Friday, April 19, 2019

Last Blog About Jinja

Last Blog About Jinja

April 19, 2019

Seattle. Washington


Well we have arrived home after three months in Jinja, Uganda.  We had a wonderful three months working with two very different organizations. One was Rays of Hope Hospice Jinja a palliative care program ministering to the sickest of the sick.  The other was St. Francis Health Care Services an organization providing health care, social services, youth program, a home for HIV positive children and maternity care along with health and immunization services to the infants and children of the area.

Both organizations serve the poorest of the poor in their homes and in the outpatient setting.  Rays of Hope sees patient in the very rural areas of Eastern Uganda.  They are people who have breast cancer, cervical cancer, tumors of all sorts as well as HIV.  Many of them have gotten to the last stages of life due to these illnesses. And if they had been diagnosed early could have survived. RHHJ provides end of life care keeping these patients as comfortable as possible.  They also advocate for care and intervention when they find someone who might benefit from that. Problems abound because patients, in most cases do not have finances to see help in the hospitals. We spent time in the field with some of the nursing staff and were touched by the caring attitude and knowledge of the staff.  They were always mindful of the patient and family needs and were ever caring individuals.

At RHHJ Hinda, worked on a data system which would go along with their medical records, unfortunately, this project is still ongoing when we had hoped it would be completed before we left.  Hinda also assisted staff with other small projects but mostly gave moral support and helped staff find their way.  Although she thought she was not doing a great deal, we have just learned that one of the nurses who was pregnant during our stay, delivered a baby girl and named her Hinda.  She told us that she felt loved and cared for while we were there and therefore wanted to always remember us and have her baby grow up with the tenderness and caring the Hinda showed to her. 

Peter helped RHHJ by taking lots of photos for them to use in their various publications and posters, as well as mentoring staff in photography.  He also helped the Executive Director with some grant writing skills. And provided expertise with their written and web materials, always providing a positive and encouraging sense of action for the staff.

St. Francis was a much larger organization with much larger issues.  Peter shared an office with Joseph, the Program Director, in line to become the Executive Director when the current Director retires. It was a thrill for Peter to work with Joseph, since we had met him in Uganda in 2004 when Peter mentored him.  Now the tables had turned and Joseph was the boss. Peter helped Joseph think through and develop action steps that needed to be implemented.  And they had a lot of fun together working and sharing.  It was a more informal mentoring.  Joseph was no longer a beginner, and Peter worked with him in a respectful manner.  They really got long well.  Peter was instrumental in providing access to a new type of Nutriflour for malnourished babies and adults living with HIV. Peter helped with redoing their web page, helping to choose a group to produce a documentary, assisted with renting a piece of property for the grandmother’s program to use for a craft store,  Finally, Peter took a lot of documentary photos for St. Francis which already are being used on their new web page and elsewhere. 

Hinda did an evaluation of the reception and triage area of the clinic making recommendations for changes in operation and design.  All recommendations were accepted and they are now in the process of making the changes.  She also worked with the Human Resources manager on a new HR Policy and Procedure Manual, which also is being adopted.  She also provided expertise and guidance in acquiring supplies that were needed but now stocked, for example oxygen masks in case the cannulas did not work and something called UBT’s which are used for women hemorrhaging after delivering their babies.

At the end of our stay St. Francis made a lovely dinner for us and gave us a book which many of the staff wrote in stating their feelings towards us and their appreciation for our help.  It was extremely touching and will be long remembered as a high spot of our stay.

We already miss the close relationships we developed, and from what we hear, they miss working with us also. 
And to our great delight, we had visits from our dear friends from Kampala:  Atyero Gertrude, Kyosiimye Esther, Eric Kamunvi, and PeterPaul Igu.  And from Kisumu, daughter "Sunday" Anne Otajah.
Glad to be home for a while (long while) and be with our kids, grandchildren, and friends.