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Extreme highs, extreme lows

Sitting at Entebbe airport after 3.5 weeks in Uganda working with the refugee response...I can’t think of many other trips over the years with so many contrasting, extreme highs and lows.

High:  Being here with my family!  So often my work trips are without them.

Low:  Seeing my children with some of our refugee friends, children who’ve fled South Sudan and now face unimaginable hardships. I guess my children’s presence on this trip intensified the sense of grave injustice between the lives we live and the lives others live; like the school children sitting on muddy dirt.

High:  Seeing the temporary shelter HHA supported at least providing some basic classroom environment

High:  Seeing the joy of our Field Coordinator Patrick receiving a gift of chalk for his schools work.

Low:  Realising simultaneously what a crazy world we live in when a 50p packet of chalk could bring so much delight to a middle aged man (Patrick), the founder and former head teacher of a refugee school, with 200+ secondary school students.  

High:  Seeing some of the 250 wheelchairs we helped distribute with (and thanks to) The Walkabout Foundation in Dec 2017 being used by refugees who can now live more independently.

High:  Seeing the almost completed home and solar business of one lady with a disability, who has two children and lost her husband in the war.  Another little HHA success story.

Low:  Seeing locals stare into the horizon, acutely tuned in to the sounds of shelling and gun fire from the fighting across the border and hearing their sadness, hopelessness, frustration, anger etc. at the on-going war in South Sudan.

High:  Visiting another close friend called Anthony and his house in Bidibidi refugee settlement (the largest in the world with 280,000+ people).  Anthony, also a South Sudan refugee, mentioned last year how he wanted to start a sports bar in Bidibidi.  HHA helped with some funds for tarpaulin and a satellite, and then later a generator.  It was amazing going back and seeing the impact of his new business!  Him and his business partner (his brother) stood proudly outside their new home.  A home that’d been built thanks to the profits of the sports bar.  He also showed us another new solar business to charge mobile phones that he’s starting, again from the profits of his first business.  There was genuine joy and hope amongst this amazing family.  Whilst they’ve always been an incredibly courageous and positive bunch, I sensed amongst some of the family a deeper sense of hope and purpose to our last visit.

Low:  The following day we got to visit some UNHCR nutritional clinics, some in totally inadequate temporary settings, where we witness first hand the high rates of global acute malnutrition, caused by insufficient rations and living conditions that still haunt me.  I see two brothers, with unimaginable, unspoken pain beneath their eyes that still haunts me.

High:  Seeing the distribution of 1,710 boxes (over 250,000 sachets) of Plumpy’Nut that partners Edesia kindly donated.  Plumpy’Nut is a life-saving therapeutic food that treats acute malnutrition.  On the day we were there, they’d just received a call from one of the UNHCR settlements helping the DRC crisis, requesting an additional 250 boxes, following the completion of their first 250 boxes.

Low:  Hearing that our supplies will likely run out by May/June.  Something for us to pray into and try and help with.

Low:  One of our local team reports of a panic within a refugee school where children, still traumatised by war, think they see men with machetes approaching the school.  There were no such men, but it ignites fear.

High:  We get permission to start our new CRADLE project in Bidibidi refugee settlement.

Low:  Witnessing the challenging clinical settings where work is being carried out.  Desperately under-resourced field hospitals.

High: Seeing some incredible NGOs working tirelessly under such challenging circumstances.  Including, an amazing new team we’ve got from HHA and Kings College London. In the next few months we’ll be implementing the CRADLE automated blood pressure/heart rate monitor across 17 clinics and 470 Volunteer Health Teams.  They were delighted by this news and training started today!  Find out more soon...

I could go on and on.  This was a trip where I saw day by day, in real tangible ways, the impact of your support.  It was also a trip where I saw day by day, the real tangible and desperate needs.  If you'd like to help respond, please make a donation today or visit our events page to join one of our fundraising events: