Project Stories:

Commitment for prisoners

by Karin Weigold, 2016/11/23

Several times a year humedica sends out medical volunteer teams to countries, where people get arrested for petty or minor offences serving sometimes prison sentences for years without the chance for a hearing at court or an appropriate jurisdiction. During these jail operations the helpers in their red vests provide for the inmates and their relatives, who otherwise have no access to medical treatment.

Most recently a humedica team went to Uganda. Looking back, the nurse Karin Weigold talks about the experiences of our volunteers on site:

„At the invitation of Irene Namwano, head of the humedica partner organisation Prison Fellowship Uganda, our team of nine set off from Germany to Africa in mid-October. Having arrived in the Ugandan capital Kampala, we made our way to the South of the country, directed by the experienced humedica operation member Dr. Margrit Wille, to treat the inmates of various local jails.

The prisons visited by us accommodated 500 up to 1.000 convicts. Observed by armed guards, we treated our patients outdoors at the prison yard. Every time the guards started yelling something, the prisoners kneeled down and waited. The most symptoms we had to treat, were caused by physical abuse, infections, worms or venereal diseases. The inmates of some jails had to work on the fields and were badly marked by their physical labour.

Once more it became apparent, that a certain amount of flexibility is required in the course of such missions. So I was appointed for the post of dental assistant as most of time a local dentist completed our German team.

In quite a short time it became obvious that in these jails there were only two possibilities to treat a toothache: either the hurting tooth stayed in the mouth or it had to be pulled out completely with the help of a dental forcep even if the anaesthetic had only a short time to react. The last solution worked out quite good in most of the cases, but sometimes it was a rather bloody business. Like this we pulled approximately 30 teeth a day. A genuine feat of strength for the dentist!

One appointment among others of our nurse Theresa was to act as the team optician. Thus she was able to bring a grateful smile to the faces of quite a lot of inmates thanks to two boxes of long-serving glasses we had brought with us.

What me impressed most during our operation was the visit of the 15 children of the prisoners, who were cared for by Irene Namwano. Some members of our team, who had taken part in a former mission in Uganda two years ago, had collected money to buy mattresses, school satchels and shoes, which provided for great joy among the children.

I could of course tell you so much more about our time in Uganda. For example about the one time when wheel clamps stopped our cars, about the worship service on Sunday, when a hen was auctioned just before the collection of donations, or when, one work-free Sunday, we had an outing to the Queen Elizabeth National Park and happened to see wild hippos…

Overall we were a great team and it was a pleasure to be able to both help jointly so many prisoners and to get to know the country of Uganda in this very special way.

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