NEW ULM - Tom and Marcy MacAulay have been working in Arua, Uganda, for the past couple of years. Tom, formerly New Ulm's assistant city manager has been working as an economic development volunteer, and Marcy, a registered nurse, is working as a community health volunteer.
Marcy, in New Ulm this week on a short furlough, spoke at the New Ulm Rotary Club about the people and the challenges of working in Uganda, a beautiful, yet poor country with many health needs.
The weather is hot, and the country is dusty, but Marcy said the people of Uganda are "a lovely, friendly people who live in the moment." There are very rich people, and very poor people there, she said.
Staff photo by Kevin Sweeney
Marcy MacAulay presents a T-shirt, used by the Arua Rotary Club for its World Health Day activities, to Shannon Frauenholtz, president of the New Ulm Rotary Club.
"The people are very neat and clean, their clothes are always well kept and ironed. Marcy said she sometimes gets disapproving looks from people for her worn sandals and her sometimes wrinkled clothing.
Marcy said people who are fat are admired in Uganda, "it means you haven't caught any of the diseases they have." Age and gray hair are also respected, because living to an old age is an accomplishment.
"In fact, in Uganda, half the population is under the age of 15," she said.
Working with nursing students in the hospital in Arua is challenging, said Marcy. Nurses there have 60 or more patients to watch over. They provide medicines and change bandages, and are supposed to train their nursing students, but they have little time for that.
Marcy said that people who enter the hospital have to bring their own caregivers, a family member usually who will provide the care and assistance that Americans would expect nursing staff to provide in U.S. hospitals.
During her short stop in New Ulm, MacAulay is talking about her experiences, and the needs in Uganda. She is currently raising funds, with the help of the local Rotary Club and the Arua Rotary, to buy paint for a badly needed remodeling and cleanup of the pediatrics ward.
She will be speaking tonight at 6:15 p.m. at First United Methodist Church.