April 2015

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April 2015

This is our final blog post from Uganda :(

 

On Friday and Saturday, we spilt into groups. Myself and Tizzy went to go and visit some KISS families with two of the amazing team members from KISS. Lucy and Irene had come and introduced themselves before, at our breath-taking arrival.

 

Kiss Families can travel up to five hours to access their services – it really put it into perspective, how vital KISS is in the area. As, if it wasn’t serving a purpose, you wouldn’t walk five hours to get there.

 

Frist, we walked for around 10 mintues to see a gentleman who, to put it quite bluntly would have died without KISS – leaving his children, wife and grandchildren by themselves. Tom is a gentleman who is diabetic – at home that is something managed usually quite well. He explained to us how he was very sick before KISS aided him with his diagnosis. He told us that he had previously been married to a women and unfounratley their two children had died and that his wife divorced him after. He was telling us how much he appreciates this wife as she has stood by him throughout everything. We didn’t get to meet his wife as she had gone to the market to get some food for the family. He showed us his documents from the hospital and his insulin, which is just in a little jar sat in a plastic bag along with his needles. He explained that he tries to keep them out the way of the children as he is worried about them accidently dropping his insulin or being stabbed by a needle. (Insulin costs around 10,000 shillings around £2.50). The house that they live in, like many families in the area is overcrowded (9 people to a house) made of mud and straw for roofing. The bedroom acts like a bedroom for the parents, the other room is for the children and grandchildren who all sleep on the floor. In the corner of the room there was a pile of sheets in which they lay on at night, but no mosquito nets – something that saves lives in Uganda. Tom told us that his oldest daughter moved back into the family home because of mental illness, bringing also his grandchildren into the home making money even more tighter for the family. KISS fund his medical support and in the new term will be supporting one of the children in the family to go to school. What was most touching about spending some time with Tom is that he was just so happy to see us – he just kept thanking us. In all honestly, I feel blessed to meet him and his family.

 

Next we went and met a seven year old girl called Fiona, when KISS found her three years ago she was only crawling. Fiona has needed intensive physiotherapy and is now walking. She still needs extensive physiotherapy as she is walking with a limp. She is also been supported to go to school, in which her mother carries her to and from as she can’t walk a long way. She showed us her report in which she started as an average student and is now in the top class and is getting outstanding marks. All her teachers praise her on her work and how she is such a great student. Education in Uganda is free and provided by the government but you can have up to 180 children in a class, being taught by 1 teacher. Alongside, the parents have to pay for all books, pens, pencils, uniform and toilet paper for each term – something most families just simply cannot afford. Mum had gone to the market to buy some supplies for the week so we didn’t get to meet her.

 

The final family we saw on Friday was an incredible young boy with cerebral palsy called Hasan. Disability in Uganda is attached to a huge stigma , many families will hide their children from the public, as it thought to bring shame on them. Hasan’s mother has fought against that stigma and incredibly has always encouraged her son that he can do anything he wants. Today he was very happy as he was given a project by KISS to create his own pig farm and today two of his pig gave birth to 10 piglets. Now making him a very rich young boy. He told us how he wants to be a poultry specialist when he is order and is learning how to count money at the moment – his mother was explaining that he would need assistance to do the physical work but he would be the business man. Depsite the good news, there was also some bad news to be shared concerning the family. The oldest daughter had fell pregnant, the boys family agreed to care for the child so she could return to school. Soon after giving birth she decided to return to work instead of school – which her mother support. One day she stated that she was going to see her child (whom lives in another village) and never arrived. It is believed that she has ran away to Kamapla to work as a housekeeper, Mum is just worried about her and just wants her to call so she knows she is safe.

Lucy was explaining to us that it is common for children to run away to the city as they are promised a better life. But seeing the Slums which many end up in, doesn’t seem to be a better life.

 

In the afternoon myself and Tizzy went to the KISS site and played with the children. It was so much fun and playing with the kids was just amazing. We also met the fattest women in Kasambya – In fairness she is pretty proud of the title.

 

On Saturday, we drove with Denis and Lucy to the families as they were ‘some distance’. The first family we met, the child David suffered from birth defects. Leaving him with disfigured arms and legs. David uses a wheelchair provided by KISS to get around the local area but often walks on his legs to get around his home and the land. He was a shy boy who lives with his grandparents, siblings and parents. He is been supported by KISS for his education and attends the Kamapla Handicapped school at which he boards. The school is very expensive and is four hours away so there is no way David could travel there daily – leaving no option for him but to board at the school. David was telling us about school and how he plays football and how he wants to be a doctor when he is older. Lucy explained that he was previously taken to Mulago where the staff believed it was best that he had his arms and his legs amputated and would be provided with artificial arms and legs. It was decided by his family that they will wait for him to grow older so he is able to make decision himself. It seems like the best for him, before we left we sang some songs, which he really enjoyed.

 

The second family we went and saw was Aplodia who lives with her 76 year old father. She is a single child and when she was found by KISS she did not speak, she was encouraged to go to the KISS site so she could socialise with other children as she is the only child in her village. KISS was able to send her to a deaf school when she said her first word whist reading a book with another child (which was pineapple). She has now come on leaps and bound with her speaking and boarding at a school to encourage her language even further. It is hoped that she will soon be speaking at the same level as others of her age. Her father is very disabled and his back, hips and legs are always seized. He was talking about how it takes him a long time to access medical care which costs around 10,000 shillings (£2.50) between one to two months.

 

The final family we went to see contained eight children and one single mother. The father was an alcoholic and is no longer around. Mum fortunately has some of her own land which is a able to plant and grow food on, she also has a number of chickens. Two of the eight children are being supported by KISS, one for medicial reasons and the other child for education. The oldest daughter has epilepsy and nearly died six months ago as she lost a lot of weight, she was seizing and her limbs were stuck in the same position. KISS didn’t think that she would survive, but with the right medicial support she is now doing well. The second oldest daughter is being provided education by KISS and her English is very good. She spoke to us about school and about the support her family have been given. The oldest son is being supported by an Auntie to go to school also. As we were leaving we were presented with a gift – a live chicken who myself and Tizzy named Charlotte ( aka Charlie) Turner-Harrington.

 

Most people don’t have chickens as pets in England or anywhere really. But my family, we keep them as pets – So after a lot of discussion myself and Tizzy didn’t feel right about killing Charlie for dinner. Instead we gave him to Julius’s son Junior for safe keeping. I look forward to my Whatsapp updates on Charlie. So far she has laid one egg!

 

(Zoe)

 

 

The three of us spent two days on the outreach programme providing free health care for the local community, which as a group we funded for the five days in Kasambya. We worked with staff from St. Francis Clinic providing malaria and HIV testing for anyone who showed symptoms following a consultation with the doctor.

 

Mary – Jane spent the morning working with the doctor, diagnosing patients, requesting tests and prescribing medications. Louise spent some time with the laboratory technicians obtaining blood samples and carrying out the tests. Rachael spent time with the nurses dispensing medicines to patients once they had seen the doctor.

 

As the day got busier two of us were required at the testing station. Mary – Jane and Rachael got into a good routine of pricking patients fingers and obtaining the blood sample and analysing the tests to determine whether they were negative or positive. On day one of the outreach programme we unfortunately had one patient who was found to be HIV positive – a twenty year old girl. We found this particularly hard; being the same age as her really got us thinking about how we would deal with that news at such a young age. There is support in place for these patients – they receive counselling and regular check ups as well as anti retroviral drugs for free.

