Finding Healing for our Students
From February 7, 2012
After seven years’ running the ABU Dispensary with your generous outside donations and our own contributions, I’ve reached a bend in the road. For two years now, my friends and co-workers have been advising me to charge my students for dispensary items, and for two years I’ve been resisting. Last week, I went to Akugoba Pharmacy for the first time in four months since it sells things at the lowest prices I’ve found except for the subsidized Joint Medical Store. In particular, I bought Zecuf, an effective Indian herbal cough syrup for 3,500 shillings (up from 2,000), and essential Coartem malaria tabs for 3,000 (double the previous price). With overall inflation running at 30%, such jumps are understandable, but in all I spent 1,200,000 shillings, or about $500, just to stock my dispensary for a few months. I must go again before graduation in June.Yesterday I announced that I will stop giving free supplies, unless they have been donated. You could have heard a pin drop in the chapel. I will, of course, provide the best treatment possible. Yet, drugs have been the one “freebie” our students have enjoyed, saving them not only cash for the medicines but also the cost and time of a trip off campus (sometimes receiving the wrong treatment). I don’t know who was more devastated, them, or me. To some, it won’t matter much, as they have resources. To many, it will be further hardship. I console myself a bit knowing that Africans are tough, having faced many hardships before they enter ABU. Somehow, they will manage. But I must admit that I am sore in heart.I therefore want to ask for prayer and offer my thanks for all of the many of you who have donated funds or brought in supplies over the years. Please, if you can spare anything at this time, continue to do so, as the inflation is really biting, or as is said in East Africa, “it’s eating our money.”
On another urgent subject, please pray for dear Veronica (“Vero”) Namukuye (pictured above), a first-year student. Soon after she arrived fresh from the holidays, she was in a terrible boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) crash. She has a skull fracture and at first could neither see nor speak. After 24 hours, she regained eyesight and speech, but she needed five days in hospital. She returned a week late to school and is showing right-sided stroke effect, plus headaches and weakness. This will take six months to heal and will require close observation, lots of rest, and help from her girlfriends and roommates (Maggie and Angie). But most of all, she and we need your prayers for wisdom and patience in her recovery and her brave attempt to finish the semester. As the Ugandans say, “God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good.”
Ali Wiltbank, R.N.