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Emily in Uganda

Paddlers: Emily Jackson, Jessie Stone

text by Jessie Stone

Sunday has become one of my favorite days of the week here in Uganda. It is a day I can finally catch up a little on what’s been going on during the week and since the clinic is closed, I can focus the vast majority of my time on paddling! Having Emily here volunteering and paddling gives me more reason to spend as much time as possible on the water. It has been really great to have her visit and we have had a lot of fun. Since her last trip to Uganda 3 years ago, lots of things have changed both on and off the river, and it’s been great to share that with her.

Of course, it's very sad that the dam may be completed within the year and the top section will be a lake, and when you are here living next to the banks of the river, it's even harder to imagine. However, when you paddle down to silverback, there is no avoiding the hand of man all over the bank and the river’s edge, and seeing the actual construction of the dam certainly drives the point home. This makes me feel that I must enjoy this section of the river as much as possible while I can.

With that said, Emily and I have been really mixing up where we paddle. We have been on the top section and also have been making a number of trips to Super Hole, Nile Special and Club wave. Earlier this week, we paddled with one of the new Ugandan woman kayakers called Amina. She is learning very quickly and we went with her to Super Hole to give her more play boating experience and instruction. No matter what she is doing on the river, Amina has a huge smile on her face, even when she is doing a window shade! It is great to be out with her on the water. She and her sister Somia are lovely additions to the local kayak scene here, which is severely lacking women paddlers.

I truly feel so spoiled with so much great play all over the river. It certainly keeps me on my toes and encourages me to keep trying all kinds of moves – of course paddling with Emily inspires me to keep trying all kinds of moves too! All of the paddling is balanced with the work in the local communities and in our home village of Kyabirwa. During Emily’s visit, our clinic celebrated its 4 year anniversary and we are seeing anywhere between 40-60 patients a day. Emily was familiar with our malaria education and prevention program, and she has gotten to help out a lot more with the selling of mosquito nets, following up with net buyers at home, and finding out what they learned from our education sessions. New since Emily’s last visit is our family planning outreach program where we educate about family planning and administer longer-term family planning methods in the field. As of now, this is our most popular outreach with the community, which has been a pleasant surprise to all of us. Both the malaria education and prevention program and the family planning program have produced a lot of positive feedback from the community and as a result increased traffic at the clinic, so it's been a happy cycle! If anyone out there is interested in volunteering to supplement their kayaking trip to the Nile, please contact me. Thanks, Jessie

Sandiline supports Soft Power Health

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