 

Many of the malaria tests that were carried out came back as positive, a lot of these were children. Without the outreach programme a lot of these children wouldn’t have been tested for malaria and potentially would have died without treatment.

 

On day two less people showed up but we had more positive test results. Two patients results came back showing that they had HIV and are now receiving the appropriate treatment. We also had many more positive malaria tests.

 

Over the five days of the outreach programme as a group we saw 1500 patients, did a total of 517 malaria tests of which 160 of them came back positive. The amount of HIV tests we did came to 495 with 11 being positive. By funding this programme and providing free testing to communities in Kasambya, we have been able to save many people’s lives as well as provide treatment to those who may not have had access to it without our funds.

 

(Mary- Jane, Rachael and Louise)

 

During our time in Kasambya each of us spent two days working at St. Francis clinic. The clinic is staffed by two nurses and a laboratory technician and provides both in and out patient services for the local community. While the clinic does charge for services it is subsidised and the staff make exceptions and offer flexible payment plans. For example a young child came in very unwell with malaria but it’s mother could not afford the treatment and rather than send them away they gave them the medication for free. They also directed a number of patients to the outreach service in order to ensure people received treatment. At the clinic it really did feel like they wanted to provide the best service possible for their community. Their passion for providing high quality care was also evident in the way they treated their patients. It was the best patient care we have witnessed, each patient was treated with kindness, compassion and received the best treatment available. The patients are checked on at least every hour and everyone receives all their medication on time. We were also all impressed by the depth and breadth of knowledge the nurses possessed and their nursing practice.

 

They were also excellent teachers. Each of us have become rather skilled at passing canulas, drawing up and administering IV medication, dispensing oral medication and Lollie, Tizzy and I even put in contraceptive implants! I must admit this made me feel rather queasy! All of us agree that by far the biggest challenge though was deciphering the handwriting on the prescriptions. We were very lucky that both the nurses we were working with had endless patience and helped us decode.

 

Another highlight of the clinic was working in the laboratory and seeing malaria parasites under the microscope. We all got involved- taking the blood samples, staining the sample and then working out the severity of the patient’s malaria.

 

On our final evening in Kassambya the clinic staff came to the place we stayed and presented each of us with a personalised certificate of achievement which felt the perfect end to a brilliant placement and further demonstrates just how kind they were!

 

(Jess)

We’ve had a great time here in Uganda… See you all soon

xxx

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April 2015

On our first day in Hoima we were spilt into different groups to visit families that are sponsored by KISS. Kaylie, Louise and I went to visit 4 families and were taken around and introduced to them by Grace (employee of KISS). We first went to visit a little girl who has liver problems, the family didn’t speak English so Grace was translating. We were introduced to them in a little room where the family business takes a place: producing milk. They talked to us about her condition, the treatment she needed and what their concerns were. Their milk making business only makes roughly 10,000 shillings (£2.50) a day and were worried about the costs of future treatment. This really hit home the extent of poverty and the struggles this family has. But despite all, the children were still smiling and intrigued by us apart from one little brother who saw us and literally screamed in tears because he has never seen a white person before. He was relieved by the end as we were leaving and gave us a very smiley wave…

 

We then walked to the next family which was a mother with HIV. We all crammed into this tiny room which had a single bed and a tiny bit of floor space and were told the mother and her 5 children live here. It was pretty overwhelming and shocking to see the living conditions, it was just so surreal and we believe that 6 people lived in this tiny boxed room. The mother was so welcoming, she didn’t feel very well, looked quite weak and frail. She asked whether we wanted a drink of water or a soda but we kindly told her we had water ourselves, however she was determined to welcome us with something so gave her daughter money to buy us 4 sodas. We felt so bad, we wanted to give her money, not her spending what she only has on us but it would appear rude if we didn’t accept them. However, there were a lot of little children around so we all shared out the drinks between them. We were told that KISS sponsors one of her daughters to go to school which was great to see.

 

The third family we went to visit was a girl with some sort of neurological problem due to parasites, however we didn’t quite understand what the problem was as there wasn’t a clear diagnosis and mixed test results. But again everyone was so welcoming and so pleased to see us even though we didn’t really do anything there.

 

The final family we visited was a mother with aids and resulting from that has a shocking skin condition that looked very painful. This mother was very unwell but it was incredible to see the local neighbours and friends come together and take such good care of her and her children. They would come around everyday and bring food, take the children in when needed, they had such great community spirit. This was one family that was on the waiting list for help.

 

It was such a privilege to visit these families and were felt honoured by them welcoming us into their homes. It was shocking to see the conditions they live in and their personal circumstances something we will never be able to get used too. It really puts things into perspective, and it was great to see how the donations we have made to KISS is helping these families. It did make us realise the extent of the waiting list of the children and families that are in need of help and can be waiting quite a long time which for some maybe too late.

 

As a group we felt we needed a team debrief. We all exchanged stories and fed back the children and families who we felt really needed extra support from the money that we donated.

(Tizzy)

 

Friday 24/4/15 its second day of placement day and I’m off to Hoima hospital with Lollie to experience nursing life on the neonatal unit (kangaroo) while zoe and Louise continued their time on the paediactric ward and rach and MJ went back to EDPA the private clinic in Hoima. Tizzy however had become really unwell as was taken to EDPA for some investigations and Jess went with her. Blood results confirmed she had malaria which with only 1 mozzy bite on her (unlike me who is covered) we are pretty confident it was the little sucker she squashed in her mozzy net back at KCK as when it was splatted to her bed sheet and left a pool of blood.
Back at Hoima hospital me and Lollie rocked up to kangaroo where we were greated by approximately 15 students and one qualified nurse all of which had to work on a ward that is probably the size of most people’s bathrooms…tiny tiny tiny. There was 1 cot bed in the first room which was labelled HDU and on a busy day could hold 4-5 babies. The second room their were 3 incubators and 2 cot beds so more babies would be squeezed in, on many occasions 2 or 3 babies would all be put into one incubator. All of the babies were so tiny weighing about <1kg-3kg, most of which were hooked up to oxygen concentrators which would regularly switch off when the power failed which also happened a lot. In the corner of the room was a small trolley, hanging above it was a small bag valve mask…with no oxygen tubing attached or mask! (Great use in an emergency). There was also a resuscitation box which hadn’t been checked since December and contained expired medications. There was also only 1 phototherapy light which I cleaned before using for a patient and although the equipment had apparently been cleaned I managed to throw away 4 filthy cloths about and 10 dead bugs which had been sat under the mattress for im guessing quite some time. It is the mothers responsibility to provide bedding and feeding equipment. The babies don’t wear nappies due to the cost so they are all wrapped in sheets and blankets which are constantly soiled. There should be 1 qualified nurse on the ward at all times but if this is not possible they should inform the students where they are going and should leave a contact number (which from experience does not happen). The student nurses in their 100’s work from 0800-1300 with lectures in the afternoon. The students look extremely presentable in their green dresses with waist belts and white collars. It is important to change your shoes when entering the ward so many just wear flip flops, not like our strict shoe policy back in the UK. The girls are in their 1st year 1st placement so expectedly lacked knowledge and experience but were extremely egar to observe everything so with each patient intervention there’s about 6 nurses huddled over the patient which can get a little stressful. It’s so important to teach these girls good practice from the beginning otherwise they will pick up bad habits which me and Lollie had whitnessed since arriving. One student had been told to draw up IV Medication and administer to a patient. All their meds are made up already and labelled with no date or expiry and instead of calculating the doses they draw up the meds like robots without knowing what they are giving or even why they are giving it. It’s shocking to watch. when Lollie asked one student what IV she had given and why and she couldn’t give us an answer. Dr tom an amazing doctor who has sorted all tizzys treatment came up to the ward to make sure everything was running smoothly and made it very clear that the practice was poor and that no 1st year students should be performing IVs and if they do they should be wearing gloves (non were). It’s shocking to see such bad practice and how such small improvement like the washing Of hands before contact which each patient could potentially save life’s so myself and Lollie took it upon ourselves to do some teaching with the students refreshing on handwashing and teaching them how to assess a patients vital signs. some already knew how to take a temperature and bloody pressure but some struggled with basic documentation of the results. my self and Lollie attended a malaria drug conference earlier in the morning and on returning to the ward saw David the nurse in charge stood over the nurses desk with a bundle of blankets and a stethoscope and 4-5 students huddled over. It was clear he had a baby in front of him but their was no crying nor any moment coming from the blanket. David picked up the blacket and carried it to the resus trolley. At this point I could see that there was a very still baby wrapped up. David reassessed the baby then informed us that the baby was dead and had been dead since arrival to kangaroo. Its heartbreaking that mothers are so poorly educated some arrive to the ward and do not know that their babies are have died. David covered the babies face and left it on the resus trolley, Untill parents were ready to take the baby home.

