How to make a friend in Uganda. business consultant, NGO worker, former Peace Corps volunteer, activist: searching for sustainable solutions to eradicate extreme poverty

April 20, 2012

jumping in.

Filed under: Uganda — Jeff @ 7:32 am

stevenAs I write this column I can hear kids splashing in the pool below. The scene is somewhat incongruous to what I saw and heard last night.

Yesterday, bush tired and weary from a long bus ride, I crashed into my hotel room. Out of my window I could see a lone guy at the pool playing his bass guitar. He was in the zone, riffing off the music playing in his headphones. I changed into my board shorts and made my way down to the pool to vibe. I sat in a plastic chair and watched a fat man swim laps, while I sipped a cold Club. That afternoon, the only words this 20-year-old musician exchanged with me were a quick “What’s up?” as he passed. He was busy calling friends to join him at the pool.

Hours later, I was relaxing in my third floor room when, all of a sudden, screams of terror came up through my open window from below. It took me a minute or two to realize that no one was responding to their call to pull their friend out of the pool. He was lying at the bottom. I could see it all from my window. A small, dark spot in the water as his friends frantically yelled from the side of the pool. By the time I scampered down the stairs, another man had jumped in but I could hear him saying that the man, this dark shadow, was too heavy to lift out. Now I was in the water. I dove and found myself clutching to his head and pulling him to the surface. He was limp. With one arm around his chest, I used the other to swim toward the side of the pool. His friends helped to pull him out and started CPR. He vomited. Then blood ran from his nose. Yet he failed to take a breath.

Finally someone from the hotel staff showed up and I directed her to find a doctor. Before one came, others helped to carry him out to the road to find a car. I wandered away, not knowing what remained appropriate to do as a foreign resident and stranger. Minutes later as the adrenaline drained I began to freak out in my hotel room; I stripped off all my clothes; pulled on something dry; and called my mother.

Later I learned that he and his friends made it into a car to the hospital but he never regained consciousness.

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