Off to Kampala for a night and then Safari for the next three days.
Go to 'catagories' to have a look at some of my blogs on adoption, trauma, pain, disability and some of life's difficulties, where I write about finding hope from the pain and trauma, giving you encouragement and information to move on yourself and grow your own soul just a little bit more x
I said a sad farewell at Suubi Medical Centre today and was given some beautiful gifts. Some of the children popped into the van for a photo opportunity. As we left Justine, our midwife was giving antenatal advice to the ladies. I feel very sad to be leaving, but as I haven't stopped since we got there, I don't think the full enormity of the week I've just had, has hit me yet.
Off to Kampala for a night and then Safari for the next three days.
When I returned to the Medical Centre from seeing Suubi yesterday, I met with the craft ladies from the villages. Denis had brought us paper bead jewellery back from his previous visits, but we had a great time meeting the ladies themselves, watching them make beads, having a go ourselves and buying more beads from them. We gave them the wooden discs and pens I make necklaces with, to make their unique art on, and also got the knitting needles and wool out! That was great fun!
I cant wait to return and see what they have come up with in our absence!
Another great day at Suubi Medical Centre. This morning we went to give worming tablets to the children at the local school. We gave to about 600 children. They were so pleased to see us and sang their national anthem for us. We all introduced ourselves. The headteacher is going to take care of all the stationary, paper, pens, books, musical instruments etc and use for art classes otherwise everything disappears never to be seen again. She was extremely grateful for all the support we give the school.
While at the school Brian our nurse, was called back to the Centre to treat a 92 year old man with malaria. We got back and the lady we had met a couple of times over the last couple of days who is 9 months pregnant, has started in the early stages of labour. I went to talk to her. Teddy is only 16 years old! A man persuaded her to leave school, got her pregnant and had already deserted her. She is very unhappy and feels deceived. Her mother came later in the afternoon by to support her, so we expect another baby tomorrow!
We noticed lots of school aged children hanging around. When asked, they said they had been sent home until they have school fees. Only the first four children in each family are paid for schooling by the government. The rest have to find fees or stay at home. One little girl, Tawuzi Nakidwendo, aged 12, wants to be a doctor. She is unlikely to get that opportunity as she is not one of the family four and her parents are unlikely to be able to get her to school and to college. She is one of the children that needs financial help to get to school. In contrast, tomorrow we are meeting Suubi who I sponsor to go to boarding school. Her family are extremely poor but she now has a chance at a future which will ultimately benefit all of her family. The school fees appear to vary depending on which grade the children are in. They cannot get through to the next grade until they have passed their exams, which they also have to pay for. An average cost appears to be approximately £13 a term (3 terms a year) + dinner (maize porridge), uniform and shoes so about £18 in total.
Another young boy, Colin aged 14, was hanging around quietly. He had school uniform on but was not in school. We asked why. He told us that both his parents work in different towns and so he stays with his grandmother. He had been sent home from school ill but his grandmother had no money for him to be examined. We took him into the centre be where Brian examined him. He had signs of malaria with a headache, a temperature of 41, nausea and poor appetite. He had a pinprick blood test, was diagnosed with malaria and one if the group paid for his treatment.
Late afternoon the elderly lady pictured, who is 82 years old, had to lay down at the Centre as she was suffering with exhaustion. She wanders around day because she loves to talk to people but is apparently often found collapsed at the side of the road waiting for help.
We need Suubi Medical Centre to eventually become self sustainable and so all patients are asked to pay for all or at least a proportion of their treatment.
So, staff at the Medical Centre are:
Chris who is the part time medical director and had overall responsibility for Suubi Medical Centre.
Brian (in the pictures he is sat down with his stethoscope and also treating Colin) is a registered nurse. He is from the nearby village. He has been qualified a year and a half and has worked at Suubi for about 3 months. He is committed to working here for the next year or two but then wants to be able to step up and do his training in dentistry to help more at the Centre. He supports his parents nearby and wants to buy them some piglets and chickens to give them an income.
Job ( in the white uniform) is the lab technician. He is looking forward to us getting electricity so that he can use equipment that will save money ... for instance, a one off outlay for a microscope will save money on buying throwaway testing strips for malaria and other tests.
Lillian is our Administrator (pictured with Sofia, receiving the sanitary towel packs we made in the UK). She is a gem! She is only 21 but she speaks excellent English, is soon going back to continue studying business studies at weekends and is a fabulous organiser.
Justine is our new midwife (in her blue uniform in the pictures). She is still settling in as she only started this be week and has a busy time ahead with all the pregnant women we have seen!
I have already introduced you to the student nurse to be, Sofia, who is also being sponsored for her studies.
A cleaner and a handyman also make up the staff.
So, a hugely busy time at the Centre and getting busier by the day as the villagers are aware we have medications to be treated nearby.
Yesterday was so much fun in Uganda. We have a family with us and the young lad had his 12th birthday, so they had a giant football match between Suubi staff and visitors and the villagers. I'm not sure who won, but judging by the cheers it was close. Everyone we go wanted to play joined in. All the staff and even Betty who I told you about yesterday.
In the evening some young dancers entertained us once back at the hotel, which was great fun.
Today was a busy one with lots of the group doing different jobs. We have the new labour ward having a hygienic new tiled floor and a lick of paint. The new pharmacy is being prepared by replacing the tin roof and being painted. One of the team is building a stove for larger group cooking in the future. Another is repainting the beds, which the children absolutely loved sanding! Others are taking footage of everything for future fundraising. Today, I sorted through all the non medical donations .... Baby bits, school stationary and musical instruments, crafting for the ladies, sanitary towel items and underwear. We managed to bring a lot between us all.