(Kaylie)

 

Not quite sure how to write this post, if I’m honest the day is a bit of a blur, so I will write it with as much sense and logic as I can manage, so apologies in advance! It’s a tough entry to write and I’m not the most articulate or concise writer, but this is the reality of life working in a third world country hospital.

 

Day three of Kaylie and myself (Lollie) on Kangaroo Ward in Hoima Hospital. Arrive on a Saturday morning to 4 student nurses, no qualified member of staff and 6 tiny babies, 2 more than we had left the day previously, however none with any form of identification near them, no notes to be seen near any of the babies. Task one; identify the bubbas and make sure they were all stable.

 

Seeing as there was no nurse, we decided that it was more important to initially assess the patients and get some vital signs on them to check they were safe, Kaylie delegated the students to practice their observation taking skills we had taught yesterday, and I began to identify our most unstable babies.

 

The high dependency bay consists of a desk where the medicine is stored, a bench where mums and babies wait to be admitted, a phototherapy incubator, a resuscitation table and a bed with space to put 3 babies. We had 3 mums on the bench and 2 babies on the bed, one of which was a new arrival. I then realised that the oxygen cylinder was on and the tubing was leading to a pile of blankets on the resuscitation table… cue that gut feeling that something isn’t right.

 

I unwrapped the top of the blankets to find something that nobody wants to come on shift to, a very sweet, but very cold and lifeless baby boy, with oxygen tubing attached but no signs of chest movement or heart sounds. I quickly beckoned Kaylie over and whispered very quietly so none of the mums (of which I had no idea whose baby was whose) could hear “Kaylie I’m pretty sure this baby is dead…”. I left her with the stethoscope to double check and rushed back to the desk where the student nurses were, they just told me that they had come on shift to the baby like that and they weren’t sure what happened. They also had no idea where the nurse from the nightshift or where our nurse for today was, or a doctor, or whether the mother knew her baby had died, my head was spinning, with no idea what were we going to do.

 

It was at this point we had ensured our other babies were as well as they could be before running to the nearest ward to find a qualified member of staff, no one around. We ran to the paediatric ward where Zoe was working that day to find their doctor busy with a very sick child and unable to help, but Zoe followed us back onto Kangaroo to give us a hand once we explained our situation. It was at this point that Emma turned up upon hearing from Kaylie we had no staff, 4 student nurses and a dead baby. I’m not entirely sure what happened for the next 15 minutes or so with Kaylie, Emma or Zoe, I just ensured the little one on the resucitation table was covered up, tried to track down our notes for each child and finally managed to identify that the baby on the table had come in already dead at 2am having been delivered in a far away village, although I had no clue why it was still attached to oxygen and still lying on the table.

 

Realising that not a whole lot could be done for the bubba whilst we had no member of staff, I moved on to our new arrival. Temperature of 38.6, breathing 67 times a minute, attached to oxygen but crying, albeit very quietly. I queried neonatal sepsis, as surprise surprise, notes nowhere to be seen. Our nurse for the shift finally turned up and I turned his attention to the baby on the table. I managed to track down the notes for baby number 2, my diagnosis was correct; the baby had been brought in after mum delivered in a taxi on her way to hospital with difficulty breathing and a temperature. Antibiotics had been given at 17.30 the previous day but nothing since, I noted to sort that out in a minute. It’s oxygen tubing was putting pressure on her eye so I repositioned it and her and changed her, ensuring her notes were well and truly secured to her bucket bed. It was then however that I noticed the baby next to her…

 

This is when it all goes a bit blurry in my memory… I hadn’t given this baby much attention yet as the students were doing his observations and I hadn’t had a chance to track down/read his notes. I noticed his eyes were very weepy and can remember seeing the baby gasp and then no chest movement. I shouted for Kaylie, grabbed the stethoscope and tried to listen for heart sounds, nothing. We tried to stimulate him with a sternal rub and shaking but got no repsonse, I glanced around, the ambubag was nowhere to be seen, how was I meant to rescusitate this baby?! Kaylie began chest compressions and I finally found the ambubag (on the floor under the bed, REALLY helpful), however, no oxygen tubing attached, I was going to have to bag the baby with air, better than nothing…

 

5 chest compression from Kaylie, 5 breaths from me, and we heard airway noises, however the baby’s tummy was growing… Shit, the baby had aspirated. If there’s one thing I can fault the body on, is its necessity for adrenaline to make your hands shake… quite possibly THE most unhelpful thing when you’re trying to aspirate a tiny baby’s nasogastric tube to pull air and stomach contents out of it, with tiny 5ml syringes as that’s all the ward has… More gasps from the baby; what we were doing was helping. He vomited and breathed again, all the time I was thinking “come on baby, come on baby”. I needed to suction his airway to clear it of vomit, but no suction machine, so grabbing the first thing I could think of, a syringe, I began to try and clear his nose and mouth. He began breathing spontaneously, first one breath every 5 seconds or so, then more often, and I could hear strong heart sounds, he was back, but obviously very poorly.

