Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mad dogs and muzungus

Saturday we pitched up in Ntungamo to support Frouke's fundraising walk. Frouke is a Dutch VSO working for an NGO that supports a level 2 health centre (clinic + 1 nurse, 2 nurse aides + 1 lab tech) in Ruhama. Our carload of Muzungus from Mbarara arrived promptly for a 7am start. The childrens marching band arrived at 10 and the lorry load of walkers from Ruhama at1030. We've been relatively protected from Uganda time so far (though I have so far made 6 fruitless visits to the Ugandan revenue authority in an attempt to register the ownership of my car). It was a scenic walk in good company for the 25km to Ruhama through hamlets surrounded by matoke plantations and fields of beans, maize and sweet potato. We started off en masse behind the band in Ntungamo and when the band quit after 20 minutes the masses disappeared over the horizon in an extraordinary show of athleticism. (In fact there was a huge amount of scepticism about whether the soft muzungus would be able to complete the walk). For the last third I was in the company of (and struggling to keep up with) 2 teenagers including the streetwise Abdel, a 10 year old in barefeet sporting an umbrella, her mother and aunt both carrying babies and wearing flipflops and her grandmother holding an m&s bag containing her groceries. M
It turned out to be the most eventful sponsored walk I've ever been on. We marched around the small town of Ntungamo led by the 'chief walker' and in formation 3 abreast behind the banner and childrens band. People carrying home made posters in English and Runyankore with messages urging immunisation, safe sex and regular deworming. My favourite was the child walking along proudly holding aloft his poster reading 'participants register here'.
After 2 or 3 km Francis, the NGO director and event organiser fell heavily whilst running to catch up with the leading group and had an obvious fracture of his left arm. He was sweaty and in pain but after a makeshift sling and a couple of ibuprofen got up and hurried on. When I caught up with him near the end of the walk he told me they had a very good traditional healer at the health centre who would sort him out when he got there. He continued to lead from the front and finished the walk before coming over a bit queasy again and agreeing to come with us back into town for an xray and plaster of paris. The xray confirmed the fracture, and the POP, bought in a local pharmacy and applied by a Belgian medical student (with my inexpert help) looked a bit scruffy but seemed to do the trick.
We retired for barbecued maize, chapati, beer and aftersun....J

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