By JACdesign@rocketmail.com

Thu, Sep 28, 2017

As a trustee of IHCC and a retired nurse and midwife I was able to visit Kampala in July and work with the IHCC team. When the plane descended it was raining and dull not what I had expected ,but after getting through customs it was so lovely to see  Paul and Liz at the end of a long line of unfamiliar faces. I then met James our driver who took us to Kisenyi Health Centre which is the main referral centre. I was greeted by two lovely children who held a poster saying ‘Welcome Elspeth’ it was so sweet and made me feel very welcome. One little girl was Esther whose case history I had been following in the UK so I was delighted to meet her and see her progress. She had been fitted with hearing aids three months previously and had come back for a follow up appointment. Esther was beginning to make sounds and could say 'mama and papa' much to the delight of her mother. They were both so happy. This is what Ian Hutcheon Clinic for Children (IHCC) and ‘Let the Children Hear’ is all about, making a difference no matter how big or small. I felt privileged to be able to witness firsthand the work that is happening on the ground in Uganda.

My first impression of the clinic was how small it was and how adaptable our amazing team of Ruth, Jojo and Daniel were. They were working in such cramped conditions and yet doing such wonderful work.

During my time in Kampala, not all of our work was clinical. For the past two years we have been exploring the possibility of extending the clinic behind and taking the space at the back of the postnatal ward. We desperately needed a bigger sound treated room to accommodate expansion of our services and Ruth our administrator needed an office.

The Senior Nursing Officer of the Health Centre was very happy to support our plans as were KCCA who oversee the running of the health centres in Kampala. We met the builders twice, and had two meetings with the town planners. After our second meeting we were given permission to go ahead with the extension. Expansion of our clinic has now been completed and the staff are enjoying working in the new purpose built centre.

We did one outreach clinic organised by ‘Mogas’ a petrol company, which was held in the forecourt of their depot. Along with Primary Ear and Hearing Care there were two other services being offered, a blood donors tent and an eye clinic which tested people's eyesight and supplied free glasses . With Dr Paul, Liz and Jovia one of our nurses, we saw 28 children. The mobile Clinic was used for screening as it has a sound treated section at the rear , and the tent area was used for treatment of ear diseases. The mothers were so happy when the treatment of antibiotics was given free. 

The Minister of Health visited the outreach clinic and was very interested in the work of IHCC. When the clinic was over we had some fun with the local slum children.We supplied them with pink face masks, hooters and bubbles and their smiling faces were a joy.

I have never been anywhere where the traffic was so uncontrolled with Bodas (motor bikes) zooming in and out of cars, buses, and taxis. To travel only a few miles could take an hour, but thanks to the skill of our driver James we always arrived at our destination safely.

A very impressionable day was a visit to a Street Children's Orphanage. We took our mobile clinic and were able to provide hearing screening on the children. The children were so excited to see us when we arrived and were all very eager to be tested. There were over 50 children in the orphanage from age three to sixteen and it is so hard to imagine that they all at one time lived on the streets.

Education and Screening is so important as the earlier deafness is detected and diagnosed the earlier treatment can be implemented. This will have a great impact on a child's life in as much as communication, speech and normal development.

My experiences in Uganda were many. Some were heart wrenching, some very happy ones, and some very sad ones, but where ever we went everyone was so happy to see us and very grateful for the help we were giving.

I would like to thank Paul and Liz our founders of IHCC for the tremendous work they do and for giving me the opportunity to visit Kampala. I would also like to thank all our sponsors and supporters for the help they give in enabling this great unique charity to give some happiness, free treatment, and hearing, to the children of Kampala.

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