Thank You!

As this trip draws to a close, I wanted to say a few words of thanks…

A huge thank you must go to the Rafiki team. Without them doing their amazing work, Prossy would not have received the treatment on her burns that she so badly needed. Rafiki is in it’s 10th year and completed a record 78 surgeries in 10 days with only two surgeons. Their personal touch and professionalism was second to none in what must have been a very challenging environment for them.

I also want to sincerely thank everyone who donated money, clothes and stationary for the orphanage as well as all the messages of support along the way. So many people were involved in making this happen and, together, we’ve done something amazing.

This blog has had over 1,500 views from 14 different countries.

Welaba! x

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End of The Road

After a few days of travelling (and not being able to get on the internet), We arrived back in Kabale safe and sound on Wednesday evening. The journey was far better than the previous one even if the boat was a bit dodgy. Prossy seemed to be happy to be back in familiar surroundings and especially to see her grandmother.

Prossy with her grandmother

Prossy with her grandmother

Prossy soaking my leg whilst sleeping on the bus…

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The director of the orphanage has arranged for Prossy to stay in with a teacher at the school until she recovered a bit more. I am very happy with this as the staff there can keep an eye on her and look out for infections etc. She already seems to be moving her arm and using it a lot more so I feel happy leaving her knowing that she is on the up.

So, it’s the end of the road, for this lil’ lady at least. It has been a wonderful and emotional ride but it is now time for me to begin the long journey home. Prossy is a special little girl and I am so happy that her future looks a little bit brighter following this surgery. Here’s to one brave and very special little girl.

Back at ALS

Back at ALS

I will update some pictures on this blog in a few months so we can see how she has healed.

Day 8 – Perfect Day

I mentioned previously that I was excited about today as it would be the day when we got a first glimpse at the work the Rafiki team have done on young Prossy and I wasn’t disappointed. We went into theatre and I was promptly handed a chair just in case I decided to keel over at what was underneath. Luckily for everyone, the combination of me not being very squeamish and everything looking good underneath the dressings meant that I didn’t need the chair after all. I have to admit, when the dressings came off I thought it looked a bit gross still, mainly due to my eye being untrained but the surgeon was very pleased with it as was everyone else in the room. They said that they thought she was a healthy little girl and would have no problem recovering from this.

It was pretty incredible to be in there and see it for myself. As you can see from the following picture, her arm is fully raised which she could get nowhere near before the op…

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She was not amused when she came to…

...even my hair net didn't help

…even my hair net didn’t help

Nothing a packet of stickers couldn’t sort out though…

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The surgeon, Barry, told me that the aftercare is as important as the surgery itself and she will need to have a splint at night, do exercises and have the area massaged twice daily so tomorrow I will speak with the team and try and get a care plan written down to give to the Amazing Love School to make sure she gets the maximum from this procedure.

Dave, Steve, Myself and Barry (Prossy's surgeon)

Dave, Steve, Myself and Barry (Prossy’s surgeon)

After some food and a sleep I took Prossy to the play room again to try and get her moving and using her arm. I think she is used to using one arm after the last 6 days but when she didn’t think about it she was raising up a big ball and stacking small chairs up high so she will get there slowly, I’m sure. Tomorrow evening we begin our return journey so here’s hoping she gets stronger still as each day passes.

Day 7 – One Week In

This morning I arrived at the hospital with a watermelon, pineapple, bananas and worming tablets. I was wondering how someone so small could eat so much!

Breakfast time

Breakfast time

As I stated previously, it was a day off for the Rafiki staff so everything was a bit slow in the ward today. I did manage to get permission to take a few pics of the ward though..

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…you may have noticed on previous pictures, Prossy’s bed is not in this ward. Her teacher got her mattress and set up camp in the main lobby area so they actually have the best bed in the house. The Rafiki staff love playing around with Prossy so I don’t think anyone has the heart to move them.

I took her to the playroom again today and I found some puzzles for her to do. I was amazed at the speed she completed them in …I gave her four in the end and she had finished each one before I could find the next. Whilst she was playing in there I had a look around the burns unit that the room is in and, to my horror, I saw that they do not dress burns at the hospital but rather leave them open to air (and flies). I saw some terrible burns on young children and they will be in agony with it being open like that. I have been told that the rate of infection is very high but due to lack of resources, they are all left like that. As I was looking around the wards I heard a horrific scream come from the end of the corridor, it was the sort of scream you don’t ignore, so I ran down and turned the corner to find a mother that had just lost her baby. I don’t think I have ever seen somebody in so much distress …it was really quite upsetting.

Puzzled? Not a chance.

Puzzled? Not a chance.

Tomorrow is a big day and I am very excited to see what the surgeons have done. Prossy was not even able to raise her arm as high as it is now in the splint so I think it will be a big change for her. I have a feeling that she will not even remember this in a few weeks and I kind of hope that is that case.

