For the past 12 years, we have had the great privilege of partnering with Aspen. Each year, staff members from Aspen offices across the globe visit Adara’s projects on the ground to see firsthand the impact of this partnership. This year, we had the pleasure of hosting seven Aspen staff members at Kiwoko Hospital. As always, they left inspired by the incredible experience and invigorated by the knowledge that so much of this work has been made possible by Aspen’s support. They have been kind enough to share some of their stories and reflections with us.
By Gill Wyse
Today marks the end of what has been the most incredible eye opening and inspiring trip I have ever had. From day 1 we have been welcomed with such hospitality and kindness by the Adara team, members of Kiwoko Hospital and all those we’ve met along the way in Uganda.
As you’ll have read from the other Ambassadors blogs, we spent the majority of our time at the Kiwoko Hospital and in and around the surrounding communities. A few things in particular during that time stood out to me; 1) the absolute commitment that every member of the hospital has for the patients they treat and those they try to reach further afield. Without that determination and commitment so many more would suffer and be deprived of the most basic and crucial health services they provide, 2) the importance of the partnership Adara has with Kiwoko and therefore the importance of the relationship between Aspen and Adara. Aspen’s partnership with Adara enables them to provide so much support and financial aid to Kiwoko to ensure critical services are in place and the infrastructure exists to provide those services, and 3) the children. Uganda has the world’s youngest population with over 78% of its population below the age of 30. Children well below the age of 10 were looking after the younger children in the family, of which the average number of children in a family is 6. They were also walking, sometimes long distances, to fetch the water cans and seemed to perform many of the household duties we would typically see our parents do. They appeared to do so much and yet were always smiling, getting on with the task without moaning and enjoying themselves when they had the opportunity. I personally have learnt a lot from them and it’s made me see many things quite differently now.
After an intense but wonderful few days I’m Kiwoko it was time to head North to the Murchison Falls National Park to explore the safari plains and cruise up Lake Victoria. In all honestly, I don’t think many of us were expecting much – maybe an elephant in the distance seen only through binoculars. What we got however, couldn’t have been further from that. We were spoilt with numerous close-up encounters with elephants, giraffe, lions and hippos to name just a few. What a way to finish the trip.
When I look back at my time in Uganda, I’ll remember the waving hands of little children as they rushed to the side of the road to greet us, the calmness and professionalism of all those that worked at Kiwoko Hospital, and the beautiful lush green landscape. As one who doesn’t like flying, is a fussy eater and whose Irish skin does not fare well in the sun … I’d go back to Uganda in a heartbeat.
And as I write this 40,000 feet up in the air I’m reminded (and fully plagiarising) of the words Peter spoke during our last dinner in Kiwoko. The staff thanked us, Aspen, at every opportunity for our continued support. But they also gave something back to us; they taught us that you can achieve anything when you have the right vision, that communities that support and work together is what enables us all to succeed and thrive, and that a positive attitude will take you far in life. So, here’s hoping that the partnership with Adara and Kiwoko lasts for many more years and that some of you have the pleasure of experiencing all that we have on future trips to Uganda.