Saturday, January 28, 2012

Uganda. Our first week in Gombe

Monday, 20 patients 

Tuesday, 25 patients

Wednesday, 26 patients           

Thursday, 25 patients

Friday, 15 patients


Our first week at work in Uganda and we are in Gombe, a small rural village about 2 hours west of Kampala, 45 minutes of the journey on a bumpy dirt road.  It is small community, with a hospital, but with only intermittent power and untreated water from the well.  It is a one road, agricultural community (banana and ginger) that appears to be out in the middle of nowhere.  PINCC was found by it's incredible administrator, Dr. Lule Haruna, a very savvy man who is finding any way he can to fulfill the needs in his community.


We are staying with Janet, a retired social worker who lives in both Gombe and Kampala.  She is around 60 years of age and has been married to her husband for 40 years.  She has five children, the last of which just graduated from college.  She is an open, loving woman who has been a champion for women's rights all of her life.  During Idi Amin's reign, she and her family were refugees in Kenya but upon their return, they were able to repossess their banana plantation and she lives here now, part time, and employees several people to work it.  A week of bucket baths and power when it came on, possibly twice the entire week for only a few hours at best, breakfast by candlelight, incredible sunrises and sunsets, evening spent sitting on the steps of the veranda, living with Janet, her best friend and sister-in-law Mary, and Hope has been a joy.  Our days were filled.  In the week we were in Gombe, the doctors saw 111 patients, performed 22 Pap smears, eleven biopsies and five cervical cancers were diagnosed. 


We worked with eight trainees, all but one of who had been trained on one of the two previous visits PINCC has made to this community.  All of the trainee's skills were sharp and efficient, and Melissa concluded that they have all completed their classroom training, including Josephine, the one trainee who had not yet met with PINCC.   We were able to set up the cyrotherapy lab and the trainees were able to practice; we were able to start the community outreach education program and we began working with the community health educators for the district of Gombe; we successfully facilitated a training for trainers workshop on women's health; we were very busy, and we had a wonderful time. 


As for Arlayne and I, we followed our job descriptions and got it done!  We inputted our findings in the computer, having to charge the computer batteries off of the jenny the hospital has for the OR, cleaned speculums, facilitated patient registration and made sure every patient was interviewed, kept record of every woman's name and contact who stated they had been in an abusive relationship for the community social worker to contact later, made sure the treatment rooms were stocked and ready to go, and got the things for the medical staff asked for.  And I?  I saw my first cervix, a prolapsed uterus, am fairly confident I can now perform a successful VIA on a cervix for cancer, although I have yet to do one, performed two HIV tests, two pregnancy tests, trained women waiting to be seen by the doctors on women's health, and began the facilitation of the Training of Trainers Workshop.  It was a full week, and one where I for one learned more that I ever thought I would.  It has been amazing. 


The team is fantastic and we are working as though we have done so for years.  The three clinicians are such good teachers that the trainees are learning anything and everything they want to.  Arlayne keeps us all laughing and Carol makes sure everything is where it is supposed to be.  Everyone has commented as to how well it is going and we are all thankful.  Again, it is a privilege to be on this team.


We are in Jinja now, our one day off (kind of, I am doing the blog…) awaiting Mike, our Kenyan driver to arrive so that we may be on our way to Kenya.  A successful week complete; our next week before us.  On to Kenya…


Amelia T. Hambrecht

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