Well, after 6.5 hours, one fender bender and 2 yelling Ugandan men…I made it to Kampala safely. Just so my mom doesn’t start calling me, I’ll elaborate on this little fender bender now. About an hour from Kampala we stopped for gas and a car backed up into us. Now in the US the amount of damage done would have been at least $500, if not more. Here they don’t want to involve the police (ever), so the other driver gave my driver $20 and drove off…not exactly sure if this is the best system but my driver seemed content with the business deal.
By the time I arrived at my hotel it was around 4pm. I feel like a Ugandan princess at this place. There is AC, wifi in my room, cold drinks AND I get my own queen bed (which isn’t as hard as a rock). My room was the last room that was booked, which made the group number odd, so while all the other doctors and nurses have a roommate, I, the youngest and only person without an advanced degree, get my own room. I know my parents are rolling their eyes right now.
Last night a group from World Children’s Initiative (go like them on Facebook) arrived in Uganda and I accompanied them to Mulago Hospital this morning. For starters, I was very impressed with the hospital. It is by no means like anything we have in the US but it is far more advanced than anything in Gulu.
The Ugandan Heart Institute, where we will be working, was just built within the last 2 years. Starting tomorrow, the WCI team will be performing 10 catheter procedures on children who would not be able to afford their operation if they hadn’t been sponsored. I like the structure of the WCI program because it is education based. They have been coming here for the last 5 years, and through all of the stories I have heard, the Ugandan doctors have come a long way. Instead of the American team coming in and cranking out 30-40 procedures in a week, which they could do, they bring the number down to make it more realistic of what the Ugandan doctors will be able to do on their own. After the first year that WCI was here, the Ugandan team performed 3 solo surgeries in a year. The next year it was closer to 10 and now, 5 years later, they are reaching to perform roughly 80-100 in a year. To see how excited all the Ugandan doctors were about their progress was truly inspiring.
Today was reserved for a lot of administrative meetings and organizational tasks to get everything ready for tomorrow. With that being said there was not much for me to do, so I tried to keep myself occupied as best I could. One of the nurses gave me a tour of the ICU on the cardiac floor and I then sat in on his lecture on post-catheter procedure care. The most exciting part of my day however was accompanying Jattu to meet with the 3 patients who will be receiving operations tomorrow. These patients are 5,6, and 16 years old. Although only 1 of the families spoke English, you could tell how excited and grateful they were for this opportunity and I honestly couldn’t be more excited for tomorrow. The surgical team arrives tonight and my main role during my time here is to help them in any way that I can. I have no doubt that I will be kept busy for the rest of the week.
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