On Wednesday there were fewer patients to screen and my surgery schedule was nearly full. Kate, Lisa, and Marlene had turnover down to less than fifteen minutes. Wake up the patient, wash the instruments, bring the next patient in and put him to sleep, position his legs in the stirrups… it was truly remarkable. Because of the efficiency we had just enough time to squeeze in a field trip.
At three o’clock, Carla, Candace, and the people from my room met at the bottom of the stairs and piled into the tiny car that Corey had borrowed to drive us to the Gulu Project’s burn village. We turned left onto the Jura road then took the first right to head down a one-lane road, muddy water splashing in the windows at times. We made our way through green fields and past tiny villages for about fifteen minutes to the new project.
Three huts were already constructed and patients had moved in with their families the night prior. There were small solar panels and clean floors. There was a temporary toilet behind dry thatch walls at the back of the property and about twenty yards away a huge hole was being dug for the new latrine. Three muscle-bound men working tirelessly as they sunk lower and lower into the red earth, one shovel-full at a time. There were sweet potato plants and a large parcel of land for future growth. It was all very impressive and inspirational and a testament to Amy and Carla’s vision.
And it was a great reminder that we can always do more. By being open and courageous we put ourselves in the position to give more love and to spread more peace. We work and we learn and we connect with people and we begin to have clarity.
Life is so short. Time is so limited. We can’t wait for things to happen while we accumulate more money or vacation time. We can’t wait for our children to grow up and move away or for the economy to improve. We can’t wait for a better project or a different leader.
No, we have to be mindful and energetic and we have to act. Faith without words is dead. Only by literally caring for the least of these can we begin to change the world.
And the world does need changing. We need more peace, more sharing, more long range solutions, more equality. Capitalism isn’t going to save us. Consumerism isn’t going to save us. The military isn’t going to save us. Our leaders aren’t going to save us. Only love and community and interpersonal relationships can save us.
The burn village is a light in the darkness. It’s a thin tube of neon pushing against the dark, dusty, East African
sky. It sprang from the soil as an act of love. It is a creative force like Medical Missions Foundation itself.
It was time to go and as we wedged ourselves back into the car, literally on top of each other, as we wound our way back through the bush and back to work, as we began the next surgery, our minds were all still there. We were dreaming of the warm sun that shone directly overhead onto rural Uganda, onto that tiny newborn village, filled with those poor burned children and their families.
We finished late but it was worth it. And after the bus ride home, sharing spicy vegetable biryani and korma with Sophie and Nyana in the courtyard at Churchill under the Milky Way after nearly everyone else had gone to bed, I was truly at peace for the first time in months.
And that night I finally slept.
Peace and love,