As we are adopting a little baby girl from Uganda and we are expecting to travel there sometime this fall to hold her for the first time it is important to note it won’t be the first time I have been to Uganda. For any adoptive parent, missionary or adventurous traveller planning to go to Uganda I will share my experience with health concerns. I have myself travelled to places in China that were more concerning to my health. And Donny’s trip to India to work with the sick and dying at Mother Teresa’s as well as in the slums of Kolkata with little children gave me far more concern for his health than I have for mine as I plan to return to Uganda. But I know many Americans don’t venture as far from home, and the unknown is hugely terrifying. I hope I can put you at ease.
I went to Passport Health here in Houston. They are up to date on all the immunizations I needed to make that trip. If I were you I would google “passport health” and find a place close to your home where you can get the necessary help. Or get the info from the website, and take it to your primary physician so they can order the immunizations.
This is what I did to be immunized for Uganda:
- up to date tetanus
- Hep A and Hep B
- Yellow fever
- a prescription for diarrhea
- a prescription for Malaria~ I will add I took the malarone and did not have one issue with my stomach as a side effect (and I have a sensitive tummy)
- they sell excellent bug repellent lotion that is not sticky or stinky
I plan to bring three of my children with me to Uganda this fall. I am not worried about them contracting a harmful disease. When I was there in the fall we stayed with an American family who had just moved to Uganda to work with Watoto as missionaries. They had three kids with them, and there were no concerns for serious health conditions in the city. And they were not allowed to use Malarone because they are living there. One year later, no case of malaria. Use bug repellent.
I would also like to add I’m a sturdy woman who hasn’t had a cold in years! I’ve never had the flu. I’m good about taking my vitamins to boost my immune system, I get enough exercise, good nutrition and sleep which also boosts my immune system. I am not worried about getting sick. If I do there are hospitals where I can be cared for. It’s not like someone’s going to put me in a wheelbarrow and push me out to the witch doctor. No no no. I plan to bring a full bag of all imaginable medicines for all my family just in case. Think about possible allergies (tropical climate), dust (dirt roads), stomach issues as well as cold and flu.
We travelled last fall with a group of eight women and my pastor Omar. (we looked like his harem) Not one of us came home sick or got sick while we were there, even though many of us got bit by tse-tse flies. And we travelled around to the village churches much more than I will be able to do for our adoption trip. In many of the churches the local people served us their food and drinks, perhaps in conditions not entirely as sanitary as we are accustomed to here in Texas, and I tell you no one had an extra gas bubble because of it.
As an adoptive family we will not be living right downtown Kampala, but in the nice burbs of it. We will have good running water, and availability to bottled water for drinking. It’s far more dangerous to our health and safety to go to Mexico than Uganda, and we share a common border with them.
The most dangerous part of being in Kampala is not the ” bombings, and unrest” but the crazy driving. I’m promised we will have a safe driver and hopefully we won’t have to be in the middle of the city too often. The people in Uganda are friendly, warm and welcoming of Mzungus (white people). We are not an absolute “target” for robbery unless you are flashing your big diamonds. Leave them home. I never once felt unsafe while I was there.
In case of trouble, the police system in Uganda is not corrupt as it is in say, Mexico. And we can be prepared to know the contact numbers and location of the US Embassy. (I believe we drove by it once.)
We are not out in the bush for heaven sakes eating off dirt floors taking a bath from a bucket and relieving ourselves in a squatty potty. We will have showers, kitchens, toilets and comfy beds. This is not roughing it. This is a good city and I am proud of the way Uganda has developed itself in comparison to its neighboring countries such as Congo, and Rwanda.
You can go out for ice cream! And there are coffee shops. There are great restaurants. And even a shopping mall. (no credit cards though- they are a cash only society)
The bombing that took place was as rare and random as a school shooting here in America. No one is absolutely safe and protected ANYWHERE. I might also add it was in downtown Kampala, where we will not be. My faith is not in the people or the circumstances of where we will be, but in the belief that God has asked me to go. I will not fear. How is that possible? I will explore fear and faith in my post tomorrow.
P.S. I should mention the exchange issues of money in Kampala. Be sure all of your bills are from 2000 and after. The banks and exchange kiosks will not take older bills. I don’t know why. Also bring large bills. You get a better exchange rate for a 100 dollar bill than 20′s or 50′s. I don’t know why. I will say though it’s a significant difference. Don’t ignore this detail or leave it until the last moment you are ready to fly.