Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Maybe toys are overrated?

We were walking home one evening when Terrill mentioned how fun it would be to give the Ik children a jungle gym. Yes, I thought, it would be fun...but how sustainable? How would it stand up against the weather? Who would fix the problems and taking responsibility for upkeep? And besides, these kids wouldn't stop climbing trees if we provided them with metal bars to climb on. They wouldn't stop playing in piles of sand if we gave them a proper sandbox (aren't those things breeding grounds for disease anyway?). These kids are happy as bugs in a rug and they've never had store-bought toys. The world is their playground and it keeps them very occupied.
But the real reason for this post is a baby baboon...another 'plaything' for the Ik children. This baby was caught in a valley of Timu forest. An Ik man saw a group of baboons lounging around. He waited for the right moment and hid in the grass. When the baby came close, he pounced on it and promptly tied a rope around it's waist. Then he tied a stick to the rope so the baby wouldn't get far. He brought the baby to a near-by village before heading down to Kaabong to try and sell her to anyone willing to buy. We do not condone this practice and in fact, think it is very harmful to the animals. This baby will probably never see her family again and she may not live long. Children around here tend to play kind of roughly. They are not used to being gentle with animals. To give some credit to the parents, I heard quite a few admonishing the children not to throw rocks or hurt this baby. Unfortunately, the 'kidnapping' of these animals happens often. I've seen more than one monkey or baboon tied with a rope and kept in the villages. The kids spend hours watching their mannerisms and 'playing' with them. I can see that we may have to model for these children not just a respect of humankind but also a respect of all that God created.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Medical Manna

As many of you know, I run a small clinic....and sometimes it feels more like a dispensary. They have a headache, I give a Tylenol. I usually buy the medicines from a wholesale pharmaceutical store that generally sells to hospitals. I've also been so very blessed through donations from churches and individuals at home who kindly send packages filled with over-the counter medicines that are much needed and appreciated by the Ik.

Recently, a friend in Uganda connected me with another expat living here who had an excess of medical supplies. After talking on the phone, he confirmed that I could come over to his house and pick out whatever I wanted from the excess. It was getting dark when we arrived and I only had 45 minutes to pick out supplies, but I filled a big cardboard box. It felt like Christmas. I picked out bandages, gauze, tape, Ace wraps, syringes, thermometers, catheters, bulb syringes and more. He said that everyone else had taken the mass supplies of medications that he'd received but I was happy with what I got. God provides in unexpected ways. There were several types of bandages, steri strips & dressings I picked out that I can't buy in Uganda. Blessings to all you who give! It really matters.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Signs of the times

We used to have a 'work hours' sign that we brought from the US up on our fence. Some other Americans who saw it really got a kick out of it because they know the concept of 'work hours' is rather laughable in the context we work in. That sign has long since disappeared, so we decided to take this a step further and paint the sign on our gate, complete with English and a translation into Ik.

Now even if people don't actually adhere to the posted hours, we can still refer to the sign in a (nearly vain) attempt to defer their requests to the appropriate day and time slot. And in doing so we can at least pretend that this gesture carries some weight in this culture, at least enough to convince ourselves. That may be what we need to reserve some semblance of control.

So far the Ik haven't seemed terribly impressed with the sign. As I proudly showed off the Ik portion to our translator, he pointed out the one error I had made (which means he's a good language teacher!). But the most favorable reaction we've had was from the children whom we found trying to copy the writing in the dirt right in front of the door. I guess they're getting the literacy program off the ground on their own. Works for me!

Oh, by the way, I'll accept comments to this post Mon, Wed, and Fri, from 3-5pm, by appointment only.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

First fruits

It's the time of year here in Ikland when some of the crops are starting to get ready. What you see in the picture are some fresh greens and boiled fresh pumpkin that people brought to us. When you give someone a gift of first fruits in this culture, it's a sign of blessing. We learned that the other day when some Karimojong visitors were at our home. Their car had broken down near Timu, and I went to help them. We couldn't get their car started, so I brought them back to our house to wait for a mechanic. In the meantime, we picked the first corn from our little garden, roasted it, and gave it to the visitors. They said it was a real blessing to be the ones to eat our first harvest. After a long season of hard work in the gardens, those first bites of fresh produce just hit the spot.

Who are you giving the best of what you have to?