It is always an exciting time as we welcome a new group of volunteers to Uganda. This was even more so last weekend when Sue Neale and her three children, Samuel, Gorgia and Elizabeth arrived at Entebbe airport. Sue and Samuel had been here in 2009 and they have now returned to share the life changing experience with Gorgia and Elizabeth.
With Sue being a member of the HUG board, she has heard lots about what has been going on at Suubi, but I'm sure she will be thrilled to see it all with her own eyes. Having such a close affinity with HUG, we took the opportunity to load the entire Neale family up with much of the medical equipment and other supplies which had been so generously donated from Australia. It was a great initiation to how different life is in Uganda when we squeezed six people, 200 kgs of luggage and then food supplies into the van to travel the 180kms to Suubi Centre!
The Neale family arrived at Entebbe airport with 200kg of medical equipment and other supplies for Suubi.
As usual, when we arrived at Suubi there was a large crowd of local people to greet us. Ordinarily it is such an amazing feeling when you see all the people and activity at the Centre for the first time, but Sue and the kids were treated to an even more special experience.
The Suubi ladies were at the Centre practicing their singing and dancing performance for the final of the sports tournament so they did a special welcome song for each of the Neale family. It was such a lovely sight to see them all dancing and laughing with all the ladies - what a wonderful welcome!
The Suubi ladies encouraged them to join in the dancing as they sang songs to welcome them.
After a good night’s rest, David and I showed Sue and the kids around Suubi Centre and the medical clinic. It is a lot to take in when you first arrive with many activities now running from the training hall.
David took the time to explain about how the brick machine works and how he envisages people in the district will be able to build affordable homes for themselves once the new skills have been passed on.
David showed how the brick making machine works.
Once in the clinic, the medical staff took over and explained about their jobs is in the various parts of the clinic. With her background in science, Sue was particularly interested in the lab and how it works. Elias invited her to spend some time with him during her stay.
She has since had an opportunity to watch on as a serious malaria case first tested positive and then the follow up tests as the small child has been treated in the admission ward.
Elias, our lab technician, explained some of what goes on in the lab at Suubi.
The Neales were also introduced to another patient in the ward. A very close friend of Suubi centre, Fred, the director of Omoding Primary school, had been admitted the night before after having an accident on his boda boda (Motorbike). Sadly, as is often the case, Fred had tried to treat the wound on his leg himself at home for over a week.
During this period it had become infected and by the time he arrived at the clinic the infection had spread throughout his body and he was dehydrated and close to unconsciousness. Thankfully once being admitted and given the appropriate medication he is now on the way to recovering.
Florence explained that Fred's knee was already starting to improve after a night in the clinic receiving the appropriate medication.
With the clinic tour complete, it was time to unpack all of the supplies that had been brought from Australia. Firstly we simply opened everything up and set about sorting things out and putting them together. This saw the education room in the clinic covered with a variety things, from the medical equipment supplied by the DAK foundation through to crutches, clothing, books and school supplies sent from many generous people back in Australia.
Helen and David unpacked the oxygen concentrator.
While the Neale's set about putting together the crutches.
Which were greatly appreciated by Fred as he got out of bed for the first time.
The next step saw the Suubi medical team working their way through instruction manuals to correctly set up the vital signs monitor, oxygen concentrator, finger oximetres and the foetal heart monitors.
And after having checked out the ultra sound machine, they are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of Loretta and Justin, from Kyabram hospital, who will teach them basic skills.
Everyone here is absolutely thrilled to now have this type of equipment in the village. We feel very sure this will not only improve the treatment of patients, but will also help to attract many more people in the area to come to Suubi Clinic.
The Suubi medical team tried out the new vital signs monitor.
And the oxygen concentrator which had been donated by the DAK Foundation.
So as you can see it has been a busy time settling in. And with the final of the Sports Tournament coming up this weekend, there will be plenty to tell you in the next blog post too!
The Neale children have also written about arriving in Uganda for this post as below, and Sue and some of the other volunteers will do so in the coming weeks, so I hope you enjoy hearing about things from their perspective too.
Until next time,
HUGs from Helen.
From boarding the plane in Melbourne late Saturday night the journey to the Suubi Centre was quite lengthy. 15 hours flying from Melbourne to Doha, then a short stopover before 5 hours to Enttebe. With 11 checked in bags and boxes it was quite a task for the entire 11 items containing a printer, oxygen concentrator, medical supplies, and many other essential items for the Suubi Centre to reach Uganda.
At the arrival gates Helen and David greeted us with their smiles and hugs. We bundled into the car bound for Kampala Backpackers where we were to stay the night and then venture to Suubi the next morning. With our expected departure from Kampala being 9am, as the time passed, the memories and experiences of my previous time in Uganda were brought back, always adding 2 hours on when a local says a time they will meet you.
This being the case, we left not long after 11 for Suubi. The van was piled even more than when coming from the airport, but with a 'quick' stopover on the equator for lunch the next stop was Masaka town for food and supplies and then Suubi.
Since being in Suubi 3 years ago, the changes are very dramatic. 3 years ago all that stood was the training hall, but now the development of this place is beyond believable. Not only the physical changes of buildings, the people have also changed in the way they interact with Muzungu's.
After the long plane ride from Melbourne to Doha, and then to Entebe with a total of 22 hours in the air, we had finally arrived. We left the airport to find Helen and David. They helped us put all our 11 bags into the car and then we headed off to Kampala Backpackers where we would stay the night.
The drive from the airport, even though I was half asleep, was one of the strangest I've ever been on. Motorbikes and cars went wherever they pleased, with barely any notice of other cars. On the sides of roads were buildings which were painted with advertisements. After the squishy car ride, we finally made it to Kampala. We unloaded all the bags and checked into the Backpackers.
After staying there the night, we waited for Frank, Davids brother, to pick us up and take us to Suubi. He said he would be there at 9am but he didn't arrive until 11. We all piled in and set off for Suubi, we had to get food so we stopped at Masaka. With the car now overflowing with food and bags we still managed to fit in and we were back on the road again.
When we arrived at Suubi we were swamped with people, everyone came and greeted us as soon as we got out of the car. It's not at all like I imagined it, everything is completely different. The way everyone acts like you've known them for years and they are all so polite. So far I'm enjoying my time here and can't wait for what's to come.
It was months in the planning..... The Neales were coming to Uganda!
It was a long, and I mean long, plane trip - 20 hours. It is so different over in Australia then here in Uganda. Instead of sitting inside watching T.V. everybody is outside making things to do out of practically nothing. It's so different but in a good way. The little children are soooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute. I think I'm going to get my hair in corn rows soon.