on Um Zayd wa Atheer (Uganda), 29/Mar/2012 10:09, 34 days ago
Limping AlongTables and chairs have featured significantly during myshort stay in Gulu. Both have been absent; simply in the wrong place at thesame time or downright troublesome. Take for instance my sitting area. This isdominated by a set of crudely made wooden armchairs which is neithercomfortable nor pleasing to look at. The best feature is that all the chairsrock, unintentionally, because none of the legs are the same length. In anotherlife I would have looked for a saw. Here, I just rock.A few weeks ago, the same week as the robbery, another chaircaught me unawares. I stood on a bed side chair to replace a curtain ring.Before I could reach the rail the chair collapsed and the ring and I werethrown dramatically onto the stone floor. The ring, relieved, rolled away butmy right ankle has protested ever since. For several days I became immobile butthen managed to get about by hobbling. Three weeks later I was advised that Ishould go to get may ankle examined. Reluctantly I hobbled off to the VSOrecommended Health Unit. I soon hobbled out, with as about much reassurance asif I had consulted the cat. The next port of call was St Mary's Hospital Lacor.This is a 20-minute taxi ride out of Gulu. For taxi read a heap of scrap metal.These minibuses are licensed to carry 14 passengers only but don't leave thetaxi park until 18 fools/victims, like myself, are squeezed/pushed on boardalong with occasional chickens, babies galore and sacks of food stuffs. Thevehicles are well passed their sell by dates. Most need a push start, all havefaulty sliding side doors, usually held on with rope from the outside, holes inthe floor and roof and rotten upholstery exposing jagged metal work. Not acomfortable ride and not so much a limp but a mad dash, just in case we don'tmake it. It was quite reassuring to know that our destination was a hospital.The Italian community (nuns, doctors charities and towns)has supported St Mary's Lacor for decades. During the 1980s and 90s PietroCorti, a Milanese doctor and his Canadian born wife Lucille, a surgeon,supported and guided this hospital to be a centre of love and care staffed byUgandans. Their work continued until their deaths. Their bodies lie side byside in the hospital grounds. It is a very moving and inspiring story. StMary's Lacor is Private not for Profit. Charges are minimal and nobody isturned away because they cannot pay. On the day of my visit I was probably theonly white patient. Other white faces were those of visiting Italian doctorsand nurses working for free.Within 2 hours my foot had been x rayed and an ultra soundedcompleted. Before paying and seeing the radiologist my details had to beentered in the ledger. Pamela no problem, Llewellyn a bit tricky but I let thespelling with a K pass. It was near enough. I didn't even comment when my tribewas described as American. When it came to age a pair of eyes looked me up anddown, 55. I still didn't complain and secretly felt a bit pleased. Againstgender I saw Male go into the box. I was really tempted at last to saysomething but still remained quiet. After a fair start the ledger entry hadbecome a work of fiction. Next was the radiologist for the report. As he camedown the corridor to his office I was not encouraged to see that his limp (sameright leg) was worse than mine. The news was good, no break but a torn tendon.I am still limping but with more confidence.As I left the hospital I suddenly saw the significance of mylimping. I think it is a fair description of my time in Gulu. In this 'fragilestate' my own fragility has been exposed but I'm still here. I am still hopingto find some way where I can be useful. Despite my limp(s) I am still moving.