Volunteering in Gulu, Uganda

Gulu, Northern Uganda, is about the most hopeful place I’ve been. Until 2006, it would have been too dangerous for me to even visit.  It was ravaged by the Lord’s Resistance Army; 95% of the population in the North were living in camps for internally displaced people, and the economy and health care were both in tatters. To make things worse, it is the site of a major outbreak of Ebola, which was controlled by the truly heroic efforts of healthcare staff who were also trying to live in a civil war and a refugee crisis.  I’ve written more about this on my personal blog, here.

Today, Gulu is a bustling city with lively markets, nice restaurants, and gradually improving infrastructure.  People in Gulu are building new businesses, and the dedication of the Ugandan health, social and other workers here is astonishing.  Many of the NGOs are gradually pulling out, because they just aren’t as badly needed as before. Of course there is still a long way to go; 20 years of conflict doesn’t heal overnight.  But the child soldiers are gradually being reintegrated into their former communities and society is rebuilding.  The hope and the forgiveness here is inspiring.

I have been absolutely privileged to work with Gulu Regional Referral Hospital and the University Hospital of South Manchester as a volunteer, supporting strategic development, project management training and helping look at the future of the link between the two hospitals.  The Gulu-Man link has been supporting medical education and capacity building in Gulu since 2009. I can’t take any credit for the development of the Link – there are some incredibly dedicated people working in both Gulu and Manchester who have worked incredibly hard on it – but it’s ended up being a career shaping experience for me and I hope that my work on the Link will help it grow and thrive in the future.

You can watch a video about the Link here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN5zR8oNoes

And there is more information on Global Health volunteering in Manchester here – http://www.uhsm.nhs.uk/academy/Pages/GlobalHealth.aspx

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