Hey everyone, how are you? Hope you enjoy the photo above that’s been circulating in Ugandan e-mail boxes. The tagline in the e-mail? “How to Beat Credit Crunch.”
At most, I’ve shared a boda-boda with 2 other people, the driver and a friend, and yes, it was tight. No idea how seven people fit on that motorcycle in the photo! But anyone who has traveled Kampala’s streets can’t help but laugh- in Kampala, nothing can be too far-fetched when it comes to traffic. A small car can easily fit six people (as my recent trip to Lira attested), and would be considered even spacious by some people. Ten? Twelve? All could conceivably fit in a small car. You could probably get six kids in the front seat alone. Maybe one in the driver’s lap. Car seats? Not so much….
My trip to Lira was great, I really enjoyed the conference and the opportunity to learn more about reporting on mental illness in Uganda. It was a workshop held by Chris Conte, a Knight Fellow being hosted by New Vision for a health reporting fellowship, and it was meant to train reporters working in Uganda on how to cover mental health appropriately. The first day was better than the second, most likely because the first presentation was fantastic. A recent study in northern Uganda (Gulu) revealed that 80% of those seeking treatment for mental illness were pursuing it from traditional healers, so understanding traditional healers’ perspective on mental illness is really important for coverage. An energetic woman named Christine (from a village in Gulu district) described the treatment process. For sh60,000 (about $30 USD), or a goat, she will take about three days to cure you of mental illness, or significantly treat it. She lights incense, rubs you with an ointment made from herbs she says spirits guided her to, and tries to help you settle issues within your family that might be causing a spirit to possess you or be angry with you.
Other presentations were made by psychiatrists and a public health specialist, all from Gulu University. I really enjoyed the trip– it was so great to get out of Kampala. I visited my friend Patrick’s village, on the outskirts of Lira town, and got to meet his grandmother and great-aunt, which was exciting. Nice to see where he grew up, and view his family’s land. As he said, it’s always good to see where “your friends are living.” Patrick lives in Kampala now, but he goes back and forth between Kampala and Lira as a journalist working closely with the Luo newspaper, Rupiny.
Have a bit of a sore throat, but nothing too bad. Could be the toxic dust (ha ha), could be a cold. Moving tomorrow to a new room/apartment that I’m renting in Kitintale, very close to work. Praying everything goes okay. Pray for me too, okay?
Lots of love,