Editor’s note: After working as an intern with CURE’s technology team during the spring semester of her senior year at Messiah College, Bekah Smith spent the summer serving as a CURE Technology Fellow. The “Tech Travels” series recounts her journey as she traveled to our hospitals in Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and the Dominican Republic to set up new technology.
July 27, 2015
I made it to Kijabe. This morning I got up at 6:30am and got packed and ready to get picked up. I even managed to eat breakfast. The drive was wonderful. I had great conversation, and once we hit the Rift Valley, I was in awe! What an amazing, beautiful view! I’m staying at the guesthouse which overlooks the Rift valley. My room is so cute. I’m unpacked for the most part and waiting to be picked up. My big heavy suitcase of equipment needs to be taken up to the hospital.
We stopped at the hospital before I came to the guesthouse and I got a quick tour. I found a couple of the wifi nodes that Tim installed when he was here last. I can’t wait to continue exploring. The hospital inside is painted in brilliant greens, yellows, and blues. I can’t wait to spend my days surrounded by brilliant vibrant colors!
July 29, 2015
First thing this morning, we had devotions, which were wonderful. Prayer is so cool. It’s easy to talk about prayer, but it’s harder to be faithful about it in practice. Today was a great reminder to sit down and pray with the people here. In Ethiopia, Malawi, and Kenya there seems to be a faith that I dream of having. It’s inspiring and wonderful.
After devotions, today was fairly uneventful. I completed a lot of testing, wandered around the hospital trying to make sure the internet worked, ate the bread here that I can’t remember the name of, and came home!
August 2, 2015
Today was really fun! I got up at 7am and got ready for church. I met Elena at the hospital, and we walked really far to get to church. We sang songs I knew, and the sermon was good. Then Elena and I walked home and chatted with Rose, one of the women who works at the hospital. She is so sweet! She lives right near the hospital grounds, so we walked back toward the hospital with her, and then she invited us over for tea. We ended up talking with her for a couple hours. She is such an encouraging woman! Once we left, I headed home and took the afternoon off.
Rose taught me how to make Kenyan Style Tea. So when I get home, I’m gonna try it! You boil 1 cup water and 1 cup of milk on the stove. Then while its boiling you add loose leaf tea. It’s amazing!
August 4, 2015
Today started with singing and prayer. It is such an encouragement. I was not ready to leave. Then the work day began. I found a bad hard drive and had some meetings. This part of the trip is the hardest because I have to finalize things and pass them off to the people who have to keep them running. Meetings have to be had, decisions have to be made. It’s hard but kind of fun, too!
After spending the last afternoon fixing a couple problems, I decided to take pictures of the hospital since it was a nice day. Luckily I ran into Elena, and she invited me to their Bible study!
So then I came home, rested, and went to bible study at 7pm. It ended up being a game night, which was a lot of fun. We taught a lot of people UNO, and then we played a strange version of mafia.
August 5, 2015
Today was chapel for the whole hospital. It’s always a pleasure to be with the people in the hospital. Then I got to work on fixing the wifi, because I kicked everyone off yesterday afternoon by changing the password! I later went home for lunch to eat leftovers. I worked with Titus on some random IT stuff. Then Elena and I went to the market so I could pick up a few things. When I got back to work, I checked on my wifi wiring that had been finished, Skyped with Tim at HQ to tell him that everything is finished, and headed home! Tomorrow is my final day. I have a checklist to finish up.
- Get wifi to exist in the orthopedic workshop
- Fix OR computer: add wifi card and UPS.
- Fix clinic computer
- Make sure that wifi stays up even if there’s no power!
So this morning I got up late and then made coffee and eggs! I was excited that I had completed everything on my checklist the day before. Then the baboons started coming out. We first saw them around 11:30am and they left around 2:30pm. Elena came home during this mass baboon time. Because of all of the monkeys she had to scale (down) a wall so they wouldn’t see/attack her! Then she and I ran around the house drinking coffee and taking photos. It was so much fun! She left around 2pm and I’m just waiting for my driver to get here.
It was hard to say goodbye to Elena, she’s lovely, and she’s been so sweet! I think that this hospital is lucky to have her.
August 9, 2015
I made it to Mbale! I took a shower and got settled in. I have a roommate here (Hannah), and I’m living in the guest house at the hospital. There are lots of people living here. They took me out to dinner tonight. We walked to this cool little coffee shop and there was internet there! The walk was long, and I’m amazed at how warm it is here. I love the people here, and I haven’t even started my job yet. On our way back from the coffee shop, we took a motorcycle. It was the craziest thing I’ve done in a while! It was so much fun!
August 11, 2015
Today went well and work has begun. After work I went out to dinner with Chris (the CKC here) and then we took a boda to his friend’s house to play games. We ended up playing Settlers of Catan. It was so much fun; there were people I could joke with and just be silly with! It was exactly what I needed.
