Are teams good for Kiwoko?

Wilsons_2013 Posted by Rory Wilson on Mon, 01 Mar 2010 | 1 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

The team from the South East Trust left today. They have been with us for a week –rather an eclectic and characterful group. Several times through the week different members asked if their presence was a benefit or a hindrance? What an insightful question. Many folk want to do something to help poor people in the developing world but are short term trips actually helpful, or do they just waste the time of busy people who are doing a worthwhile job, or are they even just a new form of voyeurism- like the 21st century’s version of a trip to Bedlam?

I guess a thorough answer would take a thesis to complete, but to attempt greater brevity – ‘it depends.’

Anyone undertaking anything new should consider whether such an undertaking will do more harm than good. Those who attempted to relieve the discomfort of morning sickness in pregnancy with the use of Thalidomide had good intentions, but clearly were responsible for horrendous consequences. In a setting such as Uganda many of the checks and balances ubiquitous in a UK setting are in practice absent, so the possibility of well meaning people doing unintentional harm is much greater. The needs however, are also great, and the manpower to address such needs is often woefully inadequate.

Sadly there are many visitors to Uganda who do much harm. From the surgeons who operate, and on returning to their home country leave junior local doctors to resolve the complications, to those who give out sweets and money at the roadside to children, and so from an early age encourage dependence and the idea that white people are an endless pool of financial and practical resources to tap by fair means or foul.

Equally there are many visitors here who do great good – for example our most recent team from the South East Trust:
Dr Roy developed our diabetic team and encouraged a busy team of doctors in what they do; Helen challenged some students about their attitudes to palliative care, death and dying;
Cathy and Lisa again challenged student attitudes as well as midwifery staff and encouraged some pregnant mums; Ellie and Ruth were able to comprehensively review the lab services and lab school and provide some advice on the way forward as well as teaching students and staff; Mark captured much video and stills footage for fundraising purposes (in addition to painting the nursery in the Medical Superintendents house;)
Alan got particularly involved in the wider socio-spiritual life of the hospital encouraging patients, relatives and staff.

The hospital was doing ok before their visit, and could have survived without it, HOWEVER we have significantly benefited from the input of professionals into areas of the hospital which needed assistance. There are many people who offer to come to Kiwoko whose offer I must politely decline. We are a working hospital, not an alternative Butlins. However when we have needs for training, development, or a particular staffing gap, then external assistance can be really helpful.

To try and conclude the answer to my question previously answered with ‘it depends’ by expanding upon what it depends – an honest and non pressured discussion between the setting being visited (Kiwoko in this case) and the potential visitors (S.E.T. in this most recent example.) This visit was preceded by extensive communications (now rather more possible, than would have been the case some years ago.) Such communications helped the visitors be selected from those interested to fulfil particular needs at the hospital, and then also helped them prepare relevant material before arriving. Like many things in life – some of the people who would be of most use to Kiwoko are those most likely to not come for fear of getting in the way, and those most keen to come at times are those most likely to do more harm than good.

If you are thinking of visiting us, or somewhere else this year, then don’t let this discourage you – just be sure you are needed and prepared for what you are going to do. Then you should not only have a great time and see God work through you, but also sense the encouragement of assisting something much greater than yourself as it moves forward.

We are looking forward to several teams in the months ahead – from St Mary’s, St Patrick’s and a CMSI META team. It is great to have such partners with whom we can work together with mutual vision and respect.

Cheers for now


Caroline Mansley said Fri, 12 Mar 2010 10:02AM
Hi Rory yes a useful and helpful reflection for those who would like to help.

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