In 2002, after retirement as a physiotherapist, I read an article in Frontline about Kumi Hospital, an old leprosy centre in eastern Uganda and now a general hospital, asking for volunteers so I replied and soon arrived into an unknown world. Twenty years later, this has developed into a registered charity with UK Trustees and a local team involved with helping families with children with disabilities and living in extreme poverty in the remote rural areas.
We are partnered with Kumi Hospital, Wheels for the World, Interplast UK and are linked with Dentaid. The local team consists of our team leader who is a social worker, a physiotherapist, a CBR worker, an administrator and a nutrition nurse all of whom are employees of the hospital but are volunteers for KCF. The hospital has an orthopaedic workshop which makes prostheses, simple wooden seating for brain damaged babies and children, standing frames etc.
I stay an average of ten weeks a year and I returned from my last visit in March 2022 when we were joined by our partner Wheels for the World, for a week’s distribution of 119 wheelchairs dispatched from UK and as many again mobility aids. The remaining weeks of our five-week visit were occupied with our rehab programme and fieldwork
The Soroti Care Centre was initiated by our CBR worker to provide support and assessment which we support. Families with children with disabilities or malnourishment can come for assessment and formulation of a treatment plan if appropriate. Home visits follow if necessary. Some of the activities we have include making walking aids such as parallel bars on site with local materials, income generation projects, simple housebuilding, providing wheelchairs, tricycles, mobility aids, rehab, funding for surgeries and hospital nutrition support with the payment of hospital bills with our mission being “Helping Others to Help Themselves”.
We have sponsored youngsters in education all of which have disabilities or a sibling with a disability. We fund school fees from baby class through to university level.
- The latest challenge has been the COVID pandemic where the Trustees have been unable visit in person but our local team has continued as much as the restrictions allowed
- The people’s poverty levels and remoteness limit the access to healthcare and hospital services
- Lack of education in basic health issues and their ability to fund schooling
- Provision of transport
Highlights of Last Visit
- The Wheels for the World Visit and Distribution
- Official Opening Day of the Soroti Care Centre
- The visiting Dutch Orthopaedic Surgeon’s camp
- Our next objective is to arrange the surgical mission of Interplast UK for plastic surgery in October 2022. Our local team is identifying the patients and compiling a list.
- To continue to consider the families holistically and provide resources within our ability
- To continue with funds raising efforts
Elspeth Robinson MCSP (retired)