 

Now that he was breathing with a clear airway I could do a full assessment. Heart rate and respiration rate had returned to normal parameters, but I could see his body was shutting down. He was floppy, had cold hands and feet and his capillary refill time was 10 seconds in his feet and 3 seconds on his chest, not good. Kaylie drew up a fluid bolus to give him to try and improve his circulation which was so bad that I couldn’t even pick up his oxygen saturations with the pulse oximeter, so I had no idea if the oxygen I was giving him through nasal cannulae was even helping. The baby’s pupils were fixed and eyes very weepy and milky, not a good sign. It was then that a student nurse handed me his notes, turns out the night nurse had already resuscitated the baby at 4am that morning, explaining why his pupils were fixed, he had been without oxygen too long at the previous resuscitation and had suffered brain damage. The doctor came round at this point, and I quickly steered him in the direction of our very poorly baby. He thanked us for what we had done and said we obviously fought very hard but that his prognosis was so bad that he should just be left to pass away. I was gutted. I was also so annoyed at the lack of organisation on the ward; if the baby’s notes had been with the baby, or if we’d even had an actual handover from the night nurse instead of her going home early, we might have been able to let this baby die peacefully instead of putting it through another painful and invasive resuscitation attempt. All we could do was counsel the family and keep baby comfortable, I dressed him and cleaned him, gave him a woolley hat knitted by a Granny Zoe knows back home and gave him a nice clean bed. It appears there is a different culture here between medical staff and parents, the nurse found it weird when Zoe asked if mum and dad wanted to come and give their baby a cuddle for some closure, but she asked anyway and mum was able to hold her baby boy one last time before allowing dad his turn.

 

There is no way I can accurately describe the mood in that room; a mother and father saying goodbye to their baby, another mother who had finally been told her baby on the resuscitation table had passed away, as well as the mum of the baby brought in the previous evening, now surrounded by death and grief, truly awful. The mother of the baby on the table brought in an empty, dishevelled cardboard box… she was going to take the baby home in it. Zoe and I made the best of the tiny baby’s transport home as best as we could. We cleaned him and wrapped him up snug then placed him gently inside, ensuring the box was as secure as possible.

 

It was shortly after that baby left that we realised the other one was nearing death, as terrible as that situation is, at least we can take some comfort that we made him comfortable and allowed the parents to say goodbye nicely. Dad handed him back to us with tears pouring down his cheeks; I gently placed him back in his bed and saw him take his last breaths. Nasogastric tube and cannula removed, oxygen therapy turned off, he looked just like a peaceful sleeping baby boy.

 

Myself, Kaylie and Zoe decided that we had had enough for one day, it was an extremely overwhelming shift, so we said our goodbyes to the student nurses and qualified nurse and left Kangaroo ward feeling numb. We all agree that we are so lucky to work in England and the NHS, and although this was a valuable experience it was also an extremely hard and emotive one. I’m not really sure how to end this blog entry apart from saying rest in peace to the little bubbas who passed away on Saturday 25th April, and hopefully we made a tiny impact on their families, the future nurses of Uganda and Kangaroo ward.

(Lollie)

 

We have spent three days at EDPA Clinic which provides private medical care for the local community. Each patient has to pay for the consultation and all treatment they receive. The clinic is made up of a male, female and paediatric ward, with four private rooms also available, a laboratory, dispensary room, small operating theatre and ultrasound and x-ray as well as two doctors consultation rooms.

 

Each day starts with the doctors ward round where we were able to assist with clinical assessments of the patients. We then split into different areas of the clinic; Mary–Jane spent some time in the laboratory with the lab technician Sarah looking at blood samples that had been taken to check for malaria. Lots of patients needed finger pricking for various tests including malaria, syphilis and HIV.

 

Jess and Rachael spent time in the dispensary room with two nurses sorting out the different drugs that had been prescribed by the doctors – Doctors writing is just as bad in Uganda!!!

 

The most striking thing was the lack of resources. There was one oxygen port, which meant only one patient could receive oxygen at a time. At one point there was a baby with cerebral malaria who was unable to receive oxygen due to another baby with pneumonia being on it already. There was a shortage of medication and there was one pulse oximeter and one manual blood pressure device for all of the patients. However this an area where the money raised by us has helped. Nurse Uganda has provided EDPA with two new pulse oximeters which will make a real difference, especially as their existing one was slightly temperamental!

 

From the very start we were thrown in at the deep end. All three of us successfully cannulated patients first time! This was pretty scary as none of us had ever attempted this at home – as we are not allowed to! We also drew up and administered hundreds of IV’s, completely on our own double checking doses and expiry dates with each other to put our minds at ease.

 

During our time at EDPA, Tizzy became an inpatient after being diagnosed with malaria and gastroenteritis. Jess became her personal nurse for the entire day, giving her all of her IV’s and IM diclofenac!

 

The nurses were really friendly and so good at teaching us and allowing us to do everything – literally!! They found it particularly funny when we were all struggling to read the doctors hand writing! They also couldn’t believe that in the UK we were not allowed to cannulate or give IV’s but are capable of passing nasogastric tubes!

 

We also all spent time on the front desk, checking in patients, which proved very difficult as none of us speak Runyoro! Deciphering their names and their villages was a challenge, which they all found very funny!

 

We had a great time and really liked getting to experience health care in a third world country but were slightly overwhelmed by the differences in practice and the resources available. This placement allowed us to realise how far we have come in our nursing abilities, being left to care for multiple patients, confidently and safely, even with limited resources.

(Rachael, Jess and Mary-Jane)

 

Thursday myself and Louise went to Hoima hospital and were on the general paediatric ward. We were introduced to the matron, two nurses and the many many students! Once on the ward we were taken away by different students who showed us how they did observations. Then the doctor came for ward round, the doctor went around and looked at the sickest patients first, one of which was a young boy with liver and renal failure. He was struggling to breath and had an infection, he needed oxygen to help him breath so oxygen was given to him. However, there was only one oxygen cylinder for the 50 bedded ward! The doctor then went on to assess the many different patients with malaria, malnutrition, cerebal palsy and diarrhoea and vomiting. It was the student nurses 3rd day ever on a ward and were quickly taking notes on everything the doctor said. Once ward round had finished we spoke to the students and found out how little supervision the had alongside the patient workload of 5/6 patients per student. We then went on to teach the students about the different equipment used for obersvations and how you can find pulses, take respiratory rates and recessions and how they needed to plot correctly on the obs charts. Afterwards we went for a tour around the hospital, it appeared to be run down with tons of patients sat around waiting for appointments, the

organisation of outpatients was very caoitic and also went to the A&E which looked small and very limited in equipment. All we could see was a sea of green, which were all student nurses. Back on the ward we helped prepare all of the intravenous medications for the patients, which were given by the students with no supervision so we went on to teach the students about safe administration of medications and needle safety (including the risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis b).

After the first day we felt overwhelmed, lost in a sense of lack of understanding of what was going on around us, sorrow for the students who lacked supervision and helpless for the patients. But most of all we felt blessed to be able to go into the hospital and comparie it to the NHS which we are proud to work for. We went back on the friday unsure of what was ahead of us again but the day followed the same routine and we were able to do more teaching with the students who were very engaged. Alongside supporting them with new admissions including a meningitis patient. Some of the students referred to the patient as being mental but that was caused by the horrid infection.

Overall we have developed as individuals and professionals in which words can’t describe and how lucky we feel to be training in the UK and look forward to the rest of the journey in Uganda.

(Zoe)

 

We have just enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at the KISS site where we had a leaving party and the kids all provided entertainment for us, we were even roped into entertaining them! It is sad to be leaving Hoima, but we are excited for the next part of our adventure!

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April 2015

Hi guys, this is a blog update from the Uganda girls!

