The value of intentionally listening to God and one another....
Welcome to our June edition of the Uganda Blog!
June was an intentionally quiet month after all the travelling around Uganda, visiting various health projects. Our focus has been in Kiwoko finishing projects, visiting other departments and continuing with education sessions in Physio. Being a quiet month sandwiched between 2 very busy ones we used it as a time to rest and recover. I made a sourdough starter, resulting in multiple loaves of sourdough bread and crumpets, and Gemma read a vast amount of crime fiction!
We also had our final trip to Kampala to do our last big food shop. These trips are always very tiring and expensive as you are trying to cater for 6-7 weeks at a time, but also allow us to indulge in a good coffee, croissants and lunch. It’s amazing how much we appreciate these creature comforts now, when we would have taken them for granted before our time in Uganda. However, despite the treats we were happy to say goodbye to Kampala.
I have been continued with my back pain project. After receiving over 100 replies to the back pain questionnaire I analysed the findings regarding staff well being and back pain. I found that 33% of staff considered themselves ‘Moderately disabled’ by low back pain, so throughout June I have been visiting most departments around the hospital delivering education sessions and how to manage low back pain. It’s also helped me increase the general awareness and appreciation for Physiotherapy within the staff. Within Kiwoko and Uganda more generally physiotherapy is a poorly developed and underappreciated profession, so giving these talks has been really beneficial to open new conversations about what can be achieved with physiotherapy. I still have a few more talks to give in our final weeks but overall, most off the work is now done! Phew.
Gemma has been even busier. As you will know from previous blogs Gemma has been working on NICU at Kiwoko with Tadeo, what you may not know is that Tade, the Occupational Therapist working on NICU prior to our arrival, is the ONLY therapist working in any NICU in Uganda, despite the excellent evidence on their importance. It has long been an ambition of Tadeo and Gemma to increase the awareness of therapy within NICU and whilst on our trip in May Gemma managed to get the contact information for the Head Physiotherapy Lecturer at Mbarara University! The head lecturer is also a paediatric physiotherapist and has contacts with their NICU consultant. Gemma and Tadeo had a very positive video call with the Head Lecturer so Tadeo will now guest lecture at the university on the Physiotherapy course, students will have an opportunity to visit and work with Tadeo on short placements, and some of the clinical team from Mbarara Hospital NICU may visit Kiwoko in the future. This is a huge step forward in developing the role of therapists and improving the care for NICU babies in Uganda - the start of something special!
Gemma has also developed and given training on the management of clubfoot and has also given basic respiratory training to Tadeo on managing Cerebral Palsy to the Physiotherapy team.
As we’ve moved through our restful…ish month we have become more and more aware of our fast-approaching departure from Kiwoko. This has been greeted with lots of mixed emotions, we are excited to see our families and friends, have a washing machine, and buy a jar of Marmite! On the other hand, we are gutted to be leaving, we really feel that this trip has had God running through the whole thing, from the timing (missing Covid restrictions by a matter of weeks) to the amazing people we’ve met here. We have been reflecting on what a perfect time in our life and marriage this trip has come, in a time where thoughts of settling down and beginning the next chapter of our lives have started, it has been so valuable to have 7 months to spend with God and each other. There are definitely nerves on how we will settle back into regular life in the UK and how we continue to live life in a way that displays the lessons that we have learnt in our time here. Lessons about patience, grace, generosity, and peace in the stillness.
So, July, we are currently in Jinja for a summer holiday until 8th July, then we have 3 weeks of work left until we leave Uganda for Tanzania and our Kilimanjaro adventure on 3rd August. We are hoping that these 3 weeks will be a good time to say goodbye to our friends and give us a chance to spend quality time with them all before having to pack our house away!
Finally, here are our 3 favourite ‘I’ve Learnt….’ from July:
• I’ve learnt I miss duvets… and proper sausages!
• I’ve learnt that Gemma thinks she likes jigsaws but actually hates them once she has finished doing the boarder pieces
• I’ve learnt that I am never building my kitchen through B&Q
▪ For a blessed time in Kiwoko saying goodbye to the colleagues and friends we have made during our time here
▪ That we will be able to manage our emotions, of fear, sadness, guilt and worries in this transitional time, and that any anxiety around change will be removed
▪ For stress-free packing, and that all logistical plans will remain unchanged, to give us peace of mind in the upcoming travel.
▪ For guidance from God in our discernment process of how Kiwoko and Uganda will be part of our lives once we return to the UK