Done but not over

Dr. Ruby Dunlap’s Uganda Fulbright Blog
Elizabeth and Ruby.JPGI expected to feel relieved, elated even, to be leaving Uganda. The work had been hard, the frustrations many, and all of us, Dad, Bob, and I, missed family and friends back in the U.S. It had been nearly ten months and we were ready to go home. So why were my eyes so wet as the plane lifted off into the night and the lights of Entebbe faded behind us? Uganda and her people have a piece of my heart and it told.
The last paper was graded, the grades averaged, and the final report made. Goodbyes were said, hugs exchanged, promises of emailing regularly made. The most immediate and obvious reflection came easily. All nations have some glory and some shame; I had learned better to embrace both the glory and shame of being a U.S. citizen. I had learned better to put the U.S.’s glory to work and to seek to remedy or mitigate some of her shame. I learned that being a child in Africa and being an adult with much responsibility are very different things. In communication with Joseph, Florence, and Jannat from Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) in western Uganda, I consented to take on some advising of master’s in nursing theses. My stay in Uganda was done, my Fulbright assignment completed, but my work for Uganda is not over.
Ugandan Child.JPGThere is still much to puzzle over in the analysis of my experiences in Uganda. I expect it will take a long time to reflect on and I will likely not ever come to the end of it. But let us take another look at one critical issue. The blog entry, “If you put it that way,” reflected on the different ways one could think of resource-rich and resource-poor healthcare environments. It is difficult to think about the topic of this entry in more than one way; the temptation is to think that more money will solve all the problems of the resource-poor. But it is not so simple; there is perplexity in the problems and the solutions in both rich and challenged environments. One only has to consider the recent healthcare reform efforts in the U.S. to appreciate the complexity in what is possibly the richest healthcare environment on the planet.

Continue reading

Safari 2

Dr. Ruby Dunlap’s Uganda Fulbright Blog
Bob, Ruby, Carl at Equator.jpg
Bicycle with Matooke.jpg From March 15 through 18 we took our second safari, traveling west and south to Queen Elizabeth Game Park and then to the far southwest corner of Uganda where it meets Rwanda and Congo. The road between Kampala and Mityana was dirt and bone-jarring; it has been under construction for about seven years. From Mityana westward was a smooth, paved road, steadily climbing in elevation until we reached the lush tea and matooke plantations of Fort Portal. Beyond Fort Portal were the majestic Renzori Mountains, the Mountains of the Moon.

We descended into the Western Rift Valley south from Fort Portal, traveling with the Renzoris on our right and passing matooke-laden bicycles like this one. One could feel the heat increasing from the cool mountain air of Fort Portal to hot, dusty Kasese. Just south of Kasese, we stopped to take photos at the Equator and pass from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere.

Continue reading

Money Matters

Dr. Ruby Dunlap’s Uganda Fulbright Blog
Kampala and larger Ugandan cities and towns are full of well-dressed folks busy with cell phones and other electronic devices. The streets buzz with vehicles, bodas, and the press of business. Yes, it is a developing country but “develop” is a dynamic word and Uganda is a dynamic country by what the eye can see. Happy hour billboards and slick-paged magazines like “The African Woman,” (http://www.africanwomanmagazine.net/) communicate universal issues of modern life: family, fashion, business, romance, work and leisure. There seems to be a certain cosmopolitan sameness to the world’s urban centers. Perhaps that is where we are all headed in the end: vast cities stratified by economically defined neighborhoods: the posh gated communities, the rows of industrial looking apartment complexes, and the slums.

Continue reading

If you put it that way…

Dr. Ruby Dunlap’s Uganda Fulbright Blog

“Newtonian mechanics is satisfactory,” says Polkinghorne, “for largish objects moving at ten miles an hour, unsatisfactory for the same objects moving at a hundred thousand miles a second.” “Kuhn dismisses as an irrelevancy the well-known fact that Newtonian mechanics is the slow-moving limit of Einstein’s mechanics. Yet to physicists this relationship would seem to be important, for it explains why classical mechanics was so long an adequate theory and why it remains so for systems whose velocities are small compared with the velocity of light.” (One World The Interaction of Science and Theology, pp. 14,17)

Monkey in tree.jpg Probably Newtonian mechanics sufficed for explaining the movements of your vehicles on ice and snow this winter in the U.S. The reports about your winter have been remarkable, especially since, while the Equator crosses southern Uganda, the elevations are high enough to make it balmy most of the time. Some days have been downright chilly, a few hot in the afternoons. Mornings in paradise are almost always perfect mornings of comfortably cool freshness. And the look from our “tree house” apartment is always one of lush rain forest. Here is a photo from the family home in Ohio where I spent my teen years and one from where we are living now to show the difference this winter. We also see monkeys in the trees around our house, unlikely in either Ohio or Tennessee.
carson icecicle.jpg Buttons Backyard.jpg

Continue reading

Tell it slant

Dr. Ruby Dunlap’s Uganda Fulbright Blog

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—

Emily Dickinson’s (1830-1886) poetry is for me a gradual dazzle. This one came to mind as I’ve taken retrospective tours of the Ugandan nursing graduate students and my experiences with philosophy and theory over four weeks in January. Do and should nursing theories give priority to a received philosophy of science or a perceived philosophy of science? Which one fits best with a Christian worldview? What exactly is a worldview and what could be especially Christian about it? What are the logical parameters of differing worldviews? Is logic a valid criterion by which we should evaluate any worldview or theory and on what grounds do we recognize the validity of logic itself?

