Friday, June 04, 2010

Hope and courage

Many thanks for all the messages of encouragement about our Degree students. They are sitting exams at the end of their first semester and mostly doing well. We have now selected 20 more for the August intake with 8 countries represented; very exciting. I had the privilege of meeting up with 3 of our Malawi students on a recent visit. Let me introduce you to Davie Mpate. He is a clinical officer at Mulange Mission Hospital which nestled at the foot of the Mulange Massif. Davie became interested in palliative care through his work with HIV/AIDS and is brimming with enthusiasm. Here he is with the new vehicle for
home visits that has been bought by Hospice Africa UK. The small palliative care team see patients from a 40km radius of the hospital which also offers health care to very poor and rural villages. Presently there is no resident doctor at the hospital and it is clinical officers like Davie and nursing staff who do the majority of clinical work in many such centres. Davie is passionate about palliative care and supporting those in need and excited about the training opportunities offered by the Degree programme. It was so encouraging to meet him as well as 2 others students; Chris at Ndi Moyo in Salima and Fred at the paediatric wards in Queen's Hospital in Blantyre. Mentorship visits like this can be an important source of encouragement and support for students as well as
giving us a real feel for the challenges and achievements of our students and I hope to be able to make such visits annually supported by Cairdeas. These students will be the leaders for palliative care and give us great hope for the future. I also had the chance spend a few days climbing Mulange (you can see why it is called the 'island in the sky') and then relaxing by lake Malawi with my friend Geoff.  What an amazing privilege to be able to explore such beautiful places.

Back in Mulago we have been busy with the undergraduate and postgraduate exams with a communications exam included for the first time. Our clinical team is busy with increasing numbers of referrals. Let me introduce you to a young woman we met recently on the wards.Angela has a bone disease that means she is liable
to fractures and recently broke her hip which cannot be mended surgically. She is in constant pain and her family were praying they would find some help. When our nurse Regina came the next day and was able to give support and prescribe oral morphine Angela slept for the first time in weeks. What a difference yet morphine is not available to so many millions and even in Uganda we are struggling with a regular supply  and in serious risk of running short this month. Angela could not thanks us enough and despite her continuing pain and
disability she has such a grace and peace. Her mother cried as she shared about their fears and Angela's courage and again thanked the 'angels who helped in their hour of need' . Here is Angela sharing some verses from Psalm 41v1-3 which talk of the blessings for those who help the sick and the protection and healing that comes from God. We left her room encouraged and humbled.
Thanks as ever for your support. I am back to India soon to follow up on previous visits and of course see great friends and colleagues, eat spicy food and gaze at the mountains of Mizoram once more.

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