Report on a visit to Busamaga by SHAPE committee members Julie Garnham and Shân South
The aims of the visit:
- To ensure the completion of the Health Centre 2, its commissioning and formal handover to the Busamaga community. Fundraising throughout 2014 and 2015 had secured the £16,000 needed to build the Health Centre. Construction had been supervised by Charlie Smith, a builder from Gloucestershire, who specialises in building projects and charitable work in Africa. The local community in Busamaga had donated the land for the Health Centre and provided both volunteer skilled and non-skilled labour.
- To undertake an audit of the use and efficacy of the 2300 mosquito nets distributed and supplied by SHAPE in 2010 and 2012; and in addition, to assess the status in the Busamaga area of the nationwide programme of mosquito net distribution by the Ugandan government in 2014.
Travel and accommodation in Busamaga
On Thursday 3rd December 2015,we travelled to Uganda on Friday 4th December and were met in Entebbe by Catherine and transported to
Kampala by our driver Lawrence to overnight accommodation in All Saints Cathedral Guest House. At 7.30am the following morning on Saturday 5th December 2015 we were joined by Isaac Mafabi who was to travel with us to Busamaga and accompany us throughout our stay.
After fuelling the vehicle, exchanging money and buying supplies of water we embarked on our journey to Busamaga, stopping at Jinja to rest,
buy lunch for ourselves, Isaac and Lawrence. We made a further stop in Mbali where we bought drinking water supplies for the week before
arriving at Busamaga at 5pm that evening. We met Charlie and his wife Naomi and had an initial look at the Health Centre building. We were very impressed by the building and the spacious accommodation it provided. It was apparent there was still quite a bit of work to do to complete the floor tiling internally as well installing shelving in the store room. The incinerator situated outside was still in the process of being built. Charlie and the foreman reassured us that this would all be completed by Friday for the handover ceremony.
We were hosted for our stay in Busamaga by Florence who provided us with very comfortable accommodation. All meals were taken at the Vicarage with the Reverend Christopher Mulepo, kindly prepared by his wife Christine. We were joined for all meals by Isaac, Moses and James. Our driver, Lawrence also had all of his food provided.
On Sunday 6th December after breakfast we attended the Church service (English). The service was conducted by brother James and he publicly welcomed us and gave an overview of what SHAPE had done for their community and outlined the plans for the official opening of the Health centre on Friday 11th December. The bednet survey started in the afternoon.
On Tuesday 8th December we visited the local school and accompanied by Dinah (a teacher at the school) who showed us a typical classroom
and gave us information about the number of pupils that attended the school. It was evident that resources available to them were sadly lacking so we invited Dinah to provide us with a “shopping list” of some of the basic things they needed e.g. books, pens, pencils etc. We said that this list would be taken back to the SHAPE Committee with a view to funding all or part of the request.
Shopping trip to Mbale
On Wednesday 9th December 2015, we embarked on a shopping trip to Mbali accompanied by Isaac and Moses as well as Lawrence our driver.
We had already taken a considerable amount of medication, dressings, gloves, tape, bandages, wipes etc with us from UK to make a start in the Health Centre. In Mbali we bought further supplies of essential medication for the Health Centre in preparation for the clinic due to be held after the opening ceremony on Friday. Other items of shopping included 50 mosquito nets and essential items for the Health Centre such as 2 large plastic storage boxes, hard and soft brushes, dust pan and brush, cleaning solution, mops and buckets and a supply of soap. We also bought curtain material and fittings for all of the windows in the Health centre.
We took Moses, Isaac and Lawrence for a meal before returning to Busamaga stopping off to visit the carpenter on the way back. We purchased 2 benches for the waiting room in the Health Centre and 2 large notice boards to be erected in the waiting room for displaying health education information.
Meeting with the District Medical Officer and preparing the health centre for the opening
On Thursday 10th December 2015 (am) two meetings, both chaired by Julie, took place in The Church of Uganda, Busamaga Sironko Disctrict.
- A meeting of the Busamaga Health Centre Committee
- A meeting with the District Medical Officer
The remainder of the day was spent in the Health Centre clearing the outside area of debris/bricks/stones etc and then thoroughly cleaning all the tiled floors after the workmen completed the grouting. At this stage the power and water had yet to be supplied/connected but we were reassured it would be later that day or the following morning.
Friday 11th December 2015 was a memorable day. We arrived at the Health Centre at 7.30am as agreed to meet the Carpenter who was due to arrive with the benches and notice boards that we had purchased together with the shelving that was to be erected in the store room. In fact, the Carpenter didn’t arrive until late morning! The power and water were also connected that morning and the workmen spent the whole morning up until the start of the opening ceremony erecting the railings across the front porch and steps up to the Health Centre.
Official opening of the Health Centre
The opening event which was due to start at 11am eventually started at about 1pm once all invited guests/civic dignitaries, Councillors and Clergy had arrived. The ceremony lasted about 3 hours by the time all of the speeches had taken place. Julie read out the letter/address from Neil to all of the people present (interpreted by Isaac) and the Archdeacon from the North Mbale diocese cut the ribbon and officially opened the Health Centre. There was a tour of the whole Health Centre and toilet block and each room was blessed and a prayer said. Everyone was very impressed with the facilities provided.
The Health Centre has electricity and fresh water supply and consists of two examination rooms, a waiting room, a store room and dispensary and two rooms for staff to stay overnight. In addition, a toilet block and an incinerator have been constructed. It was acknowledged a placenta pit would need to be provided if maternity services/deliveries were to be undertaken at the Health Centre. Immediately following the opening ceremony Julie and Shân in conjunction with Sarah Mafabi (Public Health Nurse, Sironko Disctrict) ran a clinic as promised and finally completed this at 7.30pm.
Return to the UK
We left Busamaga very early Saturday morning accompanied by Isaac, stopping just a couple of times on the way back to the airport in Entebbe for refreshments.
After final payments to Isaac and Elizabeth for the hire of the vehicle and services provided by Lawrence, we said our final farewell and returned to UK arriving back at Heathrow at 6.30am on Sunday 13th December 2015.