Wednesday morning we went with the Hands for hope girls on a visit and tour of Mulago hospital. It was a real insight into the healthcare that is provided within government hospitals in Uganda.

In the afternoon, myself, Emma and Jess pulled up to the KCK guesthouse where we were greeted by 40 local women from the KCK women’s group. As the other girls were off enjoying lunch we took one for the team and jumped straight in with our presentations. Mine on malaria and Jess’ on cuts and wounds. We soon found ourselves in a very in-depth question and answer scenario where we were diagnosing allsorts of conditions and soon became doctors, CNS’s, midwifes and family planning experts. Confusion may have been added to the situation as Jess was presenting in her white nursing uniform, which does resemble a doctors white coat as Tizzy had the room key in her bag so we couldn’t get changed. After lunch we were joined by the others, the women had so many questions Catherine put us into small groups allowing them to ask us anything and everything. To finish off a very jam packed day we handed out mosquito nets to all the women and they were delighted. As a thank you we were given two gorgeous handmade notebooks which have been a great help in writing our blog.

We gave Sam the Executive Director some shortbread and Toblerone as a Thank you to the team for their hospitality. He insisted we have a photo, he and Tizzy think alike! Upon the suggestion that he stand or Emma sit on his knee he said “I’m not sure this chair is so good… You look very heavy,” which caused Emma and Catherine great amusement!

(Kaylie)

 

Thursday morning we went to another school in Kasangati. We were greeted by the head teacher of the school as well as by some freakish looking dogs that were also intrigued by the muzungos. We then drove around the corner to the school entrance, as it was raining heavily, where 40-50 children were all crammed into a small classroom. This was the first time we didn’t have a translator as the children spoke and understood English very well which was amazing to see! I started off with my toothbrushing session, followed by hand washing, malaria annd then wound care. It appeared that the children were very interested in the wound care session and had lots of questions, mainly due to myths about what to do for a wound, and yes one child did say they would use dettol and toothpaste on burns…!!!

After our sessions we had a few minutes to spare and we used the time to answer any general questions about health, they had lots of questions from pneumonia, to yellow fever and a general cold. One little boy kept us very much on our toes by asking lots of questions, and we could tell that he was very keen to learn.

In the afternoon we returned to Katanga, the slum we had visited on Monday. During this session I was able to give my presentation on tooth brushing and give out the 175 tooth brushes (to be precise!) to all of the children there. I had a large variety of different colours and we went around asking which colour they wanted. It was amazing as a lot of the children remembered our faces and our names, we felt so honoured. They were so gracious and grateful, the teachers continuously thanked us, this is when we felt we were making a slight difference to the children’s lives. However after an in depth discussion about the importance of keeping the toothbrush clean and how to appropriately store it, it wasn’t long before one of the little ones had dropped it into the mud… we tried!!!

It was then time to play with the children again outside, which was good fun, then we went and helped out with the feeding programme. One little girl who really touched us, was absolutely incredible, she is so intelligent, spoke good English and as the older sibling (ten years old) she was left to look after her little brother (7 or 8 years old) and sister (two years old), as her mother was in hospital with her other sister who had contracted measles. She really looked after them like a mother would do, and did her very best. She didn’t want us to leave and asked when she would see us again. You could see how much she thrived from us being there, like we gave her hope. We sadly had to tell her that we were not coming back, as we were moving onto another place; she shed a few tears as we hugged her, and as she waved us off.

We then arrived back to KCK, had another chilled evening, where we started packing, as it was coming to the end of our time there.

(Tizzy)

 

Friday morning we rested then headed out for a nice muzungo lunch at café Java, we then went out to Kivulu at one of the KCK sites. We were greeted by more smiles and hugs, then I went on to do my handwashing presentation. Afterwards I handed out a bar of soap to every child. It felt great to get such an amazing response from the children, from just giving soaps out, they loved it. We then helped to give out a plate of rice to each of the children, then sat with them whilst they ate. We then had a song and dance session that was very amusing! We finally got back to KCK after a very hot journey in the back of Richard’s car where Kaylie and I felt like dogs that had been left in a hot car and our music night was about to start.

(Louise)

 

Friday evening was a perfect end to our week. KCK organised a music night where all the children from the slums came to the guest house to perform for us. It was overwhelming to see so much talent and we felt like proud parents seeing the children we had previously visited in the slums perform. There was singing, dancing and drama performed by the children, with the most beautiful hand made costumes. The weather took a turn for the worse but that didn’t stop the show, we all sat in the garden with our rain macs on, while food was served and music was played.

Saturday morning was moving day, and time to say goodbye to KCK. We left the guesthouse and headed for Red Chilli, where we were staying before the safari… We felt a little bit spoilt as the sun was shining over a very large swimming pool, which we enjoyed for the afternoon. We all had a pretty early night, as we were off for the safari the following day.

(Kaylie)

 

After a beautiful sunrise over Red Chilli Kampala we all piled into our safari buses, packed lunches in hand. It was a four hour drive to our first stop, where we would be trekking through the African bush hoping to spot one of the few white rhinos that live in Uganda. Our mission was successful and we left with many photos of the beautiful animals wallowing together in the midday sun. Onward we went towards Murchison falls national park, where we would be staying for the weekend. We arrived shortly before dark and went to our tents where we would be nesting down for the night. After dinner, Gloria, the hippo that frequently visits the camp, arrived for some evening grazing. We were all keen to see our first hippo, and walked off torches in hand to find her in the darkness.

We woke very early on Monday for a sunrise safari on the north of the river. It was amazing to see the animals living in their natural habitat, rather than in a Zoo! We saw many antelope, giraffes, elephants, lion cubs, monkeys, hippos, hyenas, buffalo and many many birds. In the afternoon we had a very eventful boat trip to the bottom of the waterfall, on the river Nile. Approximately 3 minutes into our journey, the boat attempted to stop on the other side of the river to collect more guests, however the wind was not going to let this happen! They had to make a fair few manoeuvres to finally stop close to the riverbank. With all the commotion and movement, water started pouring through the roof of the boat from the top deck, soaking all of us who were sat underneath! We then began the cruise upstream. Our guide was very keen, and kept stopping the boat to introduce us to hippos, more hippos and many bird species along the way. We even managed to find a crocodile with all her babies at the waters edge! Then the rain started, and it was blowing into the boat, giving us all quite a shower. When we all returned to the camp, we looked like a family of drowned rats, and enjoyed hot drinks to keep warm.

Tuesday was Tizzy’s birthday, and we greeted her in the morning with presents, cards and banners. After a very lovely breakfast we headed off for a walking tour of the top of the falls. It was very hot and the walk back up to the car proved more taxing than your average amble! We got back into the safari buses just in time before the heavens opened and an average monthly rainfall fell from the sky. When we arrived in Hoima, we sheltered in a petrol station… for ages, unbeknown to us, that we had a very beautiful arrival party waiting for us.

As we approached the KISS site we were all sat on the bus completely unaware, then we saw lots of children waving leaves… Catherine had said we were meeting a few kids! They all ran out to greet us, it was like being on the x factor trying to get out of the car with hundreds of fans crowding around. It was amazing and truly special as the children performed for us. We were all trying very hard not to cry, totally overwhelmed by their welcome.

