Saturday, 3 September 2016

Apologies - blog won't work

Having put a blog together I have discovered the site will not work. It seems the app no longer exists. It says it cannot find photos so I am hoping it will publish text. If I was computer savvy I would probably find a way round it. I will need to wait until we return to the UK in October.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Thanks to the staff.

July is the month of appraisals, August is the month of pay rises so it is a good time to celebrate...congratulations for the past year and hopes of a good year to come. We always like to do something at this time as a morale boost for the staff.

This year we could add congratulations all round that we have passed the inspection for registration as a children's home.

Debby & Beth Mclelland were visiting PV again with first-timers Rebecca and Ruth. They had come prepared to give wonderful gifts to the staff.


The women got to choose cloth and a necklace. The men got to choose a new shirt. These were then added to a bag containing a plastic poncho, bar of chocolate and toiletries.




They also bought a goat to be added to the staff's usual canteen meal. The gravy was delicious.




To show their appreciation and joy, the women got out the drum and started to dance and sing. We couldn't understand how they could jump around after the huge platefuls of food they had just eaten - but fortunately no one was sick!

Betty gave a speech of thanks and said that they felt so appreciated that they would work twice as hard this year....does that mean if we don't equal the standard of gifts next year, they will work half as hard? No pressure!


Young Alban isn't feeling inclined to be happy. He has a huge and leaking abcess on the back of his head. He does look rather cute with his bandage though.





Twins, Moses and Hope, who will be PV residents in time, are out of their incubator. They are starting to feed with bottles but not taking very much just yet. They are both anaemic which is a common problem here. Probably the mother was anaemic herself which could be a factor in why she bled to death. The twins do not need a blood transfusion as some do. They will manage on oral iron.




Joan (pronounced Joanne) formerly Nyiramahoro (yes, it's confusing) is doing very well. She was the latest one found down a drop-pit toilet. She is a strikingly beautiful little girl. She decided to fall asleep just as I wanted to photograph her so unfortunately you cannot see her big dark eyes. Geoffrey is going to visit the mother in prison to see if we can get a definite answer on who the father might be.




To comply with health regulations, we had to remove the cage area in the Faith baby room. It does make the fantastic underwater scene more prominent.

The pigs also have improved accommodation. They have individual rooms for the night with soft bedding from wood shavings from the nearby vocational training centre. They also get ensuite shower facilities - or in bed showers to be fair.


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Bigger is better...unless it is fish.


Benson and Naboth decided they needed bigger shoes. They put on Mike's shoes and shuffled their way back to their own room. They could barely go 3 shuffles before falling over but they were very determined. A team from the Fort Portal children's home came to visit their relatives. It was such a hard climb up the mountain that only one of the team of four made it to the house. He was completely exhausted afterwards. The end result is that they agree that there is no future for the twins in their community. Once Fort Portal has completed their paperwork, they will take the boys for 10 years and attempt to resettle them to their community as they reach their teens. Meanwhile we enjoy the antics of the twins - even if they did get into the milk kitchen cupboard and break the hydrometer for testing the water content of the milk. We need this to ensure the milk is not being watered down too much before reaching us.

We went away for a weekend and I forgot my toothbrush. We were in Kabale so I bought a Ugandan one. What an experience. The head is so long that you can brush half a set of teeth with the minimum of movement. Now that's a way to save time!


These tiny dried silver fish smell pretty awful but are high in protein. We have gone into production to grind them into flour and sell bags of fish flour to mothers who have gone through the Nutrition Unit. A sprinkle on food and the protein element is ticked. Fortunately the smell is much better when in powder form though I have seen people munch the whole fish like crisps. The flour is very popular and mothers coming for immunisations are now asking for it too. Another brilliant idea from Henry, our unit community nurse.

Our latest Potter's babies came in 5 days ago. Their 28 year old mum died in hospital following a Caesar. She haemorrhaged so they opened her up again. She was given 6 units of blood but bled to death. Very sad. The twins (Moses on the left and Hope) are slightly premature but are doing well in their incubator.

Elisa, aged 2, has been on the medical ward for several weeks with the most horrendously painful burns. The family had been boiling cassava leaves for several hours when the pan got tipped over him. He arrived with some of the leaves still stuck to his body. You can see he was extensively burned. It has been a challenge getting the right dressings and has meant the nurses boiling Vaseline to sterilise it then applying it to bandages. There is only an area on his stomach left to heal. Understandably, he bursts into tears whenever Mike approaches as removing the bandages is so painful. It is also feared he may have TB but so far the mother won't let him or herself be tested. They both have suspicious coughs and there is a history of TB in the family.

