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Eagles Wings news: UK ladies team visit Nebbi, Uganda
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UK ladies team visit Nebbi, Uganda

Eagles Wings is proud to report a major breakthrough on the Nebbi Maternity Clinic, Uganda. As of January 2nd, we are now in possession of the written authorisation to commence building in phased stages as finance becomes available.

A team of ladies travelled to Nebbi in December to meet with the government officials responsible for sanctioning the project. The wheels of bureaucracy grind unbelievably slowly, but a meeting was achieved with the local Deputy Governor and the District Medical Officer, who alone can award the necessary licenses.

UK ladies team visit Nebbi, Uganda

We put up a good team including the local women’s leader, Stella, an AIDS widow herself, whose vision for the women and orphans inspired this project. Also on the team was Kerstin Meeson-Smith, a financial consultant from Cambridge with special expertise in starting small businesses, Tina Jegede, Matron from The Whittington Hospital, London, and myself.

After a rather sticky start around the boardroom table in the Town Hall, we were able to allay fears that we are do-gooders coming in to undermine the government efforts. I explained that we were familiar with the Millennium Goals and our intent was to help them fulfill theirs. I had been asked to do a TV interview in Kampala during the African Nations Summit the previous year, on the measures needed to reduce the maternal and infant mortality rate. As I talked about this, and Tina explained that her responsibility was to deliver quality of patient care for the NHS, the officials adjusted their view of us and ended up virtually giving permission to do whatever we want! In the words of the Deputy Governor, “If the Doctor’s happy, I’m happy”!

Initially the D.M.O. had been against the idea of a phased build, presumably because it is difficult for anyone there to understand that we don’t have a money tree. We proposed the initial phase to be the central part of the building, which will house two ante-natal examination rooms and the pharmacy. We argued that an ante-natal clinic with a support vehicle to transport any patient seen to have complications to hospital, could make a significant improvement to maternity care.

The meeting ended with the Deputy Governor requesting that we involve them in any official opening ceremony so that the people can see the government are supporting us. A great result!

Money has already been sent to commence digging the foundations. Another charity has indicated that they would like to purchase some nearby land to house an income generating project to sustain the clinic when built. We are currently investigating what project would be best. One idea is dairy cows, as milk is scarce, but first we need to find out if the land is suitable for grazing.

Whilst in Nebbi we held a conference for 300 ladies, some of whom walked up to 60 Kilometers to attend. We fielded endless questions about contraception, which demonstrated the unbelievable lack of knowledge that exists, complicated by dangerous traditions and folklore. The desire to see the project also become a centre of health education became paramount.

In addition, we held blood pressure clinics and gave advice on the management of hypertension. Thanks to donations of reading glasses, we were able to give reading ability back to 20 village elders, some of whom are the only ones in their village that can read. Next time we will take a truck load. It was so hard to turn anyone away, and there were so many who had walked miles in the hope of a pair of spectacles. I even ended up taking mine off and putting them on an old man who just wept with joy, even though they had purple swirls on them!

Kerstin delivered a session on managing a basic household budget and simple planning for a small business. I smiled at the discrepancy between our image of a businessman/woman and theirs. In Africa, someone who buys a few bananas to sell at the roadside, or a few clothes, no better than rags, is a businessman!

Back in Kampala, Tina spent a day in the ‘Wings of Love Clinic’ in Nsambya. Situated on the edge of the city, the slum never fails to shock in it’s stark contrast to the high rise buildings that form the view the other side of the railway track.

The clinic continues to deliver a very worthwhile service to its local residents. It mostly provides malaria screening and treatment once diagnosis has been reached. Diarrhoea and vomiting is another main reason for using the clinic; not surprising when you see the surrounding living conditions. Users of the clinic, are required to pay a small amount towards the costs, but very few are able. Consequently, the clinic is reliant on donations and it was a great privilege for Eagles Wings to hand over another delivery from the nurses at the Michael Sorbell Centre at Mount Vernon Hospital. I think their redundant supplies keep the Nsambya path lab open.

Wings of Love has 2 consulting rooms and 2 inpatient beds. A doctor volunteers 1 or 2 sessions per week, and there are 2 qualified nurses who alternate shifts. There is also a lab technician whose primary role is to provide early diagnosis of malaria so treatment is prompt.

There are not the resources to do more, but the clinic is well placed to offer other essential services such as family planning and general health promotion with a little help. The main needs are for equipment, basic medicine and the finance needed to deliver a much needed service. As an ambassador of Eagles Wings, Tina is working with the nurses to find ways of getting much needed assistance, and improving the efficacy of the clinic.

The deluge of rain that has persisted for over a month has destabilised many foundations, and the slum is a sticky red mud slick. Other team members spent time in the school which gives basic education to some 500 hundred children who sit on the floor without text books or anything to write on. We failed to even get into the school on one day as did most of the children, because the rains had made the paths in, impassable. I could go on… there is so much need, but we are encourage by the inroads already established, and that Eagles Wings is in its small way, ‘Changing lives for Good’.

Thank you so much for helping us make it possible. As we feel the pinch of recession, may we look at our own needs by comparison, and see that our cup is definitely ‘half full’!

Sharon Oliver

Sharon Oliver: 01923 242587 – office@eagleswingscharity.com

You can help with our projects by going to our ‘giving’ page and either giving online, or by cheque.

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Famine Relief: Kenya/Sudan border
First Eagles Wings aid truck reaches Lokichogio October 2011
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Eagles Wings Kenya, Nebbi Maternity Clinic
Eagles Wings YouTube site
‘An Introduction to Eagles Wings’ and other videos
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