This afternoon in Uganda, we visited two hospitals – Mengo Hospital, and Mulago Hospital. Mengo is a private hospital which is good if you have some money, but if you’re like the majority of Ugandans, you end up at Mulago – a free or nearly-free government hospital.
While they do accomplish a lot at Mulago Hospital, the mortality rate is nearly 70% there. For perspective, one of the hospitals in my town in California has a 3% mortality rate which I assume is typical for good American hospitals. In the States, most people get better and go home from the hospital; in Uganda, most don’t get better, and most don’t go home. They wait too long to go to the hospital, and they often come in with extreme injuries or diseases, and when they do finally come in, the hospital is limited in its capabilities.
But, the overriding philosophy behind Loving One by One is to go find people who need the most love and encouragement, and try to give it to them. Sometimes we can actually help by providing basic medical care, or by providing funding for hospitalization. Then there are days like today where all we can do is visit.
So we went to Mulago. There we found lots of children and adults with broken bones, internal injuries, viruses, and severe burns. Burns are a big problem in Uganda – people cook on primitive stoves, and accidents happen. A lot. Mostly to small children. So our team moved throughout the various units of the hospital, bringing gifts and visiting. Somehow this morning, I got talked into bringing the ukulele and playing – no real plan, just bring it and see what might happen.
Walking through the various areas with some of our, more, uh…. “artistic” people and singing goofy songs was one extreme. It was truly one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done.
And the other extreme was a boy named George, a patient in the hospital. George and his brother had been the victim of poisoning, likely an intentional act of violence. George happened to be at the hospital alone today; normally his father would have been with him, but today George’s father was preoccupied – he was burying George’s brother who didn’t survive the poisoning.
One of our team members spent almost the entire time of our visit hanging out with George. He saw George’s massive surgical scar, where the doctors had made some sort of attempt to clear his body of the poison. Our team member felt George shouldn’t be alone today, so while the rest of us moved around and talked to lots of people (and played goofy songs), George was in his bed – possibly dying – with one of our guys giving up an hour or two with him.
Of course, it’s only Monday. Anything can still happen, and probably will. I’ll keep you posted.