Highs and lows
on Mangos, Monkeys and Maggie (Uganda), 25/Jun/2009 06:51, 34 days ago
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By Tuesday it is difficult to remember what happened in the last week. Time is going quickly now as October approaches. We keep thinking of the things we are looking forward to and also thinking about the people and things we will miss about Masindi.Work has been the usual mix of highs and lows. The grandmother of Vincent the little boy with dislocated knees came to see me this week to show me a picture of him walking normally. She also brought some prize mangoes which were delicious. I also saw Joel a boy with Burkitts lymphoma who has done really well thanks to the Hope Ward, the charity ward at IHK Kampala. He had the biggest tumour I have ever felt but it has disappeared with chemotherapy. Not so lucky are the two patients on the ward with advanced cancer. Their cancers are inoperable and we have not even got simple drugs to relieve their distress. I have failed to get the medical superintendent to order any morphine. There is a great fear of opiates here and little understanding of their role. It has been one of the frustrations working here that I have failed to develop a palliative care service. There is one in Hoima but that is too far away for most patients. Another patient that did not do well is a young women admitted unconscious with gas gangrene of the leg. It was a horrible site and one I will never forget. She would have needed a major amputation to save her life and it was not an option here.On each ward round there are new things to see and new things to learn. Unfortunately it is rarely that you can do the investigations you would like or give the treatment that is needed. One of the things I have learnt is to be flexible and often the next best thing does still work. The human body has amazing recuperative powers.ChrisOn a more cheerful note I had a great day on Saturday at the Family Spirit School and Orphanage helping some of the older girls with sewing. Naturally there are some children who are coming to the end of their education and the staff are trying to find ways to give them some vocational training in the hope that they can make a living and a new life for themselves. Tailoring is a very popular occupation here. Many people have their clothes and their children’s school uniforms made locally. Just about every street in Masindi has its share of tailors and tailoresses sitting outside with their Singer treadle machines - I think they’re made in either India or China for the african market. I’m always amazed at the beautiful clothes produced given the facilities; there is no workshop space, just the surface around the machine, and there’s always lots of toddlers and customers milling around. Customers just stand in the street to be measured!There’s little diversity when it comes to training; basically it’s tailoring or carpentry, possibly brick-making. The most popular employment for boys and young men seems to be running a boda-boda bicycle or motorbike. There’s always large groups of them standing on street corners. I’m not sure there is the demand for so many!A couple of photos of our sewing class:Another event this week was the African Day of the Child.This was essentially an event where hundreds of selected school children (possibly the ones with a decent uniform!) marched around the common all morning in the scorching heat in front of dignitaries (sitting in the shade) and then in the afternoon the said dignitaries gave lots of speeches.At least it was all very colourful - see photos!My day at the library was quite challenging as Ritah couldn’t be there. The younger ones are not so proficient in English (or perhaps it’s my accent they can’t understand!) so I read stories with a book in one hand and the swahili dictionary in the other! It was encouraging that a few of the older ones came in during their free time to look at reference books. Thankfully the teacher accompanied the class of 140 children who came in the afternoon!Maggie