Day fourteen - Stick
out like sore thumbs
We hang around doing paperwork and emails
although Uganda has terrible internet access, or at least for me.
We go to a restaurant near the airport and spend a few hours
working. Erin and I go to a beach club. We are the only
non-Ugandans there so stick out like sore thumbs. But that's not
a problem as people in Uganda are laid back.
Days fifteen to seventeen
- Frantic days
These are the last frantic days of the
workshop. We are trying to desperately catch up on any
As expected, the first few days in the
previous week took a while to warm up. Now there is pressure to
finish the design document in time...or at least the main body and
budget. It's frantic during the day and frantic at night as we
get all design products trimmed and ready.
At the last day of workshop we have actually
got something that looks good and we can be proud of. It is a
Ugandan document. As outsiders we have been able to advise and
honour the donor requirements but not take over. There is a
photo opportunity and final prayers. Then my colleagues fly off
while I have another day to go before I catch my
Days eighteen - Chimpanzee
I spent the morning watching
chimpanzees. There was one chimp looking a bit isolated and
miserable. It looked at the leaflet and saw that there was
indeed a chimp who suffered from depression. This day was taking me
to a whole new world of mental health –chimp mental health.
I write this on my last day in Uganda at
Entebee airport. I can’t say I have endured any hardships here even
if power and internet is unreliably. Uganda is a beautiful country
and is secure. The people have been kind and gracious hosts.
They are committed to improving mental health. Nodding disease is
becoming a real concern and time will tell what happens with this
bizarre disease and its increasing cases in the North district.
This morning I walked down to the lapping
shores of Lake Victoria. This is an idyllic place. The weather is
warm and really perfect.
As I walk down the corridor in the hotel,
in front of me is a typical view. There are
about five small groups working mostly in French on domestic
violence, agriculture, Malawians with fisheries, Bangladeshi
soldiers. We have had a weekend of pentacostalists at the Hotel.
Its NGO land in this hotel...and Russia.
So this blog is not about “exciting” clinical
work or training but about being stuck in a classroom
effectively talking through paperwork and money. It doesn’t sound
exciting. However I think that because we have participated in
such a tight design document the project has a great chance
of success and will really make a difference to Uganda. The
idea of the user groups being such a core part of the project was a
real surprise to me and seemed really interesting and
The other thing I learned about was
interpersonal therapy which I had never really understood before.
It has significant evidence base. A practitioner explained it to me
and all those I spoke to who use it in Uganda seem to love it.
Patients love it. It is used for depression primarily. In Uganda
mainly it is used as group work. It was a big take home message for
me in CBT UK.
It was a pleasure being part of this process
and I thank the Ugandan Ministry of Health, World Vision Australia,
WHO and all my professional colleagues for this experience - I
learnt a lot from them. Take home messages I got were the value of
careful planning of projects, user groups, interpersonal therapy
and the value of a strong mental health advocate in the
I'm both fascinated and confident
that this project will be a success.