Wheelsblog – Uganda, Yumbe 2023: Blog 4
We've got a fantastic Wheels for the World team in Yumbe, Uganda for the next ten days. The team are reporting back with regular blogs. Here's the third report. Please continue to pray for the team in their ongoing work. Thank you for your support.
Yumbe Blog 4 (Days nine to ten) May 10–11th 2023
Can you believe that the container was released yesterday and will be at the HHA Compound tomorrow whilst the team is driving to Murchison Falls! Very frustrating and disappointing as we all know that a ‘proper distribution’ is so different. We wanted to come and personally distribute all the equipment in the container, but instead are leaving the HHA team with a lot of extra work to fit into their already crowded programme.
However, we have been able to spend quality time with 41 beneficiaries reviewing equipment previously given and fitting a small number of wheelchairs, mostly to children with complex needs. This provided invaluable opportunities for HHA wheelchair technicians to have in-depth teaching and mentoring about different specialist wheelchairs when seating more complex clients. God’s ways are not always our ways, so we are learning to go with the flow! If the container had arrived, we would not have reviewed 11 clients each of whom had a story to share.
Today we visited Palorinya refugee camp, Moyo, travelling two hours to get there. We passed the border controls into South Sudan where a crowd of people could be seen; some were there to enforce illegal crossings whilst others were trying to enter Uganda. This was a reminder that still today there are horrible events happening causing people to leave their home, land and belongings in the hope that they can at least hold onto their lives. Scovia, who has worked with us each day, told us her story of leaving South Sudan as a refugee in 2017. She left everything behind except some clothing and walked 30km to the border carrying her 3-month-old baby which she said was very frightening. Her husband, a pharmacist, stayed in South Sudan so that he could earn, but in remaining risked his own life. Scovia told us that on arriving at the camp she was given a water can, some soap, beans, rice, salt, a blanket, a mat and a piece of tarpaulin and shown a small area of land to make a home. Scovia still fears returning to South Sudan and Agnes, the lead Community Based Rehabilitation Worker, identified ‘mental torture’ as the greatest challenge which needs addressing to restore hope.
On the camp we saw mainly disabled children and were able to give out some chairs. Two women had left at 0600 with their disabled child and some sibling to walk 5 km in the hope of receiving a wheelchair. This shows how desperate people are for help in caring for their disabled children. Another child Peter, (5 yrs old) could stand but wobbled badly. When fitted with a pair of special Pedro boots which improved his ankle stability, he was able to walk to the delight of his mother. He was given a wheelchair so will now be able to go to school and will be supplied with a walking frame when the container is unloaded.
The are many things we take for granted in the developed western world, so several incidences reminded us of the daily struggles here. We had a power surge that ‘fried’ chargers for laptops and phones hindering John who takes our photos and all of us relying on a charged phone and Dave’s hotspot. During our distribution under a spreading tree to use some shade as the temperature was a mere 32C, a very poisonous Green Tree Snake fell down directly beside therapists working with the child. The father grabbed the child as Moses, our partner techie, killed it with a strong stick so we could resume work.
On our return journey the road conditions had changed as it had rained, so the hard dusty road quickly turned into mud and massive puddles. When we went down a ravine and tried to go up the other side there was a spectacular thump, so the driver stopped at the top to see his spare tyre at the bottom of a soggy flooded road. David, our pastor, joined Ema our driver, lying under the back of the vehicle trying to clip it back into position. Probably a regular occurrence but challenging none the less!