On Friday 4th March, I arrived at Manchester airport relieved to have a negative Covid test and Visa in hand. After several months of WhatsApp messages and phone calls, Kath and I finally met in the queue for check in! Kath has been working in Glasgow and is coming to Kampala for 4 months to work with the same organisation as me. It has been great to talk through plans and bounce ideas off each other about how best to use our luggage allowance, and was lovely to finally meet in person.
And so the adventure began! Travel was smooth, we sailed through immigration and Covid checks easily, and were able to get a sim card and data sorted on arrival which was a relief. We then set straight to taking in as much information as we could about where we were staying, what work would look like and important things to know when living in Kampala! We are staying in Makindye district in Kampala, in a compound with eleven houses in. For now, I am staying with Mhoira (Medical Director for Cairdeas) and Kath is staying with another friend in the compound, but we’ll be moving into another house in the compound together in a few weeks when it becomes available. It’s a nice little oasis where you can forget you are so close to the bustle of a busy Kampala road, with lots of trees, verandas and birds including Gerald the Guineafowl who is having an identity crisis by playing chicken with our car each day!
Our first full day was a Sunday so meant we could visit Lugogo Baptist Church. We were so warmly welcomed, including having to introduce ourselves on a microphone, and it was great to be able to worship together with Church family in another country! We were also able to have a welcome treat that evening with a cocktail at the gorgeous Latitude Hotel with views over Kampala and Lake Victoria, followed by pizza…..a lovely way to spend an evening!
Monday brought the start of our first week at work. We will be working in two government hospitals on opposite sides of the city: Mulago Hospital and Kirudu Hospital. They are big referral hospitals for Uganda with lots of specialties, a cancer institute and caring for both adults and children. It was great to meet the team we will be working with and they were really welcoming and patient with all of our questions over the coming days. The week involved us trying to not get lost in the hospital, meeting lots of people, reviewing patients, teaching medical students and junior doctors, and making plans for the coming weeks/months. Mhoira is heading back to the UK soon, so we are trying to take in as much as possible while we have her here with us. But more on work life in future posts….
The first week also involved lots of new experiences: first time driving a car in Kampala rush hour, navigating round the city without getting lost, buying vegetables from local stalls, finding a local gym and pool, and walking along a street without getting knocked off by a boda (motorbike)! We were glad to have the weekend to re-charge, starting it with a frappucino at a cafe we found on our commute home! On Saturday, we went on a trip to Mbamba swamp which is on the outskirts of Kampala. We went on a boat trip through the marshes and saw lots of beautiful birds: the Malakite, the Jesus bird (looks like he’s walking in water) and the rare Shoebill stalk which looks strangely like a dodo! It was lovely to be out on the water feeling miles away from the city and starting to explore the beautiful country of Uganda.
That will do for now, but I’ll be in touch soon. It would be great to hear from you in the comments, particularly if there’s things you’d like to hear about!