It's a lovely hot afternoon. The Carers and babies have found cool and shade under the wet washing.


Saturday, 11 June 2016

Determination to survive

It has been a very busy 10 days with many new babies coming in. We got to the point of having 20 resident babies which is too many for the existing staff. We have taken on 2 new Carers until we can get the numbers down.

Medius was another one left down a drop pit toilet. A Rwandan lady asked to stay in the house of a community overnight. In the morning, the lady above heard the baby crying in the toilet and assumed the mother was in there with her child. Three times she called to the lady to see to her child. She went and grazed her sheep but on returning the baby was still crying. She went in and there was the baby floating in the mess of the toilet. Her neighbours gathered round and they broke down the floor to get to the baby. The baby emerged covered in maggots and faeces. No-one wanted to touch her but this lady had compassion and bathed her before taking her to the Police then Potters. She and her husband are childless and she desperately wants to keep this baby. Medius is about 2 1/2 months old and understandably has been very sick. Currently she is on the Malnutrition Unit as this lady can be taught many parenting skills there. What comes after that? It will be several months before Medius is weaned. Do we separate new mother & child and keep Medius here until weaned? Can we teach her to bottle feed with cow's milk and trust she will keep good standards of hygiene back in the community? We don't know the answer yet.

Then came Isaac...but we already had one of those so he is called Zak. A super cute baby with enormous eyes whose mother died after the birth.

Fortunately for us, we had Sue and Linda visiting from St Mary's Church in Ely. On her last visit Sue took in Nsaba, a TB infected baby. She did not hesitate when asked if she would like to take in Zak. She had him every night of their stay which was superhuman in my mind...Linda helped out.

After Zak came James whose mother died. She gave birth at home but the placenta failed to deliver. Being very rural and no cars could reach there, they put her on the back of a motorbike (oh, my goodness!!!) to get her to hospital. However she bled so much that she died en route. Alan & Claire Cook had just returned to Kisoro. When I tentatively asked Claire if she would like a baby for the night, there was no hesitation. Wonderful!

Jackson (above), now renamed Daniel, was our latest and most troubling case. He was found under some bushes still attached to the placenta and wrapped in a sack but covered in earth. The person who found him took him to the nearest Health Clinic where they cut the cord and wrapped him in a blanket. They did not clean off the soil and stones - I can't understand that. From there he went to the Police Station and then to us. In all 6 1/2 hours after he was found before arriving at Potters. Why do they do things so slowly? This meant the baby had an unrecordable temperature by the time he arrived. Hot water bottles were quickly made and it took many hours for his temperature to be normal. Meanwhile, the mother was found and arrested. The Police wanted to imprison her but Winniefred asked that she come to us so we could find out if we could help her. The mother had 3 children by her husband, had divorced him and had two children with another man but he already had a wife he lived with. She had a very lively 2 year old with her. She had no money, no land, no food and had defaulted on the rent for two months. She was desperate and had attempted to abort the child twice. She seemed so depressed it was very sad. However, she opted to go to prison for a year rather than have freedom and our help - even if she did not want her child. Two days in prison and the Police actually asked us to try again. She was depressed and would not talk to anyone. They feared for the 2 year old. Long story short, she is a different woman. We have given her the private room so she does not have to answer to other mother's comments. She has accepted her baby but sadly he is not wanting to suck so is being fed by tube, although she is expressing milk. She is much more positive. We still have to figure out what happens after she leaves here. Clearly we have to put something in place for them to survive out there but she is strong and willing to work.

Moses, the other baby left down a toilet, has bounced from infection to infection but we hope has stabilised. In order to reduce our numbers, Mandi, husband and daughter have taken him in until we can find a permanent place for him. They are Americans working for Amazing Grace Ministries. The Pastor they work for has adopted David, the lovely Batwa boy we had.




In the last blog there was a picture of Joanne in the Unit. She was very malnourished and so swollen that she could barely open her eyes. Here she is fully recovered and ready to go home.






Another one doing well is our superprem Claudette now weighing in at 1.6 kilos. She's still tiny but so much much bigger than when she arrived.






