We were a team of 6 who travelled from the damp of Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria to Uganda, led by Juliet who had put in tireless hours of preparation for the trip; only she had been to Uganda before. The team comprised of Juliet Burd and her son Tris (17), Dr Simon and Mrs Pauline Kaye and their children Emily (20), a Medical student, and Adam (16).
We knew that God was calling us to Uganda to do some sort of medical and teaching ministry, but we had to pray and discover exactly where we should begin. Simon sent many emails to drug companies to ask if they would donate vaccinations and drugs to support the project and we waited prayerfully for the results. He also researched the best vaccinations that could be given as a single treatment to youngsters vulnerable to infection. The response was miraculous! A company who had no history of charitable donation mailed back to offer 200 HIV testing kits – at a value of £2000 – for free. “I’m not quite sure why we’re doing this – we’ve never done it before!” commented the clerk from the company.
Simon contacted our local community health department to ask if we could borrow insulated boxes for the transportation of the vaccines (which need to be kept cool or they break down). The Health department were very helpful and then we had a surprise! It appeared that the Health department had about 140 MMR vaccines that were excess to requirements and that needed to be used within the next few months!
Through the Health department, God provided the bulk of the vaccines for free and we bought the remainder with funds that had been donated. Donations from local people have been incredibly generous. We also received 2 huge boxes of drugs from a charity called International Health Partners, which meant that we had treatments for most conditions that were likely to be present – although we were able to buy other treatments as and when needed because of the donated funds.
The day came for us to travel and we began to realise that “Red Tape” could be a stumbling block as we were planning to import medicines and vaccinations into Uganda. God answered all our prayers and we walked out of the airport at Entebbe with 2 huge boxes of drugs, 2 immunisation fridges and 12 suitcases.
Tris and Adam played football, parachute games did some music and drumming – the children loved them – and it was evident that they really appreciated all the energy, care (and sweat) that the boys put in.
In total we gave 189 HIV tests, 114 to sponsored children and 75 to the community both adults and children. Only 14 tests were positive. We worked alongside a trained HIV counsellor who spoke to those tested both before and afterwards, breaking harsh news in a loving and gentle way. Uganda operates a free treatment programme for those who are HIV+ and those newly diagnosed will be fed into this system. We gave 179 MMR vaccinations. All of the sponsored children were given worming treatments, as were many of their teachers.
After we had given the vaccinations and the HIV tests, we held open clinics for the children, their teachers and members of the community. We found, predictably, that many suffer from malaria, worm infestations, joint pains from their hard labouring lives and persisting coughs. We saw and treated all that we could, and made notes of those who needed specialised treatment and help so that we could organise the funding for that.
The great limiting factor was daylight, as none of our sites had electricity and night falls very quickly in equatorial Africa! Tris was a very effective torch bearer because of his height, and many pills were labelled by the light of a mobile phone.
Our numbers of children treated were limited by administrative difficulties – it was necessary to obtain consent from guardians before any treatment could be given and it wasn’t easy to find the responsible adults in question although Thomas worked long and hard to find as many as he could!
Juliet & Tris Burd
Simon, Pauline, Emily & Adam Kaye