Friday, 23 October 2009

The Gruffalo's Child(ren)...

The girls were on half-term this week so after a trip to the cinema and a couple of trips to the ARA to go swimming, Alan took them along for his weekly session at the Railway School, where they were very keen to do some reading to the pupils themselves. We also made some flapjacks to hand out, which went down very well, although Amy had her hands full trying to ration them to one flapjack each! There was a cultural exchange of playground games and songs and both parties seemed to really enjoy themselves.
Thank you so much to those who have offered to collect books to send out to the school. We already have our first donation of books here, which arrived today with Alison's brother and niece. They will be joining Alan next week to start stocking up the library shelves.

Birthday Beer and Curry

Alan got to choose the destination for his birthday, so beer and curry it was. But he did have to wear a silly hat too.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Beaten at our own game...!

Alan turned out for VSO Uganda FC against the American volunteer version, Peace Corps, and to our shame we lost 5-1 having taken an early lead. Age went against us, but we were holding out until the heavens opened and our lack of appropriate studded footwear created several openings to the yanks who gratefully accepted them. The supporters were in fine fettle and not put off their drinks by the rain...

Monday, 19 October 2009

Charlie Dimmock eat your heart out...

The minature garden is coming along quite well with some help from little green fingers, although our gatekeeper was kind enough to point out that we had been lovingly cultivating a tub full of weeds, believing them to be some exotic chillies- Alan Titchmarsh I am not!
As well as the green fingers, Bella has been busy with her red, blue and green hands and feet...and plenty more of the arts and crafts now we are in half-term week.
Alan has his hands full with keeping the kids entertained. Alison's brother Jonathan and his daughter Lucy come out on Friday and we're off camping again with the hippos and hyenas.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Gruffalo hits Kampala...

Alan went for his second morning of teaching at the Railway Primary School today. The school largely serves the local slums and street kids and there are a large number of orphans. The children seem genuinely delighted to be at school and appreciate any input. Despite Alan's best efforts with reading them some of his favourites, it was too much for some to stay awake. But with school hours of 7-5 and school lunch probably the only meal of the day, who can blame them?!
Teaching here is still somewhat along Victorian lines with a lot of rote learning, not helped by class sizes of 100+. Last week the classes were significantly smaller as over half of the children had been sent home for not paying overdue school fees (£10 for the term to cover food and other essentials)
The school has a large library consisting mainly of empty shelves and so if you have any old childrens' books you are looking to put out, please keep them back, as we may be looking to have some sent out here. They would be so well received and the kids are really hungry to learn. It is a privilege to facilitate this in some way

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Back to Business

My feet barely touched the ground on our return from the clinic visits before the 2 day workshop for the doctors and clinical officers was upon us! Luckily, I had made sure that most of the preparations had been done before leaving on our trip, but the fine-tuning always seems to take longer than imagined, so the lead up to the workshop was fairly frenetic! We had a total of 19 participants and it all seemed to run smoothly with some good feedback at the end. All the delegates participated fully and worked really hard throughout the workshop. They engaged wholeheartedly in role plays, brainstorming sessions, small group work, and contributed actively to all of the sessions. One of the sessions I organised was on rational antibiotic prescribing, as this is highlighted as a general problem in Uganda, and so I had been looking at this a bit more closely as I visited the clinics. I was especially encouraged by the group’s active participation in this activity and the enthusiasm with which they suggested ways of improving their rational antibiotic use. We then broke up into smaller groups, and armed with appropriate evidence-based resources, each group was allocated a small disease category in which to work and come up with suggestions as to which antibiotic to use, at what dose, for how long and in which circumstances. We then discussed these choices as a larger group, and after some fine-tuning, we have collated the material into an IMC adult antibiotic guideline to help standardise antibiotic use across the clinics. As well as appreciating the opportunity to share ideas and best practice, all the participants commented on how much they also enjoyed making new friends, and not least of all, having fun together! The next workshop is scheduled for February although there is a request for them to be quarterly, so we will have to see what time allows. Especially since I am also hoping to get involved in setting up some womens’ health services for the local community where HIV and sexually transmitted diseases are rife and resources minimal, which could be a sizeable time commitment too! In addition to helping develop a robust evidence-based cervical smear programme at the hospital, which is also a worthy cause, given that the rates of cervical carcinoma in Uganda are very high. Oh, and with any remaining time, look into helping set up a Masters’ Degree course in Family Medicine at the university affiliated to the hospital! So in short, plenty to do!!!!
Alan is also busy getting involved in the local school where the ratio of pupils to teacher is 100+ to 1!!! Again, they are so grateful for any interest which makes it a very rewarding experience for all concerned. Reading books are a very scarce resource too so we may be issuing a plea for donations of books with which you have finished, so watch this space…!