Link Letter from
Simon and Sharon Challand in Uganda
October 2001

Dr Simon Challand with two colleagues at KaseseSouth Rwenzori Diocese
PO Box 142, Kasese


Dear friends,

Is there a doctor on board…?

This was the first time I had ever paid much attention to that question but Simon is a dab hand at responding to the cry. Before I knew it, Simon’s lunch was cast to one side and I waved him down the aisle. A young Ugandan aboard was having a painful sickle cell crisis. Simon was needed to advise and administer an injection. Sounds simple enough, but take into account turbulence and the fact that when you are cruising at 30,000 feet the pilot needs to know if an emergency landing at the nearest airport will be necessary… Simon’s follow-up care and advice rendered this unnecessary and the hero soon returned to his seat.

Life in Kasese for the Mugoli (new bride)

Kilembe is a beautiful place to call home. Simon’s friends have greeted him warmly and are delighted to meet the ‘mugoli’. Even the dogs seem happy to have another female around! They are in the process of settling into a new home as we up sticks and head up the hill to a house with a few more rooms and a veranda with a stunning view. The great thing is that we will have a guest room for our friends who come to visit. At last we are settling down.

Meeting and greeting is so important in Uganda and we have been doing a lot of it! Simon and I have been visiting the health centres that Simon supervises. We have heard a lot about the work that has been going on in Simon’s absence and have been pleased this has been so positive.

I have been particularly interested in the work of the Health Educators. We have listened as they have gathered people in the street to receive family planning and a HIV prevention lessons. We have visited some of their clients and heard their stories. We have observed how committed these educators are to improving the health of their community.

One of the educators, Mustapha, took us to meet a music and drama group made up of people living with AIDS. They gave their testimonies in public and try to communicate a message of preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and also of how to care for someone who has the virus. Benjamin belongs to this group. He is an elderly man who has HIV as does his wife. He keeps rabbits as an income generating project and his wife makes crafts. They are sick and the future could look hopeless but they are in the community trying to make a difference.

The Diocese has a number of exciting projects in the pipeline. One is being co-ordinated through the Mothers Union. It aims to teach basic literacy to young women who have not been able to complete their basic education. They will also be taught skills such as tailoring, cookery and computing. I hope to be involved in this project but it is still in the planning stage. In the meantime I have been asked to be involved in a youth training programme the Diocese is starting up. Parish Youth Leaders will come to the Diocese headquarters for a series of seminars on basic skills that can be taught to young people out in the villages. I hope to have a role in the seminars on Health and Nutrition. So there are a lot of plans.

These first few months for me have been about observing, learning, meeting and trying to get the feel for the development work that is going on in Kasese. Alongside this it has been important for me to start learning the local language of Lukonzo and settle into our new house.

War Zone?

We dived for cover (nearly) as a suspect bullet or stone ricocheted off glass and metal into the office. Quick thinking confirmed that rebel action was now unlikely so a check was made for a malicious child but none was found. Soon the real culprit was identified: a tree outside the window, pods drying in the hot sun, was firing its seeds in all directions.

Sharon Challand
© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 4th December 2001