A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Me and Hellen Blessing

For years the slogan for the U.S. Peace Corps was, “The Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love.” This statement can be interpreted a million different ways at a million different times during your service. Today, I’m going to say this refers to the fact that the American work ethic we are used to is lacking in most host-countries and the 9 – 5 work day doesn’t exist which can be difficult for those crazy Type-A personalities.

For the most part, I have adapted to a freer schedule and a laid back approach to progress. But I must admit, my favorite day of the week is the day I have a set schedule: Monday’s at the Health Center. This is the only day, I have set responsibilities at set times and, I know exactly what is expected of me.

Here is my day:
• 6:30 am – 8:30 am: Wake-up, use latrine, make coffee, wash my hair, get dressed, sweep out my house, make breakfast, greet neighbors and wash clothes
• 8:30 am: Go to the market and get food for the next few days, buy yogurt from the dairy and greet everyone who calls my name
• 9 am: Arrive at Health Center – Greet all staff
• 9:15: Arrange immunization room: bring in benches, find empty reporting sheets, hang baby weight, get Vitamin A and de-wormer out, find appropriate sized disposable needles and set up a trash can

• 9:30: Go to near-by hospital and collect immunizations from freezer with Norah or Susan – Greet the staff there – Return to health center
• 10 am – 2 pm: Greet mothers, weigh babies, fill out growth charts, mark immunizations and return dates, talk to mothers about nutrition, breast-feeding practices and techniques and make everyone laugh with my limited Luganda words and phrases

• 2 pm: Tally immunizations given, babies and children weighed and pregnant woman immunized against tetanus

• 2:15 pm: Go home and make lunch
• 4:15 pm: Walk to neighboring village and teach Life Skills
• 6 pm: Stop and check on Pauline (my sick friend)
• 6:30 pm: Sweep out house and bathe
• 6:50 pm: Sit on front step with Annet and Grace and talk about the day
• 8 pm: Have dinner at the convent with nun friends
• 10 pm: Go to sleep

I love my Monday’s. They have order. I also learn a lot on this day of the week because of the mix of people I encounter. I learn town gossip from the market, health-care gossip from the hospital and health center, family gossip from the mothers and country gossip from all those who stop to greet me.

I also learn interesting health facts and practices. Ever wonder what happens to a baby in Africa with a high bilirubin count? Remember that there is limited to no power in many places and incubators don’t exist outside major hospitals in the capital city. Last week a baby was born and the mother returned with a very jaundice baby girl two days later. Very calmly, the midwife told the mother to place a handkerchief over the baby’s eyes and put her on the ground outside under the sun every morning and late afternoon. Who needs an incubator when they live on the equator?

So while my job can be hard in that there is little to no order or direction most days, I keep going. Because really, it’s the Hardest Job I’ve Ever Loved. And when I need that dose of structure, I wait for a Monday.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed! Structure is good. Love all the pictures and congrats that so many of your girls got picked for Camp GLOW!
    Love you,