Thought I would give you a quick update on what we have been up to recently. Hope you are all enjoying the snow. You will be pleased to know it is raining here today!
Friday was International Women’s Day, a national holiday in Uganda! Ryan and Katie were spending the weekend working in the Rakai district and so Rosie, Colin and I were left to fend for ourselves and make a plan for our day off and the weekend ahead.
We had good intentions for International Women’s Day. We planned to find the national theatre, join in the celebrations and visit the craft market to pick up some gifts for family and friends. Thinking this would be an easy and relaxing plan, we head out with a little map a colleague had drawn and entered Kampala with a sense of purpose. We then spent the next four hours walking up a never ending hill, and whenever we thought we were at the top we would find out this was not the case. When we finally reached the top of the hill we the discovered map was wrong, or possibly our understanding of it, and so we walked back down the hill. We never found the national theatre and were very tired by the end of the day. We did, however, go for a nice meal out in the evening, determined to make the day a good one, and Rosie and I were given some complementary chocolates for being women on Women’s day!
In terms of work, Colin and I have been doing different things over the past few days. Last Monday I went out with a social worker on the Give a Chance project, set up by a donor who sponsors 16 children of former patients through school.. The aim was to visit the children in school to check on their progress and speak to their teachers. It was a very interesting experience seeing what school is like in Uganda and it was lovely to see the children doing well, despite their difficult circumstances. Education is very important to the people of Uganda, and it can be used as a route out of difficult home situations. It was also very strange being the celebrity of the day, with most school children very excited at the presence of a muzungu (me), and surrounding me with big excited grins!
On tuesday I ran a session during day care working with the teenagers who attend every week. We discussed many issues relating to managing their illnesses and explored ideas for creating new and fun activities for them to participate in. We decided that Drama would be a fun way to explore their feelings and so I am in the process of writing a report for the clinical manager to try and make this happen.
On wednesday I spent the day in Mukono with the outreach team, where the hospice provides a day clinic for people in the district and also does home visits. I went out with the home visit team and it was a very long day. I did, however enjoy seeing another part of Uganda, as well as having lunch with the team and a lot of Ugandan tea! It was also humbling to see how well the team work to provide pain relief for patients suffering in sometimes difficult living environments, and the care and compassion with which the team go about their work..they work long hours to ensure patients receive the best care possible, on all the home visits they do.
This week, I visited the Children’s Cancer Unit at Mulago hospital, an emotionally challenging visit for me but no where near as difficult for the children and family members who have to stay there. It was difficult to see how many families cannot afford drugs for their children and have to travel long distances to stay with their children, often sleeping on the floor or outside under the verandah.
This Friday we will all be coming together to run a day session at TASO , an aids support organisation, where we will be working with young people to support them through counselling sessions and see how they are doing with their creative arts projects.
After this, we are all looking forward to spending a weekend in Jinja, the home of the source of the Nile- Lake Victoria! Hopefully we can have a nice relaxing weekend and eat some nice food that isn’t matoke,rice and beans which, although lovely, it will be nice to have something different!
Much love from Uganda, Rosie.