African Projects – Day 1, Hilo Hawaii

November 23, 2008

by Megan Yarberry

Our flight out of Hawaii is in about 6 hrs, and I’m up with the roosters attending to last minute details. From here we go to Honolulu, Atlanta (for 9 hrs), Amsterdam, Munich (another 9), before arriving in Nairobi, where the work officially begins.

After months of preparations, arrangements, and communication, Beth Cole (Director of RMF’s Whole Health Team) and I are ready to return to the East African populations we worked with in May of this year. Our activities this time will include another, more intensive acupuncture training for some of the trainees who received ear needle training 6 months ago, delivering a lot of donated supplies (medications, school supplies, clothing, tooth brushes, toys), and to meet with various officials and groups about RMF’s ongoing projects to support health and education in the region.

Beth has been amazing about securing resources for the settlement camp at Kiryadongo and the high school Mama Kevina’s Comprehensive Secondary School in Tororo (both in Uganda). Since we left in May, RMF has supported 1000 children to return to school, bought bales of clothing to distribute, gotten mosquito nets to the school, and all manner of other means of improving the lives and health of the local populations.

Helping on that end has been Charles Naku, who is RMF’s Ugandan Coordinator. He stepped in to work with us in May, and has done a phenomenal job of managing the supplies and communications there. We’ll be meeting up with Charles in Kampala, and he’ll travel to Kiryadongo with us.

Also traveling with us on this trip are Susan Wahlen and Joan Marchetti, from Whole Foods. They’ll be doing some filming, and getting a sense of the work RMF is doing in the field.

Another new addition to our group this trip is Jane Wen, one of my senior students from the Traditional Chinese Medical College of Hawaii. Jane has done a lot of work securing needle donations to take over with us, and is bringing plenty o’ energy to the project.

And of course the last member of our US team is my 10 year old son Judah, who is making his 4th trip to Africa, but his 1st trip as an RMF Youth Team Member. He’s more excited than I’ve seen him before, and keeps wandering the house singing “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” I think he’s getting old enough to recognize the impact that can be made in a place like Kiryadongo, and the disparity between what he and his friends are used to here in Hawaii, and what his friends in Africa are used to.

There’s also the team we leave behind. There are all the RMF folks, from Martina Fuchs, the RMF Director who holds all these projects together and finds supporters and provides guidance and a “go team!” spirit, to the tech support getting these blogs sorted out, to the people receiving and directing donations – a whole lot of people keeping the cogs turning so Beth and I can do what we do in the field.

And of course our families, who put up with our crazy travel, holding our lives together while we’re away, making sure our animals get fed, our bills get paid & all the minutiae of daily living.

So with that note of supreme appreciation for the people and forces that allow me to do this work, I’ll step off into the void . . .

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