I’ve been … on bed rest since getting horribly sick Friday night. Saturday (yesterday) I felt better, but completely exhausted, I slept until basically this morning (Sunday). But I’ve taken it really easy today. I changed my sheets, did some laundry, and changed my clothes, but otherwise.. I’ve laid in bed reading or sleeping.. I ate some bread, drank some pedialyte… Really praying that the Ebola outbreak in West Uganda comes no where near Nansana. Yikes.
A little transparency…
It’s been a long two weeks. And I’m tired.
I’d be lying if I said this trip has been easy and comfortable.
It hasn’t been.
It’s emotionally exhausting,
and mentally exhausting.
My comfort zones have been pushed,
my mind is tired, my body’s sick,
and every once in awhile, I wish I could jump on the next plane out of here.
Working here has been a huge adjustment.
Nothing moves on time.
Nothing is an easy task.
Nothing you have planned will likely stay planned.
Half of me wants to complain…
that I’m tired of being sick,
and that i’m tired of being homesick.
I can’t wait to be comfortable again.
But – then there’s the other half of me…
The half that realizes as uncomfortable as I am -
I’m still living better in Uganda than most of the Ugandans.
And then a voice turns on..
How sad, Alli.. How pathetic of you…
You are only spending three weeks of your life here…
So you had a stomach bug, so what? Do you have malaria? HIV?
It’s really selfish of me. to be upset. about anything.
I fly out of here in a week. I have a plane ticket home.
back to my own bed.
my favorite coffee shops.
and my family and friends.
Its selfishness, frustration, and tiredness that has got me down today.
I want to the blame the sickness, but I can only blame myself.
So, it’s the final week and I still need to film a ton.
But due to “africa-time” I only have 1/4 interviews done, (assuming the TASCAM was able to pick up Gladys’ soft voice). This week I need to interview at the farm, the school, Thread of Life, and get some footage in the medical clinic.
This way each project has a small teaser that introduces it – which should be pretty helpful on getting the vibe of the different locations & may help volunteers decide on coming and what they want to focus on while they’re here / how they want to help.
This should be totally manageable – assuming I can film on location one per day. The school and Medical clinic share a location, so that allows monday-wednesday to be filming days.. with thursday/friday as “Just incase we missed something-days.” Saturday is suppose to be a medical outreach day in the Slums.. and then Sunday I’ll be packing, because I head out early Monday morning, spend monday night in London, then land back in Detroit Tuesday night.
As I mentioned earlier, HIV testing at the school was on Wednesday – everything went very well.
I learned a lot that day.
I don’t know what I thought I’d spend the day doing – but I definitely didn’t think I’d be the one walking away feeling like I learned something.
After arriving at the school, we were pretty free to go into whatever classrooms we wanted, do whatever we wanted, just.. hang out with the kids, be there for them.. whatever we wanted. Deb and I spent the morning getting a tour of the sixth grade classroom by Marvin, (there’s only a handful of sixth graders, all boys, and that day only two of them were in class). Then we helped keep a room full of young kids quiet while one of the nurses attempted to teach them about HIV. Some of them had a rough idea of how you could get it, some of them paid attention, some of them were just so young it was impossible to get them to focus on such a confusing topic.
After lunch, Deb and I returned to the sixth grade classroom, to find Marvin and Isaac still in there. I was impressed that they were sitting in there working in their books. I imagined my sixth grade self – and I would have totally been out of there. I would of either a.) left the school and walked home or b.) Found something more fun to do, like draw/color or play outside. I definitely wouldn’t be trying to learn…
Their teacher stopped by, his day was totally occupied with the HIV testing, he said if we wanted to help, we could go over problems for their test on monday. So Isaac and I partnered up to do math problems I hadn’t seen in.. twelve years … or more. I would look at his work book, write a problem down on the chalk board, and then check his work to make sure he solved it right. This went two ways for me, either I would have absolutely no recollection of these problems and have to relearn them before checking him, or I would be surprised that they would do all the long work to get the answer, instead of simplifying it. This is where I began to learn:
After hours of math problems with Isaac, watching him do all the long work to get the right answer, even sometimes the wrong answer, i remembered the importance of being thorough – or doing hard work – of working out all the details…
because when you don’t cut corners, when you don’t rush for a finish – and you spend your time going through the details you’re less likely to mess up, and if you do – you can look back at all those details and see where things went wrong.
As much as I hate math & homework – and especially especially math homework. On HIV testing day, sitting in a classroom with a sixth grade kid, covered in white chalk, I realized – life isn’t about rushing to the end – but its about working through all the details… making sure we check to make sure each one is right before moving on… because if it’s wrong.. it’s going to mess up things later down the line..
Maybe that doesn’t make sense to anyone else – maybe it was one of those lessons I only learned, that will inevitably only affect me.. But in that moment, it seemed to really be clear, and really make a lot of sense.
Isaac could of skipped a lot of steps, he’s really smart.
He could of also threw the chalk down, and done nothing.
After all, it was HIV testing day, his friends and himself involved.
The last thing I’d want to do is math problems..
But kids are strong, Isaac is really strong.
He worked through the details on HIV testing day.
He taught me how to work through the details on HIV testing day.
And together we finished the day,
a little wiser, a little tougher.
Everyday here, I miss home more.
But everyday here is also a day I learn more about life.
When you’re so far away from being comfortable -
A sixth grade boy can can use math problems to teach you about life.