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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Lane's Log Episode 4 - Mission to Gulu!

Queueing for the first clinic
Last week we travelled to the north of Uganda, to an area called Gulu. We were part of a church ministry project called E3. We worked in the medical team that visited local communities (some days we travelled up to two hours) and set up a medical clinic. In our team we had doctors, nurses, a pharmacy, an eye glass clinic and physiotherapy. The clinic also taught and educated people about malaria and HIV. The other teams spent the week assisting local nationals in planting new churches from two mother churches.

Lady's arm broken 5 years ago by the LRA.
Throughout the week the medical team visited five of the new church sites, including areas previously heavily effected by the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army). The LRA , a guerrilla group, has earned a reputation for its actions against the people of several countries, including northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan. The LRA has abducted and forced an estimated 66,000 children to fight for them, and has also forced the internal displacement of over 2,000,000 people since its rebellion began in 1986. During the week we heard many very sad stories of the things the local people have endured and we also saw many injuries from bullets wounds and land mines that still live with people today.

One of our physiotherapy departments.
In total the clinic saw around 1,500 people. Getting to work with the team and serve the local people with physiotherapy was a real privilege. The clinics were unsurprisingly in high demand but thankfully we didn't have to turn any one away who had mobility needs. In the past they have had to turn people away due to lack of equipment, but the huge fundraising efforts of all concerned paid off providing enough equipment to cover the whole week. In our physiotherapy clinics we saw a variety of patients, including those who had been crawling for years that were provided with wheel chairs.

Two men who crawled in and wheeled out.
In total we gave out 48 wheelchairs: some old, some new, some without leg rests and some with. All however were for a good cause and everyone that received them were extremely happy. It would be great in the future if they continue to have plenty of equipment!

We were working along a fantastic team (the majority from the USA). Everyone worked hard to make the week a success. Our day started at 6.30 and finished around 9-10pm. Despite being tired emotionally and physically we thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and have made some really special friends and memories. If you would like to know more please do ask, as we have lots of stories!

As a special treat on the way back we stayed in a posh hotel and went on a morning safari (and had a hot shower!) Wow! We saw all sorts of animals! Including Giraffes, Elephants, Buffalo, Hippo etc. We had a great time enjoying the beauty of Uganda and one of it's nature parks.

We have now returned to Masaka, and are keen to develop all that we can do here with River of Life.

We have had a few questions about the heat. We're coping with it well, although our photos may not look like it all the times! We haven’t really got burnt as most of the time we are covered up! It is polite to wear skirts below the knees which I am getting used to (Hannah not Andy!). We hear that you are all enjoying the sunshine too!

We miss you all lots!
Please do let us know more if you would like to know more!
Lots of love and hugs!
Hannah and Andy x x

Andy and Hannah are with River of Life for the next 3 months. They are Physiotherapists from Newcastle, UK and are helping River of Life develop our links with the local hospitals and ROLC's Hospital Ministy. If you would like to support their work with River of Life, head over to their Justgiving page

Medical Mission to Gulu, N. Uganda

5 days, 6 church plants, 5,471 Gospel presentations, 2044 professions of faith, and over 1,000 patients treated - welcome to an E3 Partners Mission!

Team ROL head off to Gulu -
Julius, Hannah, Christina, Andy, John
In June, we partnered with E3 Partners, an American Missions Organisation, to reach out to northern Ugandans, who are still recovering after 25 years of conflict came to an end a few years ago. We have been supporting a Pastor in Gulu for many many years, and so when the opportunity came to head north as part of a bigger team, we jumped at the chance!

John, one of our Elders, and Julius, our White Eagle Project Manager joined our visitors - Andy, Hannah and Christina - on the most amazing trip. John was part of the team that went and evangelised in Jospeh Kony’s (the notorious leader of one of the worst rebel groups in Africa) village, and as well as leading his Uncle to Jesus, helped 401 others make decisions to follow Him!

Hannah treating an elderly patient
Meanwhile, Andy and Hannah, as physiotherapists, were literally helping the lame walk/wheel again, with walking aids and wheelchairs, whilst Christina and Julius, as part of other Village Teams, were spreading the gospel of Jesus and teaching people that there is HOPE! The team returned home inspired and bouncing with ideas of how to marry practical medical support with church-planting and evangelism We’re really looking forward to partnering more with E3 in the future.

We were also really fortunate to benefit from a big donation of medical supplies, which Hannah and Andy diligently catalogued. We were then able to hand these on to the Medical Superintendent and her staff at Kitovu Mission Hospital in Masaka - they were overwhelmed by some of the items in the suitcases, as they were about to run out of them!

