Circumcision clinic for pre-adolescent boys

Saturday was very different than expected. I (Rifka) thought I would have a rest day but instead I was asked to accompany the nurses to help do male circumcisions (female circumcisions –FGMs– are not done here).  In old times, boys between the ages of 6 and 10 were circumcised in August as part of a ceremony that involved slaughtering a bull. Now people aren’t wealthy enough to do the full ceremony, but continue the circumcisions.

Wilfred, the nurse who was my translator 2 years ago showed up. He is now working up near the Ethiopian border where he said the biggest problem is malnutrition. He is on vacation for the next month but came back to this region to do circumcisions on young boys on his own time. The three male nurses gathered all the equipment from the clinic and we drove about 45 minutes to small village called Mekelingi. They set up in a small building with 2 tiny rooms. They set up their equipment which had been all sterilized on a clean cloth on the floor. Two circumcisions were done at the same time. Rifka helped with the anesthetics and handing instruments to the nurses.

The first boy was brought in and he lay down on the table with his lower legs off the end. His penis and surrounding groin area were cleaned with alcohol and betadine and then a local anesthesia was given. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but it was done quickly and cleanly. Most boys cried but a few didn’t. During the procedure there usually wasn’t too much pain. Four of us from Kisesini  helped by trying to talk with the boys and sometimes held them if they were very scared. By the end of the procedure they had calmed down and were able to get up off the table without problem. They were dressed in a sheet, wrapped around them like a toga and tied at the neck.

It took about 3 hours to do 11 procedures, but we had to stop in the middle and resterilize the instruments. They were cooked over a small propane stove in the pressure cooker.