Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I spend most of my time at the Busia District Hospital in Busia town. After two months of begging, however, I finally got to go with the Rural Health Team to the Bulwani Dispensary.
Bulwani is a small village in the south of the Busia District. The trip to Bulwani from Busia township starts with a two-three hour drive over deeply rutted dirt roads. When we came to the end of the road, we stopped at a small dock area on the bank of a stagnant river. We boarded a motorized wood canoe. The boatman navigated our canoe slowly through narrow channels heavily covered with interlocking water weeds (pic above). We got stuck in the weed net a few times. The boatman jumped into the water and hacked away the weed cover with a stick. Thick vegetation lines the banks. Birds and butterflies parked themselves in the trees and fluttered overhead. We passed wood canoes loaded with locals gathering wood and fishing.(pic above.
After about a half an hour, we came to an open expanse of Lake Victoria. Free from the weed network, we sped across the lake for an easy half hour until we again entered a narrow passage.
The passage quickly tapered to a shallow trickle. When we could move no further, we jumped out of the canoe and continued on foot. The water dired up after about 200 meters. We walked on a dirt path that wound its way through small villages for about 45 minutes.
We passed a primary school. The students were playing outside. Within seconds I was surrounded by dozens of schoolgirls who all wanted to touch my weird white skin. A Mzungu must be a rare sight. I felt like a hybrid of red-carpet celebrity mixed with zoo-animal. I survived, however, and we finally made it to the dispensary. The one-way trip took more than four hours. And I thought Busiatown was the middle of nowhere!