Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day Five! Operating Day! Rotary International VTT 2014 - Kampala, Uganda

{This is a series in posts about our trip to Uganda for the Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team. To start at the beginning, go to this post. I am running about a day behind on my posts. Check out the team blog at rileyinternationalheartmissions.wordpress.com. If you visit the team blog, please leave a comment! The team loves to hear your encouraging words!}

Can I just say how nice everyone is in Uganda? The friendliest people I have ever encountered on my travels! Hugs and handshakes and always a smile! I just had to mention that because it is so encouraging and pleasant. Everywhere we go and everyone we see!

Today was the first operating day. We started early and left the hotel at 7AM with a goal of the first patient’s incision at 9.

Patience is their first patient and is 6 years old from Gulu. This is in Northern Uganda and a war torn region. We have heard from several people here that they are so happy that we selected a child from that area. She was already back in the prep room when we got there and was very scared. She does not speak English which has to be harder. Patience's dad, Tony, looks on...

Sheila carried her back to the OR around 8AM which was great timing and right on track for their goal. (I have a video of this too but will have to wait for a better signal!)

Steph and I changed into scrubs (my first time!) and hats. These are the scrub hats we ordered and had screen printed with both Rotary’s logo and Gift of Life International. They look great and everyone loves them!

Then, it was into the ER we went. What an experience! I still had my camera in reverse mode so I decided to snap a picture anyway.

They made the first incision at 9:10AM! This is a great improvement over previous trips. Here are a few photos of the procedure. I watched a lot from the monitor and really was just amazed. I asked about a million questions and could have asked a million more I think.

Dr. Turrentine observing... 

Look at their team! 

The UHI scrub nurses preparing...

The Riley scrub nurses observing...

This is the monitor by which I watched the surgeries. 

I have mentioned before that this is the 5th trip for the Riley team. Obviously, I was not here on the previous trips, but by reading the blog and just hearsay, it is clear that things have come a long way. There were times where only UHI doctors and nurses were scrubbed in! This is a training mission so this is a big deal. In fact, Dr. Turrentine, the Riley surgeon, did not scrub in AT ALL on this first case! This is only the second time in the 5 years this has happened. Major progress!

This is a photo out the window in the hallway of the hospital. The OR, ICU and ward (where the kids and parents stay before and after surgery – more about that later) are all located in a square. The new operating room is in the two-story building and the old part of the hospital is the building on the right.

Sheila made Build-A-Bears for all the kids! How cute!

Rob, with Gift of Life International, arrived on the scene with Grace.

I did a lot of back and forth and a lot of watching. Patience came back to the ICU. Everyone seemed very pleased with how well everything went! And, her parents seemed so relieved to see her. After a little while, she was introduced to her bag of goodies brought all the way from Indiana!

Meanwhile, I ran back to the hotel for a computer donated to a nurse, Harriet. Harriet is a nurse at an HIV clinic that she travels almost two hours to every Monday and stays through Friday every week. Her six year old daughter, Esther, came along and fast became my friend. She grabbed my hand in the parking lot and snuggled into my arm. She didn’t let go until we got back to the car. So sweet!

I went down with Rania to get Barbra for her operation. Barbra was so ready! Her big smile said it all! Barbra’s mom was not so excited though. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to send my kids back with strangers for such a big operations.

I also went with Steph to screen Frederick for tomorrow’s surgery. He’s a shy one but very cute. And, his parents were all smiles. These moms and dads are all so grateful for this opportunity for surgery here. Surgery can cost between $5,000 and $10,000 here and is just unattainable for some without sponsorship. According to Grace, there are likely over 1000 kids on the list waiting for surgery who cannot afford it. The government is working toward funding but currently, there is not much of a system for it. Heartbreaking. 

Steph and I were aware of a Rotary meeting on Monday evening, and at the last minute, (which with traffic is actually an hour in advance for a meeting 2 miles away!) we realized we didn’t have a ride. Just when I was looking up how to walk there, I looked up and saw a man at the nurses’ station in a suit with what looked like a Rotary pin. Steph tracked him down and he was a member of the Kampala-North club checking on the kids! Rotarian Sam was so kind and drove us to the meeting and back to the hotel afterward. And, I’m so glad that he did. What looked like a straight road trip was definitely not as easy as it looked!

Here I am riding with Rotarian Sam...

This was a special meeting in which the Monday clubs in the area (6!) got together for fellowship. The meetings here are so much more formal than we’re used to but very lively just like ours! They celebrate birthdays with a big cake cutting ceremony. We estimated between 150 and 200 Rotarians in one room! And, I met more of the people who I had emailed – this time President Jane of Kampala-North. So glad we were able to do that. Rotarian Sam said that usually, they hang out until 10 or 11PM on those nights! Steph and I headed back to the hotel around 7:30 though so we could meet the team coming back.

Our knight in a shining Rotary pin. Wear your pins people! (Man, I look tired in this picture!) 

