I’m AnnieWarren. A junior doctor from the UK.
I heard about Kagando hospital through a very close friend Maia.
After a year or so planning the trip, myself, my husband and Maia had dreamt up a plan to come to Kagando for 4 months.
I left the UK for Uganda feeling very nervous indeed: what on earth was I letting myself in for. The hope of experiencing something totally different to work the NHS was certainly about to hit home in a huge way. I was anxious that I would fit in and be accepted by the doctors and nurses; I was worried for the responsibility I might have to take in a resource poor setting; what would I be able to give to the Kagando community that ultimately gave me so much.
Kagando gets into your heart and your head that is certain. I discovered things I did not expect to: about me, about our marriage, about my friendships, about my faith. I was challenged also – attitudes to health care, patient’s rights, the attitude to dying and death were all new to me. There’s a huge range of emotion involved: frustration, fear, joy, hope, anger, peace. Be prepared to feel it, and in the same breath – not feel it: ward rounds go on, the daily routine continues, weeks roll by and before you know it 4 months has passed. Returning home was in some ways the first time I felt I could stop to consider the place we’d just been, the people we’d come to know and love, the lessons learnt, the patients we’d met.
Leaving Kagando brings with it a longing and a hope to return, it’s a place to be honest, be vulnerable, to give what you can – encouragement, teaching, friendship and prepare to be immensely blessed in return.
During her time at Kagando Annie was drawn to write some short stories and poems, which we are delighted to share with you here…
The call to retreat came like a tide,
A blessed relief,
Away and a way
From all the ones I have lost.
Longing to fall back,
Be home and be washed.
A stranger called me, held me there,
In his eyes an irresistible mystery.
Stay with me a while.
We walked along the shore of that battle,
Counting up the loss.
This is not yours alone He said.
You are at the foot of my cross.
Masika Jovet was three months old when her heart failed and stopped,
Her bright eyes dulled
Her lips blued
Her mother screamed and fled
There under the tree in the Ugandan sun the others cried ‘she is dead.’
I’ve been a doctor for thirty-one months,
My heart, did it fail too?
My eyes were dry
My lips did not move
The ward round had to be done
There under the tree in the Ugandan sun I made my resolve to go on.
That’s thirty thousand shillings Mama for your grief,
Paid in cash
Home with your loss
Swaddled in blankets under that tree in the Sun
The one month fight that was lost.
Grace was 1 and a half when she was brought to Kagando by Mary, a lady who took Grace into her care when Grace’s mother abandoned her. We believe Grace’s mothers marriage to have broken down and her father to be an alcoholic.
When Grace first arrived she was very sick with malnutrition and septicaemia (generalised infection.) Mary thought Grace would never make a good recovery and her own family were not pleased at Mary’s decision to care for Grace. They saw only a sick child who brought no hope to the family. For this reason Mary asked if Grace could go to an orphanage.
Our social worker Ruth spent time talking with Mary and as she encouraged and supported Mary and as Grace recovered Mary decided to take Grace home as her own daughter.
Grace had arrived looking totally miserable, she hit out at Mary and at nurses and doctors, she would not make eye contact. Her skin was broken and covered in sores. After several weeks of treatment Grace made an amazing recovery. She was smiling and high-fiving!
Mary was able to afford the hospital fee with additional support from the compassionate bag and Grace was accepted by her new family.
Jovet was 12 years old when she came to Kagando. She had contracted meningitis. (A serious infection of the brain.) When Jovet arrived she was walking, talking and behaving like many of the other 12 years olds we’ve treated on the ward. Very sadly Jovet’s condition deteriorated and she became unconscious as a result of serious brain damage from the meningitis. She was deeply asleep and unable to move, feed herself or communicate. For two months Jovet was cared for on the intensive care unit as we waited to see if she would respond to treatment. Her family were by her side day and night. With support from the ITU nurses and students they learnt to feed her using a feeding tube, they turned her, washed her, learnt to give her medications to control epileptic seizures that resulted from the meningitis. The prayers for Jovet and her family came in abundance from many members of Kagando. Jovet’s mother, despite poor eye sight and abandonment from her husband persisted with such strength and courage.
As time went on and Jovet’s condition did not improve we concluded that permanent and irreversible damage had been done by the meningitis. A meeting was held with Jovet’s family, myself and Siriphas (the palliative care expert). We arrived at a decision that it was in Jovet’s best interests to get her home. Her family were confident they could meet her care needs with support from the palliative care outreach service. They had reached an understanding that Jovet was unlikely to recover and was likely to pass away in the following months. Siriphas did an incredible job of explaining the medical facts as well as praying for God’s healing touch.
Jovet’s family could afford the hospital bill at the set rate of USH 3000 thanks to The Friends of Kagando C100 project. The social, emotional and spiritual burden of caring for their dying child was thankfully not further increased by a financial one. Jovet’s mother was able to take her daughter home and continue caring for her.