On top of all of this we are having the effects of entering the dry season. That means it is windy - you have to remember to keep your mouth shut when walking around or you get a mouthful of dust - or is it just me who has to think about that? Electricity is a fluctuating commodity and water even rarer. This does not bode well for the next two months. The theory is that they think there will not be enough water to last so they are turning it on in a very sparing manner. The lack of electricity has been put down to wind blowing the lines - but it has not had this affect before. I have had to hand wash the clothes today using the minimum of water. Babies will now get bathed 3 times a week and I am hoping for the water to return so I can have the first shower in 3 days tonight. Fun!

...and finally. We have sharing the problem of needing more chairs. Some break and some go missing. Chair thieves start young these days!


Saturday, 7 May 2016

Return to the new and the old.

The journey over was our best yet. The Brussels Airlines planes had plenty of spaces so we could stretch out a bit. Lack of passengers meant a very short queue at Rwandan Immigrations and our luggage was first off the carousel...awesome!

Uganda welcomed us with an afternoon of rain and a power cut that lasted well into the evening. Never mind, the welcome from the staff more than made up for it.

We did a tour to meet the new additions as well as the old ones.

It is hard to show just how small Claudette is. She is 900grams and was born very suddenly at 6 months of gestation. The Grandmother wrapped her to her chest and rushed her round. She kept her very warm. Such a small baby can get cold very quickly. The biro at the back gives some indication of her size. The suit she is wearing is designed for premature babies and you can see how big that is on her.





The newest and smallest baby on site is matched by Rosie's newest and smallest desk on site. The laptop is attached to the couch leg so it can't be stolen. All very space efficient!




Benson and Naboth, pictured above, were twins that had been resettled to family far in the mountains. It was so far that it was not feasible to bring them to Community Support days for checks. Latterly, the family was given a weight record sheet and asked to attend their local health centre for weighing and bring the sheet back after 3 months. Winniefred saw the sheet and was appalled. At 2 years of age their weight had steadily decreased from 12 kilos to 6 kilos in just 3 months. The Medical Centre said the boys must be near death. The family was told to bring them straight in. Actually they were not too thin. The family had not taken them for weight checks and had filled the form in themselves. They should have found out that the numbers were supposed to increase not decrease!!

However the boys seemed very miserable. It was decided to remove the children from that Aunt and find another solution. They rejoined Angels room where they had been before. The tragic thing is that the boys have not progressed at all. When they left us they were standing and almost walking independently...they are still at that stage. They left us babbling but came in silent. The medical diagnosis? Deep unhappiness. How sad. Other relatives have been found but it does mean that the boys will have to be separated, which we had wanted to avoid. They will not be far from each other and the family members do meet together. First, we will nurture them for a while.

Joanne is another sad case. She is 4 years old and in the Nutritional Rehabilitation Unit. Her body is very swollen and she could hardly open her eyes. You can see indentations on her legs where the material that had attached her to her mother's back had pressed into them. This is a serious form of malnutrition called kwashiorkor. The swelling masks the reality of the condition so parents fail to appreciate what is happening.

Lastly, a question from Leonard that I could not answer.....

Can anyone recognise this herb?

My best attempt is bee balm. We don't want to eat it until we are sure it is edible!

Answers please to


Saturday, 20 February 2016

Revamped, replenished, renewed

Potters has been getting a facelift thanks to a visiting team from Didsbury and Linda from Great Baddow with her friend Joyce.


Jim and John, an NHS Manager and a Judge have decided that if things get tough in the UK, they could make a good painting and decorating team!

The main gates were getting quite rusty in places so they did a thorough preparation job and braved the sun to achieve a 'good as new' finish.

Having completed their part, they asked Caroline to carefully pick out the words in white. Jim is certain we now have the best gates in Kisoro - we can't disagree with that.

Caroline painted a wonderful mural on the walls outside the babies rooms so that they can play on the veranda as if in a colourful forest. We are so grateful to have the benefit of her amazing talent.



One evening we were called to collect a baby from Kisoro Hospital. The mother of Precious was psychotic and the medication they wanted to give her would mean she couldn't breastfeed. Mike and I went to collect her. I felt we looked like we were stealing a baby. We were trying to pick our way across the Hospital compound in the dark with a crying baby that clearly couldn't be ours.

The next morning Catherine took on looking after 2 week old Precious. We expected to have Precious until weaned but the Psychiatrist decided that it was better for the mother to breastfeed than be without the baby. We returned Precious but at that stage the mother did not seem to be aware that Precious was hers. We can only hope the baby will not suffer any effects from the drugs given to the mother.


