July 30 – Gulu Belly

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I am not sure if it was the meat on a stick, the chicken on a stick or the fact that I brushed my teeth with tap water by mistake, but at about 10:30 AM this morning I started to feel pretty bad. My stomach was rumbling and started to feel like crap, and Ilise said that I looked pretty bad as well (not unusual in some cases). I started to sweat and sat in the toilet for a while, it was not going to be a fun day. This all started after we had arrived at the AMREF facility in Gulu and Deb was in full swing working with the students putting together a video to promote U-TOUCH.

I ended up going back to the hotel to lay down and took some of the medicine we had brought with us. Thank god for smart doctors who recommend we take certain medications with us. I got back to the hotel and slept most of the afternoon. I ended up meeting the kids and Ilise at the local market around 5 PM. They had spent the day with a young girl named Rachael, who was the child of the founders of a non-profit installing solar suitcases around Uganda. The kids got along extremely well and they spent some time in one of the schools outside of town. They also spend some time in the hut of one of the local women that make beaded necklaces. Deb is very intent on turning these local products into fundraiser products for kids.

Once we got to the market the girls were so excited to meet the dress maker and bag maker that Deb knew. Drew found a bag that she really liked and asked the women to add a pocket on the inside. Ilise also ordered a custom made dress and both will be ready on Thursday since we will be heading to Murchison Falls tomorrow and Wednesday. Noah was very patient all day and was anxious to get a Uganda soccer jersey. I was not with them but Ilise said that Noah was very well behaved all day even though the focus was on girl stuff (jewelry and handbags).

We had dinner at a local dive called Mama’s. I wish my stomach was in better shape and I would have eaten more of the local food, but we will go back there before we leave and I will try some of the meat and the beans. At dinner we met Laura and Hal who started the Solar Suitcase project. Laura is a doctor who went to Sierra Leone to help and realize that they didn’t have to basic necessities of power to do their work. She was working on infant mortality and realized that without power they couldn’t do anything. It turns out  that her husband is a solar power expert and together they came up with a solution to use solar power in a very controlled environment to power simple tools to help with childbirth. In the first year of use the infant mortality rate fell by more than 70%, that is just amazing work!

In talking with Hal and Laura, their growing pains are no different than U-TOUCH. They have lots to do and not enough resources to accomplish their task. Finding a finance person to help with the books is an issue along with many other tasks that Laura is straddled with. It seems like they are doing amazing work but it is definitely not easy. This whole issue of helping non-profits run more effective businesses is a path I must pursue. People are doing amazing work yet they don’t have the skills or access to the right resources. 4-Profit needs to do something about this!

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