It’s the women here that are sticking with me most. In three days, I have seen the ideal situation we all want for the women of any society but particularly one that is developing like Uganda’s.
And sadly, I’ve also seen the worst.
And the sure fire way for a woman to be marginalized in this country is to be both poor, and pregnant.
I wrote about the deplorable conditions in the country’s maternal ward yesterday and today, it is an image I simply cannot shake. And yet, today, I also saw a glimmer of hope amid the madness. And I found it amongst the women.
If I could hand the reigns of power to the women I met today, I am sure Uganda’s situation would be fixed within a generation. Each of these women, physicians each and every one, is a graduate of our program having spent at least four months studying in Canada under our International Outreach Program. In their own words, they returned from Canada transformed, emboldened, and armed with the art of the possible. These women are not timid.
Sarah is an obstetrician working in the large teaching hospital and last year, was recognized as the country’s best physician. Eve is working in Kampala’s surrounding villages trying to improve maternal care where most of the women actually have their babies. And Violet, a young pediatrician who is at the head of her class, is coming to Canada in March for four months to study with us. She can’t wait to improve the delivery of neo-natal care at her hospital by practising her craft in our hospitals.
I visited her neo-natal unit today. There are 56 preemies in a space where we would have maybe six. They are packed in like sardines and their cries are heart-breaking. All I wanted to do is pick one up and hold it tight, soothe it and love it like I did for my own babies not so long ago.
The nurses told me things weren’t so bad – at least each baby had its own crib now. Just a few months ago they routinely had two preemies per crib.
Progress is in the eye of the beholder I guess.
If Violet can fix this, she’ll be a hero to her country. She’s already one of mine.