Up early to attend prayers in the hospital church and to prepare for the day but the time slipped away only for me to find that I was too late to leave for prayers. Today we were taking the Interplast team out for the day and going to Soroti to visit some homes. We needed two vehicles and so we hired a taxi and, with Henry driving a car, we set off up the familiar road to Soroti where we picked Ruth up from her rented home in a centre called “Television”! Waiting for us was her 3-year-old son, Robinson, her niece, Elspeth, Emma and Ruth’s neighbour, Stella. Emma was a patient of Mr Viva’s who operated on his severe facial burns many years ago but who is now they are good friends. They greeted each other warmly and we heard that Emma is in the “could do better” category at school but he has been given a much more hopeful future than he would ever had if he hadn’t met Mr Viva. He is confident, speaks English very well and is a polite young man. Stella who we supplied with an artificial leg a few years ago had fallen and the toe on her remaining foot had been damaged and looking decidedly unhealthy. Mr Viva advised that she should attend Kumi Hospital for assessment and maybe a skin graft.
Starting in a nearby trading centre, we went behind the buildings to find the simple homes and a small market. Michelle had brought her husband’s trousers and a shirt for Sam, the cobbler, who we met last year. He is a post-polio case and was sitting with his wasted legs tucked beneath him and repairing a gum boot with the neatest of cross stitch to reattach the sole to the upper. He continues to wait for a tricycle but we have been waiting a good two years for delivery from Mbale. One of our girls waiting for an artificial leg once the materials arrive from India greeted us warmly. Then the team wandered off to visit the market where they saw the locals drinking their lethal mixture, ajon, through tubes and from a clay pot. No photos of this activity as the half-drunk locals would object strongly!
Then, along the narrow lanes, we met up with another Stella who would direct us to the homes of our families. On the way, we spotted a slow, green chameleon ambling up a tree, and, continuing till we reached a clearing, we found our three children. The first was a young girl of 8 years with multiple deformities. Our diagnoses differed from osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bones) to an unknown syndrome which had caused severe deformities of her limbs. She was of small stature and unable to stand but she was so bright and would be doing well at school. Our plan was to start off with bringing her to the hospital Nutrition Unit as she was undernourished, increase her calcium intake and be assessed for appropriate seating. Perhaps a bicycle for her mother to take her to school, a small wheelchair? This will be decided. (We have since discussed her case with Dennis in the X ray department who would like to look further into her condition.) A family of mentally impaired youngsters sat next to her. The youngest, a cerebral palsy boy, would need a wheelchair; his big brother will receive a mattress. We entered their mud hut to find a newly cow-dunged floor, a mosquito net, a clay water pot and nothing else but wasps swarming in the ragged thatch. The third child had suffered burns and she was given transport money to come to Kumi Hospital for Mr Viva’s team to operate on her contracted toes. Stella had planned to take us to see a child with a repaired cleft palate but the tracks became too narrow for the vehicles to enter and we had to admit defeat, turn round and visit the last home where we found aged 9 years and with hydrocephalus and spina bifida. He sat outside his hut looking far into space as though wondering what lay ahead for him and what is there for such as him? A wheelchair would help so yet another name to go on our list for the Wheels for the World team in February next year.
We made our way back to Soroti Town where our lunch (it was now well after 4 pm) was waiting for us at a new venture started by good friends of ours. The day was completed but most of the team wanted to go shopping as this would be there only opportunity to visit the shops. We returned home where we set to in order to keep our Excel accounting system up to date. Hours it took and Michele kept re-assuring us that, with practise, we would become more efficient. I must admit that a bottle of beer made things easier!