Continue reading

And then they went home

Dr. Ruby Dunlap’s Uganda Fulbright Blog
Ruby and Students.JPG This past Friday night, I dreamed I was a pizza box. My consciousness resided in part of the box lid; I felt the air move as my cardboard face fell downwards. Mefloquine can do that. I had forgotten to take it in the morning and rather than skip another dose as I inadvertently had the week before, I took it just before bedtime with consequences among those the inserts predict: vividly bizarre dreams.
Many of the expatriates here take no malaria prophylaxis at all and few Ugandans do. But malaria is endemic and dangerous; I helped a wobbly student walk to the front gate, get on a boda, and on to home a few weeks ago with a 3+ malaria raging in her system. Being stricken with recurrent bouts of malaria is what all Ugandans deal with as a matter of routine. It only takes one bite from one infected mosquito. Many sleep under mosquito nets; many do not. Dad refuses his mosquito net since it hampers him getting in and out of bed. I do not fuss since a fall and a broken bone are at least as risky for him as malaria and he is taking his malaria prophylaxis weekly.

Continue reading

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is given!

Dr. Ruby Dunlap’s Uganda Fulbright Blog
Globe.jpg We hope you had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, family and friends!
We celebrated Christmas in Uganda this year, five of us. Daughter Amy and son-in-law, Chris, arrived mid-December and returned to the U.S. on January 2. Dad Wesselhoeft and we arrived here August 14. On Christmas Day, we will had been here 134 days. The day after Christmas, December 26, was exactly the halfway point for our stay here. We are missing so many things about our lives in the U.S. that we will be looking forward to May 11 when we expect to return.

The September semester was very busy for me and had lots of adjustments for all of us. January semester will be another busy one with classes every day of the week until the end of the month. Then there will be lots of paper grading as students email me assignments.
We did have a very fun visit to Uganda’s largest game reserve, Murchison Falls, last week. We saw awesome waterfalls and many animals. In the photo above are the five of us pointing to Uganda in central eastern Africa on a big globe in front of the Nile River at Murchison Falls.

Left to right, Carl Wesselhoeft, Chris Sutton, Amy Sutton, Ruby Dunlap, Bob Dunlap
See a more photos of that trip by clicking below.

Continue reading

“I Don’t Want my Nurse to Quote Shakespeare”

Dr. Ruby Dunlap’s Uganda Fulbright Blog
Nurses in Uganda, like nurses in the United States, are struggling with questions of professional identity and what or even whether a bachelor’s degree in nursing adds to the nurse enough to justify its additional expense, time, and academic labor. “I don’t want my nurse to quote Shakespeare,” said a non-nurse friend, “I just want her to give me my shot.” We were discussing whether nursing education should include humanities. I’ve forgotten the friend who said this; the comment has stuck in my memory, an iconic summary of all such questioning about what it means to be a nurse and what entails an appropriate education for such a profession.

Continue reading

“I Would Teach for Free”

Dr. Ruby Dunlap’s Uganda Fulbright Blog
Bishop Tucker Building.JPG “I would teach for free but they have to pay me to grade papers.” This comment from a teacher friend was naturalized long ago into my habitual outlook on things and without any difficulty whatsoever. I have been and continue to be grading, or “marking” as they call it here, papers, what seems like hundreds of them, weeks on end now. I know that “hundreds” is a hallucination of a paper-fevered brain but there have been and are being lots. Grading graduate nursing papers, all of which have been written by students for whom English is not their first language, has turned out to be not that different from grading nursing papers by students in the U.S. for whom English is their mother tongue. Having to grade the papers turns out to be our students’ revenge for us assigning so many of them.

Continue reading

“We Tremble Not For Him”

Dr. Ruby Dunlap’s Uganda Fulbright Blog
Cow Resting 2.jpg What did I expect the most trusted and skilled exorcist in the Mukono area to look like? Perhaps a fierce intensity out of the eyes? Perhaps either wildly careless or flamboyant clothing? In any case, his speech should be full of emotionally charged religious utterances, something befitting regular contact with the world of demons and evil spirits. That world, which few Westerners are likely to take seriously, the world relegated to a tiny minority of secretive devotees in the West, is taken very seriously in Uganda and by the vast majority of Ugandans. When it is taken that seriously by the locals, expatriates do well to attend seriously to it as well. Here is a not unusual bit in another of Uganda’s English newspapers, the 9 November, 2009, issue of The Daily Monitor:

Masaka man accused of witchcraft
Residents of Kijjomanyi Village in Kalungu Sub-county in Masaka District on Friday burnt the house of a 72 year old man and killed his goats, accusing him of bewitching them. The residents accused Mr. Felix Ssali of using spirits to kill 15 people between June and August. The district police chief, Mr. Moses Mwanga, said investigations are ongoing.

Continue reading