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June 12, 2007

Introduction

ell,So its the end of my third day here, and I feel like I am starting to get a feel for things. Not really Kampala to be honest as I havent really ventured very far! But for the way that the organisation runs and some of the problems that there are. This really isnt like a mad gap year experience and its strange being treated like an adult when I still feel very young (and massively inexperienced for what I am trying to do). I do however feel like I have learnt lots in a very short amount of time. I came with a very basic medical knowledge and idea of the most common illnesses, and whilst most of what I thought was correct there are far more variations than Id anticipated. I think that the only problem with working within one organisation is that I have a very biased few of the problems and how things work. By this I mean that the HAU is well organised and benefits from a large volunteer base, at least at present it does. I really want to get to see some other organisations so that I can be a little more comparative!

What has shocked me most is how happy the children seem to be. I spent yesterday in the children's section of the hospital (the one shown on 'the last king of scotland') I was supposed to be observing, which I did, and it was really interesting to see how they treated all the patients and the distances that people would travel to access this service. The HAU attracts people from across Uganda and Africa as they offer free chemotherapy (which would normally cost £240) for children. This is injected as a course of 6 once every two weeks so the families of the children who come here have to stay for 12 weeks if they want their child to complete the course. The main problem with this is that the first treatment is so effective that the parents think that their child is 'cured' and they take them home, only for the symptoms to return. I don't know how many people have seen the huge swellings from lymphomas, but these are the tumor looking things that you see in asia sometimes. They can grow anywhere and cause problems as they stop children eating or squash their organs internally. The treatment can reduce the swelling to nothing in most cases which is why the parents take them home, the problem is that this just reoccurs and the HAU can only pay for one course of treatment. These swellings are pretty shocking to look at, there is a young girl who has one so large in her mouth that she cant close it and there is another girl who looks pregnant due to the size of the swelling in her stomach. And despite all of this most of the children are happy to play and to talk and seem to accept their illness with little complaint. I helped (this means that I played with the children) at the day care centre today at the HAU. This is something that they organise once a week for the children in Kampala to give them a bit of fun and relief. Most of the children here have either cancer or are HIV positive. There were only about 7 children there today, not all of whom spoke English, but the power of football, basketball, climbing and painting won though. I really enjoyed it and felt a little guilty about how much fun I was having with them. Its easy to forget that these kids are sick when they are laughing and running around, it was only the little boy who had an eye missing who showed a sign of his illness. These kids are really in respect that they get a free meal and there are plenty of resources as Caroline (who I am living with) has organised loads of things to have been shipped from home (donated by friends and family) but these wont last long...


May 2022

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