Text in italics and green are excerpts from emails from Roberta Spencer
Roberta extended her trip by a week from her original plan – there was just too much to do in a short time! She was able to visit some other partners of PCAU in western Uganda and she represented CHC on a visit to Mulago School of Nursing and Midwifery, where we work with PCAU to support training the next generation of palliative care nurses in Uganda. Roberta also led a retreat for the PCAU staff which was very appreciated by the team.
Whenever I travel over all these years, I greatly appreciate the drivers for PCAU. How they manage the roads and traffic is amazing. I feel safe! There are so many picture opportunities from the car window as we move along but I feel too much like a tourist taking pictures, I sit back and marvel at the activity and all I see and thank God for this opportunity.
We visited western Uganda – Mbarara, an area I am somewhat familiar with from past travels to Uganda – for training programs, conferences, workshops, etc. We stopped by some land that Mark wanted me to see that was donated to PCAU by someone from the local Rotary Club. It’s in a lovely location and looks toward a very green, hilly area. It seemed peaceful. Mark has some ideas for the development of the land, but in the future. Mark is thinking to build hostels for children and their families to stay while getting treatments at nearby health facilities. It would bring some services for children into a much-needed area. Hopes and dreams are so much a part of life in Uganda.
We also visited Kitagata Hospital on the way to Mbarara. The word “Kitagata” means hot springs. Yes, there is a small hot spring in the area which many believe is healing. The focus was to talk about transportation of children with cancer for treatments to Mbarara Regional Hospital. Many are not treated due to transport challenges. The topic of childhood malnutrition was also discussed. The needs of the hospital are many and it is a poor area. They are appreciative of the interest, advice, and involvement of PCAU. We visited the pediatric ward – it is hard to describe in words when I think of our hospitals (in US). Yet it is all the area has. This is a government hospital. PCAU sent some meager supplies, including a pediatric wheelchair and pediatric crutches. They were received with much appreciation.
I don’t think I talked about my visit with Mark to Mulago School of Nursing and Midwifery. We met with staff from the school: principal, deputy principal, dean, finance person and teachers that are responsible for integrating palliative care into their curriculum. The integration took place several years back, but PCAU maintains contact since the Center for Hospice Care supports nurses to attend the program so the goal of “Spreading Palliative Care to all of Uganda” can be accomplished. The school expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Center for Hospice Care for their strong support over the years for the nurses’ training. Both Mark and I had a chance to speak.
After taking a picture with the school administration and faculty, we stopped by where some of the sponsored nurses had gathered – others are still arriving for the beginning of classes. We spoke to them, learned of the districts/hospitals they represented, gave encouragement in their studies and of course had a picture taken.
After work on my final day, the staff gathered to bid me farewell. It is always a moving time for me because they each speak their appreciation, but it is I who should say, “thank you!” I have learned so much over the years and the experiences have changed my life and also Tom’s life. Hopefully we have learned to live more simply, appreciate what we have and to reach out to others. Every country, every community has needs.
All the staff expressed appreciation to the Center for Hospice Care for all they do for PCAU, and I am appreciative of them too for trusting me to represent the partnership – which is strong and thriving, something to be proud of.”