The six Kampala Monday Club Presidents...

After a late dinner and some blogging, I was just about beat and fell right to sleep around 11. Big plans for exercising tomorrow morning! J

Monday, September 29, 2014

Day Four! Tourist Day! Rotary International VTT 2014 - Kampala, Uganda

{This is a series in posts about our trip to Uganda for the Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team. To start at the beginning, go to this post. Check out the team blog at rileyinternationalheartmissions.wordpress.com. If you visit the team blog, please leave a comment! The team loves to hear your encouraging words!}

Today was a tourist day! The Rotarians of Kampala-North planned a fun tour for the team. Nigel and his wife, along with Club Member Charlie, picked us up at the hotel at 9AM. Then, along the way, we picked up Oskar and his daughters, along with Harriet. Oskar and Harriet have been instrumental in organizing this Global Grant. I just love that I’ve been able to meet them and spend some time together after sending so many emails.

Oskar played tour guide for us as we left Kampala on the way to Jinja.

We turned onto Jinja Road which is considered the gateway out of Uganda. If you follow the road, it will eventually take you to Kenya. Along the way, we were able to get a feel for urban life. All along the road were stands of people selling everything from meat to furniture to lumber to metal gates to vegetables to shoes and more. Occasionally, you would see people with corn or coffee out drying in the sun. After getting a ways out of the city, we saw fields of sugar cane and tea. There were two or three actual markets selling hot food and the buses along the way would pull over and the workers would lift up food and drinks to the riders. It was one of the funnier sights but no picture.

I can’t even begin to describe it to you but here are a few photos of a back road on our way home. Others took pictures along the way as well and I took a video too but don’t have enough of a wi-fi signal to load it. It is so different than the US that I can’t put it into words.

The soil of Uganda is so red! It turns everything that color - even the vegetation! 

Oskar told us about the industrial areas and the effort to bring in business. We saw bottling companies and drug companies and others as well. Coffee is the largest export along with cotton. Apparently, there is a great book to read, “Good African Coffee.” He also pointed out the hospital outside of Kampala where the doctor not only sees patients but also drives the ambulance among other things. He said turnover is high. J

I was also able to get pictures of some new construction. The sticks and poles that are used are quite amazing. It gives a new meaning to “stick-built.” I’ll try to get some better photos.

We crossed over the Nile River and the dam. Apparently, in years past, security has been MUCH tighter with armed guards checking under vehicles with mirrors. This dam generates ALL of Uganda’s electricity so it is extremely important it does not get attacked.

We entered Jinja and then made our way toward the water. First, we stopped to see some monkeys.

Then we parked the car and found this Rotary sign.

Down to the river we went with our great tour guide Kenny. Kenny told us about the river and Lake Victoria along with pointing out tons of different birds on our boat ride!

There is a monument that was constructed at the point where the first white person saw the source of the Nile. Apparently, there used to be a plaque that said he was actually “discovered” the source of the Nile. The current President declared that the native people were the ones who discovered it! Very true!

Uganda’s national bird – a type of stork. I can’t tell you how huge these things are! See the bird on the right? That's smaller than our duck. 

These are a bunch of other pictures. This is a fishing area and apparently the lake/river have Nile perch that have been up to 550 pounds! What?! And, Kenny told us that fisherman’s wives are the fish sellers. I guess Tom would have to find a different wife! J

Drive Up Restrooms. I passed.

The blue sign marks “the source” of the Nile. The little huts actually are little shops that you have to walk through to get to the point of the source. Industrious! The team said that the last time they were here, the water level was much lower and you could just walk out to the spot. You can see here how close the water is to the shops (we were standing in them).

So, the “source” is apparently at the spot you see the little ripples. This is where Lake Victoria exits and where it is mixed with additional spring waters. The Nile is actually 30% spring water and 70% from Lake Victoria and it takes about 3 months to get to its final destination at the Mediterranean Sea. It is the only major river to flow north.

This is Harriet, a Kampala-North Rotarian, and Steph.

And some fishing boat photos.

And, then another monkey! One of the team members played with it and fed it which we all thought was crazy!!!! But, she survived. J

After the boat rides, we went to the Jinja Sailing Club for lunch. What a beautiful spot right on Lake Victoria! I had the grilled tilapia and it was delicious! I opted out of the full fish version though and just went with the filet.

I loved the “Mocktails.” How American!

A group photo was taken but I don’t have it yet. Here is a photo of the table!

A fun time was had by all but apparently we all missed the wifi. We all hit our phones as soon as we hit the lobby.

Dinner was at the mall next door at an Indian restaurant. You know what they say… When in Uganda, always eat Indian food. J It was actually really good even though I went a bit overboard on the spice!

This was a great day of building goodwill and better friendships with the Kampala-North Rotarians. So thankful for the chance to be together!

To the hospital tomorrow for the first operations!