June 2016

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June 2016

This week we have spent alternate days in St Francis Health Clinic and working at the outreach programme. Whilst at the clinic we were able to participate in ward round. This was interesting to see and we discovered that the majority of patients were being treated for Malaria. The staff were asking us what treatment we would provide for certain symptoms. We found this difficult to answer as care provided and drugs available are very different to our own. I then spent some time in the dispensary giving out drugs to clients. This was interesting to see what drugs are available and how much local people have to pay for treatment. It was upsetting to see that many people couldn’t afford all the drugs they required and therefore weren’t receiving the treatment they required. We were also able to observe family planning and observed the insertion of an implant in a women’s arm. It was very positive to see that women were taking precautions as family size is a lot larger in Uganda, however it wasn’t in as sterile conditions as we would have. Lastly, we spent time in the labs undertaking blood tests for Malaria looking for parasites under the microscope. This was really interesting to see, although upsetting as there was a large number of positive tests.

Yesterday we spent time with KISS workers visiting families that benefitted from the charity. The stories we heard of families being abandoned by the fathers and domestic violence were shocking. The families were all very welcoming and willing to share their stories with us. Some of the children even sang as a greeting. At times it became overwhelming as they showed their gratitude and thanks for the work we had done whilst in Uganda and the support KISS provided for them. This included; education, health care and personal requirements. Two of the children we met had physical disabilities. We found these families inspiring as they had extra strain on the family but still remained so positive and thankful for our input.

Last night we had a bonfire and dinner with St Francis clinic and KISS staff. It was a lovely way to end our time in Kasambya. Overall it’s been a challenging experience but humbling to help so many people in the community. We are looking forward to our last few days and returning home to see our families and share our wonderful, life-changing experiences!

Sophie

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June 2016

After an amazing safari trip, it was time for us to leave and get back to our final week of work in Kasambya.

On our long journey to Kasambya, I found myself nodding off to sleep many times. In fact I think I was asleep throughout most of the journey. Anyways, when we finally arrived to Kasambya I was woken up by a lot of people chanting and the sounds of horns. As I was struggling to open my eyes I saw a group of people holding giant leaves on boda bodas in front of the car. As we were driving down the narrow road more and more people joined onto the road to greet us into the community. After what seemed to be like a very long road, we arrived at the KISS site where the children and parents further welcomed us with more chanting and waving giant leaves.
After we introduced ourselves to the community, both children and parents sung for us and got us to join in on their dancing.
I just could not believe how much enthusiasm, effort and energy they had put in to all of this. They truly knew how to make a warm welcoming for myself and the rest of the girls.

My 1st day of work in Kasambya was an outreach clinic based in one of the villages. On arrival I could already see a significant amount of people standing and waiting for the clinic to begin. Some of which were either waiting to be tested for HIV or malaria whereas others were waiting to be seen by a doctor for a consultation or another member of staff for family planning advice.
At the start of the day I was initially with Peggy who is currently a student nurse whose training is being funded by KISS charity and we were at the admissions desk for those who wanted to test for HIV. Peggy was admitting those who could only speak Ugandan whereas I was admitting those who could speak some English. I found this very difficult as I had to speak really slowly and clearly for them to understand me. What further added to this challenge of communication was the loud music that was playing at the clinic.

At one point I was becoming very frustrated about the loud music because in order for myself and the service user to hear each other we had to sometimes shout in each others ears. However despite this feeling, the loud music was the only form of maintaining privacy for them. This is because everything is done outside in the open where the next person in line was only standing a few inches away from the person at the admissions desk where I was asking personal questions which made me feel very uncomfortable. I could tell that some were very reluctant to answer these personal questions especially when so many people were behind them. However, they knew that it had to be answered so had to speak right into my ear.

About 30 minutes went by and the amount of admission forms already filled out was becoming a thick pile. As I looked to my left where the dispensary desk was I could see it was really busy as many people were handing in their prescription papers. Another 30 minutes passed, more and more people were gathering around the desk including a long line of school children waiting to collect their de-worming tablets. As Vickylee and Cathrine were rushed off their feet trying to dispense medication, one of the St. Francis staff was documenting everyone’s personal details, diagnosis and treatment all into one book while then explaining how to take each medicine to everyone. As the crowd around the dispensing table got a bigger and bigger, I decided to go over to help them dispense medication. As the day went on we all found ourselves trapped in the middle and surrounded by all these people desperately waiting for their medication. I could see the frustration on some faces. Some even started shouting. At this point I felt extremely overwhelmed by how many people were waiting and how much prescriptions we had to get through to dispense. I went through a range of emotions. I felt sad as all these people are so desperate waiting. Angry as I could not understand why these people could not see we were trying our best and working as fast as we could and why there could not be another St. Francis staff that could’ve helped with either documenting or at least explaining. But in the end I was really glad I was a part of this as I felt these people really needed our help and that I was making a difference to their lives.

