Fond farewells and saying goodbye...
We hope all is well for you wherever you are, whether that’s the (sometimes) sunny United Kingdom or as far as the wintery New Zealand! As you may remember this is our last edition of our blog from Uganda, however, don’t worry I will write a final blog at the end of August from Northern Ireland, so at least the anguish I know you will all have can be delayed for one more month!!
July started with a week’s holiday in Jinja which is a town about 2:30 hour’s drive from our home in Kiwoko. Jinja is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria and is the “official” source of the Nile. It’s a popular holiday destination with many activities and good food available. We were lucky enough to find an Airbnb just outside of Jinja which was very quiet and secluded, a perfect spot to relax, which is what we did and is one of the reasons we have no pictures from our time away…. Oops.
Our friend Becca (another medical missionary working in Kiwoko) and her 2 daughters were also in Jinja at the same time, which timed well as they have all become very dear to us over our time in Kiwoko and it was really nice to spend some quality time with all of them before we left Uganda.
We found that Jinja was the perfect place at the perfect time in July. After what had felt like a busy and tiring June, we felt that having sometime to reflect and prepare for our final 3 weeks of work was needed. Jinja often reminded us of the north coast of Northern Ireland, a place that we are very fond of, and we felt very lucky to have that time to relax. It was also our last time driving ourselves around Uganda and as we drove the last 15km’s back to Kiwoko there was definitely a feeling of relief, pride and sadness all around the dwindling time left for us in Uganda.
Since then, we returned to work and finished off the final jobs that we had left to do from our respective projects. I finished the ward education on back pain with a great turn out on Male Ward, this was just the pre-session set up. The staff were engaged and asked lots of relevant and interesting questions. With other sessions I had given having mixed responses, it was nice to finish with such a positive one where the staff benefitted from the teaching. I also gave some more in depth and technical information regarding back pain assessment and management to A&E. Sadly, this didn’t have such a good turn out with some last minute absences but the knowledge that I had finished all my jobs for work filled me with a nice glow all the same.
After that, work became more of a challenge for me. Throughout my time here I have needed additional projects to help use my time and keep me engaged as the ward caseloads could be quite small and with finishing them all and having no time to start and complete another the last week of work sadly dragged. However, I did have more time to spend with my colleagues enjoying their company and reminiscing over our time together.
Gemma has also been finishing her projects working to help Tadeo (NICU Occupational Therapist pictured) develop and perfect his educational presentations with a view to deliver them in the university education sessions as noted in the June Blog. This has been a lengthy challenge, with Gemma working very hard to help Tadeo transfer his extensive knowledge into concise teaching material. Gemma has also been developing data collection forms for NICU Therapy during her time in Kiwoko, which was something that has been sorely needed in NICU. This data collection so far has been a success with Tadeo keen to continue the collection once Gemma leaves, so Gemma’s last day on NICU was spent teaching Tadeo how to take and analyse the data for the sponsoring organisation.
Gemma has been a very busy bee this month because not only has she done all of this, but she has also been assisting with a 3 Year development plan. From her time on NICU and the community work with Bbay Ubuntu, Gemma had come up with a few suggestions, mainly the need for a secondary therapist, and has been trying to evidence this need. She has also written a NICU review, a review of Neuro Paediatric Community Care in Uganda and had a long Zoom call with sponsors to discuss this 3 Year Plan and how therapy can be included in this.
So, as you can imagine we came to the end of work feeling pretty shattered and without really having thought about leaving Uganda! Outside of work however we had made a new friend……Fluffy the duckling, who arrived at Becca’s house when an egg was slightly fuller than expected. Fluffy has been a welcome addition to the Jones family and has given Gemma and I our very own Therapy Duck! It is surprising how excited you can be about a duckling’s first steps and swim!!
We have been saying goodbye to our friends here in Kiwoko, for example Ronny and Stella who hosted us for dinner after our last day of work. Stella and Ronny both work in Kiwoko Hospital and Stella also has her own textiles business, pictured top left of the next page is a picture of Stella and Gemma with Gemma in her new dress made by Stella! We will really miss the kindness, generosity and warmth of our Ugandan friends and their ability to ease any concerns you have with their honest and naturally wise nature.
With little spare time we had left we had to think about what comes next…… For our avid readers you will
know that we left Uganda and headed to Tanzania for 2 weeks to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and are now on safari. This preparation has included my OCD travel preparations and strength and conditioning for our climb, which we have had to shoehorn into our daily life.
We left Kiwoko Hospital and Uganda on 4th August, and our last day was spent with Becca and her daughters and doing some packing as well. We felt a bit odd all in all, and it seemed very strange to think we will be leaving via Tanzania to come back to the UK. We are so excited to see family and friends again but we also have a fair amount of anxiety returning to a place that feels like it has changed a lot in the last 7 months, with the Ukraine war, rising cost of living and political turbulence to name just a few! It reminds us how lucky we have been here to live such a nice lifestyle and reminds us that while the West might like us to think everything is better in the West, it’s really not. A cheery end there……..but what I am trying to say is that this experience has been amazing, life changing and the biggest blessing, and we are so grateful for that and the support we have had from so many.
Top 3 “I’ve Learnt” from July: -
▪ I’ve learnt that I’ve been spelling busyness wrong all my life (business) ooops….
▪ I’ve learnt that we shouldn’t have flipped the mattress.
▪ I’ve learnt that no matter how badly I’m craving a Chinese takeaway.
▪ For safe and smooth travel to Tanzania and then the UK.
▪ Praising God for protection, lack of injury and altitude sickness on our recent Kilimanjaro climb
▪ As we return home to the UK on the 18th and deal with acclimatisation back to western culture, pray that Gods guidance, support, and peace will be with us, to help us with any challenges we may face.