Paddle and Life in Uganda 2020 – The Rich, Full Experience by Jessie Stone | Feb 15, 2020 | Rockstar 4.0, Trips, Whitewater | 0 comments Paddle and Life in Uganda 2020 The days here go by very quickly – especially with so much going on! For the past two weeks, Emily J came to volunteer with Soft Power Health and paddle with me! I felt incredibly spoiled on all counts. It’s funny to think that Emily and I have been on 5 US Women’s Freestyle Kayak Teams together and over the years, we have paddled together in many locations and very luckily for me, this continues. (I paddled with Emily, Dane and EJ on Emily and Dane’s first official kayak run on the lower Youchgegeny when Emily was 11 and Dane was 8). With life busier than ever, I really look forward to and cherish more than ever, my time with Emily! Water time and dry land time! Even after all these years, there are always new things to learn and work on and it’s a lot of fun!! Along those lines, we did a fantastic coaching day with Bartosz at Itanda hole. For those of you that have never done a coaching session, I highly recommend it. Coaching can help you work on tricks you have always wanted to learn as well as issues you may be having with existing moves you already know. Having a different set of eyes and perspective on what you are doing as well as a different way to break down a move is very helpful You can work on very specific things in digestible pieces, and if you are lucky enough to get coaching with Bartosz, you will have a lot of fun and learn a ton too! If you teach kayaking, it also helps you think about presenting information in a different way. This can always help your teaching too! While Emily was here, we visited several of Soft Power Health’s health education outreach programs – in this case, our malaria education and prevention program and one of our family planning outreaches. We also visited a mother’s sewing group for single mom’s and victims of domestic violence that is being taught by a former patient of ours, Faith. Along the way, we made several home visits to patients and families in need. There is nothing like making a home visit to see how people live – always eye opening, enlightening, and extremely educational! It puts a context to people’s health situations and why in some cases people do not get better or continue to have long term health issues. If you don’t make home visits, you risk seeing patients in the context of their best dress and best face. As a sign of respect, Ugandans always put on their fanciest clothes – no matter how terrible they feel – to go to the doctor. If you saw only that, you might think that many patients are better off than they actually are, but going for a home visit shows you how most people live – in simple homes, often made of mud and dung, with no running water and no clean drinking water, no electricity, and no way to story food for more than a couple days. Most people are walking a long distance to collect water from a bore hole and that water still has to be boiled before it can be consumed. Thus, people need to collect fire wood as well! Many people sleep down on the ground and without mosquito nets. Malaria remains the biggest killer disease in Uganda (now more than ever with Isimba dam’s reservoir and the changed climate, mosquitos have extensive breeding ground) – children under 5 and pregnant women are malaria’s main victims though everyone gets malaria those two groups die the most often from malaria. The people we visited at home were also patient families so we could follow up on how they were progressing. At the clinic, Emily gave input on our home garden that we use to help provide the lunch time meal for the staff as well as to teach organic gardening methods and provide extra staple food for patients in extreme need. She provided some awesome ideas for how to better utilize space and how to make use of plastic water bottles for seedling starter gardens – excellent ideas! In addition, we have been looking for a more fuel efficient cookstove for our kitchen. The majority of Soft Power Health’s staff of 87 people eat lunch every day at the clinic and we are looking at how to minimize our consumption of wood and charcoal as well as create a healthier cooking environment for the people preparing the meals! In short order, Emily identified a solar and fuel efficient cookstove company right here in Uganda. They came for a site visit and made us a proposal. All very awesome and then if that was not enough, Emily did a Facebook fundraiser and raised enough money to pay for the new stoves in less than 24 hours – pretty amazing!! What makes all of this more special is that Emily, Dane, Nick, EJ and Kristine helped construct our original clinic building over 15 years ago. Almost every year since then, most of that original group has been returning to Uganda to paddle and do some volunteering. During the last 20+ years, it’s been an awesome pleasure to watch Emily grow up to be the person she is today – she is exceptional in every way! And she is excellent company – game for anything. Submit a Comment Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.