So we’re moving towards the end. Last weekend we went to Jinja – the source of The Nile!! It was a really peaceful place with some really pleasant architecture (so made a nice change from Kampala!). Lots of westerners visit Jinja to go white water rafting on the Nile. We were looking for something a bit more relaxing so had a scenic boat ride around the source.
Today was mine and Rosie’s last day at Hospice Africa Uganda. This morning we went to our last 8 a.m. morning meeting (which was sad – I’ll really miss starting my day with a hymn featuring African Drum accompaniment!) before giving a presentation in the Hospice Journal Club. The presentation was on Task Centred Approaches in social work. During our time at the hospice, so many of the patients we have visited have been experiencing multiple social issues. We thought that all the clinical staff might benefit from thinking about how they might be able to approach social issues in a more systematic way. Hence we thought Task Centred Approaches might be of interest. The presentation seemed to be a success and the staff had some really interesting ideas about how Task Centred Approaches might be applicable to an African setting.
After the presentation we had a group photo and spent the rest of the day saying our goodbyes to the hospice. I know both me and Rosie would like to say thank you to everyone at the hospice for making our stay so enjoyable. Also a special thank you to Nenet for ensuring we were always looked after.
Me and Rosie spent the rest of our week finishing off work and visiting patients in their own home. Yesterday it was really nice to see a patient who I’d had the opportunity to visit on 3 occasions. When we first visited the patient the household was in extremely challenging conditions. Part of my work at the hospice was to arrange a family meeting so these issues could be discussed. This meeting took place, and the family made arrangements for how to support this household better. It was so nice to visit yesterday. The conditions had improved dramatically.
At the moment all 5 of us are at Red Chilli’s Hideaway in Kampala. All our placements are now over so the rest of the time in Uganda will be spent relaxing and sightseeing. Tomorrow there will be a trip to Entebbe’s Botanical Gardens and on Sunday morning we’re all off to Murchison Falls and a 3 day safari. Then we’ll be returning to the UK and the end of our Ugandan bubble.
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.
I thought it was about time for another update from Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU).
Last week we spent our time getting acquainted with the workings of the hospice. Everyone at HAU has been very welcoming.
On Tuesday we were introduced to the Day Care activities that the hospice runs onsite. During Day Care patients can be seen by a doctor or a nurse to discuss any issues they are experiencing. When people are presenting with a social issue, a social worker will be invited into the meeting. Me and Rosie had the opportunity to sit in on a couple of these patients. It was really interesting to see the types of social issues people experience in Uganda and the social work intervention that the hospice provides. This is especially interesting considering the hospice works in a context of limited resources and very high demand. In addition to this, Day Care is also a place where patients can come for respite, to socialise, and to learn new skills. It was great just chatting to the service users who attend Day Care. They were very welcoming.
On Wednesday and Thursday we left the hospice compound and visited patients in their home. The outreach work is for patients who are too ill, or do not have the resources, to visit the hospice themselves. During the visits, the medical issues tend to be discussed first. This is usually regarding how well the patient’s pain is being managed, but may include any number of other medical complaints. Social work seems to be an important component in palliative care, because once the doctors and nurses have helped manage the patient’s pain, often what you are left with are the social issues. So far, the issues we have encountered seem to mainly relate to finances. Often people are living in very impoverished conditions. This can be exacerbated when people fall ill and they become too ill to work, therefore losing their source of income. Another issue we have seen relates to care provision. Some patients care needs are so high, we have seen the people who care for them really struggling and desperate for support.
Working at HAU has been really enjoyable so far. But we have also been enjoying ourselves outside our placement. We’ve just returned from a great weekend exploring Lake Mburo National Park. It was great to get some respite from the busy streets of Kampala. On the journey to the park we crossed the equator, so naturally we stopped and took many a tourist photo. On our way into the park we did really well and saw loads of animals (zebras, warthogs, so many different types of antelope). Then later on we had a boat trip on the lake and saw many a hippo. We had some delicious fish for our tea. Then finally once it got dark and the mosquitos came out, we decided it was time for bed. However, when driving back to camp it was amazing to see 2 hippos out of the water and starting to graze on the land!
We all came back to Kampala on the Sunday and went our separate ways. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Marilyn who was flying back to the UK that night. I know all of us would like to say thanks to Marilyn for offering us so much support and advice during our first week.
Blog Sorry for the late post, internet isnt always available and we have been so busy, but here is a link to a humerous post Ryan wrote about our arrival, if you havn’t already seen it: http://ourtriptouganda.wordpress.com/
Following an interesting Ugandan introduction, we all left the hostel and went to our respective placements. Colin and I are staying and working at Hos[ice Africa Uganda, an amazing organisation providing palliative care services to a large number of Ugandan people.
I am enjoying waking up to the sounds of Uganda and saying hellp to my new friends (two goats I have named Elephant and Lion…who have apparently been living here since they were the prize for winning a football match!). The people are so friendly here, the weather is wonderful and the food is great (although there is so much of it and I still can’t fathom what half of it is yet, but it tastes great!)..we also have showers and electricity, so are in relative luxury in comparison to Ryan and Katie, who don’t have either of these as yet!
Colin and I have been given our introduction and have found out all about what we will be doing over our four short weeks here. From home visits to attending day care sessions (where today we baked a banana cake!), attending clinic, working with various staff members, visiting the childrens cancer institute and working with children and young people..there is so much to fit in and it is all very exciting. We are also becoming incfreaisngly aware of real poverty and the many problems facing service users in relation to this, something which will become even more apparent as we go along.
We will post updates on our work as we go along. In the mean time, hope you are enjoying the snowy weather!