So Siobhan has been an amazing friend, collegue and business partner of mine for close to 8 years now. A few years ago she got hooked on this idea of going to Uganda to help out in a birthing clinic. She quickly realised that the people in this village were lacking basic necessities for life let alone for giving birth. When she came back to San Francisco she put together a non-profit organization called OneMama with the intention of providing basic healthcare needs for mothers in the region.
Here are her emails from her latest trip. They remind me of a diary or journal that you would read in a novel from 1920. We are so far removed from that reality and reading her emails make me very happy to be living in the USA. More on OneMama
Give if you can and forward if you are moved by what she has to say.
Dearest Family and Friends,
I have now been in Uganda for about 4 or 5 days days. I have lost track of time here. It is taking a some time for me to adjust back to this life here with no real access to the outside world. It is like being completely unplugged from any kind of life we know in our part of the world.
A few thoughts...
The smell of night jasmine fills the air, my skin is semi permantly tanned by the red clay dust.... And the kids follow me everywhere I go singing and dancing with me...
I am sleeping next to Jamira the midwife for OneMama in her room with her right next to the birthing area.
I have to admit the first couple nights were a little rough getting use to. Jamira gets up at all hours of the night to help the local woman give birth when they come calling at all hours of the day or night.
The conditions are in great contrast to what we are use to in the states. Even though I have been here before it is still hard to adjust to living like this. There is no running water but I do get a bucket to bath with hot boiled water everyday.
There is also no power sources of any kind to utilize for lights or to power electronics or lights. We use fires ,candles or solar flashlights. I have brought a solar generator and solar panels from the US, but they have not yet proved to be successful. It is suppose to take up to 48 hours to charge. So we will see....
I am going thru technology withdrawals. I am usually on the phone about 8-9 hours a day with work and talking to friends. Then there is the internet the closest connection is about 2 hours away by car. Right now I am driving with a friend late at night to go find a power source and internet.
I hope you get this at some point since the first email I sent letting everyone know I was going to Africa still seems to not have gone out for some reason. Data ,,,,I need data and to speak in English....UGH!
Jamira... She is so sweet she was so happy when I showed up with supplies and showed her the work we have done so far. She just grabs my hand every chance she gets and says "webale" over and over... This means “thank you”...
I really don't know what to say back so I nod and say it back and smile.,,
I meet with all the local officials in a couple days to get all the paperwork in place.It really is hard to put into words the way things work here. It is just a different way....Hmmmmm
I will send pictures when I can....i hope to have more stories soon..
Love and Light Siobhan
Siobhan Neilland | Founder OneMama
“We are all OneMama on this OneMother Earth!
We all want to feel like we are loved and we matter in this world!”
Your contribution will benefit the women, children, and men of this community.
If you have any questions about your donation, you may contact OneMama by phone at 866-485-1447 or online at OneMama
You can now donate online with a credit card!
We now need volunteers in US and in Africa.
Please contact us if you want to get involved and feel like you are making a difference in the world!
Your donation of time and money is going toward a great cause!
Please be assured that you have made a direct impact on the people of Kirindi, Uganda, where OneMama begins its pilot program
We hope you will remain involved as we continue to grow and accomplish our mission.
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.
Sent July 10th
My Dearest Family and Friends,
We just came back from Jinga today to go use internet and computers about 1.5 hours away. That is when you got the last email from me. Everything concerning technology is so labor intensive. It took me 2.5 hours to get out just a few emails and do a little research.
We got some supplies, went to banks and ran errands.
We got to see Jessica and Wilfred who are an amazing local married couple who do are working with us on this project. I have not seen them since I was here last time. They are both interpreters for another NGO in Jinga. Jessica and Wilfred are the first ones that really helped do all the initial work on this project. They are just wonderful!
We also drove up to Bugagali falls before we left to get a chapatti that I was craving and for me to say hello to a few of my local friends that live up there. I could not believe how many people remembered my name and everything about me with out seeing me for 2 years. It was so endearing. I will be staying there a few days before I leave to come home.
