Southtowne has long supported the work of Aid Africa. The late Ken Goyer, a member of Southtowne, directed this effort for years. Below is a blog from one of the staff members of Aid Africa.

Hi folks.

We’ve completed our first camps.

We are tired. We are sore. We know we’ve done something big here but we just have to get it behind us a bit to revisit and contrast these camps to others we’ve done by ourselves, then we’ll decide what this all means.

Today we are in Maundo village for some respite, staying at the guest compound of John and Florence. The Okumus have been welcoming our Rotary teams since the earliest days. Their rural b&b takes such good care of visitors — we have all our needs met here, village style. Our break between camps is an important stop for us.

First because Maundo village is our ‘home’ village – the first Rotary Adopt-a-Village project that the Springfield club worked on all those years ago and that introduced us to Africa. It was the site of our first medical camps. And it is the home of the Maundo rocks, that incredible geological feature that lets you know you are not in Kansas, Toto.

It has also been important for us to stop here and take stock of our supplies. We dispensed an incredible amount of meds in Manafwa. Yesterday we put a giant tarp on the lawn and emptied every bag and box. We organized and learned what meds needed to be replenished before the next camp and we made many piles: the meds that we will carry on top of our van north to Alanyi, as well as a store of meds to donate to each of the clinics in the villages of Maundo, Abur, and Okwalloagabo. These are the sites of former camps that we are not visiting this year.

We are also making a donation of medicines and supplies to the Tororo hospital. We have sent these along with Father Centurio who lives in Osukuru, just outside of Tororo.

Last night I made all the chapattis for our dinner (kind of like an Indian tortilla). I sweated (er, was ‘dewy’ in a most lady-like fashion) over a small, homemade charcoal “stove” that balanced precariously on the uneven ground. I was sort of perched on a shallow bowl on top of a short tripod about 8 – 10 inches off the ground.

Dignified? Not so much. But it was practical and time-tested.

And slow going!

It took me hours to produce 35 chapattis for our team and the household. When I started it was light out and about 6 p.m. I didn’t finish ‘til after dark at nearly 9 p.m. By contrast, at home I could have produced all of these chapattis in about half an hour on my handy-dandy electric griddle where I controlled the heat and could do more than one at a time.

People here are still working pretty hard to produce some of the basics, including last night’s yummy beef stew, Irish potatoes (referred to thusly to differentiate them from the also common sweet potato), and matoke (mashed plantains).

Last night’s meal was a fairly light selection of courses for a normal meal here in Uganda. Most meals here would have all of the above plus posho (like congealed grits), sweet potatoes, white yams, rice, fresh beans, peanut sauce, avocadoes, and a couple of cooked vegetables, etc. John and Florence have learned that Mzungus’ (Muh-zoon-goos — us) meals do not commonly have so many courses or carbohydrates.

They are so very responsive.

While I worked I also watched the sky change for the end of that day’s good things and the beginning of night. The colors deepened and the birds quietly retired so that the bats could come on for their own busy shift. It was so very peaceful, beautiful and relaxing. My thoughts and imagination were unbidden and undirected, free to range around the universe. The cooking coals weren’t the only things on fire as I produced chapattis here under a changing and expansive African canopy a world away from home. I softly and happily sang Bruce Springsteen songs to myself in my dark corner of the yard:

I want to sleep beneath the deep blue skies
In my lover’s bed
With the wide open country in my eyes
And these romantic dreams in my head

Sometimes slowing things down is a really good thing.
And so are homemade chapattis.