Lisa

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June 2016

After a great weekend with KISS we began our journey to Murchison falls. When we arrived at Murchison falls we went for a long walk up to the top of the falls where you could see Murchison falls and Freedom falls, we paused there and took in the amazing view. After the walk we headed to the Red Chilli camp, on route we came across many baboons which we were all excited by! The camp was extremely peaceful and we had a nice evening together settling in and getting ready for our early morning. On Tuesday we met at 06:00 to begin our Safari. We saw many animals on the Safari including Elephants, lots of Lions, Waterbucks, Buffaloes Warthogs (Pumba’s) and my favourite, Giraffes! We all loved the safari and had an amazing time! In the afternoon we took a boat trip along the Nile to Murchison falls where we saw many Hippos and Crocodiles along the way. The view from the bottom of Murchison falls was again stunning. We all had a brilliant day which was definitely worth the very early morning! Today we headed to the Rhino sanctuary where we were able to see some Rhinos up close. We then said fair well to the brilliant Catherine who has helped and supported us so much throughout the first half of our trip, thank you Catherine! We are now looking forward to spending the next week with Emma working in Kasambya in a clinic and an outreach clinic.

Joy

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After an emotional week working in the hospital and at EDPA clinic, we were all looking forward to the weekend partying with children at KISS and also visiting some of the children and their families who are supported by the charity. On Saturday afternoon we joined the children at the KISS site for a goodbye party. Once again we were overwhelmed by the greeting. All the children are so welcoming and excited for our arrival. As soon as they saw us, we were rushed into a circle and the party began! They had organised lots of games including balancing a glass bottle on our heads (muzungus are not so good at this one), scoring a goal blindfolded and musical chairs. It was nice to see some of our donations such as pencils and colouring books given out as prizes. We also taught the children a few games, which they seemed to enjoy, especially running into the middle of the circle during the hockey cokey. At the end of the day the children got together to sing to us (all of the songs are now stuck in our heads for the rest of the trip). We were then put to shame by the amazing dance moves the children had in comparison to ours, and also how quickly we got worn out. Overall it was an incredible evening and a lovely way to brighten up our week.

Today the sun came out in full force and I’m slowly turning into a lobster (thanks to my ginger genes). We had a wander into the town to grab some pineapple squash and nibbles for the safari. Somehow we managed to find ice creams which was a dream come true, but still not as good as a magnum! This afternoon we were split into three groups to visit the homes of families supported by KISS. Some of the homes were quite far, resulting in long walks in flip flops (bad choice) and worsening sunburn. We really enjoyed visiting the homes and seeing where our money is being spent. Some of the children receive sponsorship, which allows them to attend school, and also to receive healthcare services, which they may not have been able to access before. I felt very privileged to be welcomed into their homes and to meet some very inspiring women who were caring for orphaned and vulnerable children.

Tomorrow we journey to Murchison Falls to meet Gloria the hippo and the rest of her crew at red chill camp. (I like them, before I even met them I liked them!) We are all very excited!