Then we stopped to meet Jeremiah's uncle who owns a local hotel spot in Jinga. They were a lovely couple and excited to hear about the project..
Then the very long drive on crazy bumpy roads back to the village....
We did not get back till very late in the pitch black in our our borrowed vehicle. At least it was not a boda boda(scooter) this late in the rain and crazy road....which usually we ride 3 at a time... Not so safe but quite an adventure..
Till more adventures..
Love and Light
Today was one of those days that you start to look back on and see how things change the way you think. Living here and doing this is changing how my brain works..HMMMMM
All week Jeremiah and I have been trying to get everything in place to meet with community & village leaders and the community as a whole to present the whole OneMama Vision.
In case I did not mention it Jeremiah is Jamira's son who is now going to be the director of OneMama Uganda which is a Ugandan based and run organization. They will work with OneMama USA to create the best solutions and partnership to make this project a success.
That is the ultimate vision is to assist communities to start their own OneMama organizations that can be self-sustaining in what ever countries that we are needed. We helped them see that all the legal paper work and documentation is now now in place and is an established organization.
Well we met in a tiny little room with about 25 men and woman. I would present and they would interpret this very big vision and dream to a group of people who are not use to thinking big. Then the local OneMama Directors presented their vision...
It went Great...
The meeting with the leaders of these surrounding communities went so very well. Better than I thought they would. They tend not to trust mazaunga's and really with good reason...There is so little ever done for these people and they see us come and consume with so much money and stuff and they have so little.
.....Hmmmm I sit here and try to write about how all these meetings went and I realize I have no language to really explain these amazing interactions...
I will try to get better at these descriptions in the days to come.....UGH!
Love and Light Siobhan
Sent July 15th
Hello My Dearest Friends and Family,
Well..... today Is July 15 here in Uganda.
Today was another amazing as everyday seems to be here so far...
Today I got a call from a man with an organization here working with HIV/AIDs prevention and he is very excited about OneMama and is going to try to arrange something I never thought possible. He is trying to get me in a meeting with the first lady of Uganda before I leave. How Crazy is that....
We will see.... but what It was exciting to even have such a conversation.
I have been taking a couple day break here on the Nile river to get my thoughts together so I can really get things done these last few weeks.
This place is called the Harry Lemon it is an island in the middle of the river that runs completely on solar. This place is mostly used by rafters and kayakers who are coming down the river. There is not internet and very little cell coverage but is amazingly beautiful. I have a wonderful private banda over looking the river. There is a tree snake living in my rafters of my room and one on the front deck. There are two monkeys that live in the tree above me and love to throw nuts at the roof.
There is this fascinating bird that sits on a rock in the middle of the rapids on the river that I look onto. He is there off and on thru the day with his wings stretched full spread for 20-30 minutes at a time then he rests and flies around a little then comes back. It is so sweet to watch. Man he has the life!
Swimming in the river and in the little rapids has been so refreshing and just what I needed to recharge.Makes me miss swimming back home at Ocean Beach...
I love my queen quarters here living in what feels like luxury compared to what I have been doing...however it still is not the same as all the comforts of home.
Took a walk back to Jamira's today to show a woman from Tasmania the work we are doing. She is a sweet lovely woman who takes people on overland trucks around Africa. She may want to work with OneMama. It was a lovely walk and adventure. The kids followed us off and on the 4 -5 mile walk and played games with us as we journeyed. I missed seeing Jamiria the last two days. I cant wait to get back and stay with her and the kids there tomorrow. I really feel like a part of the family. The two days I have been away she has sent messages from different people to let me know she misses me. So very sweet....
I ran into a UK friend I met here two years ago tonight on this tiny little island in the middle of nowhere..... So good to see him.. The world starts to seem very small at times.
I have been practicing for a dance performance that I have in August while here in my little banda. I will not have time to practice again until I get back home. It is a funny reminder how I live in two worlds that are so very very different.
Now I am off to sleep....Love and Light to all..
Siobhan Neilland | Founder OneMama