I have had a very eventful week in Uganda. GlassesOnSpec made all the glasses, which we collected from the amazing Will Luff and then I travelled with them hand luggage to Uganda. I also brought with me a Retinomax Autorefractor, which left little space for my own packing!
The day after my arrival, on Sunday I spent the day at Platinum Medical Centre meeting patients, including our first two brain surgery children and two PSAP babies, who have been born without an anal opening. These operations had all been carried out to great success. Without the surgery performed on the children, there is a very high likelihood that they would have died. It was therefore a great day for Humanity Direct and very rewarding to be at the hospital meeting these lovely children and their parents.
On Monday morning we drove to Mityana, North West of Kampala. We had previously checked over 4,500 children’s eyes in this outreach program, from dozens of schools in the Mityana area. We therefore arranged to visit only four schools on Monday and the children that needed glasses arranged, through their school, to come to these locations to pick up their glasses. This is because there are a great number of the schools which are very small and a long way away, making it logistically very difficult for us to visit each school. We are learning!
I am not a natural writer, making it very hard for me to conjure up a picture in your mind as to how poor these children and the area they live in is. All I can say is that approximately a third the children we saw at the schools do not wear shoes and the schools do not have drinking water. The school bathrooms and sanitation are …… indescribable. None of the children have ever been tested for glasses before and therefore no one in the schools has worn glasses until now.
Testing 4,500 kids in dozens of schools is a massive logistical and organisational undertaking, which our amazing Mr. Dickson managed perfectly. It is vital that we make sure that each individually made pair of glasses gets to the right child and that they fit properly.
On Thursday, after two more days of giving out glasses, explaining how to use them and taking hundreds of photos and videos, we headed back into the traffic and pollution of Kampala.
Back at Platinum we had 6 operations booked in for children that we had found during the glasses outreach program that didn’t need glasses, but needed eye operations. These were mostly going to cause blindness in one or both eyes if not fixed, mostly due to glaucoma or an increasing pressure within the eye due to a lack of drainage that would cause blindness in due course. Again, an amazingly gratifying day, seeing our work in action and witnessing these incredibly brave children undergo the operations. This was the perfect end to my trip to Uganda and so it was with a light step and an empty bag (apart from five litres of the best forest honey you will ever taste) that I flew back home.