Our last week of Health Classes

This is our last week teaching at HOCW. We finished our STI lesson plans and then spent a couple days talking about diabetes, hygiene, stroke, and anything else they had questions about.  Those days took the longest and we were surprised by how much they already knew.

Some pictures from class…



The condom demonstration!


One of the more humorous questions we were asked…

“There is a plant called sin-sin in Uganda that some men will put in gum and chew it for an increased libido. Why does it make mens’ balls fall off?”

We went on to explain that balls are contained in a sack of skin and they cannot just easily fall down but one woman insisted that she has seen it several times…

There are no classes on Friday’s here so we spent our last class on Thursdays talking about blood pressures and giving them individual readings. They really seemed to enjoy that.


Us with Dr Moses:



Labor Ward at Mulago Hospital

Since we kept missing the deliveries at Zanta Clinic, Dr. Moses sent us to Mulago to assist in their labor ward. This was our first time going by ourselves to Mulago. It took a couple different taxi’s to get there.   We had to ask for a lot of help along the way and people were more than willing to direct us. When we did make it to Mulago it took another long walk and assistance to find the maternity ward.

Finding the right taxi in this taxi park is no small feat:


Ward 14 is one of two delivery wards in Mulago. They deliver between ten to twenty babies a day. We sat with one mother until she was ready to deliver.  We were asked to stand towards the head of the bed as to avoid being “hit” by bodily fluids. It only took about 15 minutes.  I think we will both be having epidurals if we’re ever in the same situation.

On our way to the back to the taxi park we did a little shopping.  Everything we bought from the vendors on the street was much cheaper than the craft shops we’ve been going to.  So we felt like locals and bought some mangos and scarves on the street. It’s sad you can’t get mangos like this in the US. They are amazing here!

Whitewater Rafting


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Rafting on the Nile was incredible.

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You get a choice of taking the milder route or the harder one depending on what everyone in the boat agrees upon. But no matter which route you take the raft still flips at least a couple times. Before we headed out onto the rapid we did some practice flips and they showed us how to get back into the raft quickly and how to hang onto the safety kayakers if they come pick us up.  There’s also a safety boat that rafters can get into if they get scared.  A couple people were in the safety boat after the first rapid.

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Half-way through the day we parked the rafts and had fresh pineapple on the river.

It was definitely an experience we will never forget.


This weekend we went to Jinja to go whitewater rafting on the Nile…

Our hotel was right on the Nile. This was our view at breakfast:



Our hotel room:





We had to take a canoe to our hotel:



Hypoxia Falls:




One of our many views of the Nile:







Saturday morning we went whitewater rafting. It was amazing!

On our way home Sunday we stopped to see the “African Queen” boat from the movie with Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. They’re in the process of restoring it.



The Nile <3

photo 1 (1) probably the equivalent to what we’ve drank here

Headed back to HOCW for the week!



This week at Zanta


Alyssa did HIV testing in the maternity ward


Rita worked in the pharmacy

Dr. Rynn helped with immunizations


Alyssa worked with Dr Moses

Dr Rynn and Rita worked in the Pharmacy



Rita did TB testing in the lab

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Alyssa and Dr. Rynn worked in the Pharmacy

The pharmacy here is much different than the ones in the US. The patients carry their own medical records with them every time they see the doctor.  They’re “medical records” is a small notebook where the doctors write their SOAP notes and prescriptions in. The patients then bring that notebook to the pharmacy to be filled. Their formulary is pretty short but includes a drug from most of the main drug classes. They have an ACE Inhibitor, beta blocker, amoxicillin, qunine, metronidazole, and anti-helminth and a few psychiatric drugs, to name a few.

The patients then take their books to a private pharmacy to fill whatever the clinic couldn’t.  We noticed that many of the prescriptions are written for only a week or two and then the patients return to the clinic to get examined and a new prescription.  We wouldn’t have thought that Zanta clinic sees their patients on a more regular basis than we do in the US.

At the end of the day on Tuesday we had a young patient who came in with an allergic reaction. She had been seen at a different clinic the previous day and prescribed some antibiotics.  When she came to Zanta we discovered she was HIV positive. We treated her with a steroid and Salmeterol to help her breath but unfortunately she passed away later that day.  Without better medical records there’s no way of knowing what this girl was allergic to.  It seems there’s push towards attaining and electronic medical records system in Uganda but they probably won’t reach Zanta clinic for some time.

Even with limited resources (most days they don’t even have power) and all the other challenges they face we have been amazed how well they are able to diagnose and treat patients with such limited resources. This has been a great experience for us to see the barriers other health care systems face and hopefully we can make a small impact on the efficiency of their system while we are here.


A Day in the Life

The last few days the water and electricity here has been unreliable, to say the least.  After a few days of not showering we resorted to pouring water over each other’s heads to wash our hair and used quite a few sanitary wipes to substitute a shower.

“Uganda Shower”

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We had the bright idea of going to the gym to use the shower.  They guaranteed the water would be on after our workout. Sadly, after not showering for a few days and then a workout we were told that the water still wasn’t working. Now, we’re sure that they knew it wouldn’t be on but wanted our money to use the gym. It was especially obvious after they told us that the supermarket next door controls the water and “won’t share.”  So then we walked the half hour back to camp even smellier than we were. We won’t be so gullible next time…

We really enjoy going over to Lubowa to eat and use the wifi but the walk takes about a half hour and it’s not safe to walk at night. So after a couple weeks of refusing to take a boda boda we finally did.

Boda boda:


They’re not very safe in the busy city and we’ve watched them swerve in and out of traffic.  They’re much safer in the rural areas where were staying but we were still apprehensive to get on one.  They’re cheap, brake frequently, and you never know if your driver has just learned how to operate one.  When we asked Shariff what the death rate was on them he responded with “I’d rather not say.”


We ended us really enjoying the ride!

We’ve had about 9 volunteers come and go in the small volunteer house we’ve been staying in.  Four of the girls have becoming very ill and two had to go to the international hospital in Kampala. We think it’s some sort of amoeba since the metronidazole seems to help. We have become very paranoid about getting sick so we went to the pharmacy in Lubowa to get antibiotics and we may take them prophylactically before we swallow some of the Nile when we raft this weekend.

Here’s us at the pharmacy:


The Nile beer:


Our house kitten:

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One of the other volunteers found her covered in mud and gave her a bath. She had an infected paw and they mixed antibiotics into her food each day and she quickly recovered.

Bolingo and Emily’s kids, Samuel and Joanna:

Shariff and Samuel:


Dr Rynn brought bubbles for the kids. Joanna loved them!!


Just an adorable girl we saw on the road:


Some more pictures from our walk to Lubowa and the Clinic:

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