Then we came home, and Hannah (the CKC Intern, who also happens to be my roommate) and I have just been laughing and enjoying our time together. There have already been many funny moments between the two of us.
Now we are sitting in our room sweating because the power is out! When the power goes out the fans go off. Hannah is making fun of me because I smell like bug spray because my bug net does not work! I am sure you can see in the picture why it does not work.
August 14, 2015
Do we think about our Christian Faith as a great treasure? Are we 100% dependent on God? How many of us can say we can do nothing without the Lord?
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-9
That is what the chapel was about this morning! It hit me hard; do I really cherish my faith in Jesus as a great treasure? When I am down, do I allow God to hold me up when I can’t hold myself up? Do I honestly believe that I can’t do life without God? I say “honestly” because I can “say” that I trust God with everything. But do I believe that I can do nothing without my Savior? I think honestly, the answer is no. I believe He is my Savior, and I believe He died for my sins. I believe He loves me unconditionally, but when I start not to love myself I begin to doubt how He could love me. When I stop “feeling” Jesus’ presence, I assume He’s left me or forgotten me. But instead, I should always remember that Jesus loves me no matter what.
Today started off very encouraging! It’s the end of week one. I can’t believe it’s already been a week. It’s been my hardest week this summer, but it’s started to be fruitful! I think the installation is going well, and next week we will come closer to the end. I’m hoping that I can continue with the forward motion, and I pray that my work here would be a blessing to the hospital and the people who dedicate their lives to serving these children here in Uganda!
Later, I helped Pastor Simon Peter with his computer, which I have to say was one of the most fulfilling things. He was so grateful and he, along with a couple other people here, have reminded me why my work is so important! Ultimately, this is for the kids. Even when the week starts hard, or the work seems hard, in the end, if it helps this amazing staff do their jobs, that’s what I’m here for. That’s why HQ does what we do. We are in place to support the hospital staff so they can serve the children.
This morning we slept until 11:00 am and had lunch. Then Hannah and I went out. We went to the movie store so she could get a couple movies. Then we headed from there to the first pool, but Hannah didn’t really want to hang out there because it was really busy. So we headed to a second pool because she and Chris wanted to go swimming. I didn’t feel up to swimming so I sat and watched a football (soccer) game.
We had a great time at the pool. The three of us sat by the pool and talked (Chris, Hannah and me). They went in and I put my legs in the water. We took some funny videos and just enjoyed each other’s company. It was so much fun!
August 18 2015
I’ve come to the conclusion that this summer of traveling is awesome, but I have to stop thinking of it as something other than my life because it is real life. This is my life! This isn’t summer vacation or traveling for fun. It’s been powerful, stressful, and hard work. I’ve had to think through my life, my relationships, my time, and my faith. I’ve been challenged from every side. I’ve been thrown things that I cannot handle on my own, and I’ve had to navigate the professional world in six different countries. This isn’t a casual summer of travel. It’s been hard every step of the way. Two weeks in a country isn’t enough to learn the quirks, to understand the culture, or to grow as close to people as I would have liked to. Hannah has been a blessing here in Uganda because she has been supportive of me from the start. She’s helped me navigate a very hard two weeks. And I praise God for that!
August 19, 2015
Today was a good day, I ate breakfast, came into work, worked with Brian on random projects, and then after tea I went with Hannah to watch a surgery. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but it totally is. I’ve seen lots of orthopedic surgeries but never a neurosurgery, and certainly never a craniotomy. What a humbling experience to watch a doctor work on a child’s brain. I was absolutely reeling afterwards. I still can’t believe it actually happened!
Then I worked with Brian some more, ate lunch, had a few meetings, and came home! We made leftovers for dinner and then watched American Sniper. Then Chris went to bed, and Hannah and I watched Fireproof. That movie makes me cry every single time.
August 21, 2015
Today was my last full day here in Mbale. The work day wasn’t too eventful but the goodbyes were hard! Hannah left today because she’s spending the weekend in Kampala with a friend from college. So tonight I spend the night in the room alone. We got some good pictures before she left and I’ll take this experience with me wherever I go next!
At the end of the work day I had a final meeting with Tim at 5pm. The Internet went down around 4pm and didn’t come back until 6pm. So the meeting got pushed back.
After the meeting Chris and I went for my last meal at Delicious Dishes. Then we came home and watched The Imitation Game. Then I packed a little and hit the sack. I was so tired!
August 23, 2015
I made it home safely! My bags didn’t come on my flight with me. I have no idea what happened in the eight hours I was sitting in Detroit, but apparently someone messed up. One of my bags made it to Harrisburg before I did and the other somehow decided it wanted to visit my parents and went to Boston. But I’m home and safe. And I’m going to pray that my bag comes back to me very soon!