Chick x

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June 2016

After arriving in Hoima to the most amazing welcome ever from the KISS community we prepared ourselves to start work at the Hoima Hospital and Edpa clinic. Hoima Hospital is a government run facility and Edpa is a private clinic.
What a week its been, I’m not really sure where to start as it has certainly been an emotional week for all of us.
At Edpa Clinic, Jimmy, the radiographer was very accommodating, he gave us a quick tour explaining each area to us. I was surprised that the clinic has a similar set-up to the UK with patients being clerked, assessed and then treated at the relevant places. However the rooms and facilities were very different to the UK. The people here were paying for their treatment and the ward was quite crowded with patients and their family members. However, it was far better than I had anticipated it would be, the staff were friendly and appeared knowledgeable, which was nice to see.
I really enjoyed being in the labs, I learned a lot about the different types of testing they carry out and the equipment in that lab was no too dissimilar from home albeit older but still working well. The lab technicians were really happy to answer any questions and teach all they knew, I even had a go at spotting the malaria parasites on glass slides under a microscope.
Hoima Hospital however was a completely different experience. My first shift there was on the children’s ward. The first thing that hit me when I walked in the door was the smell……you just cant imagine how awful it truly is, with the wafting of body odour and urine shooting up my nose I was glad I had tiger balm in my pocket.
The next thing that hit me was the number of patients per bed and the lack of everything, no sheets on beds (unless you had bought your own in) 1 sink in a 50 bed bay and no curtains round the beds… just a lot of beds and some absolutely filthy walls and ceilings. We joined a doctor on ward round which took forever, well about four hours. Some of the children were very sick, there was a little girl that needed a blood transfusion but the hospital had simply run out of blood so couldn’t give it, she was having to pin her hopes of survival on “gods will” which appeared to be the general consensus in the hospital with many of the families.
There was also some very shocking nursing practice observed too, a couple of situations really struck a cord with me. A little boys cannula had clearly tissued and his little foot was very visibly swollen it was huge in comparison to the other. However, the student nursing team that worked on the ward and predominantly administered all the medication just didn’t appear to think his foot was an issue. I tried to explain that it needed to be removed but sadly it fell on deaf ears and they continued to shove medication down it ignoring the harrowing screams from the small child. I later mentioned it to another intern nurse who thankfully also agreed that his cannula needed removing, 2 days later it was still in his foot!! No-one could get another cannula in the child so they felt they had no choice to carry on using it. I found it so tragic that they could understand why they shouldn’t use it as well as the importance of removing it but I could also understand why they felt they had to use it too (although though I completely disagreed with their rationale).
On ward round we assessed a patient who was lying on the floor, this was common practice when they ran out of beds. The young girl was in a lot of pain, she couldn’t straighten her body to be assessed, the doctor requested the parent pull her hand and feet to straighten her up so he could thoroughly assess her stomach, on doing so he was convinced he had found an abscess, within second he was stabbing this young girl with a needle, tears silently trickled down her cheeks and I just felt so guilty, I don’t know why, I was not the one doing this to her but all I could do was rub her legs to try and show some compassion whilst still in a state of shock after witnessing her barbaric treatment.
Things didn’t really improve in the hospital, however I was able to come to terms with some of the issues and realise that I couldn’t fight every medical professional. I found it very sad that they lacked so many resources which in turn affected the application of care, I was also shocked by the lack of dignity shown towards their patients especially after watching a 7 year old girl have a urethral catheter inserted….imagine no curtain and every male and female watching it being inserted, it sickened me that no attempt was made to protect her dignity at all.
I found being in the hospital difficult at times, but I also had some good experiences too. I was able to cannulate a child. I also saw children make a full recovery and leave the hospital which I wasn’t sure I would see. I also attended a debrief after the loss of a child and heard some really positive comments from the maternity ward sister which gave me hope about the future of their nursing standards. She seemed to really understand about the basics of hand washing and good assessments. I did witness a lot of poor nursing care but I think I have to accept this is Uganda and not the UK.
Emma has now arrived, we are really looking forward to spending some time with her and getting to know her better, not long now and we will all be off to safari to make some new memories hopefully ones that are not as rueful as Hoima.

Vickylee

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June 2016

On Sunday after a long, hot drive to Hoima we finally arrived at the K.I.S.S. site where we had the most amazing welcome that I have ever experienced. All the children and KISS volunteers came to the road and we were escorted all the way to the centre amidst cheering and singing, followed by group performances, singing and dancing. It was a moment that I will never forget and it was definitely needed before the much anticipated but daunting work at the hospital.
On Monday I was based on the children’s ward at Hoima hospital. Although I thought I was prepared for what was to come, nothing could have really prepared me for the sights and smells that I encountered on arrival. Air conditioning is a thing that we take for granted in the UK. During my time on the ward what has really stuck with me most is the harsh reality of the lack of resources. Many times during the day, staff explained to me that children needed blood but they just didn’t have any available at the hospital or even in Hoima. It was so difficult to know what the solution was but there was literally none of the things needed available to help the children. Many of the children’s families have been to other centres or pharmacy’s before coming to Hoima hospital where they have been miss sold medications for conditions that they don’t have. It was shocking that people can try and make money out of families difficult situations and give them a false hope of recovery. Whilst they wait for the medicine to work the children deteriorate rapidly to a critical state and need hospitalisation.
In the children’s ward, unlike in the UK, oxygen isn’t freely available. Where we have oxygen at every single bedside the unit only have enough to administer low flow oxygen to 2 children at a time and tough decisions have to be made by the staff about which children are most in need. Just the one day here has made me truly appreciate the NHS back home and how important blood donation is.
Today was a very different experience at the EDPA clinic. This is a private clinic, which also has inpatient facilities. Only those who can afford it can receive medical treatment here. This was my first experience of nursing adult patients. At the clinic any age and condition is cared for. Resources are still limited, there were still only 2 oxygen sources, through concentrators, not directly piped as in the UK. Some of the patients were acutely unwell but the staffing level and medications available were much better. I had the opportunity to assist on ward round, work in the dispensary and visit the labs. Half of the patients admitted here are suffering from malaria. It is such a massive problem, both at the clinic and the children’s ward. The suffering this disease causes, especially cerebral malaria which I have now witnessed in child and elderly patients will stay with me forever.
It has been an insightful but challenging 2 days. Tomorrow will be a new challenge on the neonatal ward. I know that I will learn a lot and hope that we can make a difference.

