Monday, 24 June 2013

Monday 24th June. Day 1. Arrived!

So we're here!  It's been a whirlwind of experience so far.  The plane took off from Heathrow at 9.30pm Sunday evening, shortly after which  Vikram Devaraj was already saving a life on the plane after a call from the pilot for a doctor!  After little / no sleep, we arrived at Entebbe airport at 7.30am, and were met by Andrew Hodges.  We came with 12 suitcases and 8 items of hand luggage - we just about managed to squeeze it all into his car (plus ourselves).  We were all extremely surprised to see it was raining - not just raining either - chucking it down!  Must have brought it with us.

Andrew drove us straight to CoRSU hospital, where we were given an extremely warm welcome from all the staff.  We met Malcolm Simpson (the CEO of CoRSU), who seems incredibly motivated to make great changes there to enable even more patients to be treated.
We were then shown around the hospital.  My first impressions were that it is larger than I thought it would be, in beautiful grounds.  The rooms are spacious, and all the staff that I met seemed well motivated and all so friendly and welcoming.
I personally spent a lot of time with Christine Tusiime, head of physiotherapy and occupational therapy (OT) at CoRSU.  It was so lovely to see her again - she came out to spend time at the RD&E for 3 weeks in August 2005, and stayed with us.  I did some teaching on hand therapy to all the physio and OT team, which I think went well.

Then we opened the suitcase of goodies - new splinting equipment personally donated by David Burdon and myself, along with loads of splints from reps that had not been used, and some second hand splints which could not be re-used at the RD&E.  I think they were happy!

After teaching, I was almost immediately put to use to make a splint!  It was a very different experience from making a splint at the RD&E, where all the equipment is set up to use so easily.  Lots of improvisation was needed.


Lunch was provided by the hospital - it is all cooked over a log stove in huge pots for all the patients and staff.  We had rice, peas and matoke (a kind of plantain / banana) - it was really good, and I went back for more!  More splinting was required after lunch on a small child with cerebral palsy.  As there was no sewing machine in the therapy department, we tried to adjust a fabric splint in the workshop with an amazingly patient man called George on the sewing machine!  Poor chap - he had to make around 5 different adjustments for us, never complaining once.  I could not have used his machine - it had some sort of device for making it 'go' which he used his foot for (not a normal pedal)!

So that pretty much made up my first day at CoRSU.

Meanwhile, Vikram Devaraj, Woan-Yi Chan and medical student Alex Devaraj were seeing a huge amount of patients in clinic with George Galliwango (Ugandan plastic and reconstructive surgeon), Darius and Martin (who are training to be plastic and reconstructive surgeons).  Malcolm Simpson (CEO at CoRSU) had advertised that specialist hand and reconstructive surgeons were coming from England with Interface Uganda, and many people had turned up with all sorts of complex conditions, some of which could be helped, and others which sadly they may not be able to help.

Karen and Bex Devaraj were busy taking photos, speaking to staff and generally finding out what Interface can do to help in the future.

We left the hospital at around 5pm, and went back to Hodges' house, where we are staying.  What amazing hosts!  We have a room each, some with a bathroom!  We are being extremely well fed with delicious food, and watered with passion juice, wine and beer!

Altogether an extremely productive and incredibly tiring day!

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