Visiting the Kilembe Mines Hospital – My First Field Visit in Uganda

As a new ’13-’14 fellow with GHC, I arrived in Kasese, Western Uganda just about a month ago. Along with 3 other fellows, I work at Action for Community Development (ACODEV), an NGO focused on HIV/AIDS, human rights, and reproductive/child health. At ACODEV, the philosophy is simple: we believe in power, ingenuity, and the potential of people to pioneer solutions to transform their community. During our first week of work, I was touched by our first visit to the community.

In May of this year, Kasese experienced intense flooding of the Nyamwamba river that devastated certain parts of the district just a few miles away from where I live. As the worst flooding in the area since 1976, at least 20,000 people were displaced and several were killed. In response, ACODEV and my predecessor fellows organized relief efforts. In one of the affected areas is the Kilembe Mines Hospital that is struggling to continue their services while also rebuilding infrastructure. During our orientation week in Kasese, we traveled there to deliver donations to the staff.

Though the hospital was not built on the river bed, the flooding redirected the water which cleared out parts of the facility and forced staff to discharge patients due to flooding in the wards. In the photos, you can see the damage that was done mainly to the housing quarters for the hospital staff. Working with other GHC partners such as the Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) and USAID, ACODEV and the GHC community collected funds and procured items that were identified through a needs assessment completed working very closely with the hospital staff. To name a few, the donations were used to purchase an oxygen concentrator machine, scrubs, boots for the surgical theater, linens, and blankets. Additional clothing and household items were donated for the staff as well.

The nun that accepted the items on the hospital’s behalf described a meeting they had held just the day before. In it, they were completing typical budgeting exercises, but, had finished by wondering where they may ever find the resources to cover the expenses they so desperately needed to support their community recovering from these floods. Though not all that they need, these items helped to fill at least part of that existing gap.

As essentially my second day on the job, I felt fortunate to be a part of this moment, if even only as little more than an observer. It was powerful to see what an impact a simple, thoughtfully-planned effort could generate and I was inspired by my placement organization. I felt surrounded by a remarkable atmosphere of community.