Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day in Tekera

Today we made our way from Etebbe to Masaka and met up with an amazing woman (Bridgitt) and her husband (Bruce). Bridgitt is a nurse from Canada who fled Uganda under threat of execution from Idi Amin in the 1970's. She vowed then she would return and she kept her word. Six years ago, she started a school, clinic and women's co-op in Tekera.

She is a true hero and has sacrificed many conveniences and luxuries to live a modest (understatement) life in Uganda. There are 240 kids in the school and about 100 women who use the co-op. The co-op is structured so that women can work on the farm or make crafts in exchange for health care or children's tuition.
They use solar power and water is available (they use a foot pump that looks like a stair-master) to fill the water tower manually from the well- the water is in limited supply and used sparingly. The whole operation is actually losing money- not many people are able to pay for health care so they use points earned though working at the co-op. The co-op crafts are sold in Tekera which was at the end of a very long winding dirt road and doesn't fet any tourist traffic.

One item that she sells for 5000 shillings ($2.50 US) is a "delivery bag" for expectant moms. It has all the necessary items to ensure a safe birth- a piece of plastic so the newborn isn't put down on a dirt floor, two pieces of wool to tie the umbilical cord, a clean razor to cut it, a pair of gloves a present for the new baby (a small hat or pair of socks).

The babies are delivered by a labor assistant. This is an experienced lay person. She said that many of them cannot count so when they deliver a baby, they put a stone in a jar. The government official may visit the assistants to keep track of the census- the official will then count the stones in the jar. Less than 10 % of pregnant women in this region receive prenatal care.

My special companion today was a beautiful little girl named Rachel. She was about 5, followed me around all afternoon- no adult was in sight- there were small kids wandering all around the co-op. She was wearing an old dress that was torn beyond repair and covered in dirt. She had no shoes. She held my hand and walked with me, sat on my lap- had a contagious laugh with such a twinkle in her eyes that made me cry. She was playing with my BlackBerry and loved taking pictures with it and looking at them. She quickly learned how go from one photo to the next and giggled as she looked at pictures of my kids doing silly things.

She made my heart melt.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


  1. How are you doing Trish? What an experience already right? My heart is melting too just reading about it. Thanks for the informative look in... and Bridgett is an inspiration! Such a sobering thing to see the contrast of life... I mean, can any of us imagine going into Walgreen's and buying a baby delivery bag? The coop is a great thing... but what will happen if it continues to lose money?

    Love you!

  2. Hey Trica
    so glad you arrived safetly, and this first blog was an amazing story. I look forward to hearing so much more, and it keeps me humble and grateful.
    love ya