How did your new decade begin? I was privileged to be exploring the south west of this beautiful country then down into Rwanda. Beautiful Lakes Bunyonyi and Lake Kivu, paddling in a dugout to church, climbing cloud covered Mount Muhavuru volcano to almost 4000m, exploring Ishaha national park with tree climbing lions, hippos, buffalo.....Living and working here in Uganda is a real privilege. My thanks to my friends and colleagues who share this journey with me and who inspire and encourage and who share the laughter, the tears and the joy.
Back from my holiday it was down to work to prepare for the launch of the Degree programme at Makerere and Hospice Africa Uganda then off to India for a whistle stop trip. Delhi was cold for a lass from Africa! I was delighted that Ruth Wooldridge, an experienced palliative care nurse who has helped develop palliative care services in many countries including Delhi and Nairobi (as well as a friend), joined me for a mentoring visit in partnership with Pallium India. After a great day at the Cansupport foundation training course in Delhi we traveled to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.
We joined the team at Canceraids society and at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute to review the progress since my last visit 6 months ago. The clinic was steadily growing with good relationships across the hospital and with current training of a nurse there will be better support for Dr's Shakeel and Sanjay. We were delighted to meet another nurse who has experience in palliative care and who immediately volunteered her help. Canceraids society has finished the building of a day care centre and now planning the service. We also saw real progress in encouraging others to develop palliative care and visited the medical colleges in Lucknow and Kanpur. There is such huge need in this state; 160 million people, a handful of places where oral morphine is available, rural agricultural economy with the majority living below the poverty line and so few palliative care developments as yet. We are planning to continue our mentorship and training support. In Kanpur I saw my first glimpse of the holy river Ganges - here a silted, sluggish brown shadow due to industrial pollution. Lucknow is an ancient and beautiful city and we sampled the architecture old and new and the food delights. If you visit make sure you taste malai mukkan and the chhappan bhog sweet shop!
Off to the warm south and a brief visit to my friends at CMC Vellore. I stayed at Sneha Deepam in the hospice and education centre and reminisced about being the first faculty to stay here. The gardens are now grown and beautiful and the service to many of the poorest continues to grow.
On to the VXVII IAPC conference in Tiruchirapalli, a south Indian city full of ancient temples and Tamil history. With the overall theme of 'Twilight years' we looked at the particular problems of the elderly as well as sharing what has been happening across India. As ever I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome, the wonderful food, outrageous compliments when wearing a sari and the inspirational commitment of my Indian colleagues. It has been a joy to see the growth and developments over the past decade and a privilege for myself and Cairdeas to be able to continue to support for this new decade. India has still so much need for many many of its people who live and die in preventable suffering and pain.
Come to India sometime with me and be inspired, challenged, intoxicated - I promise you first visit will not be your last.
Back now to Uganda for th start of the Degree programme - and that will need to wait till my next post.