Parish Project 2006
Becca's Letter from Uganda
I introduced myself last month and described my first reaction to my missionary placement in Kagando Hospital in SW Uganda. Many of you will know my family, the Baldocks, who originated in Dunstable. Hopefully you will remember that the reason for my monthly letters is because St Mary’s Church in Eaton Bray has chosen Kagando as its principal charity for 2006. If you want to find out more about Kagando you can do so at www.kagando.org.
Since I wrote my previous letter I have celebrated my first Christmas in Uganda. The attitude towards Christmas here appears to be similar to that in Britain; it is thought of as a family time. the kids get very excited, food is purchased for a feast, fathers get anxious about where all the money is going to come from etc. They eat a big feast, usually at about 4 in the afternoon, consisting of beef (the cow being killed the day before), Matokee (cooked bananas), Obundu (cassava and maize flour – a very heavy stodgy food that they love here), peanut sauce, rice etc. The typical Christmas gift here is a new outfit and all the kids get really excited; they turn up very smartly dressed to church, but unfortunately this means that some of the poorer families don’t go to church because they are embarrassed by the state of their clothes.
Many people went back home to their villages so the Kagando Church at Christmas was a lot quieter than normal. Living and working out here, makes you realise how fragile life is. Knowing midwives here makes you much more aware of how dangerous the birth of a baby is and how fragile babies are. So it is easier to understand the real danger in Jesus’ birth. Being in Africa generally makes the Bible feel more alive. Just like in Jesus’ time the idea of having a child out of marriage is frowned upon by Ugandan society. Girls here are more frightened of becoming pregnant than getting HIV. They have injections of the pill instead of abstaining or using condoms, over Christmas we had two sceptic abortions in the hospital - unfortunately one of them died.
Soon after my arrival in Kagondo I had to make a visit to The Congo. Whilst there I assessed and treated my first burn patients in Africa. One was a child who had been there for a month - it was one of the worst sights I have seen yet. The child had burns all down one side of here trunk, her arm and the top of her thigh. Her wounds were lightly covered in gauze. These were not always changed regularly as they did not always have the gauze. She was lying on a piece of cloth, which she was stuck too. The child was in immense pain and the nurse ripped her off the cloth to try and bring her nearer to us - it was horrible I had to shop her. The child was in so much pain and would not let us do anything with her, but I gave the father some information and exercises to help before returning home to Kagando.
I had been praying for her and one day, unexpectedly, she arrived at Kagando. The father had been following the advice and the girl could move her fingers and no longer holds her elbow completely bent, instead she can straighten it to about a third of its range. I was so excited as the father had previously refused to bring her to Kagondo as he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to afford the treatment. Her wounds are now dressed frequently, there are more doctors to monitor her and we do daily physio with her.
Her burns were very deep and big, so still have not healed completely. However we have just had a visiting plastic surgeon who was able to give her a skin graft. This seems to have been successful, and has made a big difference to her healing, although she’s still got a way to go yet.
Some of my work is in the therapy department – it is full of electrical equipment most of which is broken. I found some old ice cube trays and a hot water bottle. Using these we now have hot and cold therapy, which can be very effective. The first time I used this treatment caused quite a stir. The local physio had never used such equipment before and wanted me to give him exact instructions how to use it and, especially, to care for it, so that he could ensure it lasted for as long as possible in case we are unable to get replacements.
I also spend quite a bit of time on the paediatric ward. There are a lot of malnourished children, many of whom have developmental delays. Some of the children are scared of me because I’m white, but respond well to their family when I instruct them. The children usually just lie on their beds and very rarely do you see their parents playing with them. I’ve started a daily play therapy group. It gives a chance for all the children to play and to engage with the environment rather than just lying there, but it also means that I can focus on and treat the patients with specific physio needs. Unwanted plastic toys, which could be cleaned between patients to prevent cross infection, would be a simple but fantastic addition to the paediatric ward.
- Please pray for the girl with burns
- Please continue to pray for Kagando
- Please continue to pray for the Ugandan political situation – with elections taking place during February this is a potentially very dangerous time here