My name is Nicole Fox and I’m a 2nd year medical student. In January I travelled to Fort Portal to spend 2 weeks in the Maranatha Clinic. I’ve seen a lot of the Australian health system through my work as a paramedic, so this was a chance to experience health care delivery in a developing country. I had a sense that I would be challenged by medical presentations and scenarios rarely seen on Australian shores.
It was a long, hot and dusty journey to Fort Portal but all that was forgotten on my first morning at the clinic when I was welcomed with ‘good morning doctor’ at the morning staff meeting. Ward rounds commenced soon after and my learning had begun. The wards were nothing like Australian wards: a room the size of the average Aussie lounge room, filled with cots and single beds; no curtains to separate patients; and family members with cooking goods and bedding on the floor so they could stay overnight and tend to their family member. All in all it become quite crowded!
The children who came for treatment to Maranatha were beautiful, resilient, often amused and sometimes uncertain at seeing a white person. Unfortunately many were also very sick. Some children sadly did not leave Maranatha, though thankfully a good many did. It was amazing to see a child present very unwell and several days later find them no longer on the ward, but outside on the play equipment.
I cannot speak highly enough of the staff of Maranatha. All are proud Ugandans who work very hard and enjoy what they do. They really love Maranatha, and were so welcoming and helpful to me. A highlight of my time was going for ice cream with some of the nurses after work.
I loved my time with Maranatha. Whilst some things I witnessed were sad, and difficult because there was little I could do, the overriding satisfaction from being able to intervene when something could be done far outweighed the former. I hope to return to Maranatha on completing my degree to solidify the friendships I made and enhance my skills as a doctor.
Nicole has since joined the MH Australia team as a volunteer coordinator, helping to prepare and support other volunteers and students heading to our projects in Uganda. Welcome aboard Nicole, it's so great to have you on the team.