Boda Boda

Becky Nampijja and 308 Others

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This week, the Ugandan community is awash with news of the demise of Becky Nampijja, a recent graduate and a beneficiary of the Watoto Child Care Ministries.

Becky was raised up as one of the thousands of orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children that have characterised the Ugandan social scene in part due to the scourge of HIV and AIDS reaping their parents or the burden of social responsibility being too much for unemployed parents.

In a unique model of a foster community, off Mityana Road, Watoto Child Care Ministries places 8 such children in a home with a mother and there, their lives being to take shape as they should have been had they stayed in a proper home. They get brand new brothers and sisters, and learn to accept new mothers with whom they share life. They go to school, have a medicare facility and a community centre where they meet on the weekends for events and church services.

Becky, would have, earlier on, travelled on the famous Watoto Children’s Choir where she would have sang and danced to share the gospel, and tell of the story of her rescue and transformation; and help to raise funds so that more children like her can be rescued. In the course of her life, true to the african adage, Becky would have been raised by a Village!

That village would include sponsors, from 6 countries where Watoto Choir has been, that village would include me and you, who for a paltry UGX 70,000 every month, provide the resources that Watoto Child Care Ministries needs to put children like Becky through an education all the way to the University.

In January 2015, a little orphaned and abandoned gal had grown and transformed into a beautiful young leader, armed with an education and the best possible upbringing – Becky graduated with an Economics degree. She bit so many odds to get to this point, and she already had a job, a rare and priceless acquisition in a country with nearly 83% graduate unemployment.

There are 4000 such children in the Watoto Children’s Homes and thousands more in the other foster homes scattered allover the country. In those homes, there are children who look up to their big sisters (read: Becky) and mothers who pride in sons and daughters who have lived to beat the curse of a fatherless generation.

To have  to live with the death of Becky Nampijja in such a senseless spectacle is a heart wrenching matter – Becky is the very future of this country and before we have to reap the reward of years of hard work in rescuing and raising her to rebuild her nation, Becky is taken away from us.

My heart weeps, and the pain cannot be verbalised.

On the day of her death, Becky was one of the first of many fatalities for the month of March 2015, recorded at the Central Police Station in Kampala. This station reports 308 deaths due to Boda Boda accidents for the first 60 days of this year – that is 15 lives every single day.

If Alshabaab was killing 20 lives every month, there would be a supplementary budget for military acquisitions to the tune of many billions of shillings. Yet we sit idly by as Boda Bodas kill 15 people daily.

We had Operation Wembley when armed thugs began to kill and rob, at the height of it, no more than 30 people were killed in a month – but today we sit idly by as Boda Bodas kill 15 people daily.

Uganda, how many young people are we prepared to lose before Boda Bodas become a terror in our lives? How many excuses and reasons are we going to give before we consider this a serious threat to the very life of this community?

The strain on the country’s limited health budget is growing. According to a report by Makerere University College of Health Sciences and the department of orthopedics at Mulago, about 40% of trauma cases at the hospital are from boda-boda accidents (pdf). The treatment of injured passengers and pedestrians accounts for almost two-thirds of the hospital’s annual surgery budget.

For the life of Becky Nampijja and 308 other Boda Boda deaths in 2015 alone, I demand that we do something!

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Save My City!

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So its official, Kampala might as well be called Boda Central! When you are named Banana Republic, then you can understand why so many things go rotten quickly, and why its always slippery if you step on the peels.

I am sick to my stomach, and angry at the sight of a Police Officer (Director of Operations) standing on a make shift stage, along side an unidentified man, who is rallying Boda Boda cyclists against the impending registration and re-ordering of their operation within the city; and ordering the Capital City Authority to withdraw the registration instructions.