Handing over 4 suitcases of medical supplies at Kitovu

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Lane's Log Episode 3 - Masaka's Hospitals

A very quick update from Andy and Hannah before they head north...

This week, we managed to visit the local hospitals that we had been trying to arrange our voluntary work with. Hospitals are very different here! The nurses don't wash, feed or clean patients, instead family members stay with them to look after them. If there are no beds available, patients lie on the floor or corridors to receive treatment.

Like the UK, there are periods of the year in which the hospitals are particularly busy. In Uganda these pressure times of the year are due to Malaria and mostly linked to the wet season and the high number of mosquitoes.

The wards were absolutely jam packed. Sorry we don't have any photos – we didnt feel it would be appropriate. Those that can't afford private hospitals, or the local catholic hospital, go to government hospitals. However this still costs patients to see a doctor and receive treatment, which for many can still remain too expensive.
While we were being shown round the local Catholic hospital we were asked to assess and treat one little boy who had his webbed fingers surgically separated. Post operatively his wound was open and very sore! Thankfully we had packed some balloons we used to encouraged him to do his exercises. Hygiene and equipment is going to be something we learn more about as we work more.
We also visited the local government hospital. Their physiotherapy department has a room about the size of our waiting room at work, where patients come for treatment. We were surprised at the equipment they had (very old but has potential for treatment). Once we have sorted out the paper work, we are hoping to help them out with some of their clinics.

Andy and Hannah are with River of Life for the next 3 months. They are Physiotherapists from Newcastle, UK and are helping River of Life develop our links with the local hospitals and ROLC's Hospital Ministy. If you would like to support their work with River of Life, head over to their Justgiving page

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sarah's Story - new girls, a snake, baby-sitting and a visit from the dentists...

Helloooo everybody!!! I hope you are all very well! Things are very good here in Uganda!

There have been even more changes in the girls’ home in the last month – we welcomed two MORE girls into our home to live with us. Their names are Tendo (9 years) and Katherine (11 years), and they are sisters. They’re staying with us for a short time until they can go and live with their relatives. Teddy (who’s 11) is loving having them live with us, and the 3 of them are as thick as thieves when they get together and leave a trail of chaos behind them wherever they go!!! So that’s 4 new residents in the girls’ home in the space of 6 weeks!!! There’s a picture below of Teddy, Katherine and Tendo (and Juuko one of the White Eagle boys) in their school uniforms about to leave for school, and another of Hope and Isaiah, and another of Isaiah, Hope, Aunt Esther (who looks after Isaiah and Kitibwa during the day) and Kitibwa (who was in a bad mood at the time, so has a scowl on his face!).

An unwanted visitor to the girls’ home this month, however, was the snake pictured below, who came to visit Aunt Tinah late one evening a few weeks ago – she has a room off the back yard, and the snake was outside her door when she came out! I wasn’t there (thank God!), but apparently she screamed very loudly, and the young man who lives above us heard her and came and walloped it on the head and killed it – then the girls put it in a bucket until I got back so that they could show it to me!!! - So I thought I’d take a picture and show you, too!

Isaiah has been poorly over the last day or two – he had malaria quite seriously and had to stay overnight at a local clinic and was on a drip for quite a long time.... But, thank God, he’s fine now, and loving being back at the girls’ home – he gave us all a HUGE smile as soon as he got back, and has been very happy ever since!!! Kitibwa missed him so much, and kept on asking where he was and wanting to play with him. One of their favourite games is to hold the handle of a skipping rope each to their mouths and use it as a microphone to sing into, and Kitibwa was trying to get me to hold one and sing with him in Isaiah’s absence - but apparently I was a very poor substitute, as he gave up in disgust after only half a minute of my singing!!!

On the theme of Kitibwa and Isaiah, I had no idea that two babies could produce quite so much poo in one day!!! I sometimes look after them (on Aunt Esther’s day off), and I’ve been shocked at the number of nappies we can go through in a day!!! I’ve also been shocked at their attention span when they like a game – one of their other favourite games to play is “Ring a ring of rosies”, but sometimes I find it hard going when we’ve already sung it about 50 times, and they want to do “Again!”!!! My muscles get tired from all that falling down and jumping up again!!!

I went on the second part of the Celebrating Children course a few weeks ago, and it was absolutely wonderful (apart from the fact that they’ve given us some horrible assignments to write before we return in a month’s time! I reeeeally hate writing essays!!!). The course is just so inspiring, and we all came back full of even more passion to work with children and show them God’s love in everything we do!

