Not quite a decade ago, I volunteered for the AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) in Uganda. Fresh out of university with Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Sociology, I had absolutely nothing to offer TASO except for a year-long commitment and a willingness to learn, and they were lovely enough to take me in.*
TASO is located in the Mulago Hospital complex in the capital city of Kampala, and Mulago is the teaching hospital of Makerere University. The Hospital had its ups and downs over the years, with the rise and fall of a cruel dictatorship in the 70’s and early 80’s. But just last week, the first open heart surgery in about 30 years was performed there. Mulago was also featured in the 2006 award-winning movie about Idi Amin‘s dictorship, the Last King of Scotland.
When I was there in 1999-2000 (and I believe it is still the case today) family members were responsible for the daily care of patients — for bringing linens and bedsheets, food, and even purchasing the medicine and supplies needed for treatment.
Along with supportive counseling and emotional support, TASO also provided outpatient treatment of opportunistic infections from AIDS (back then, antiretrovirals were not commonly available outside of clinical trials). When I needed a change of scenery, I would head across the road and visit friends working at the tuberculosis clinic.
I’m afraid this post is a little disjointed because I have so many different memories and emotions around TASO and Mulago Hospital, but I’m not quite prepared to present all of them to you on this Saturday afternoon.
Instead, here are some photographs from other folks who have visited Mulago Hospital — since digital cameras were not around back at the turn of the millennium — which I found on Flickr. Also, please make sure to read about other hospitals and experiences over at Sunday Scribblings.
* This experience proved to be the catalyst for my Master of Public Health degree a few years later.