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Fetoscopes, Matoke and African Snow

Today I was a student. I abandoned the outpatient pediatric clinic for the antenatal clinic, as I am eager to learn more about maternal child health, given that this is something that I don’t get to practice in the states.

God bless the staff here for their patience and for taking the time to teach me when their own workload is so high! I basically spent the majority of the day learning how to measure fundal heights and learning how to ausculate fetal heart tones (both being done the very old school way I might add). Hearing the fetal heartbeat was much more difficult than I had expected. I felt like a complete idiot. The midwife would say, ‘Now, here’s a very strong one!’ I’d put the fetoscope to the belly, then to my ear and hear nothing at all! It probably took me listening to 20 pregnant bellies until I was finally able to hear anything!

One thing I am thankful for is the drive to/from the settlement each day. It takes a good hour each way and yet there is so much to see and so much to reflect upon—this time in the car provides the perfect opportunity. During the daily commute, it is routine to pass 20-30 men, earnestly pushing bicycles laden with Matokes (the Swahili word for Banana). Once the Matoke are weighed and counted, they will be sold to third parties, which will then transport the goods across the border into Sudan. I can’t even imagine how much these bikes must weigh. These men and women are often without shoes and are pushing their bikes up steep mountain passes under the heat of the African sun. The commute is not complete without having to stop for herds of cattle to cross the road. What makes these cattle unique are their massive horns. They are truly incredible. When you see them, you know you are in Africa.



Once you enter the settlement, the road becomes a deep, rust-red and the dust begins to fly as our truck makes the transition from asphalt to earth. Our driver Emma, calls this dust ‘African Snow’. Scattered areas of banana farms can be seen during the first several kilometers. These I have been told are farmed by Ugandans who live amongst the refugees on the settlement lands.

Rare shot of an empty PostNatal Ward.   

Rare shot of an empty PostNatal Ward.


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