Who is this man? Does he live in Kampala? How long has he lived in Kampala? How many Boda Bodas does he have? How much, in taxes, does he pay every year? How much has he actually paid, proof of which he has? Am just trying to establish the moral and positional authority, especially on behalf of the 3.5 million persons who live in Kampala, against which he can stand and order disobedience of a public instruction of a city authority…

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When life (almost) cost 12000 UGX

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I put this off for a long time, Chris is since well recovered, but i think it needs to go on the record. My apologies if you have read/heard this story before. The exact time frame for this blog was about June of this year

We call it helter skelter – when you shake up a bee hive or throw a snake in a room, or have a patient roll their eyes as they struggle for their last breath. Some are premeditated, but others are purely a result of sheer negligence, bordering on incompetence. This was the scene at Nsambya Hospital’s St. Gonzaga ward – as 25yr old chris mpanga suddenly suffered a bout of piercing pain in his chest.

He is admitted for the 3rd time this year, second time in this ward, no wonder a few of the nurses call him by name. This particular day, might be the last to say his name.

Chris suffered a fracture in his femur, after a boda boda RTA (Road Traffic Accident). 2 months later, he is making progress on the fracture, and has mastered the use of clutches. But this is not why Chris is re-admitted. Chris is just over 100Kg in body weight, and for the whole first month of recovery from the accident he will be at risk of Pulmonary Embolism – a condition where blood clots develop in the blood vessels, and if not treated, could end up flowing into the heart and/or lungs.

As healthy as he looks, his “silent killer” condition could result in sudden death.

Pulmonary Embolism is feared in almost all cases of RTAs where there is a significant amount of bleeding (internal), and/or deep or large open wounds. It’s advisable that victims be placed on Clexane – or any drug that thins blood, just enough to disintegrate any clots. However, Clexane may not be administered without regular follow up – and as such, all patients under this treatment have to undergo a regular (as regular as every half hour, in extreme cases) INR test, which tells medical practitioners whether or not there is too much thinning happening to the blood, otherwise it (blood) would lose the ability to perform its normal functions. Too little Clexane, would not be effective against the clots, and as such a fatal embolism could find its way to the heart and lungs.

For Chris, his 3rd admission is a result of wrongly prescribed Clenaxe medication. Granted, he is over-weight for his height, but he has taken varying dosage of this medication, from as low as 40mg to as high as 120mg. With every admission, there is a sad realization, that he was “under-dosed the last time”.

The nurses attending to Chris are not allowed to have any say, until a doctor does, and sure indeed, the last 3 doctors have given varying conclusions on his state, one even signing for his discharge! Every re-admission has been preceded with sharp pains in the chest cavity, sustained pains with every deep breath, not to mention a Doppler test that confirmed 3 large clots in his left lower limb (had a deep open wound following the accident).

This time however, Chris cant get his INR test – a worth of 12,000 UGX- because he got re-admitted at short notice (death, as a result of PE doesn’t give much notice, does it?). To think that a nurse would idly sit by, with a patient on Clexane, but with no INR test for 3 hours, as she awaits a Doctor on ward rounds to tell her what to do – is, at the very least, disturbing. After making the nurse on duty see the folly in a re-admitted patient failing to get a regular observation test over a prepaid bill that is less than 10% what we paid the last time we got wrongly discharged, I asked her, what information the almighty Doctor would use when he finally arrived, other than the usual.

Ofcourse, we both responded with a cold rhetoric stare.

Whereas surgery for Chris was successful, and whereas subsequent tests were informing, its surprising to note that there was not enough follow up in terms of treatment given and neither was there adequate dosage of any follow up medications he might need.

Of course these symptoms were more visible when Chris was still Bed-ridden, but as he got better, and started to walk on clutches, and get more angles on his lower limb joints, he has gotten better. Its a very painful realization to think that had we not been vigilant on re-admitting him, Chris might not be here with us today. He simply refused to give up, as did so many people in the family, who decided to go against all odds, to make sure Chris would get the right attention whenever he needed it.

I wonder, what that nurse would have said, had Chris succumbed to PE – that she was waiting for the doctor’s instructions? Then what would the doctor say – that had not arrived for duty? What would the hospital say? That the family failed to raise 12000UGX? Really, for a patient re-admitted because he was, admittedly, wrongly discharged twice?

Chris is a dear brother to me, and we are thankful to his surgeon, Dr. Okello, who demonstrably went out of his way to give him a good chance at recovery. Chris is since fully recovered, even dropped his clutches, retains a slight limp in his step.