Day 6 – Play Time

Today was a bit of an exciting day for young Prossy as we managed to find a room with a few toys, puzzles and a black board. Her teacher, Rebecca, found this especially good as she was able to do some educational exercises with her…

Make-shift classroom

Make-shift classroom

Strutting her numeric stuff...

Strutting her numeric stuff…

It is the Rafiki team’s day off tomorrow so it will be an interesting day in the wards with no staff there. I found a small playground when leaving Sekou Toure hospital today so hopefully, with a bit of distraction, it will be another easy day for Prossy.

Tolly Dolly

Trolly Dolly

…she is second in line on Monday morning to go under anesthetic and have her dressings changed. Fingers crossed we will all get a good look at the outcome of her surgery for the first time.

Day 5 – Day of Rest

Today was another day of well deserved rest and recuperation for Prossy. This is great but does not give me much material for this blog 🙂

Since the surgery on Tuesday my days have mostly consisted of visiting the hospital two or three times a day to make sure that everything is ok and to play with Prossy for a few hours. The hospital does not provide food for patients so at first I was having to run around town three times a day with Tupperware pots trying to find some nutritious food to take back for them. Fortunately for all of us, I have since met local woman who prepares fresh local food and delivers it three times a day to the ward. My Swahili is pretty basic so they would generally end up with either the same stuff or something totally random and not very tasty.

When I arrived this morning both Prossy and her teacher, Rebecca, were asleep on the mattress. Prossy had her arm up in the air and it was getting higher and lower with every breath. It was quite funny to see…
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I spoke to the nurses about leaving on Tuesday evening next week and they were happy with this. The dressings will be changed on Monday morning so if there are any problems this leaves us with a bit of time to get it sorted. After they gave me the thumbs up I went to the port and booked the tickets for the ferry on Tuesday evening. I was slightly apprehensive because of their safety record but the alternative is pretty bad too so I booked us a first-class cabin (not as fancy as it sounds, trust me) on the top deck ….at least we’ll be first out if anything happens. Then just the animals in the water to deal with…

Presuming no ferry sinking/animal attack situations arise, I am hoping to have Prossy back at the orphanage safe and sound on Wednesday evening. I am actually looking forward to taking her on her first boat and seeing her reaction. All smiles as usual I reckon!

Heart Vs Head

As there is not a lot to update on whilst Prossy is recovering I thought I would jot down some of the thoughts and feelings that this trip has provoked in me.

For those of you reading this with no knowledge about Prossy’s past, her injuries were caused when she was just a year old and her mother left her alone with a candle beside the bed that she was laying on. The candle fell over onto the mattress and, as she was so young, she was not able to move herself out of harms way so she was in there until somebody was able to get her out. Before Prossy, her mother had a son that died in same circumstances and, after the incident with Prossy, her mother was never seen again. It is a tragic story for everyone involved and I can’t help feeling sorry for the mother also who is somewhere out there bearing this pain too. Prossy came to the attention of the Amazing Love School in Kabale, Uganda and since then has been attending the school and living with her elderly grandmother who has health concerns of her own. The treatment she is having here in Mwanza is the first she will have had for the injuries she sustained.

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I don’t think I am exaggerating to say that I have a strong connection with this little girl. It is very difficult for me to explain this in words but, despite us not being able to speak with each other fully, she seems very happy around me and I get the same feeling with her. This has made me feel quite sad about the prospect of leaving her and to think of what her future might look like with no family support (both emotional and financial) whatsoever when her grandmother passes away.

Before I go on I think it’s important to think about what ‘help’ is as what my western mind thinks is help might not be classed as help in another culture. Personally, when I think about how to help her I am thinking about her life opportunities, access to services such has health care, a decent education and a strong family-like support network. Ignoring the bureaucracy and logistics of it all, you can probably imagine that my heart just wants to bring her home with me and provide her with all of these things but my head tells me that it is very difficult to know whether that is in her best interests.

During my studies I have read a lot about cultural identity and the impact it can have on children as they get older. Whilst I think that with a conscious effort this impact can be reduced, it would still be a major concern of mine and something I would have to think long and hard about before doing something like that. That being said, with the hardships that she is almost certainly going to face in her future, I guess it would come down to weighing up the lesser of two evils. It would be different if she could make an informed decision herself but, as she is only 3 years old, I think it is a big call to make about another person’s life and the potential negative impact would make me very cautious indeed. Being out here, I can completely understand why some people choose to adopt after experiencing some of these countries and I believe they have the best of intentions when doing so. I’m sure everyone will have their own opinion on this…

Obsessed with pulling my hair

Obsessed with pulling my hair

Realistically though, I am not currently in a position to do this myself even if I did believe that it would provide her with more than she would lose, which I do by the way, so for now I will continue to support her in any way I can from the UK. Prossy is a beautiful and incredibly smart little girl with so much potential …lets hope that with this support, and the love and warmth she is provided at the Amazing Love School, the future will be bright for this little tiger.