Summary of my experience in Uganda.
My journey began back in 2012 little did I know then what lay ahead of me. After an extremely long day travelling, my arrival in kampala, at 01.00 am I was met with heat and humidity, this was to be just a taster of the temperatures and humidity that the team would encounter throughout the week.
Even though it was dark on our transfer from the airport to our hotel you could still see the locals busy working on the roadside, you could also still make out some of living conditions that quickly make you appreciate what we all take for granted back home.
My first day, team GB as we were known were introduced to the rest of the team that already been there working for two weeks. We were then taken to Mulago hospital where we were warmly greeted by the doctors and nurses.
We were given a tour of the hospital, including the wards, clinics, minor operations clinic, operating theatres and the grounds. Well what can I say... It was nothing like I had imagined. There were families camped outside waiting for appointments, families living in the grounds where they cooked and did their relatives laundry as they provided most of the care for their relatives whilst in Mulago. It really does make you realise and appreciate the contrast in services provided across the globe. The wards were overcrowded with a mixture of adults and paediatrics together. In the UK this would never happen!! but it soon became apparent the hospital didn't have the means or the staffing levels to segregate them.
We had been giving our operating schedule for the week and in between lists Mandy and I would be assisting and teaching the theatre staff nurses and anaesthetic nurses (ODP's) hoping to encourage them to implement some of our knowledge and skills and apply these to their practice. Well for some this was going to be easier said than done!!
We found that most of the staff were receptive and eager to listen to what we were advising, but with limited and broken equipment we soon realised that maybe we had tougher job on our hands than we originally thought.
Take a moment and think how irritating and frustrating it is when stock is low, or a piece of equipment is unavailable or broken. Now think again and appreciate what we have. All the staff at Malago hospital do a great job, with limited resources, equipment and staff.
The entire week for me was a mixture of emotions, excitement, happiness, sadness, frustration and anger. Taking all those emotions into consideration and knowing my participation as part of the RSCH team in providing life changing surgery for people who without our help would continue to be in pain and discomfort. For me this has made the whole trip worth while, and I would like to thank all the staff at Mulago hospital for making me feel welcome and part of their team although for a short time. I do hope that I am lucky enough to participate in the program in 2014. I would also like to say to everyone and anyone if you are given the opportunity to volunteer and participate in a project that for others less fortunate than yourself do it, you can make a difference.