Thursday 7 March 2019
8 am and we set off for Kakoro, an hour’s drive south, to a Health Clinic as we had an outreach clinic today – an eye clinic and ours for children with disabilities. Antony, the hospital physio, Ruth, CBR worker, Michael, eyes, with Landheer, our driver, and I set to on what turned out to be an intense clinic which was mostly fruitful but also despairing and, at times, filled my eyes with tears.
One by one, the mothers, grandmothers or fathers sat with their children in front of us and we were to provide them with some form of assistance but we cannot perform miracles and we can only do our best. Knock knees, bow legs, cleft lips, hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, Downe’s Syndrome, club feet, osteomyelitis; the list is always the same but each child is an individual and each parent looks at you with such hope. We write out simple referral slips and we hope that they will somehow find the funds to pay the hospital bills. I thank God for our fund as we can decide which families would be unable to bring their child to the hospital due to lack of finances. We can pay for surgeries, wheelchairs, bicycles, tricycles, seating equipment, many things that will improve their lives. The wheelchairs would allow the hydrocephalus children to be wheeled to school as they are so often intelligent and in need of socialising, an activity not available when stuck at home. One such child was Charity who could use a pencil and was obviously a bright child and, with the chair, she could achieve great results given the chance. Another, Mwamino with knock knees, was another child who walked far with a pole to school every day and so we would provide him with a bicycle and his elder brother would cycle with him on the back each day. One by one, they left hopefully well satisfied and, counting up, we had issued six wheelchairs, two bicycles, a tricycle, three cerebral palsy chairs and funded four surgeries.
No time to stop and then the adults arrived with mainly amputations or paraplegia (as a result of polio or trauma). Word must have gone around as there has never been a clinic quite like this one. One by one, the paraplegics crawled to our desk in the hope of a tricycle. Two rather large ladies failed the test of lifting themselves up into a chair and so left thoroughly despondent and somewhat disgruntled but with their names on the ever-lengthening wheelchair list for Wheels for the World in February 2020.
Seeing the never-shortening queue, I decided we had to take action. We could not provide help for everyone and, having committed myself to over 9 million shillings already today, we had to explain that we could not keep our promise that everyone will be seen. There was one lady who could not be ignored as her daughter, a large lady probably in her 50’s or 60’s, was carrying over her shoulder, her even larger mother who had had a severe stroke and an above knee amputation. I cannot justify paying for a wheelchair for her as I do my best to limit these for the children and so we put her name on the February list. There may be a possibility that the team will find a spare large chair for this poor soul.
We must now buy ten wheelchairs from Kampala, check with the engineering works in Mbale that the ten tricycles on order are hopefully ready and buy two bicycles. We will take the wheelchairs to the Health Clinic before I leave if possible and we can consider the day to have been very worthwhile.