Amy Haskins joined the Ripley Rotary Club at Jackson General Hospital’s Learning Center on Wednesday, Aug. 21 to share her Ugandan experience.
In February 2019, Haskins and her daughter Aubrey boarded a plane to Uganda, Africa, for a twelve day, short-term missionary stay to visit Amy’s brother who had been living in Uganda as an American missionary for two years.
During their stay, the Haskins learned a lot about the culture and way of life of the Ugandan people.
According to Haskins, a typical road in Uganda is a dirt road surrounded by corn maze and sugarcane, which is the Ugandans main source of work and funding. Haskins noted there was only one paved road which led from the capital city of Kampala all the way to Jenga, where her brother lived.
“During rainy season, the roads are completely impassable for the most part,” Haskins said.
The homes in Uganda are mostly made of mud, some of the nicer homes are made of brick, which they make themselves. Haskins said during the rainy season, the walls get washed away and the people are forced to rebuild them.
Haskins said the restroom facilities in Uganda were just holes in the ground that people would sit over to use. Her brother, a physical therapist, created a toilet chair to help those who were older or had health problems, be able to use the restroom a little easier. He took a plastic chair (the kind Americans would use in their back yards) cut a hole in the center, and hung a bucket from the seat.
“He had to assure them that he was not the first one to have come up with the toilet,” Haskins said.
On the street where her family lived, they had to have a guard 24-hours a day for safety. Haskins said her brother taught one of the guards to make the toilets.
“Not only was he working in the community to make the community a better place health wise, but he was also teaching local Ugandans sustainable living by providing him the ability to make those toilets and sell them for older adults,” Haskins said.
The main foods in Uganda are a maize meal called posho and matooke, which is steamed and mashed green bananas.
Haskins said silverfish are a main source of protein for the Ugandans. The people fish for them in the Nile River, dry them out, and eat them.
Another source of protein for the Ugandans is eggs. With chickens everywhere, there are plenty of eggs. Haskins said they use them to make a rolex.
According to Wikipedia, a rolex is a popular food item in Uganda, combining an egg omelette and veggies wrapped in a chapati. This single-portion dish is quick to prepare, and can be eaten at any time of the day, from breakfast to a lunch or supper meal or snack.
Ugandans also eat several different fruits and vegetables. An array of fruit trees fill the villages, but Haskins said Monkeys tend to get to the fruit before the people can harvest it from the trees.
Both potatoes and sweet potatoes especially, are also common and grow very large in Uganda.
One place that stood out to Haskins was the marketplace. She noted everything was dirt and there wasn’t a whole lot there. Haskins said they did well with what they could.
Beside the market was a large pile of trash and as an employee of the Jackson County Health Department, it surprised her to see children playing on the trash pile and adults sifting through it looking for anything usable they could find.
“For me it was very shocking because I just thought to myself, ‘How could you not just burn your trash, there is so much disease that is in that pile and you are letting your little kids just play in it and crawl all over it,’” Haskins said. “I had to remind myself that these kids, for that trash, it’s probably providing them a little sustenance of a meal for what they are not getting at home.”
Lake Victoria is a water source for families in Uganda. Haskins said they pump water from the lake to use for drinking; however, they also use the lake for bathing and going to the restroom.
“As a public health person, that was really hard for me,” Haskins said.
Haskins said there are three main sources transportation in Uganda.
Walking is their most popular source of transportation. Haskins said the women would walk to the lake to get water and carry their children on their backs while holding the water tubs on their heads.
The second most popular source of transportation were boda bodas, which are bicycle and motorcycle taxis. The drivers were very dangerous because they have no traffic laws or speed limits. Haskins said people would pay to ride on the back and hope they made it to their destination safely.
The third source of transportation is a van. Vans can carry anything from people to furniture to animals.
“Whatever they can fit on a taxi or on a boda boda, they will carry for you, including you,” Haskins said. “We saw four accidents while we were there.”
Health Clinics are available to people who have money. Haskins said there are nurse practitioners who work at the clinics, but only those with money to pay for services are seen.
There are schools in Uganda that children can attend if their families are able to afford to send them. If there is no money for schooling, children run free until their parents return from work each day.
Haskins and her daughter collected and took school supplies for the children at Good Shepard’s Fold, the orphanage/children’s home where Amy’s brother worked. They collected enough items to be able to sustain the school with supplies for almost six months.
While at Good Shepard’s Fold, the Haskins met some of the children in the toddler room and nursery. Baby Luke was one in particular who touched Amy’s heart.
“Baby Luke held my heart,” Haskins said. “I would have brought him home in a heartbeat. He was a little hesitant to sit on my lap, but once he did, he didn’t want to leave.”
Overall, Haskins said she would ever get a chance to go back, she definitely would and encourages anyone who gets a chance to travel to a third-world country to do so.
“Do not be afraid of going into the unknown,” Haskins said. “You have to be open to exploring new things, meeting new people, and trying new things, even here at home.”
For more information on the Good Shepherd’s Fold, to make a monetary donation, or to sponsor a child, visit gsfuganda.com.
In other business:
• The Rotary had previously voted to make a $100 donation to the Jackson County Players. Rotarian and member of the Jackson County Players Ceason Ranson accepted the donation from Rotary president Steve Westfall.
• Rotary’s Ford Drive will be at the I-77 Ford garage from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7.
• The Jackson General Hospital Gala is set for Nov. 9 with the theme of “The Sky’s the Limit.”
• Fall Pole decorating in the City of Ripley, sponsored by United Bank is currently accepting pole registrations. Registrations will be accepted through Aug. 31. Poles are on a first-come first-served basis. Anyone interested can register at mainstreetripley.org/registration/