in Kampala – Uganda, which eventually departs at 12.30 pm. After lots of people, food (half chickens and beef on pins and roasted bananas) and bus- stops we arrive at Soroti at 8 p.m. In the last three hours the road conditions are very bad. It makes me think of a kind of simulator at a funfair, bumping and shaking in all directions.. Quite heavy! Especially when it’s warm, you’re packed onto each other, there’s luggage everywhere and parts of it come down on your head because of the bumping. Can you imagine? I decide to take it as it is and chuckle from time to time. The bus is nicknamed the popcorn bus. You will understand why. Like corn in a microwave 😉 I enjoy the ride and there’s a lot to see outside.
Every person working at Amecet is called ‘Aunti’, so after arrival my name is Aunti Willemijn. I’m shown around, have a cold shower, say hi to the pet gekko and install myself under my own mosquito net, in the lower part of a bunk bed.
The next morning..
There’s an African woman sitting on a small wooden chair at the porch. Looking closer I can see she’s holding two coiled cloths. Her eyes look dull with a little bit of hope shining through… The owner of Amecet notices her and asks what we can do for her. It appears that in every cloth there’s a tiny baby. The woman is the mother of these newborn twins. They were born prematurely five weeks. She tells us sadly she doesn’t have milk to breastfeed them. The hospital sent her away because they couldn’t help her. she hopefully asks if Amecet could take care of her newborn son and daughter. I have followed it from a distance, but now I take action.
Shortly after, I carry a small, dark little boy in my arms. I weigh him (1530 grams), wash him (in a tub on the floor), dress him and we go to the medicin’s room for immediate examination. The boy and his sister (1560 grams) both get a medicine infuse as a precaution, because it’s unclear if they have HIV. Every two hours the babies get fresh clothes, are given milk and the body temperature is being collected. Meanwhile, I’m a bit out of balance being watched by two dark little eyes. Brother and sister sleep alongside each other. They are closely being monitored and cared for during the whole day.
This was how my first day as a volunteer at the refuge center Amecet in Uganda looked like..