Over the last month, we’ve had a few visitors to River of Life, including a group of dentists from the UK who came to give free dental treatment to the people of Nyendo. Lots of our kids had their teeth checked and some had treatment. Some of our kids also helped out at the clinics as dental nurses (holding torches, passing instruments, etc.), and others learnt to do oral health education sessions for the local adults and children. They’re even going to do a teaching session at church this Sunday – we’re very proud of them! (One of the things I learnt during that week is that here in Uganda they don’t tell little children that a Tooth Fairy comes to take their teeth when they’ve fallen out and leave a coin, but instead they have a Tooth Rat!!!! Ha ha!!! I guess it’s much more believable for them, since rats are in nearly everyone’s houses!!!)

Anyway, I think that’s all my news from this month. You’ll be glad to hear that the beans with the bean weevils in are finished (yeah!!!), and, although we had maggots in our maize flour which we make our porridge and posho from (posho is one of the main foods here, made of flour and water mixed together and cooked in banana leaves for about 4 hours), I managed to avoid them as I ate somewhere else the day they discovered them (- lucky escape for me!). We gave the rest of the maggots and flour to the farm to make posho for the pigs, who don’t seem to mind the maggots in the slightest bit!

I hope that you are all doing very well.

Lots of love,


Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Lane's Log Episode 2 - Nutrition, Outreach and Ball Line Football Academy

We know it hasn't been long since our first email, but a lot has happened in our first week here. We are gradually finding out more and more about what life is like here in Uganda.

At the beginning of the week we were living with a trainee dietician, who has been doing research into malnutrition in the surrounding areas of Masaka. This has involved visits to local clinics and several trips into the wider communities away from the major towns. On some occassions, these trips ended in taking babies/children back to hospital due to the severity of their conditions. 70% of the population is under 24 years old and the country has high child mortality rate. Hospitals and local community clinics have large population areas and most children born in these areas won't have a birth certificate.

Community Clinic
We were able to join the final research trip to find out more about what she has been doing and also look into the possibilty of River of Life Church creating some community health outreach projects/clinics. We visited a clinic and were able to chat to a number of their staff. This particular clinic has a catchment area population of around 59,100 people, 27,500 of these are believed to be under the age of 15.

During the visit the team were told of some children away from the clinic that may benifit from a visit, as they were known to be malnourished. As we visited the families it began to hit home that we were in Uganda. I (Hannah) went into two homes, both approximately 3x3 metres in size, where the families lived, ate, slept etc. They were very dirty but this didn’t stop young children running around playing. One of the young girls we met had oedema around her face, which is one of the first stages of malnutrician.

On our trip we passed other villages along very unkept, poorly maintained roads. Whilst we were driving we passed a lady sat by the side of the road with a pile of blankets. There was a body under these blanket and we were told by the Ugandans on our trip that she would be waiting for the family to collect the body. Pretty unbelievable really!

Over the past couple of days we have been spending time getting to know the River of Life Church Projects. They have a number of ministries into the local area, including work with a number of schools and the nearby prison and hospitals. On Friday we had the opportunity to visit a school. We walked into a classroom not much bigger than our staffroom at work, where about 100 little faces greeted us with beaming smiles, huge excitement and deafening noise. We were asked if we were okay to share a little about ourselves and talk a bit about Health and God. This was/is totally out of our comfort zone, as we haven't done anything like this before but it is an area we would very much like to support! It is also an area the projects are looking to progress and develop to include additional health education. We will see how it goes!

We later walked back to the charity offices through a more deprived area of Masaka, Nyendo, an area we will be spending quite a bit of our time. The River of Life sponsors and supports a number of the local children to go to school, teach them life skills and gives them places of rest and love. This in many cases also includes giving them somewhere to live, such as the respected boys and girls homes and others at local boarding schools. All of the children sponsored are called White Eagles. One of the managers is a trained social worker, Julius (previously mentioned in our last email) and he supports children when possible to go back to live with their parents. He kindly took us to two schools to meet a number of the White Eagles. Again we were greeted with laughing, clapping and screams of excitement. What an experience! They were all so welcoming – They were so thankful that we have visited their country, so much so that it was a little uncomfortable. Andy and I stood at the front and told each class (around 7 in total) why we have visited, what our jobs are back in the UK etc. Unfortuneately we didn't take any photos as we didn't want to appear rude, but I'm sure you would have loved to have seen their faces!

Today (Saturday) we had our first physiotherapy clinic with the White Eagle boys. It was great to start doing some Physiotherapy, teaching and advising them appropriately. We look forward to progressing the clinics in the coming weeks.

