Tuesday, 28 September 2010

...last patient of the day

We figured it was time to update you on the progress of the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) programme which Alison has been helping to develop for the Touch Namuwongo community project based at IHK, particularly as some of you very kindly donated funds to get it up and running. The clinics are now well under way, with around 20-30 patients per clinic coming through for advice and testing for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and cervical cancer screening. The clinics are free of charge and are targetted at the members of the community that cannot afford to pay.
There has been a very high uptake which is likely only to get higher as more people learn about the service on offer. Alison has worked closely with the Ugandan medical staff who will continue to deliver the service and raise the profile and importance of sexual and reproductive health within the underpriveledged communities in Uganda once Alison has left.
Your generous donations helped to launch the service and the funding which allows its continued delivery is largely coming from Oxford University in the form of a research grant. The objective of the research project is to develop a risk tool to identify those members of the population most at risk of contracting STDs. This is being achieved by testing all patients currently presenting at the clinic for a range of STDs. Once developed, this tool will subsequently be validated and put to use in the local community and further afield.
We are currently working on raising funds to allow this much needed service to continue for the community once the research is over. As this service is also lacking in the private sector, Alison has helped develop a similar package for the hospital and we are in the process of developing a model which uses the profits generated from this private service to subsidise the service offered to the community. This model of using the infrastructure and resources provided by the private arm of the organisation to help the community, is at the heart of IMG and helps sustain many of our community projects. That said, this model can only provide a part of the solution to meeting the unending health needs of the community and as such we still rely on and are very grateful for any charitable donations through the Suubi Trust (http://blog.suubitrust.org.uk/)
Alison has really enjoyed the community work and has found it the most rewarding job she has ever done. The people with whom Alison works have continually impressed her with their willingess to learn and take on these new challenges and she has felt priveledged to be a part of such a dedicated team.
Inevitably, this line of work, although rewarding, can be emotionally draining, especially with the high number of HIV positive diagnoses and the high rate of non-consensual sexual encounters at such an early age. This could never have been more apparent than the other week as Alison's last patient of the day stepped through the door. Her sad story has really touched a nerve both personally and throughout the organisation. Appreciating that her story will not be appropriate for some of the younger followers of our blog we will not go into the detail here, but if those of a stronger disposition could spare the time to read more about her story and help in any way through the Suubi Trust (http://blog.suubitrust.org.uk/giving/) then please follow the link to Last Patient of the Day

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Mucking Out...!

Kampala is filthy! Almost everywhere you look there are piles of rubbish. The drains are clogged with plastic bags. You often get wafts of sewage whilst out and about. In the slum areas, which are located at the bottom of the hills near the swamps, this is magnified, as everyone's waste (including personal!) gets washed down by gravity towards them. There is no council-sponsored waste collection so it is down to the communities to keep their environment clean. From what we can see this does not always happen. In neighbouring Rwanda, the government has taken more drastic steps; plastic bags are completely banned and community clean-up days are organised every month to keep the waste levels to a minimum.
On Saturday, we helped organise a similar clean-up day in our local community in a deprived area called Namuwongo. VSO gives a small budget to the volunteers clustered in any given area to spend on a local project, which will in some way help improve the lot of the local community. It was a case of opportunity meeting need, as the Touch Namuwongo project in which Alison is involved has been looking to start a clean-up programme and we had some funds to buy the equipment needed. So we joined forces and purchased wheelbarrows, shovels, wellies, gloves, etc. The community were 'mobilised' to attend on Saturday morning and over 400 people turned up and duly collected their gloves and tools and set to work collecting the rubbish and digging out the ditches. Amy, Zoe and Bella joined in for the 'light cleaning' and seeing little white kids helping out swelled the numbers of locals further. Those with a keen eye may spot the girls wearing their Monkey Lou superhero t-shirts (donated by Laura Bramswell-thank you!) in a bid to save the planet
After a couple of hours of mucking out before the midday heat, everyone was rewarded with a specially commissioned t-shirt and a chapatti each. We then enjoyed some Ugandan dancing and speeches by the community leaders, before distributing some mosquito nets and delivering some health education and income generation training. It was also another good opportunity to sensitise the community to the sexual and reproductive health service that Alison has developed for them, although with numbers already at 20+ per day, there is some concern that the service may become quickly overwhelmed.
The day will hopefully now kickstart regular cleaning sessions around the different parts of Kampala and having cleared up some of the mess, people may think twice about dumping their rubbish in public.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Who needs Barbie...

...when you can make one of these!!?

Bella gets into the local crafts and seems quite pleased with her handiwork.

Seventies Revival!

Two of our good friends, Natalie and Sean, recently turned 30 and 40 respectively so they joined forces to make 70 and the obvious party choice was a 1970's theme! Through a combination of an extensive second hand clothing market, cheap tailors and an eye for bad taste, guests were able to cobble together some pretty impressive outfits. Not sure if you'll recognise a couple of familiar style gurus in these pics, but needless to say Alan took a while to prepare for the event with a rather fetching porn-star chopper moustache.
There were some luminous 70's cocktails and funky tunes to see us through to the small hours. Not sure Uganda in the 1970's was quite the same so there were a few bemused faces in the bar.
The girls are relieved that Alan has now removed the offending item from his top lip (although he's holding on to his sideburns for a bit longer!) and they have allowed a goodnight kiss again.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Reaching out to the community...

We recently attended one of the Outreach days run by the Touch Namuwongo project, which is part of the charitable community arm of the hospital where Alison works.
Members of the community can come along every other Saturday and get HIV tests and various medical advice for free through an extensive network of local volunteers. The outreaches are held within different disadvantaged communities around Kampala. It is a very impressive service and lots of people were taking advantage of the opportunity to improve their health and increase their medical awareness. Although they had their work cut out keeping all the children entertained as well...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

7th Heaven!

Zoe had some of her friends around to celebrate her 7th birthday. There was a treasure hunt in the garden, face painting and pizza making (the wine bottles pictured were used as rolling pins- honest!)

judging by the mess a good time was had by all...

...and then we got cleaned up in the bath...

Monday, 13 September 2010

Painting Kampala Red...

Our friend and fellow VSO volunteer Jan launched her career as artist in residence at our regular Friday eveing haunt, Fuego's. Jan is an art and design teacher back in the UK and runs a charity here in Kampala which sends disadvantaged children to school. She has also found the time to capture Uganda on canvass and we helped her set up her first exhibition, which was a resounding success. One of the sales of a picture called 'Butt Naked' was to Dorthe, pictured here with Jan.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Back to Skool...

All 3 girls are now back at school with Bella returning this week after Zoe and Amy returned last week. Bella was really excited about starting full-time, although the novelty may start to wear off!
8 weeks was a long holiday and Alan especially is looking forward to some 'me' time. We have plenty to be cracking on with as Alison starts her STI research project and Alan embarks on more building work at the Royal Pride Academy and some income generation projects. Only a couple of months left until we return to England- wow!