Aspen Ambassador Blog – Day Six – Kiwoko to Murchinson

Since 2007, The ISIS Foundation has had the great privilege of partnering with Aspen. It has been an amazing partnership, which has shown us all the exponential power of linking the business sector with those in need in the developing world. Together, we have been able to provide the hospital with a new and expanded neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and a brand new maternity ward. In addition, Aspen helps people living with HIV to stay happy and healthy through various programmes. Most recently, Aspen has committed to supporting the ISIS Safe Motherhood projects as part of the larger community based health care programme.

Each year, eight Aspen staff members from offices across the globe come to Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda to see firsthand the impact of this partnership. Every year, they leave inspired. For the next week, the ambassadors will be writing a blog each day about their experience at Kiwoko. This is Day Six.

By Amit Saxena – Aspen Ambassador – Aspen Singapore Office

Flying into Uganda was similar to a homecoming for me. It seemed as if I had been here before since everything looked so familiar. It may have been due to the fact that my personal relationship with Africa runs deeper.

There is something about Africa that has always attracted me since I began travelling there – the vast expanses of greenery, the bright African sunshine, the rawness of the nature, the slow pace of life, the warmth and innocence of its people. It was all there in Uganda and we hope it stays that way for several years to come.

We began day 6 with a very heavy heart knowing that our trip was nearing its end. Our stay at Kiwoko had been an emotional rollercoaster ride with plenty of inspiring stories to tell our colleagues back home, some of them hitting very close to heart. These will always stay with me. What will also stay with me is the sincere gratitude and thankfulness of everyone including the hospital staff and patients at Kiwoko to Aspen for their contribution and turning hope into reality.

Congratulations to both ISIS and Aspen for a great job being done!!! This is as good a partnership as it gets.

Man and child high fivingWe left the hospital compounds and headed for the much talked about Murchinson waterfall located in the National Park by the same name. At the top of the falls, the river Nile reduces in width to pass through a 7 meter gap in the rocks falling more than 40 meters to later join Lake Albert. The Nile thereon is called the Albertan Nile. The falls were discovered by the British explorer and naturalist, Samuel Baker and named after Sir Roderick Murchisson who was the President of the Royal Geographical Society. Watching the water gush down, my head was filled with the events of the past few days, trying to let the experience all sink in.

Amit in sack raceSoon after checking in, our next destination was to see the lower part of the falls where we also expected to see a lot of wildlife enroute. We were not disappointed. Families of Hippos were a dime a dozen. They seem harmless from far away, but curiously enough, are largest killers of humans in Africa after mosquitoes (something we learned at a Doctors meeting at Kiwoko!). There were plenty of buffaloes and water buck too. We also met up with a lone elephant close to the water which was unusual since they are mostly found in herds. He posed while the camera clicks went on incessantly. Nile crocodiles were rare but we got to see a few smaller ones. Being a noisy bunch on the boat, we may have scared them away. A couple of us had their feet dangling in the water, until captain James told us we were in the “croc restaurant” area.

The evening was spent visiting the savanah grasslands in the hope of seeing lions. Despite George luring them with “kitty kitty” calls, they never showed up. Giraffes, buffaloes, warthogs, antelopes and heart beast were abundant. The heart beast supposedly has one of the shortest memory spans in the animal kingdom. Try explaining reinsurance to them.

The day ended driving back into the evening sunset against the Albertan Nile. It was a long day to cool down and assimilate all that we had gone through the previous days.

To say that the trip to Kiwoko was an emotionally intense and inspiring experience would be an understatement. It has changed my perspective on life forever and I am thankful for having been there to experience it.

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