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Uganda Report 2019

In September 2019 I travelled to Nairobi, Kenya to attend the Teaching of Tutors training, held at the Mayfield Guesthouse in Nairobi. I met up with PRiME’s Rob Sadler and Godfrey Kule of CHALAPI there. Godfrey had been sponsored to attend because he was declined a visa to attend the PRIME annual conference in 2019, and it was felt that as he is teaching PRiME based Whole Person Healthcare to people in his community in Kasese Uganda, he should attend a training course. It was also an opportunity for him to network and gain support from others involved with PRiME. Both aims were achieved, with Godfrey enjoying the training, gaining a lot from it, and he was also encouraged as he met like-minded people, who are sadly fairly rare in his hometown.

We then went on to attend the Global Mission Conference, still in Nairobi, where we gave a spotlight talk on ‘Whole Prison Care’, and Godfrey shared his story about being wrongly imprisoned. About 30 attended and all seemed moved and encouraged by this, and again he had many good discussions with potentially helpful people. For someone who does not stop talking, Godfrey was unusually quiet as he processed all the new information. He had never been to a large conference before, had never been on an aeroplane and had never left Uganda for any length of time; he had a lot to digest.

On September 8thwe left Nairobi for Uganda, where we were to be working until the beginning of October. Godfrey had arranged 3 different lots of training during my time there, starting with 45 Village Health Workers (known as VHTs – T for team), lay readers, community leaders and a couple of nurses in a remote but busy town in the mountains called Rwesande. We delivered very similar training to what we did last year, in very similar environment – in a church with no electricity. We covered the Values of a good health worker/pastor, role play, what makes a healthy body, including some teaching on common health problems, (which raised some interesting questions – do mosquito nets affect your manhood?!) germs and what they are, handwashing, factors influencing mental health, recognition of mental illness, PTSD (this has been a very traumatised area following attacks in 2017), a group demonstration of the importance of the family and community, communication, Jesus the healer and role model (as we had many lay readers) and palliative care as this pulls Whole Person Care training together.

We used some teaching from the front but much of it was group work with feedback, role play and discussions, in the usual relaxed PRiME style, and they learned much from each other that I could never have taught them. Godfrey translated in a language they all knew and put it into a context they understood. I sensed some resistance for the first couple of hours as most of the participants were older men, but they really warmed to the engaging and informal PRiME teaching and appeared to really enjoy it. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with comments like ‘I will not remain the same’, ‘I will not discriminate (because) patients are human beings’ (!), ‘I will make sermons (on) .. matters relating to personal hygiene’(!!) and ‘to be honest I loved everything’.

I heard that since we did the training in the mountain area last year, hand washing stations have been set up outside toilets in the villages and the Champions that we taught have been teaching people the importance of hand washing. Godfrey says that the incidence of diarrhoea and vomiting has dropped dramatically and the have been NO cases of cholera in the last year, when usually there would have been a few outbreaks. He says Public Health Officials have noticed the improvement in health. We hope that this year’s training will have a similar impact. Godfrey also says that since our training at Mubuku Prison in 2017 the incidence of diarrhoea and vomiting has dropped there too because they are now washing hands, boiling water and also making soap! Also, he said that during the recent outbreak of Ebola in the area, the VHT’s that we trained last year were able to access funding because of the PRiME certificates that they received! The power of a certificate!

A couple of days later we repeated the Whole Person training in another village called Rwesororo, where we had 35 VHTs, pastors and “chairmen’, or community leaders. Again, it was well received with good humoured participation and comments like ‘this is very timely’ and ‘we really needed this training’ with promises to engage their communities more. Feedback included ‘I am going to help people who are dying’, ‘I am going to teach handwashing’ and ‘I am going to visit the youth who take drugs and encourage them to save money’!

Finally, we were invited to run a 2 hour PRiME ‘taster’ session for over 200 student nurses and 4 of their tutors at the Rwenzori School of Nursing in Kasese. They enjoyed it so much that they invited us back for a full day’s training the following week. Unfortunately, when we returned there were only 16 student nurses for the morning session, and only 7 returned for the afternoon, but they were very good and the feedback was the best we’ve ever had. Quality was definitely better than quantity, and we were able to encourage them to be good role models in the future, based on Jesus example. Godfrey is going to follow this up with a visit to the Principal of the School, to see if we can try again next year, with more students and some tutors this time! We also plan to do a further 2 lots of training in the remote communities next year as many people are now hearing about it and requesting it.

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