Uganda September 2018 – Gail Taylor

Our first clinic was at Foodstep Orphanage where babies and children had to be greeted and cuddled before we could start work!
This was the first trip for everyone on the team but it was hard to tell as they settled in very quickly and enjoyed working together.
On day 2 we went to Kampiringisa children’s prison.  The team were understandably nervous and anxious about what they would experience there.  We set up in the dining room of the prison and some of the boys acted as translators; they did a great job and were very helpful throughout the day.  Cedric, one of the boys, wants to be a dentist after today. All the children were given OHI, toothbrushes and paste.  It never ceases to amaze me that children can be put into this place for no reason at all.  

On day 4 and 5 we set up 6 dental chairs in a Seventh Day Adventist Church in Ruhanga. We saw 122 patients on the first day and 359 on the second including children from 9 different schools.
At the remote Butare health centre there were about 50 people waiting and we set up in the maternity ward. The clinic was very busy but not so busy that I couldn’t take time out to be present at the birth of a beautiful little girl who was named Shillah!
We then travelled in the direction of Kabale to a clinic in Kabimiri.  The rooms were small and dark but we made the most of it with three dentists working in one room, two in another, one in a corridor and post op and de con in a third room and still we treated 108 patients.  One lady was 102 years old and cried with relief when she arrived in post op.  She held on to me so tightly and wouldn’t let go, I had to escort her to her home nearby.  It was so moving to be a part of this lady’s life in such a positive way.
Team members Baz and Jenni had provided funds to feed the children at Mother Care Primary school in honour of Baz’s late father.  The meal was wonderful and the children told us they had never had such a good lunch at school.  It is unusual for them to eat meat even on special occasions so it was very much appreciated and really enjoyed. As a thank you for treatment and the lunch the children sang songs of welcome and thanks.

All the team members are going on a gorilla trek – half today and half tomorrow.  The rest of the team left for Rubaya.  In order to get there we had to travel through No Mans Land between Uganda and Rwanda.   The clinic was held in a covered open space and we quickly set up 6 chairs and set to work on the 200 patients who had travelled far and wide for our services.  One man and his son travelled 15 miles up hill crossing from Rwanda they were so desperate for treatment. 160 extractions amongst other treatments proved the need.
We have been working with a new PHDO, Andrew, the past few days.  His place of work is here at Rubaya, he took us to see his clinic.  It was unbelievable; no electricity or at least no light bulb if there was electricity, a chair that was so old it was primitive and equipment you wouldn’t want anywhere near your mouth.  I could have cried seeing the conditions he was expected to work in and that patients were expected to go for treatment.  Half of his equipment was rusty and useless, I don’t know how he can treat people without causing infection looking at what he has to work with… He is clearly passionate and dedicated to dentistry and his patients.
Now the team were aware that they are on the countdown to going home with only 3 clinics left.  Nobody wants to leave.
Today’s clinic was held at Kizungu in a wood slatted church that Dentaid teams have worked in before – we were even on the television news!

Travelling through some very poor areas was difficult, seeing the poverty first hand is never easy.
We arrived at Kaikolongo and set up in a large room to treat the increasingly large queues of community members.  
Today we saw a gentleman, George, who after the death of his wife some years before took to drinking and smoking heavily.  He presented with a huge swelling on the left side of his face, which sadly turned out to be cancer.   One lady had a false tooth on a plate that she had never removed since having it fitted years before!  Ambrose and Jen carefully extracted it and cleaned it up before replacing it after her treatment.  She was extremely happy and had huge hugs for everyone.  These sorts of things just make your heart swell.
Saying goodbye was hard and a few tears were shed.  This has been a fantastic team and I’ve been very lucky.
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