On Tuesday, Maddie invited two of us to visit the homes of some Nyaka primary students with her, and it’s a day I will certainly never forget.
Each month, the Nyaka primary school measures the middle upper arm circumference of its 210 students, as the results of the “MUAC” test indicate if a child is malnourished. If this is the case, or if the child has been misbehaving, the Nyaka Mummy Drayton Clinic staff check in on the home and the guardian of the child.
First, we visited Benedict’s home, as shown in the main picture above. Amy Weeks, Maddie, the school nurse Winifred, several children, and I drove through bumpy roads and up steep hills (what would be at least an hour walk for Benedict to school each morning) to find that his guardian was not at home, although his younger brother was, alone all day because his family likely couldn’t afford school fees for him.
Benedict’s home is better than the average one in the area. They had a drying rack (the branch structure behind him) which is an indicator of a relatively higher quality of life, as it shows the family is separating dirty dishes from clean. Surrounding the house are banana trees- the most abundant crop by far in southwestern Uganda. However, Winifred talks to the families here about the importance of having a small kitchen garden, as well- some lettuce and tomatoes, for example- to provide more nutrients for their children.
Next, a young boy took us to his mother’s home, and we visitors were invited to come into her home, sit on her couch, and listen as Winifred explained in Ruchiga to the mother about nutritional habits and hygiene. She explained how a balanced diet includes proteins, carbs, and fruits/veggies, and how hand washing prevents spread of disease- both of which are basic information for our community, here.
We found out, after Maddie translated for us, that the beautiful young woman below is a mother to 10 children, 2 of which are her own. In this area of Uganda, it’s generally unclear- and seemingly irrelevant – whether someone’s children are biological or not.
This woman- perhaps in her late 20s- who has taken in 10 children, took out a long stick and knocked down several mangoes out of her tree and gave them to us. A woman with, compared to me, relatively nothing, went out of her way to be friendly and kind.
That was maybe one of the most slightly shocking experiences for me on the whole trip. I couldn’t help but think that an American family would no sooner be eager to have someone tell them how to raise their kids, than take the effort to get a big stick and hit something out of their own tree to give a gift to complete strangers. But, we witnessed this kind of uncanny kindness and generosity- and patience to greet you and talk to you- during our whole stay in Uganda. Now that I’m home, it’s what I miss most.
Thank you for reading!