Sonia was grateful to have the store made tidier by having the recently arrived clothes sorted into the correct tubs.









As ever there are the clothes that the babies have rendered unusable that are cut up and recycled into bottom wiping rags.








Joyce and Linda set about painting Potter's Village in large letters on our sheets in the hopes of preventing so many walking off the site. Linda, being an up-to-date woman, is having a break to text on her phone.



In order to save money, Alan wanted to use some of the metal from the non-functioning and rusty windmill. I secretly cheered as it came down. I've always considered it an eyesore but met with opposition when suggesting it be removed.

Malcolm, a Consultant Paediatrician and Trish, Paediatric Nurse, have been of tremendous help. Here they are removing fluid from a very sick boy's lung cavity. Dr Rosy in the background acted as a moveable and useful tray stand.

Malcolm also showed Mike many useful ways of using the Ultrasound machine. It transpires the machine does not function as it should so Malcolm is kindly taking it back to the UK to see if he can get it fixed.



Elsewhere Bill was beavering away doing many things electrical around the site. Martin painted the Immunisation room as well as helping with computer issues.


The elections passed without too much trouble though this man came to have his head stitched after getting caught up in a nearby fracas where stones were being thrown at an MP but hit him instead.




We have had many very sick children including Elia with a skin condition covering his whole body. He is being treated for Pemphigus as it had not responded to antibiotics given elsewhere but got significantly worse.






This very malnourished child came in, not because he was so thin but because he had breathing problems. He had pneumonia and sadly died. 24 hours earlier and he probably could have made it. It is so sad that people cannot see that a child who is very thin needs help. It will take a lot of educating in the community. One thing we want to do is make posters with photos so that people can compare their child to the photo and maybe recognise the danger the child is in.



We were delighted to welcome young Simon, son of Leonard and Annet. He was born at 8pm the night before the elections. The next morning they told Annet to take the baby to Potter's Village for immunisations as they were closing the ward for Election Day. What was going to happen to those who go into labour that day? Anyway, it was lovely for the staff to see Simon.


Saturday, 6 February 2016


The rains have passed and it is sunshine every day....sorry to rub it in!


Over a week ago we packed up the car with all Doreen, a little cerebral palsied girl, would need for her first term at school as well as clothes, bedding and soap for Jackson. Mike and Mama Annet journeyed up to Mukono over two days. The first night they stopped at a place on the side of the main road. Doreen slept well but the others didn't.

Although Doreen was painfully thin when she came to us in December, you can see she has filled out nicely. She cried when left at school but when I phoned a couple of days later they said she was smiling happily and eating well. Most of the pupils had not arrived for the new term so she was getting a lot of attention - that would definitely make her happy. Her father had phoned to see how she was settling which was very positive.

For those who met Doreen when she was a resident baby here, she has grown into a calm and more relaxed girl. She is picky about who she wants to feed her but full of smiles whenever approached. When the school talked about her smiles it rang true.



Another visitor was Miracle. He was the little lad found crawling in the rain late one night on a path behind Potters. We could find no trace of a family and he has been fostered to a good home. I like the matching outfits. Sadly, he was not for remembering any of us. I hope that is a good sign that he has bonded with his new family and doesn't want to be taken backwards. We know he is greatly loved...and have no concerns. A happy outcome for him.




We had a spate of tour groups. This is probably our largest yet...17 Swedish people + 3 Ugandans. I split them into 3 groups to go round the rooms but the site looked overun with white people. It provided afternoon entertainment for patients and friends sitting outside






Alan Cook, his wife Claire and boys, William and James are providing immense help to us. Here Alan is contemplating a job that should have been easy but has discovered the pipe is half the diameter it should be and the drainage runs uphill. Ha! One of the many challenges that has come his way. He is getting inventive - he has been making tap washers out of rubber and a hot screwdriver. You can buy taps here but not washers!?





Claire has been brilliant and turns her hand to anything. Thanks to her help while Sonia was on leave, I can now see my desk. She and boys come 3 mornings a week. The boys were talking about playing football with Guiness. Guiness? Is there a member of staff I don't know about and named after a beer? Turned out to be Kenneth.

This little baby came in with a very marked depression in his skull. It may not be clear in the photo but what you might assume to be hair on the top of his head is a dip. This was caused during the birth process. Mike scanned his brain and found there was no damage. Slowly it is rectifying itself. It is amazing what the skull can accommodate.





Having said the baby part wasn't for him, Alan shows his softer side.