Posted by: zdy1 | 19 January, 2010

One year on…

Exactly one year ago I had just landed in Africa, having just said goodbye from everything familiar and unsure what was ahead of me. I knew that I would be moving to Mbarara in Uganda after one month orientation in Kenya but was unsure what that would look like.

Today I see Mbarara as a home and many things have here have become familiar including the constant feeling of being unsure what is ahead of me!!

The day I have had so far may give some idea of my life here. I woke up at 6.30am to finish marking the last of some assignments for the Rehab Medicine course I helped teach at the local university. This assignment required the students to interview a patient about their life and marking them was not an easy task as some of the true stories were difficult to read – the tailor who loved her job but who had been robbed and lost her eye and hand and was wondering what the future held – the father who described all his hopes for his children but was now unlikely to be able to afford to let them continue in school because of the hospital costs and his newfound disability – the wife whose husband had divorced her because she was ill and he still had three other wives – the mother who had seen 4 of her children die in childhood – the teenage girl who had been raped (and impregnated) twice by the same man, lost one of the babies, became mentally ill as a result and on pursuing justice had seen her family home be demolished and the family evicted from the village because the accused man had a family of influence. I have not been blind to how tough things are here for so many people but reading 70 stories all in one go was a hard challenge.
What was exciting about reading these essays was learning from the amazing courage and faith that so many of these patients described and seeing the obvious desire of the medical students writing about them, wanting to be able to make a difference.

While I was finishing the marking, Ruth arrived who comes to my house once a week to do my washing and help me with some of the cleaning, this is certainly one of the parts of life here that I don’t complain about!!

I then took my marks into the hospital to hand in. While I was there I discovered that the news had just been announced that the building of a new hospital was to begin – this has been talked about ever since I got here and the latest I had heard was that it had been postponed indefinitely due to lack of funds. Anyhow it is apparently going to start….tomorrow!! The building is supposed to be started in the part of the hospital that currently holds the emergency ward, ICU, orthopaedic ward, orthopaedic workshop and physiotherapy. The patients are all going to be squeezed into other wards but there have been no solutions found for where the workshop (which has large equipment to make prosthetics/orthotics) and physiotherapy (which has a busy outpatient department) can go. Seeing as the buildings are likely to be demolished within a week or so – it seems life is about to get interesting (once again!).

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