- 2015-09-23 13:22:00
When many teenagers may have been resting in their comfortable beds during the Easter holidays, Georgina Jones (19) of Ashton was working hard at the Kizzizi Christian Hospital, Uganda. With a place at Cambridge University in October to study medicine, Georgie was following in her father, Jonathan’s footsteps as he has been to Africa in the past using his skills as an orthopaedic surgeon during his own holiday periods. The pair flew out together – Jonathan for two weeks and Georgie for five.
The hospital incorporates a Nursing School and a primary school on site, and Georgie not only helped on the wards, but in the school, too.
Because there is no seat belt law in Uganda, she witnessed the effects of many traffic accidents where ‘unnecessary’ broken legs and head injuries were common among adults and children. It does not help that a bribe will get a driver through the road test in this country.
“They still use traction,” she said, “and have a bucket at the end of the bed with stones as weights. My Dad tried to encourage them to use the correct weights!”
Jonathan was also able to help instruct other doctors in the use of hip casts, meaning that children born with dislocated hips could go home earlier. Georgie told us that flies were a problem and there were insufficient mosquito nets. Because of the shortage of equipment, children would sometimes share three to a bed in order to access machinery such as oxygen.
Because there are no GP’s, there were ‘crazy queues’ for outpatients at the hospital, and sadly, because most patients are expected to pay and still have faith in traditional Witch Doctor healing, some come to the hospital too late to be helped. If a death occurs then, it is sometimes the hospital which is blamed.
Asked if there was a problem with language, Georgie said that the Ugandans are friendly and because there were so many different languages, most people communicated in English.
We have all seen pictures of deprivation in parts of Africa, but she was unprepared for the level of poverty which the people she met felt acceptable. “It’s strange being in Africa”, Georgina told the Tribune. The area experienced a fierce storm while she was there.
Her mother, Cathy, a local GP, had been in touch daily but heard nothing for 24 hours, fearing that the hospital had been washed away by floods. Recently Christians have been targeted by militant Islamic forces and a Christian University in Kampala was attacked. This was a matter of some concern, the only protection at the hospital campus being one guard armed with a machete. However all was well and her daughter is safely home.
Being a Christian in some overseas countries can be dangerous. The staff at this Christian hospital support each other in their faith and work, beginning each morning with a service with prayer, attended by everyone. Georgie felt sustained by this. She is a member of St Botolph’s Church, Helpston where she sings in the choir. She also plays the flute in the church band at Benefice services.
Talking about the hospital’s school, “There were computers left unused,” she told us, “and some of the students were afraid of using the mouse.” She was able to encourage staff to dust off the computers and help teachers with their technology problems.
Before her father left for home, he and Georgie enjoyed an outing to the Queen Elizabeth Game Park. She felt enriched by her experience, but was glad to be home with her family.