(Rachael)

Thank you for reading, we’ll update you all after our week at the hospital and clinic!!!

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April 2015

Hi, It’s the Kids Club Kampala girls, Jess, Kaylie, Louise and Tizzy reporting on the beginning of our very busy week!

 

All 10 of us arrived at Heathrow airport at 09:30am ready to embark on our ‘once in a life time’ trip to Uganda. Everyone was waved off by loved ones and a few tears were shed…but not for long, we were all far too excited about making it through sercurity without being frisked…and we did! After a couple of hours waiting in departures and getting familiar with each others company, it was time to board the the 8.5 hour flight to Entebbe. The journey was pretty sweet, as I managed to sleep for 3hours in a fetal like position while the other girls were playing a game of who can get the most free bottles of alcohol. Catherine and Emma however failed miserably by making a school boy error and ordering too many bottles of vino at once…getting caught out and being black listed by the cabin crew.

Happy days we touched down at 22:57 (to be precise) and what do I see out the window, Rain! Oh yay we travelled all this way and the bad weather has followed us, this could seriously affect my tanning situation.

We were met at the airport by Dennis, Julius and Sam. Dennis, the Ugandan co-ordinator for Nurse Uganda,  Julius, “ermmm someone really important to KISS” and Sam, the KCK executive director. We wheeled all of our luggage to two jeeps which were going to be our VIP rides for the week. After a struggle to fit our cases in the very small boot we said our goodbyes to the Hands for Hope girls and off we went, a whole 500 yards before Sam realised he hadn’t paid the parking ticket, so off Emma went to raid her penny jar for the correct change. Watching the H4H lot drive by with their boot open and the potential to loose all their luggage before they’ve even started, was pretty amusing. We were finally on the road, a very very dark road with not much of a view just the occasional headlight.

An hour later we pulled up to the KCK guesthouse, the gates were opened by our very own security guard and with our cases we all piled inside our new home.

Tizzy got best dibs on the double bed with the pink princess mosquito net and me and Jess drew the short straws, so quickly let down our beautiful white veils over our very cosy single beds. Emma and Louise took the other bedroom, but became frequent visitors as we had the only toilet with a working lightbulb. Good for us, unlucky for them as they had to make the evening climb over my half unpacked suitcase which was blocking the door in the dark. We were tucked up and in bed by 01:30am but we didn’t have much hope for sleep though, as we were situated between a cinema… and by cinema I mean a shed, a large tv screen and about 20 noisy locals and a pub to our right which from the outside looked harmless but on closer examination extends around the back of our guesthouse and blasts extremely loud Ugandan music till the early hours, 05:30am to be exact, we know this because we were all woken up to the beautiful sound of silence!

After a very disturbed nights sleep where even ear plugs couldn’t drown out the sound of those Ugandan dirty beats, we were all awake and ready to see what Kampala looked like in the day light. It was certainly a WOW moment for all of us when we crawled through the small hole in the gate straight onto a main road. The roads were very busy with boda bodas (mopeds) swerving in and out of taxi cars with absolutely no concept of give way and stop. The pavements were occupied with Ugandan locals carrying on with their day to day business, having time to glance over to check out the 5 very white pasty milkbottles or muzungos as they like to call us, which means white person in English. At about 11am we were meant to meet H4H girlies however we didn’t arrive till about 12pm, whoops that’s the Ugandan time keeping for you, they are very laid back so don’t expect to arrive or leave on time. We met up with the other guys at Nakumatt, the big supermarket where we went off to sort out sim cards and exchange money. Feeling rich after handed a wod of cash we went to café java for smoothies.

Back at the guesthouse we had a whole evening to relax and that’s exactly what we did.  We were so knackered we were in bed by 10pm. 10pm, as we all decided any earlier was unacceptable as we are all in our 20’s not 60’s.

(Kaylie)

 

Sunday I woke up to the sun shining on my bed, and what sounded like a karaoke morning next door – this will be something I have to get used to. Emma had already gone to church and Kaylie, Jess and Tizzy were still asleep. They finally woke and Emma returned. We all made our way to Africana hotel to meet Catherine. Emma and I stayed at the pool whilst Richard took Kaylie, Jess and Tizzy to the market.  When they arrived they saw endless stalls containing food, clothes, shoes and handbags. The one stall that stood out most was the one selling fish… which looked like they had been dead for years, so not quite sure how edible they would have been. The people probably thought Richard was one lucky guy leading three women through the market. After endless cries of Muzungo from the stalls and many many photos of them along their way, they headed back to the pool.

Emma and I went and paid for swimming when the clouds appeared… We weren’t too impressed and had to move everyone’s belongings under shelter also lifting the sun beds up some steps to which two men came and helped us! We sat down for a while when Emma realised her bum was getting wet from the sun beds mattress, she then leaned onto her side tipping out all her remaining crisps in the bag. All the girls returned with Denis and Richard, Denis had bought lunch at the market so Emma, Tizzy, Jess Kaylie and I all headed out to the car park for lunch (felt like being back in England having a picnic in the car whilst it rained!) Emma and I sat in the back, Emma was eating a slice of pineapple that was too juicy and created a puddle of juice in her hand and sprayed me with juice each bite she took. We went back to the others, they then went and had lunch in the car, with us telling them to get out of the car and lean over when eating pineapple. Jess almost paid 20,000 shillings (£5) for a coffee that came in a very large teapot, with a small jug of hairy goat’s milk, after the waitress told her she would return with the change and Jess said it was fine. The waitress then did come with the change and presented Jess with her 7000 shillings change in 500 shilling coins… announcing with surprise “She is not content with her change.”

We all joined back together and eventually all got into the pool after the sun started reappearing. I joined Lollie and Jess in a race across the pool and I actually won even though I’m the smallest here! Emma took some persuading to get in from Mary-Jane, Rachael and I with us saying “no it’s not cold just get in!” Then I turned to Mary-Jane saying “I have goosebumps I’m so cold”. After a while we got out the pool, Kaylie, Jess and I headed to the showers for our first hot shower since getting here. I decided to get inventive and use the hand dryer to dry my hair.

We all sat around the pool until it was time to head back to our separate accommodations, had dinner and headed to bed.

(Louise)

 

Monday was our first day of real work and we began by sharing our health education presentations with the staff of KCK. With shaking hands and fear in our hearts we delivered our sessions on hand washing, tooth brushing, wound care and malaria. Luckily the staff seemed pretty pleased with our efforts. This was a great relief considering we had heard on the grape vine that there had been tears post presentation run through last year.

Following lunch at the KCK guesthouse we were taken to Katanga, the largest slum in Kampala, to visit a project set up by KCK. We were greeted by open mouthed children who pointed, shouted ‘muzungu’ at us and then promptly attached themselves to each of our limbs like little limpets. We were then taken to a small hut where around 50 children were being taught by one teacher and a volunteer. The 5 of us caused quite a stir walking in but once we began our presentations all the children sat quietly giving us their full attention. Their eagerness to learn was striking. The children who were there were those that are unable to go to school – predominantly due to money. While education is ‘free’ in Uganda, children’s families need to be able to buy their children shoes, uniform, exercise books and pencils etc, in order to be able to send them, which makes attending school impossible for some.  One girl in particular stood out to me, she was bright and engaged and it made me realise just how lucky we are in the UK. I thought what could you be or do if you had what I had growing up?

