World colliding: Insights from our Nepal team’s trip to Uganda

When Angjuk, Kyamma and Menuka from Adara’s Nepal team visited Uganda late last month, it felt like worlds colliding. But rather than seeing ensuing mayhem and chaos, there was only harmony and a distinct sense that there is so much knowledge to be shared across the different areas of our work.

Angjuk (Nepal Programme Manager), Kyamma (Health Coordinator) and Menuka (Health Programme Manager) are key implementers of our remote community development health programmes. Much of this work is centred in Humla, in the remote Nepali Himalayas which historically had serious gaps in health service access.

The goal of this trip was to provide our Nepal team with the opportunity to learn more about our maternal, newborn and child health programmes carried out in partnership with Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda, and to see what’s possible in newborn care. We recently sat down with Angjuk to discuss highlights from the trip and how it will impact future project considerations.

Your time with the Uganda team looked incredible! It’s obvious you covered a lot of ground. Could you tell us a bit about what you did in Uganda? What were some of the highlights?

Angjuk: The trip began with the opportunity to participate in the World Prematurity Day 2019 event. We marched with Adara’s banner in Busia, a town in Eastern Uganda. This was followed by a daylong event showcasing Adara’s maternal, newborn and child health projects.

We had training sessions with Heidi (Adara’s Global Health Director) and Sr Christine (Uganda Global Health Manager) on helping babies to breathe, Kangaroo Mother Care, essential care for babies and preparation for delivery.

We attended village health team (VHT) monthly meetings, learnt from VHTs and Sr Corne (Community Midwife) about Adara’s new Hospital to Home project and met with some of the families on a VHT follow-up visit. We toured the maternity ward and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and learnt a lot about the project from the Adara team and nurses working there. We were so impressed with the state-of-the-art facility and the quality of care.

What learning or experience will you take back with you to Nepal and how do you think this will impact Adara’s work?

Angjuk: This trip has been very fruitful, and we have learnt lots. It made us believe that it is possible to build and establish a fully-fledged hospital, such as Kiwoko Hospital in a very remote setting. Kiwoko Hospital has great management in place, good hospitality, competent and dedicated staff, a state of the art NICU and it’s functioning so well.

We dream to have a hospital like Kiwoko in Humla someday, but we do understand it took over 20 years to come to this level. On this visit, we could start thinking of small plans to build a bigger picture. We had the opportunity to consider how we could lay the foundations for mini Kiwoko Hospital concept in Humla.

We are so impressed with the Hospital to Home project which acts as a bridge between the hospital and home in reducing newborn deaths, improving exclusive breastfeeding, nutrition and hygiene. This project can be very effective in improving maternal and newborn health in remote regions like Humla and Ghyangfedi. In Nepal, we have Female Community Health Volunteers who are always in the community to improve maternal and newborn child heath. Seeing Adara’s Hospital to Home project made us realise how powerful it can be to upskill these volunteers.

What was it like to spend time with the Adara Uganda team?

Angjuk: It was amazing to meet all our Ugandan team in person and learn from each other. We have heard so much about our work and team there. Being able to meet them in person and see projects with our own eyes was a whole different experience. They are open, friendly, dedicated and compassionate people. To share a “Matoke” meal with the Ugandan team, learn from Dan the source of River Nile is in Uganda and to teach him Mount Everest is in Nepal was simply great and memorable.

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