Tomorrow is school day and hopefully I will also get to meet some crafting ladies. I say hopefully because late afternoon we had a big storm. It only lasted about 15 minutes but it tipped down and the mud roads can quickly become impassable. So, hopefully no rain tomorrow!
So, a little more about the people using Suubi Medical Centre. I told you yesterday about the new baby.
We also had a lady who spoke very good English who came in with Ambrose, her son with special needs who can't talk. He has a huge hole in his back tooth which Brian our nurse, showed me. The Medical Centre does not have the power to use dental tools ( they don't have the tools either), and so although Brian is perfectly qualified to do this work, the mother could only collect some immediate pain relief and will have to take her son into the main town for treatment. This, with Ambrose being sensitive to crowds and noise, will not be an easy or a cheap task. Sometimes dentist and dental nurses come from the UK to help for a couple of weeks ago the centre, usually with extractions. If you can share this post with any you think might be interested in coming, please do.
We also had a little three year old girl who had drunk parafin that her mother usually kept in a soda bottle out of reach, but unfortunately, had left out and the child drank it. Brian was able to set up a drip to flush it out, and could check her throat to make sure it wasn't burnt seriously enough for her to be taken to the main hospital. The little girl and her mother stayed until stable. If they'd had to organise getting her to hospital, it would have meant trying to get a Boda Bods to collect her and take both mother and sick child on the back of the bike. The delay could have caused more harm as it often takes at least an hour for one to reach the clinic. A Boda Boda is one thing you will see us fundraise for as it is life or death in an emergency.
A pregnant lady came in for a check up. Many if the pregnant ladies visit for advice and support. She is supposed to be having a scan but her husband just can't afford it. Our midwife Justine thinks she may be having twins. Obviously it is essential that the staff have as much information as possible so that they are as prepared for the birth. I was told of one mother who had given birth in a nearby village who lost a great deal of blood and after the bleed couldn't be stopped by the witch doctor, she was brought to the Centre. The Centre then had to wait for transport to the main hospital because to the lady needed blood transfusion, but she had bled do much that she died. A Boda Boda, however unpractical it seems in the UK, is the way people travel here from babies and so being able to travel in most medical conditions, is possible here.
We have many people with disabilities who come to the Centre daily for support and community. Betty who has Downs Syndrome is part of the Suubi family. An elderly lady with dementia who is 82 years old also comes most days, as do many children not in school ( which I will talk about more this week).
In the afternoon we also had a mother, her baby and a little boy with malaria come into the Medical Centre. The boy had been brought by his father the previous day to be tested for malaria. I asked Brian what symptoms he would have shown but Brian said that the boy would have been feeling I'll anyway as has worms too and was malnourished. He showed me the little boys eyes and we talked about the basic needs of the people that the Medical Centre supports.
Many families have almost no food and rely on buying maize and sweet potato to live. It costs a family of five about 50p a day for these two basic foods to eat, but many are starving and malnourished. This stark truth is very hard to deal with for our group. We want to find a way to provide emergency food through the centre of perhaps have a weekly feeding programme, but the logistics need careful planning to ensure we can sustain what we start. It would be easy for us to throw money at the immediate problem. We also want to support families to be self sufficient so help them start their own businesses by just buying livestock to start them off, or a more expensive crop that takes longer to grow but sustain the family while they wait. We have some ladies who craft in the village coming to see us tomorrow afternoon and there may be others who could do this with a start up. Lots of things to do but I am so proud to be a friend of Denis Victor who set up this amazing Centre that already does so much and I'd the foundation for so much more!
So much has happened that I will post a few times now separately.
Most exciting was that a new baby boy was born at Suubi Medical Centre this morning at 7am.
Conditions are not hygienic at all yet and so some of our group are starting work to make the maternity unit better while they are here.
While in the maternity room, a teenage girl came in. She was fearful of me because of my hair, as the other 'mzungu' had a look she is more used to from foreigners. I told her to touch my hair, so she was fine then and so she and Sofia, gave me some braids.
The other photo here is Sofia ( who I am sponsoring to do nursing training) and her parents and brother and sister in law's.
I will post more about some of the other people coming into the centre for help, later.
Wow! What a day! We spent today driving through the numerous small communities and villages that Suubi Medical Centre serves.
People, especially the children came to meet us. A nine month pregnant lady came back again today after I briefly met her yesterday and will be back in the week so I can spend more time talking to her.
I met Sofia's father today and we bought drinks from the little shop Sofia's parents run, right opposite Suubi. Little Hadijjah, the new baby, was passed around for cuddles again too.
We stopped in a little village to meet some people the Medical Centre supports. Little Jonah has albinism. He is into everything! We also met Denis who has cerebral palsy. The children were treated to pineapples and lollies before we headed off for lunch at Denis Victor's mother's house. After filling up on samosa's and fruit we headed back to out hotel.
We've now eaten and are heading off to see Iganga by night!
I've arrived at the little village of Busu in Iganga. I felt so overwhelmed when we got here that the minute I saw Sofia, the young lady I'm sponsoring to go to college to get her nursing training, I burst into tears! I had to explain they were happy tears and after meeting her mum too, I could stop my tears!
Then I was delighted to meet Lillian that I've got to know over the last few months online. Huge hugs and introductions to the other staff, Brian, Job, Chris , Noah, and the new midwife Justine.
Then just over the road was the first baby born born on Dec 22nd at Suubi since we reopened Nakabira Hadijjah! I was in my element!!!
So much to tell you!. It's been roasting all day but I've just come onto my balcony to watch a wild storm and a tree had blown down! Guess Storm Denis came along with Denis Victor too!!!!
Much more to write but off for now to change and chill out for a while at our 'home for the week'.