Back in Uganda…

It’s been over two months since I got back to Uganda and already I’ve not managed to write something every month like I decided to after a few people told me they enjoyed reading my blog (thanks Maureen and Stuart!) I was back in the UK for two months over the summer doing some locum work to keep the GMC/RCGP happy and seeing friends and family. The time went really quickly but it really great to be home and we managed to squeeze a lot in to the short space of time – two weddings, two hen dos, two music festivals, camping, lots of cheese! It didn’t feel like I’d been away at all when I got back to the hospital but it is good to come back with a fresh perspective having had a chance to reflect on things.

I was really lucky that my friends who run the hospital guest house were in Kampala sorting out their visas when I arrived so they arranged their timing so I could get a lift back with them. This meant avoiding the lengthy night bus journey or the expensive cost of hiring a driver. We stopped at the Ugandan equivalent of a garden centre on the way back. Outside Mbarara, the biggest town between here and Kampala, some people sell plants on the side of the road. This is where most of the tourist lodges buy their plants and flowers to decorate their gardens apparently. Rachel and Dan were buying lots of flowers for their garden so bought me two which are now brightening the little bit of garden outside my house, although recently have become a bit overwhelmed by my neighbour’s pumpkins!

During the two months I was away both the medial officers left and two new ones have arrived. Both have worked at the hospital previously, one as a clinical officer and one as a medical student. Claire, the other RCGP volunteer, has also left and Leo, a GP trainee, has replaced her, so we have a different team. We’re getting on really well and learning from each other.

We have had two short term volunteers come to work with the USHAPE family planning project over the past month. Marian, a UK GP, came for a fortnight to look into developing adolescent health services at the hospital. This is an idea that the hospital has had for many years but has lacked funding and staff time to progress further. It is something that we have discussed with many participants of the USHAPE courses and is an area that lots of people feel is very important and currently lacking. Marian did a great job of gathering ideas from staff, students, community members and adolescents themselves. She met with teenage mothers, community leaders, the two nearby health centres that currently have some adolescent health facilities, a school group and lots of hospital staff. There were lots of recurring themes about how a service could be run and lots of great ideas. There’s still big decisions to be made, including about funding, but it was really good to learn more about how a service might be developed.

At the end of Marian’s stay we went to visit another Church of Uganda hospital a few hours away to discuss the USHAPE project with them. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences compared to BCH. They’re going to have a volunteer from January who is interested in working with the USHAPE programme, so we’re hoping it’ll take off there too. The hospital visit was well timed as a neighbour was getting married in the same town so we both enjoyed the wedding. It was a catholic wedding and they had a beautiful church choir – apparently it’s well known that Catholics are better singers than Anglicans in Uganda I’m told?!

Sue, a consultant from London, came for two weeks to help run a USHAPE course at the nursing school. Over the past year we have updated all the resources and written a facilitator’s guide. We’re aiming for the material to be clear enough that anyone could run the course without having previously attended one (although this wouldn’t often be the case currently). So it was useful for her to come and let us know what she thought of the material.

I became a Godmother for the third time last month. This time I actually managed to attend the baptism (sorry to my other two Godchildren for not managing!) A friend from the village was having his daughter baptised and asked me to be the Godmother. I did try and suggest he should choose someone who was going to be in the country for a bit longer than me but he didn’t seem to think it would be a problem. It was in a church about half an hour’s walk from where I live. My American guest house family friends were being Godparents for the brother of my Goddaughter so we all went together. Baptisms are usually at the start of the service so we didn’t want to be late but obviously then ended up being very early and having tea and bread with the vicar before the service. Despite not understanding the language and not knowing the family very well it felt like a really special thing to be part of, to give thanks to God for the life of the child and promise to try and bring her up knowing God.

I have lots more to write but this is probably too long for most people to read! I’ll try and upload some photos in a different post or on facebook. Thanks for keeping in touch.

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