Our first Kumi visit as Kumi Community Foundation, Registered Charity 1184935, commences on Tuesday when Michele, Lynne and I board the KLM plane to Schipol and then on to Entebbe. It doesn’t seem five minutes since I returned in April as the year has flown by so fast.
This time, it is going to be busy with many visitors coming at the same time. Will we have a rest on arrival? I think not as our first day will be spent unpacking our combined 174 kg of luggage, attending Morning Assembly at the hospital and visiting the various departments followed by hopping on the back of a boda boda into town to check on the accommodation for the Interplast UK team. I doubt I need to explain yet again what a boda boda is but, just in case, it is a motorcycle which you take as we do a bus here and, if you are car-less, the only way to get into town other than walking 9 km! Best to ride side saddle as is their culture for the ladies.
Friday is Adesso Sports and Girl Guide Day and Interplast will arrive late. Saturday, they will start screening the potential patients and probably start surgery on Sunday. After this we shall plan our month’s programme in Kumi. Two young Ugandan doctors will join the team, Professor Luboga will be staying with the medical team for a couple of nights and a Dutch friend, Ellen with her friend, May, will be staying with us for two weeks. Twenty physiotherapy students from Makerere University in Kampala will be on placement so we will have to juggle our arrangements.
One of my tasks is to meet up with Margaret and Lawrance, my two dear leprosy friends who live in a shack in the hospital. In the summer, we came across St Mary Magdalen Chapel, “a mediaeval hospital and leper chapel, The Hospital of St. Mary Magdalen is said to have been founded by Thurstan, who was Archbishop of York from 1114 to 1140. However, the earliest document mentioning the Hospital dates from 1228. We met a lady there who was interested in the history of Kumi Hospital and who told us there was a fund and we would receive a contribution for our friends. A cheque for £75.00 duly arrived and now I have the dilemma of what to do with it as it is intended for the old couple. There is no way we give them this much as they wouldn’t be able to imagine such a vast amount: 350,214 UGX! A bar of soap, a kilo of sugar, a bag of charcoal would be ample to make them very, very happy! They have little and need little so they have no expectations of having more. This concept of life is so different from ours where the people want more and more and even more again. We shall find a way to make sure they benefit as it is easier to make decisions when there rather than sitting cogitating in the comfort of my home. The leprosy sufferers who lived in the hospital have either died or have been integrated back into their community but Margaret and Lawrance had nowhere to go. They are old, Lawrance is totally blind, has no fingers or toes which is caused by the disease and Margaret manages to look after him to the best of her ability.
I shall endeavour to keep up with my daily diary starting on Wednesday but I don’t make any promises.