We have also spent some time with Ball Line Acadamy, River of Life's football academy based in Nyendo. We were scoping out the possibility of doing some Physiotherapy and Healthy Living/Life Skills work with the group of boys who train and play within Ball Line. Training goes on for two hours in the midday heat. Some of these boys play in bare feet on the dry red African patchy grass. So when Andy got asked to play in his slightly too small plimpsoles he couldn't really say no! Two side-line trips to put suntan lotion on and two blisers later, the ref blew the final whistle – much to Andy’s relief! We will see how much we can do with these guys in the coming weeks when we get to meet their main coach.

Relaxing before food at the boys home
We are learning a huge amount about life in Uganda. We can't quite believe it has been only a week since we arrived! It has been a hard week but also a very rewarding start to our time here. Everyone we have had the privilidge to meet have been extremely friendly and we have been very excited to see some of the amazing work the The River of Life Projects are doing in the community.

We will tell you more when we write an update next week. We are missing people at home and hope you are all well! Lots of love and thank you so much for all of your emails/messages!

Lots of love!
Hannah and Andy x x

Andy and Hannah are with River of Life for the next 3 months. They are Physiotherapists from Newcastle, UK and are helping River of Life develop our links with the local hospitals and ROLC's Hospital Ministy. If you would like to support their work with River of Life, head over to their Justgiving page

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Lane's Log - Andy and Hannah Arrive!

Andy and Hannah are with River of Life for the next 3 months. They are Physiotherapists from Newcastle, UK and are helping River of Life develop our links with the local hospitals and ROLC's Hospital Ministy

We arrived in Entebbe, Uganda, after our 8 hours flight at around 7:30am. It had been a long day, travelling to Heathrow terminal 5 and not getting much sleep during the flight to Uganda. We were met at the Airport by John, a driver for the river of life, who kindly helped us with our bags to the van we were to travel to to Masaka in. After a quick stop at a local supermarket, where John kindly supplied us with lots of water and bananas to keep us going, we set off to Masaka.

John stops to buy fish for his dinner!
After the night flight it felt like another long journey, on a large variety of roads, but it gave us a good opportunity to see our surroundings. It did not take long before it was clear that we are no longer in the UK and that for most of Uganda their way of life is very different to back home.

Crossing the equator!
After around 2 hours, we had a quick stop as we passed the equator and posed for a few photos, before climbing back into the van. Uganda looks like a beautiful country with far more greenery than we had anticipated and after around 3:30 - 4:00 hours, a journey that would take around 90 minutes on UK roads, we arrived in Massaka.

Our first port of call was to meet up with Rob and Kat, who are kindly putting us up for the next 3 months. They were at The River of Life Church, and we arrived just as the service was ending by greeting new visitors. Before we put our bags down, Rob had greeted us with a big hug before ushering us to the front to introduce ourselves. We received a massively very warm welcome, with big smiles, hugs and handshakes, both in the service and afterwards.

After Church, we drove the final 10 minutes of our journey up to the house that Rob and Kat are currently renting. The Church have found them a beautiful base, with an amazing garden, to help to greet visitors to the River of Life and look after Elena, Rob and Kat's beautiful baby girl. We feel very privileged to have the opportunity to stay here and it has certainly helped us to settle and feel safe.

Rob and Kat are also currently hosting a student, Mariah, who has been working on co-ordination with the local hospital and River of Life looking into malnutrition in the surrounding areas. Mariah has also been very welcoming, helping us to feel relaxed and it's a shame our stints only overlap for the next few days.

After a quick nap to re-energise and to attempt to stop Andy being so grumpy, we were treated to a trip to Masaka's nicest hotel, to swim and eat. We decided to skip the swimming, as we were still both tired and looked forward to our first meal in Uganda. An hour after our arranged eating time, and several power cuts later, we tucked into our meal. As we ate, we enjoyed chatting to Gerald and Julius, who joined us at the hotel. Both guys are Ugandan and play important roles at River of Life. We finished the meal with Ugandan tea, served using hot milk and ginger!

Our new bedroom!
After food, we headed back to our new base and quickly set up our mosquito net and headed to bed. It wasn't long before we were both out for the count and didn't wake until 10am this morning...

Today we have continued to settle, unpacking our bags and enjoyed local chapattis, guacamole and groundnut sauce for lunch. Later we are discussing our plans for the next few months and hoping to make up a timetable for the coming weeks. Exciting times!

Finally, we would like to thank everyone once more for all of their love and support. We have both found leaving our normal lives in the UK very difficult, and we wouldn't have made it this far without everyone back home. A special thanks to our families were have continued to support, comfort and encourage us in our times of need. Thank-you!

An extra special thank-you must also go to everyone that has given money to support our time here with the River of Life. As we type, we have raised an amazing 73% of our target total - a massive £2,028.50!!! Thank-you!

If you would like to support River of Life and Andy and Hannah's time with us, head over to their Justgiving page