Jill is returning to Masindi, Uganda for her 4th time since 2011 on March 7, 2014. She is going with Palmetto Medical Initiative and will be working as the only Physical Therapist in a 40 person medical team. On previous trips, the team has seen approximately 2500 patients in 5 days. Travel to Uganda takes 36 hours and to return home it will take 38 hours (due to the jet stream). She will be back in the country March 22 and back in the office on March 24.
On this trip, the team will be doing surgeries Sunday (March 9th) before the week of clinics start in to release contractures of various limbs related to burns. The people of Uganda understand they need to boil water to kill the germs however most of the boiling is done over an open fire. There are many children who are burned by falling into the fire. The Ugandan people don’t have medicine to keep the burns clean so they only know to bind them up (wrap them in a protected position) which results in contractures.
During the 5 days of clinics, the team travels sometimes up to 3 hours on dirt roads that often times barely fit 1 car with huge holes in the road. Jill will be assisting in teaching people to walk, wound care, general orthopedic treatments for low back pain, plantarfasciits, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, elbow pain, and assorted other tasks (ie assisting in surgery). The other days of her trip will include visiting/ caring for kids in the orphanage and local village. She will also be training the Ugandan medical staff in how to treat their patients for Physical Therapy. There are very few Physical Therapists in the country of Uganda and none in Masindi, Uganda.
Why Uganda? Jill graduated from Physical Therapy school, June 1994. There were 40, 000 people killed in Uganda during that same month from a civil war, while we in the USA sat and watched OJ Simpson drive around in his white Bronco. This always bothered Jill so when given the opportunity she wanted to do something to help.
The average age of people in Uganda is 15 years old…due to poor medical care, the AIDS epidemic, and attacks from the LRA. Unlike in the USA where even if you don’t have health insurance, you can get some form of medical treatment. In Uganda, many people either sick or involved in car accidents (which include motorbike- car, motorbike- motorbike, car-bicycle, motorbike bicycle accidents) are often left on the side of the road to die or if they are lucky get picked up by a friend/ family member. There are no tow trucks or ambulances so often you will see cars sitting wrecked on the side of the road for days or even weeks before someone can get them drivable enough to move. There are also huge ditches on the side of the road to help with run off…this is where the cars often end up tipped over and stuck. People are what they use to push them back on the road.
The average wage earned is $2/ day. Most everyone is farmers, there are no horses in the country, and so if the farmer does not have cattle to plow, it is done by hand. They eat what they grow so people often only get chicken twice a year (for Christmas and Easter). Yet these are the most gracious people you will ever meet. When we go to clinic sites there are hundreds of people waiting for us. They often have waited all night or sometimes two nights without food or water just to receive medical care. 90% of the people do not have shoes of any form and are susceptible to worms and/ or infections.