24th March 2017
Wow what a day! Judy went off early to teach at the University. Five vagina Judy, all made out of sponge, taught 30 midwifery students learning how to suture. The students rotated with small group learning carried out by Julia from the Peace Corps (we work in all sorts of teams).
Meanwhile Frankie and Paul had an appointment with Sister Margaret who runs the wards at Lira Hospital. However, when we arrived the courtyard was filled with singing nurses in their smart, clean green uniforms. While we watched several 4x4s swept up and out came the Uganda Health Minister and her entourage. Dr Aceng Ruth Ocero. Ruth had once worked in Lira and was warmly welcomed by the nurses who clapped, shouted and ululated (something between singing and yelling, once heard, never forgotten. Frankie was introduced and made sure the Minister was aware of PAL and its work there. After the planting of a tree (a new beginning for the hospital we thought) we adjourned to tents for the opening of the new Track TB building funded by USAID. The most poignant speech was given by Betty, a local girl who recovered from drug resistant TB and is now a patient advocate working in the unit.
We sneaked out before the end because we had been invited to the inauguration of the new Chancellor at Lira University. Benjamin Odoki was the chief justice of Uganda who wrote the constitution in 1996 after the war. We walked into the Faculty building and bumped into a delegation headed by Professor Jasper, the VC, showing the Chancellor around. We were introduced, chatted for a while and joined the tour. We ended up sitting behind the Chancellor and University Board as honoured guest at the outdoor ceremony, with hundreds of students sitting to our left, the Faculties staff to our right and a flat grass arena in front. All around the magical african bush stretching for miles from this wonderful hilltop position. The campus is 620 acres and was originally a stock farm and later an interment camp that housed hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the LRA.
Speeches, accolades to the work of PAL from the VC, Chairman of the Council, Deputy VC and the Chancellor himself. We felt very included. Entertained by the students re-enacting traditional dances (Larakaraka Acholi courtship dance and Kiri-Lango war dance). Finished with a fine feast taken by all. Lots of networking with the VC, deputy VC, Dean of the Health Science Faculty and lots of others. Paul nipped off for a tour of the library with the librarian and talked about linking with BU library as LU will have full fiberoptic internet access in the next 2 months.
No quite what we had planned but a wonderful opportunity to be recognised and link at the highest level. Rumour has it the the Ugandan President is coming next week, now wouldn’t that be a coup!