It has been a very strange week……. I was sitting in the counseling office trying to made some sense of the papers and papers of documentation…. I think I should start at the beginning. Last Friday, around 4 pm, one of the nurses presented me with a two page list of medications. He told that they needed them as soon as possible…. they use the expression “now-now.” I had been informed that the clinic was ordering a lot of medications and were they all necessary. I had no idea but decided I had better find out….. The nurse was insistent that I hire a driver, and leave on Saturday morning for a 12 hour round trip into Kampala with at least 10,000,000 shillings to pay for the necessary medications. First of all, I was not going to hire a driver and second of all…… I did not have any money to spend on medications. 10 millions shillings is too much money for me to be carrying around. 2,500 shillings is about $2.00 US. I will let you do the calculations. In the meantime…. did we need the medications….. I had no idea.

After the discussion with the nurse, I decided to check out the pharmacy and the storage room (which I have never entered) to see what was available. There was no way to discover if the request was valid or not…. the medications were piled on top of each other and in no order that I could see. Now, that was the pharmacy. The store room was filled to the roof with boxes and boxes and more boxes of unopened medications. I worked all day Saturday putting the medications in alphabetical order in the pharmacy. Sunday I spend the day, opening one box after another to discover we had a lot of some medications and very little of others. Monday and Tuesday, I got some help from two of the senior students to help me lift down the 50 pound boxes of out dated IV solutions……then to help me put all the medications in alphabetical order. It was finally done and the two rooms look wonderful for now….

I could see that I had two problems…. one was how much of each medications was there in the pharmacy, and storage room (a count needed to be done) and the second was how much were we using….. there was no use in ordering the wrong medications or not order enough…….. I remember hearing the receptionist telling someone about how she was not able to do her count. I wondered if she meant the count of medications in the pharmacy.

Sure enough… she was talking about how she counts the medications. It took me some time but I finally got the books…… I was sitting in the counseling office trying to read her numbers when I heard the strangest ring tone……… we are in rural Uganda. There is no electricity for anything. The people walk miles and miles to come to the clinic. There is no indoor plumbing except for a few places like my house…. oh yea…. back to the ring tone….. It went like this ” Hello, hello, hello, hello…. answer your phone….. hello, hello, hello, hello… answer your phone”. The voice was that of a male with a British accent. The phone was in the hands of an old village gentleman who looks like he has worked in the fields all his life. He was sitting on the bench outside the Laboratory waiting for his results. I could not help but watch and see what he did….. he sat and listened to the phone…. and finally a young teenage came running over and made a comment, then answered the phone.

You could say ….. that made my day….. I had been tired, frustrated and up set over the whole situation with the medications…. I did not know what to do… except to pray and I believed that I was to count all medications, to take stock of what we had and try to estimate our needs. The ring tone….. brought me back to reality… made me laugh and remember that I am here for the people.