Saturday, July 5, 2008

Final Destination (In which I roll up at the spot)

Gulu lies five hours north by road of the capital city Kampala in Uganda. The road is poorly paved in many areas, with thousands of potholes large enough to make you steer off the road to avoid them. In the small towns along the way, you will pass scores of people on motorcycles and scooters, roadside markets, cats selling mangoes and corn. As you travel further north, you find police checkpoints and patrolling military police. You will cross the nile river and perhaps wonder what it must look like in the daytime, since the headlights of your car can barely pierce enough dark to see the road before you. You will know that you are close when you catch a glimpse of mud huts just off the road, just a few huts of a thousand that make up the IDP camps for people displaced by the war. Finally as the pavement gives way entirely to the reddish clay that would not come off of Pearl Primus’ feet , you will pass the UN world food program compound and stop in front of tall green gates just around the corner. Beyond this gate lies St. Monica’s school for Girls. It is a large compound, with living quarters for the nuns who run the place, the girls who attend school and their children, for all of these girls are child mothers, most of which have been affected by the war, which means they have lived through abduction, rape and murder. St. Monica’s is the base of operations for the next few weeks.
Meet the squad. Rachel is my homegirl. She is a Midwife and student from NYC. She attends and teaches classes at NYU when she is not delivering babies or giving talks on women’s health. She is the cat who asked me to take the mics on this trip, the person with whom I have done all this international travel with. She snapped a couple pictures of me taking oxygen after I passed out on the plane. Classic. This is her third trip.
Olivia is also a midwife, currently practicing in Brazil. She is also a healer. Tell her your ailment and she will roll up with dietary, herbal or homeopathic treatments that will keep you crispy. Rachel and Olivia are co-founders of the women’s health collective known as Earth Birth. Together they are finding ways to promote safe childbirth for cats who otherwise would not be able to rock it.
Sister Rosemary is the head nun of St. Monica’s school for girls. If I spent the whole trip just listening to her talk and watching her smile, it would be the perfect trip. Like the other nuns of the school, she has dedicated her life to helping girls affected by the war and the adverse conditions of Gulu in general. I will spend my audio days following these cats around. I hope to branch out to a few conversations with the other nuns, for there are quite a few who seem like they would have interesting stories. I have gathered already mad hours of audio and there is more to record every day. It is madness with more intensity to come as I begin to interview to the girls.

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