Bwindi Community Hospital, Uganda

Talk about humility. We spent an afternoon at Bwindi Community Hospital, about 10 mins drive from our camp. We saw a facility that grown from a mobile clinic where patients would sit under a tree to see the one doctor, to a hospital facility with its brand new operating theatre (to be opened later that month), a maternity ward, an HIV-AIDS ward, an educational kitchen-garden to teach mothers how to grow vegetables and provide for their children, a regular ward, outpatient services, and even a new housing facility for expectant mothers in the final semester of their pregnancies. This had been achieved in the previous 3 years by two British doctors who were in Bwindi as part of a volunteering programme - the equivalent of the US Peace Corps. Vicky and Paul gave up their comfortable lives in the north of England to live amongst the Batwa Pygmies and local tribespeople in Bwindi - without electricity or running water - to put their medical knowledge and compassion to use in saving lives, educating mothers and fathers, increasing the awareness of HIV-AIDS and malaria, setting up prevention campaigns on the ground - ie selling malaria nets to villagers saved thousands of lives in just one year (sold to them for a very small price rather than free, to give them a sense of accountability). It costs US$400 to pay for a nurse's salary for ONE YEAR. This hospital has no electricity other than an under-sized generator. The night before we visited, Paul had delivered a premature baby by caesarian section - using a headlight. To us this was insanity, to them it was normal. An american who had visited the previous year had promised his help with the electricity - Paul travelled to Texas and was given this deal - Paul raises $50K in 3 months and the businessman would match it. Nice way to renege on one's offer of help. There was no bitterness when Paul relayed the story (no, that was all mine!), he and Vicky are so level headed and at peace it was humbling to be in their presence. They both have that northern sense of humour and warmth that I miss so much. Surrounded by malnourished, HIV-ridden children, pregnant women and men, perhaps they have no choice but to be at peace with things? Their aim is to leave Bwindi in the next year, with the hospital fully operational, liquid and functioning, and importantly in the hands of locals rather than expats. Please visit their site and donate if you can:. To pick up medications, Vicky and her asisstant travel by bus over 12hrs to Kampala, and then back again. Not that she or any of the staff complains about this or the fact that they have no running water - they see it as living life on life's terms. Would that I could be nearly as gracious.