This post continues Moms on Adrenalin, the post from last week's Monday Memories. I'm just getting to it now because I didn't have time to remember earlier in the week. : )
Previously on Monday Memories: Lisa and I had loaded our combined eight children into my Trooper and were headed off to find a doctor for my two youngest, Joel and Nicky. They were 2 and 1 years old, respectively, and were both running high fevers and Joel was doing a lot of vomiting. Our husbands were away, and Lisa had heard that there might be American doctors in the town of Mbale.
And now the continuation ...
We drove the half hour to Mbale, and started asking around. It shouldn't be too hard to find some American doctors, we thought. Mbale is a town of about 70,000 to 80,000 people. Should be a piece of cake! We asked in various shops if anyone had heard of American doctors starting up a clinic in the area. (Cue banjo music and various shots of us asking for help. Picture kids hanging out of every window and door of the Trooper, and everyone with their arms pointed in different directions.) Most people had no idea what we were talking about, but we finally got some information and vague directions to what we hoped would be a clinic. it was supposed to be an orthopaedic clinic, but surely the doctors could help us with our medical problem.
Many twists and turns later, we were pretty sure we were headed in the right direction. I should mention that, although main roads are paved in Uganda, I use the term paved loosely. Lots of big potholes to drive through or around, and the roads are generally in bad condition. I finally took a turn onto a road that was really bad. It headed uphill and not only was the road crumbling, but it also had a lot of debris. There were fair-sized tree branches in the road and even piles of gravel. But, hey, I was driving an SUV, and I was a Mom with a mission. So I slowly drove over, through and around the obstacle course. Until the road dead-ended at the top of the hill. What was before us couldn't be called a road, and I wasn't sure even an SUV could get over it. I put the vehicle in park, and Lisa and I got out and looked around.
Me: Why does the road dead end here?
Lisa: I think they're extending the road.
Me: This whole area doesn't look quite finished, does it?
We both turned and looked down the hill. There at the bottom, to the right, was an obviously new building. It was mostly finished, although there were a few final touches that were needed.
Me: I think we found the clinic.
Lisa: Yes, but how are we going to get down there? This road isn't finished, and I don't see where the road is that leads to the clinic.
By this time we were attracting some attention and people were starting to stare. I looked back over the way we'd come, and then realized something. When Ugandans are doing construction, they don't have regular barricades to put up. So they usually block the road with whatever they have on hand.
Things like fair-sized tree branches and piles of gravel.
We had driven through an area that wasn't even open for traffic yet.
Lisa suggested we drive back down the obstacle course--you know, to the road that wasn't under construction--and find a way to get to the clinic. I wasn't so sure. For one thing, I didn't want to drive through the obstacle course again. For another thing, once we got to the bottom of the hill, we wouldn't be able to see the clinic, and I wasn't sure we would be able to find it again. My mission wasn't just to find the clinic. My mission was to get help for my babies. So I did the only thing that made sense to me.
I left the road completely, and drove down the side of the hill toward the clinic. We bounced and bumped our way down, but really it wasn't much different from driving on Ugandan roads. I brought the Trooper to a triumphant stop at the front of the building. A closer look confirmed that this was, indeed, a medical clinic staffed by Americans. It wasn't open for business yet, but the doors were unlocked, and all ten of us eagerly headed inside, sure that our quest for medical help was at an end.
But of course, if that were the case I wouldn't be continuing this story again, would I? To read the next part of the story, click here. Ya'll come back now, here?