Amy

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June 2016

On Friday morning we visited Butabika mental health hospital. Butabika is the largest government run mental health hospital in Kampala. On arriving we were given a tour of the children’s ward, acute male ward and Convalescent ward. The immediate difference noted between UK services and Butabika was the level of overcrowding. We were informed that the maximum capacity is 500 patients yet 800 plus patients were at Butabika. This was especially evident in the acute male ward where their were 260 patients to 60 beds and 2 staff nurses. Walking into the unit we felt overwhelmed and intimidated as we worried for our safety due to the lack off staff. We noticed that the patients were able to walk around the ward freely and some males lay naked on the ground, another shocking factor. We felt frustrated and helpless at the poor conditions patients and nurses were expected to live and work in. The moment we found most challenging was when the nurse explained the main conditions patients suffered with, epilepsy being one of these. This shocked us all as the nurse explained families abandon their children as some believe it is a sign of witchcraft. This being another major difference between the UK and Uganda. Although the conditions were overwhelming, the staff nurses reassured us as they explained patients were not discharged without a home to go back to.


In the afternoon we visited Katalemwa Cheshire homes a residential rehabilitation centre for children with disabilities. Visiting the centre was the highlight of the day as the extensive work they provided for children with physical disabilities was phenomenal. We were very impressed with the holistic and family centred care offered at the centre. All the equipment was specially designed for each individual child,  something which we have not seen in the UK. Each of us commented on how committed the staff were and the level of care they provided. Overall Friday was an eye opening experience that will stay with us forever.

Emily and Hannah Summers

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June 2016

This is our second day in Kampala, working with the Kids Club Kampala team that work towards improving the lives of vulnerable children. Today we visited two slums, Kasangati and Kivulu delivering presentations on hand washing, Malaria, wound care and road and home safety. We also did a lot of singing and activities! Although we met very welcoming, loving, joyful and smiley children, visiting these slums has made us realise the tough reality these children live in.

We’ve seen six year olds looking after their baby brothers carrying them on their backs all day, very young children walking miles carrying tanks of water, children walking barefoot or with broken shoes, the joy on children’s faces when given just one sweet or a bar of soap and have experienced many more overwhelming and shockingly poor conditions.

We have also had unexpected answers in regards to home safety given by children during our presentation, emphasising how vulnerable and defenceless these children are. These experiences have been difficult and have made me realise how important the little things are and just how much we take for granted. They have also made me feel increasingly more compassionate about helping vulnerable children and have motivated me to learn a bit of Lugandan to overcome cultural barriers. Hopefully, we are making a bit of difference to their lives! We have had an amazing two days and are looking forward to the rest of the week :)

Hannah Steel (Kids Club Kampala)

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June 2016

 

Today was our first full day in Kampala. We were looking forward to learning more about the charity ‘Hands for Hope’. On arrival at the centre we were warmly welcomed by charity staff. It was a shock to us all to hear that the majority of families in the Namuwongo slum live off less than one dollar a day and these families have on average seven children. It made me reflect on how we take money for granted in the UK. We then visited one zone of the slum. Despite the shockingly poor conditions the children were so happy, shouting “muzungu” meaning ‘white person’ but in an unoffensive way. The slum was densely populated with a range of make shift houses. We were surprised to hear that despite such poor conditions the families had to pay ground rent to live on illegal land. Sewage and sanitation are huge problems in the slum but despite this the residents have a positive outlook on life and work hard. We were in awe of one particular women in the slum who had produced her own business with solar panels charging lights which she then sold to other slum families. After yummy lunch, we visited St.Barnabas school where again we were warmly welcomed by the head teacher and children. We are excited to return on Wednesday to undertake our seminars for some of the children. We were shocked and upset to hear a story about one of the children at the school. Sadly, domestic violence had been a problem in the family and as such this child boarded at the school and had no family. The last visit of the day was to Hands for Hopes new site. We were welcomed by each class who stood and all welcomed our presence. We spent time in the special needs class which was a fantastic opportunity. We felt we had interrupted their maths session on arrival, however following this we sang nursery rhymes. The children and teacher were laughing and having fun which was a really rewarding thing to see. One of the children sang Ugandan songs for us which we really enjoyed. All of us were shocked by the language used to describe the children and it was clear that Downs Syndrome wasn’t a condition they were aware of. As soon as we walked into the classroom we knew one of the children had Downs Syndrome, however they referred to his condition as ‘mental retardation’. This language was shocking to hear, however we accepted it as a cultural difference to our own. Overall it has been a lot to take in, but a fantastic day and we look forward to spending time with the social workers in the slum tomorrow.

Sophie Herrington   (Hands For Hope)

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