Let's Get Started!

Reading time: 6 minutes

Once I arrive in Kisiizi I am warmly welcomed by the staff. I had no idea what kind of accommodation the hospital would have arranged, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was allocated a house of my own right next to the hospital! Next to me lives a young family from England whose father works as a doctor in the hospital and on the other side lives a young psychologist from Switzerland.

The next day I get a tour of the hospital. It is a lot bigger than I expected, there are many different departments (internal medicine, surgery, gynaecology, psychiatry, pediatric ward and an obstetrics ward where women can receive care before, during and after childbirth). The hospital is located in a beautiful valley, surrounded by green hills/mountains, next to a large waterfall that also functions as a power supply for the hospital.

In my new house I run into all sorts of things the first day, but one learns as I go along. Now it feels extra nice to be able to tap water from my stock bucket, when there is no running water from the tap(especially when I just get into the shower). And by pouring boiling water into my water bottle in the evening and putting it in my little fridge, I can take cold, clean drinking water with me the next morning. Cooking an egg in the kettle is a perfect solution when the gas tank is empty; and thanks to my earplugs I am less often awakened at night by the exotic birds that enjoy jumping around on my corrugated iron roof. I still struggle a bit with the huge insects that love to be in my bathroom and I should not leave my door open to avoid chicken poop clean up sessions.

I am not assigned to work in a specific department, so I decide to go to a different department everyday, as a first week orientation.

“PLEASE HELP!!” shouts one of the nursing students, while rushing into the internal medicine station towards the end of my first shift. My fellow nurse and I jump up and rush to room 5, where a 26-year-old woman is admitted with HIV. She just had a heart attack and is now lying still in bed, with no a heartbeat. My colleague immediately starts CPR, but half a minute later realizes that an intubation balloon is needed, after which he walks out of the room without saying a word. I quickly proceed with CPR; the clearly visible ribs of the malnourished body feel strange under my hands. My colleague comes back, we ventilate and give 2x adrenaline IV between CPR, but unfortunately she shows no sign of life. A little later we tell her grandmother and 2 year old daughter (who are waiting in the hallway) that she has passed away. Not completely unexpected, but still really sad. We clean the dead body (I won't go into detail about the bodily fluids that leave the body after death) and then literally stuff every entrance with a good load of cotton (and I'm not just talking about the nose and mouth). We dress her neatly and tie her in cotton sheets so that the family can take her home.

The second day I participate in the pediatric ward (both internal and surgery), where I can immediately start placing nasogastric tubes in various toddlers and placing cannulas in shaved skulls. Lots of malnutrition, (lung) infections, and wounds. Another busy, exciting day.

The next day I join the OR, what an experience that is! First I watch a cystoscopy and a coloscopy, after which I can scrub-in to assist with a lower leg amputation! (Extra nice because I often cared for this patient category at the Vascular Surgery ward back home). We slowly cut through the tissue, clamp off each blood vessel with about 20 clamps, and then saw through the bone. The lower leg (including knee) is given to one of the students, who then, leg in hand, searches for a garbage bag, leaving a bloody trail on the floor. It's a good thing that a prayer is said before the start of each surgery, because it is a miracle that infections do not occur much more often. The operating rooms are often left open, people are constantly walking in and out (sometimes even with bloody instruments from another OR). In addition, the patients who have just undergone surgery are placed in the hallway (until they are brought back to the department), so they can regularly watch the operation from their bed. Still, it's amazing what they can achieve with such limited resources. There are plenty of creative solutions to come up with, such as calculating blood loss by counting the number of soaked gauzes, using plastic gloves as a tourniquets, or wooden beams with nails as IV standards.

On Friday I join the Special Care Baby Unit, where 10 premature babies are currently being admitted, including quadruplets who were born last week at 33 weeks! They are not familiar with pumping machines here, so the mother takes a seat in the 'nursing station' after which my colleague and I both squeeze a breast (it helps that I once milked a cow). Then we feed the 4 premature babies one by one through the nasogastric tube; indescribable what beautiful, helpless creatures!

It was an intensive, but very special week with many new impressions and experiences. I enjoy life here immensely, although I'm still figuring out how everything works. I'm free on the weekend, so enough time to recover and start working full-time in the pediatric ward from Monday! I'll keep you updated.

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14 January 2022


  1. Arie

    What a special experience. So proud!

    • Marit

      Cool Daphne! It was nice that you were allowed to join all departments for a week. Impressive how different the operations are there etc. Good luck and have fun xx

  2. Rianne

    warrior!! What do you do a lot! Thinking of you a lot, big kiss and I'm proud of you! xxx

  3. Carolien

    Daphne, how happy and grateful I am for someone like you.
    You're on the prayer list in my heart!

  4. Marloes

    What an exciting week!
    You experience a lot in the beautiful work you do there.
    Enjoy work and your free time.
    God bless you.


    • Marjolein

      Boy, what an experience, Daphne. Impressive! Nice to read and very nice that you can be of help and blessing there!

  5. JosephCare

    What an experience @Daphne. Proud of you🙏🏾💪🏿

  6. Piet vd Oever


  7. Jaap

    Beautiful Daphne!!

  8. Saskia

    So many experiences and it's just been a week! I will include you in my prayers, good luck and enjoy xx

  9. Oma Pie

    What an experience Daphne I admire you . Lots of luck with your work.

  10. Ilja van der Weide

    You are already on a new adventure very soon! What a beautiful assignment! Good luck!

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