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An update from East Africa

In January, Jemina was finally able to return to Uganda. Jemina has worked for HHA for a number of years but this was her first trip in her new role as East Africa Director and her first opportunity to meet the entire team in person. Read on to learn more about her trip and some updates on the work the team are doing.

New Hope Rehabilitation Centre in BidiBidi settlement has made incredible progress since opening at the end of December 2021, thanks to our partnership with SwissLimbs. It was wonderful to witness the wheelchair and physiotherapy teams in full swing of work serving a range of patients from across the community. It was evident that the team is full of passion and dedication for their work and for serving persons with disabilities in the settlements. Two new members of staff have joined the centre team - the staff cook, Melining, is very highly regarded by the team and the centre guard, Joseph, has settled in his new role well. Both Melining and Joseph live in the BidiBidi settlement – being able to employ local residents at the centre is a key part of HHA’s work so we are delighted to have them with us.

One major highlight of my visit was the opening of centre physiotherapy department. During the first week of opening the department served 19 patients with cases ranging from Parkinson’s and paraparesis to sciatica, arthritis and post-operative hydrocephalus. It’s fair to say that if it wasn’t for the centre, the majority of these patients wouldn’t receive any support. Although the prosthetics and orthotics department hasn’t yet opened it was very exciting to see the contractors onsite upgrading the electrical systems in anticipation of the department opening in March.

A good part of my time was spent with our Community Based Rehabilitation team to complete in-depth field work. In Kilaji we met representatives of the community and introduced new projects for the year head. In BidiBidi we spent a day completing assessments for several patients that have been referred for support. We were also able to complete a wheelchair distribution in Palorinya settlement – fitting 16 wheelchairs and 6 trikes for patients who were unable to reach the centre for support.

On these visits, we were privileged to receive the company and support of an experienced physiotherapist and Department Head from Iringa Regional Hospital in Tanzania. Augusto Zambaldo joined the centre team for 10 days. His expertise was widely appreciated and he focused on supporting the team on clinical training, patient flow, record keeping and  reporting and establishing referral pathways with local hospitals, among other things. Support from individuals like Augusto make a huge impact on work and we are eternally grateful to him and others who volunteer their time to HHA.

Although my time in Uganda was comparatively short, I left inspired and full of hope for the year ahead. In the next few months there will be another delivery of wheelchairs from our partners, Walkabout Foundation, for New Hope Rehabilitation Centre, enabling us to provide uninterrupted patient care with no delivery gaps and we will be joined by more volunteers to help our projects. 2022 is an exciting year for East Africa.