But what KCK are doing here is amazing. Their motto is to bring hope and love to vulnerable children and it is clear that this is what they do here. Children come to the centre set up by KCK every day and are educated for free and are also provided with a meal most days. Children are free to come and go and all are welcome.

Once we had finished delivering our presentations we were then shown around a small section of the slum. The level of poverty was quite shocking. There is no running water, sewage running through the slum and children, often bare footed, running over rough terrain littered with rubbish. While this sounds rather horrible we also saw so many positive things. The children are brimming with energy and enthusiasm, they play outside and all look after each other. Parents let their children roam free as “they are safe here and will be helped to find their way back”. The funniest moment of our “tour” was when a child of around 3 years grabbed my hand and beat off any other children who came near me announcing, much to the amusement of our translator for the day and all of us, “this is my muzungu, get your own!” I must admit I was rather flattered by the attention.

My little friend followed us to the large open space by the KCK project where we sang, danced and played games such as ‘duck, duck, goose’ and ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf’ with more than 100 excitable children. Kaylie, Tizzy and Louise were read extracts from the Bible while I was handed a small baby with no nappy on. She was very cute but I was terrified that she would wee on me, especially as we have only one KCK t-shirt each to last the week. We all felt slightly celebrity like due to the amount of love we were shown by the children. I think I must have particularly hairy arms as the children seemed to really enjoy stroking them and they were fascinated by my moles, my blue veins and very white skin. I think I felt more like an exotic, much adored pet rather than a celebrity on reflection.

The last thing we did before we left was give out food to all of the children. It was a proud moment for all of us. We helped pay for this and it really makes a difference to these children.

(Jess)

 

Tuesday morning started off well with chapattis and Tizzy’s jar of Nutella. We were all ready and sat waiting from 9am, however we had not been informed that we started at 11 and wondered how we would occupy our minds for 2 hours. A unanimous decision was made to all have a nap. Eventually 11 o’clock came and we set off for a school in Bukoto. We were welcomed by lots of children peering round the classroom doors, saying hello and with big smiles on their faces. We met the head teacher, Fred. Then we were shown upstairs and had an audience of around 150 children, tizzy did her toothbrushing presentation followed by Kaylie and her malaria presentation, then me showing the children how to wash their hands ending up with them getting gold glitter all over their faces and hands, as I had explained that this is how bacteria can spread easily from person to person. Jess then followed with her wound care presentation and was asked many questions. We headed back to KCK for lunch, I wasn’t feeling too good so stayed behind whilst Kaylie, Jess and Tizzy headed out for the afternoon.

(Louise)

 

Well my blog isn’t going to be that good and Jess’s response “well that’s your problem isn’t it..?!” Supportive friends I have (hahaha she loves me really!).  Anyway, in the afternoon we went to educational centre in Kivulu that is run by ‘KCK. About 40 children aged between 2 – 10 years were surprised to see us but very smiley and excited. The volunteers took the children into the next room to settle them ready for us to take over and begin our health promotion presentations. Despite how young they were they all sat in silence as we walked in, curious and excited for us to start…you wouldn’t get that in the UK!!!

I started with my presentation on tooth brushing, actively including the children asking them questions to see what they already knew.  I then wanted a volunteer to practice brushing their teeth to see if they could remember the different steps that were shown with my fake mouth. This absolutely adorable boy aged around 4 years volunteered to clean his teeth; he brushed with so much concentration and dedication, which was great, and then he was so happy when he was able to keep his toothbrush (which he did not put down for the entire time we were there).

Kaylie was next to deliver her presentation on Malaria. The children were very willing and actively participating when asked to put together a mosquito net. 2 of the children were asked to work together using a bench as a bed. However, I think there was a bit of miscommunication as instead of helping the other girl to put the net together, he went to lie on the bench and ‘sleep’, to which we just left him to it…

Jess then delivered her presentation on wound care, which involved getting a couple of the children up to draw wounds on Kaylie and I with felt tip pen. Jess decided to tell them to draw big wounds, which then involved the little girl drawing a wound that took up half my arm and coloured the whole thing in!! Definitely looked like I had a massive reaction to something, to which Kaylie’s response of ‘wow that looks painful’ had Richard in hysterics.

Presentations were complete, and it was time to start playing games with children, although it was pretty difficult when you have 6 kids hanging off your arms and legs and climbing up your back, then literally fighting each other to hold the Muzungo hands. We started off watching them singing and dancing to Jesus songs to which the cutest little 2 year old went into the middle of the circle and started twerking!!

We then started playing games, one of which was tug of war.  Next thing we know they are all cheering for Kaylie and I to go against each other which they found highly amusing. With all my strength and power I did my best to pull Kaylie over the line but for all those who know me… I was defeated before I even began!!!

The last part of this visit was to take part in the feeding programme. Kaylie got all the children to wash their hands properly with soap, whilst I was helping the KCK volunteer with distributing the food into bowls. We all then took the bowls into the children who were sat patiently waiting in a circle. We were stood watching them, then suddenly they all started saying they wanted us to join them, so we went to sit with them, we were then given our own bowl but with a fork (all the children were using their hands) However, one little boy wasn’t too impressed with Jess using a fork and made her use her hands!! This was pretty hilarious to watch…!!

After taking part in the feeding programme it was time to leave as we were going to investigate where the girls at H4H were staying. It was great to catch up with the other half of the group, we had an evening filled with food, pool and even had our first alcoholic beverage from the bar – the real reason for going over ;). It was all over too quickly and we had soon split again, and we returned back to our beds at KCK.

However after tucking ourselves into our tiny nests Kaylie decided she was not happy with the performance of the wifi, and went to investigate. There was commotion in the hallway as Kaylie declared, “we’ve been locked in.” It was only when I turned the light on, and Emma shouted out that she had locked the door, that Kaylie realised it was locked from the inside and the key was in the door. Panic over, we fixed the wifi, and went back to bed.

(Tizzy)

 

Catch up soon! All the girls at KCK!

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April 2015

Hi everyone, Lollie here, giving you an update on the Hands For Hope girls!

 

Our journey from the airport started off well.. we began driving to the sound of whistling and beeping horns.. turns out no-one had closed the boot on our ‘taxi’ (I say taxi with a lot of room for scope.. it was a bus resembling the one from Jurassic park, post dinosaur trampling, ironically with “no fear” written across the windscreen…) and our suitcases that had been crammed in tetris-style were about to fall out into the road!! The panic however, was that the alcohol Catherine had bought from Duty Free for the staff over here had fallen out, not that our months worth of luggage was about to be left in the middle of a very bumpy road!

 

We arrived at the Hands for Hope guesthouse and discovered our bedroom, 2 sets of bunk beds in a room with an ensuite – not too shabby! Bottom bunks were shotgunned and I (having volunteered the top bunk) began the task of attaching the mosquito nets.. not the easiest job in the heat, hanging out of a bunk with little room for manoeuvre! We then discovered that our guesthouse has a bar so bedtime got delayed a little bit longer.. but then, finally bedtime!!

 

That’s a little insight into our arrival, we then spent Saturday sorting out sim cards and money exchanging, feeling loaded with 422000 shillings (which is actually only about £100..) and just getting settled in. Sunday was spent visiting the biggest market in Uganda, Owino, with our trusty guide and Nurse Uganda Co-ordinator Denis) which was an interesting experience!! “MUZUNGU MUZUNGU” was all we heard for the entire time, it means “white person” in English but isn’t meant as offensive, just as a kind of nickname. It was all going well until “MUZUNGU MUZUNGU COME LOOK” followed by.. “Lollie HELP!” We turned around to find Rachael about to be dragged into a big blokes stall! I grabbed her hand and just said “sorry pal she’s got a husband” which seemed to work and we carried on navigating through the hundreds and hundreds of stalls. There were ladies making curtains, people selling vegetables, men selling shoes, clothes, everything and everything you can think of was being sold. At one point a man carrying a load of newly decapitated chickens pushed past us, to which I found some lovely fresh chicken blood all over my feet… (note to self, don’t wear open toed shoes in the market!) Denis showed us the Ugandan football stadium whilst we were there, pointing out the changing rooms (a blue shed) the stands (concrete blocks) and the VIP stand (concrete blocks with a corrugated iron roof)! We grabbed some food for lunch and went to join the others at a hotel pool, although the weather wasn’t looking too good.

 

The afternoon was spent making human pyramids in the water and having swimming races, and once the sun appeared, some of us getting rather sunburnt.. It was a great day to relax before the hard work started!!

 

Day one of work began with a rather early wake up call from the playing kids in the home next door.. As lovely as it is to hear children actually playing outside instead of tapping away on iPads, at 5am not so much..

We started off the day with a quick walk to Hands for Hope, which turned a bit hectic when it came to crossing the road, cue taxis, cars, mopeds, lorries, chickens, the lot driving in all directions with no lane discipline. I’m writing this on day 2, where we’ve now become accustomed to the laws of the road, making Elephant and Castle roundabout seem like a walk in the park! Anyways, we arrived at Hands for Hope for induction and to meet the team, and then ventured out for our first trip into the slums, which is when this blog post turns a bit more serious.

 

All I can say is that there is no way to describe it. We need cameras on our heads to prove it and put it into words. It sounds a bit odd to say ‘imagine comic relief/red nose day’ but what you see on those programs is not an exaggeration or them picking the worst situation for charity television purposes, what you see is truly shocking and we didn’t even see the worst. Hand for Hope helps vulnerable children in the second biggest slum in Kampala, Namuwongo; they regularly search the slums for children aged 3-5 as this is the most vulnerable age, and provide them with an education, 2 meals a day and a place they can go to get them out of the area for the majority of the day.

 

We went with the social work team for a brief tour and to see if we could find any of the children enrolled on the program and find out why they aren’t in school that day. Namuwongo slum has areas of housing that has electricity (illegally), which are made of brick and tend to have stable roofs. Unfortunately though, these are located in the area that regularly floods, causing irreparable damage to peoples homes, in which as many as 10 people can live in one room. The other areas of the slum has houses made mainly of mud and patched together corrugated iron, and running through the slum in various channels are open sewers. It hasn’t rained properly for a while here which means there is a build up of sewage in the channels, the people living here go to the toilet in plastic bags which are thrown into the channels which as I’m sure you can imagine means there is a terrible smell and view. Throughout out entire time at the slum however we were met with huge smiles and calls of “hello muzungu, hello muzungu, how are you?” from the kids. They would come running up to us, even bringing their siblings to come shake our hands or hug us, which was both a heartwarming and overwhelming experience. These kids have nothing; they are wearing ripped, dirty clothes, with no belongings or guarantee of even one meal that day, but yet smile and chat like they have no troubles, it is truly heartbreaking.. kids in England complain when they don’t have the latest iPhone or Xbox game, let alone if they don’t get breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

We met one girl who was supposed to be in school, the social worker Mike asked her why she wasn’t there and her mother replied that she could not find her socks so she could not go, and she needed to help her mother cook and sells nuts instead. That’s another thing that is hard to deal with; lots of the families are fatherless, with the mother having to try to scrape together an income, but the majority of the fathers that are around sit in groups and drink gin all day. They sit and talk, whilst the women work incredibly hard; Mike was telling me how they then either spend all the money the women earn on more alcohol, or beat them for not earning enough, it’s a terrible situation.

Whilst walking we met one of the girls that is enrolled in the special needs division of Hands for Hope, she had been missing from the program for a couple of weeks and Mike stopped her for a catch up. He gave me the background on her; she has moderate learning difficulties and is very money driven, she has grown up with the idea that money = food. She would sell herself to men from the age of 8, and ended up falling pregnant aged 11. The baby was living with her, but social services were trying to find some adoptive parents, which would make for a far more suitable arrangement. The adoption fell through however when the new family realised they would not earn much money for adopting the baby. The girl had ended up back on the streets selling herself to earn money instead of attending school, and the baby was currently living somewhere else in another village. This was again, heartbreaking, the things these kids have to do to earn money and survive is truly disgusting, let alone the thought that a man would abuse and exploit a girl with learning difficulties.

 

It truly puts things into perspective..

 

The next day we were split, myself and Zoe went to a health clinic which is linked to the Hands for Hope organisation, where they do health checks for the kids, whilst Mary-Jane and Rachael stayed in the Hands for Hope school to help in the learning disability class and afternoon club for kids that aren’t vulnerable enough to be selected for full schooling (that is a difficult situation, there just isn’t enough money to help all the kids, even though they need it, just the truly vulnerable ones).

 

Zoe and I had a VERY busy day! It was immunisation day at the clinic and it was packed, we worked out a routine in the end, in which Zoe took the babies and weighed them, I recorded it in their child health record, worked out which immunisation they needed as well as which vitamins, documented all the government paperwork as required, and then we both administered the vitamins and injections. The day flew by, we ended up vaccinating 80 babies, when they normally only do 20-30! This was the first time the clinic had had ‘muzungus’ in, and some of the mums were a bit taken aback but all very kind and welcoming! The kids were absolutely gorgeous; we took plenty of opportunities to have cuddles and play, although some were very confused to see a white face staring at them!! We then had the opportunity to look at some blood infected with Malaria under the microscope and compare it with our own!! Luckily both of us got the all clear!! Brenda, the lab technician was so informative and we learnt a lot about how the clinic and labs work in Uganda. All the staff in fact were so welcoming, Denis the denist (I know..) even asked us if we wanted to extract some teeth.. we politely declined! The nurses were great, really got us involved; it was just a generally interesting and great experience to have the opportunity to get stuck in Ugandan healthcare!

 

Mary-Jane and Rachael delivered their health care seminars to the children at Hands for Hope today on tooth brushing and malaria. When asked what they needed to brush their teeth a child replied ‘TEETH!!’ making everyone laugh. The children loved practising brushing their teeth and laying under a mosquito net! They then went out into the slums of Kampala and met some more of the Hands for Hope families and met a new family about to join the programme.

 

I think that’s about it for now, the Kids Club girls are on their way over to our house for dinner and a catchup, so I should probably be off! I wonder how they will cope with our lack of wifi… although we are the girls with the hot showers!! Swings and roundabouts..

 

Lollie xxxx

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April 2015

It’s not long until we’re heading out to Uganda on 10th April, you can keep updated during our trip by checking the blog posts here!

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