Kitgum Town

Kitgum Town
Kitgum Town

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our vision for a purpose -built YOTKOM MEDICAL CLINIC

For some years we have been working toward fulfilling a vision to construct a purpose built
in Kitgum,  Northern Uganda.
We believe we are close to seeing the vision fulfilled in 2015!
Yotkom is working with a team of 30 dedicated Ugandan health professionals and  support staff who are already successfully providing primary health care services to this disadvantaged community .
They have been challenged by the costs , suitability and  availability of  rented facilities in the town.
We believe the new donated building,  when completed, will do so much to enhance long term self reliance and sustainability in this medical outreach.
WE have a model to develop a high quality,  private non for profit medical clinic which is sustainable.
We aim to ultimately cover  the costs of staff wages , equipment  , treatment  and services through private and insured patient fees .
Yotkom directors  plan to channel any profits after expenses   into the establishment of a  charitable fund to enable access to  those most disadvantaged to free or subsidised  medical and surgical services at our clinic.  The removal of rent from business expenses will help so much in cutting overheads.

Everything is now in place for building to commence.
We have paid for four lots of commercial land on the main road into Kitgum from Gulu. . The title deeds have been secured in the name of Yotkom Uganda
Plans have been drawn up for a medical clinic containing:
Waiting Room
Reception and Office space
Two Consulting Rooms for Doctors
An emergency , procedure  room / nurses station
Microbiology Laboratory
Biochemistry and Haematology Laboratory
Ultrasound room
Xray room and dark room
Small theatre for surgery
Two overnight stay wards accommodating six beds

Other construction plans include:
Fencing and Guard house
Under ground tanks for roof water harvesting.  Roof top water tank
3 KW Solar  and batteries (transferred from our current rented facilities)
Generator for back up power and Xray use
Outdoor washing, cleaning and toilet facilities

Three local construction companies have provided quotations for the building.
The land has just been cleared and levelled in preparation for construction starting February 2015
Dr Andrew and Anne Wright will be living and working in Kitgum from February to April in order to monitor the commencement of the project.
THE TARGET to raise is   $120,000 Australian  by  January 2015

We are excited that  Gateway Baptist Church is partnering with us over Christmas and dedicating all funds raised at Christmas services and Christmas  Carols  toward our building fund.
Would you please consider helping us to reach this target by giving to this project through our online giving options on this webpage  or via cheque .
Giving is tax deductible.

November  2014. Clearing Yotkom Medical clinic site.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The YOTKOM UGANDA leadership team

We have just had a Directors meeting for the Yotkom project at my home base here in Kitgum and I am feeling very blessed to be working with such a great team. There is  a real sense of unity and shared vision among us. Listening to my colleagues share in the meeting is so heartening. I feel it is a real privilege to work with my Ugandan  friends here and it will be with some sense of loss that I leave to return to Australia on Sunday.

Our leadership team today consisted of Dr Vincent Oringa, Clinical Officers Peter Omara and Richard Yulam, Chaplain Concy Amigo, Engineer and Architect  Andrew Kilama and myself.
 Dr Charles Abonga was unable to join us due to his ongoing specialist training in Mbarara in Western Uganda.  These people have commitment, passion, integrity and enthusiasm .
They are formidable !

Its been four weeks of  busy activity as we strengthen our foundations and prepare for a building project in 2015. We are ready and have done our part. We now need to trust and pray that God will provide all that is needed in the way of resources through the generous giving of our partners in Australia.
We believe with the addition of a building constructed to house our medical team we can provide a high quality , compassionate and sustainable health care facility to the disadvantaged community of Kitgum.

our focus is on CARING FOR THE SICK

TEACHING AND TRAINING-  Surgeon Dr Moses works alongside Clinical Officer Richard performing procedures
PREVENTATIVE HEALTH and COMMUNITY EDUCATION - our Nurse and Chaplain share on FM Radio about Womens Health issues


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Brainstorming ideas on income generation

we are using some green hat thinking here, exploring ways to improve our income generation.
We have a rented shop which is functioning as  a pharmacy and the Yotkom Office.
As a result of our work with DAYS for GIRLS, we have purchased a sewing machine and employed Rhoda to sew the materials necessary to produce Days for Girls sanitary products. We hope to sell a pack for 12000 shillings, which is about $5 Australian.

This pack provides protection for young women and school students and can be used and reused for a period of up to 3 years. The alternative is to buy disposable items . These cost the same amount but only last 3 months, so the DFG products make sound economic sense. We hope to make small profits but also use our facility to make the free packs which are given out as part of our school teaching program.
We are also talking to an African artist who might brighten up our shop and sell more of his artwork..We will take a small commission for sales. His name is Joshua and he is going to paint an African   DFG  logo for our shop wall.

The Nurse assistants who staff the pharmacy are also keen, when not busy,  to learn to make necklaces which we sell in Australia to help raise funds.
The team here are very enthusiastic.
Andrew is enjoying opportunities to network with other health professionals here.
Dr Aniel Cherian is the director of a training school for South Sudan Clinical Officers. The school is sponsored by the International Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship. He travelled the 10 hour bus trip from Kampala and stayed with Andrew for2  nights. He is planning to bring the trainee Doctors to Kitgum and will develop a partnership with Yotkom and St Josephs Hospital in order to give them a wide range of valuable supervised experience.

Before he left , Pat Holdsworth was able to give some valuable medical equipment to St Josephs Hospital and the Yotkom/Bregma Clinic. The equipment will facilitate training and the care of emergencies such as cardiac arrest , fractures and spinal injuries. Pat is planning to return in 2015 to follow up on is work.

A container is coming with more medical supplies in about one months time thanks to the generosity of the Mater Hospital Brisbane and the hard work of Graham Carter.
On Friday, Andrew is teaching at the medical grand rounds at St Josephs Hospital on the topic of Acute Asthma.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Finalising Building Plans

WE have been collaborating with local draughtsman and project manager, Andrew Kilama to finalise plans for the Yotkom Medical Centre and also the guesthouse which will be located on  separate land. We have asked three local builders who have a good reputation to provide us with quotations to build.
Currently we have a vision to commence building by February next year in order to beat the wet season. The Gateway church Christmas offerings will be a major boost to our fundraising efforts for the construction. Other gifts toward this task are warmly welcomed and are tax deductible.

Andrew is planning to return to Kitgum in early 2015 and stay on site for at least 2 months with his wife Anne . He will be  working alongside the Yotkom medical team and also monitoring the building process.  Other engineering and project management professionals from Australia are also considering assisting us.

working on building plans
marking out site of guesthouse
planting trees on guesthouse site
PAt and Maree plant Pawpaw
Andrew Kilama and family
outside church on Sunday

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Training and Networking in Gulu

Our female team members are feeling very happy after eating some of Andrews chocolate stash and trying on their newly made African dresses.
They have been working today to set up a sewing corner in our Yotkom Drug Shop. We have purchased a treadle sewing machine and plan to find ways of sewing and distributing the Days for Girls kits to the Kitgum community.
Days for Girls
The reception from the schools we have visited has been great and our Clinic nurses, Winnie and Florence along with Concy our chaplain have been very animated and engaged in their presentations.
These presentations in schools are a wonderful opportunity to deliver highly effective sexual health and safety messages to the young women of Uganda. It is a very important way of preventing transmission of HIV AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as protecting vulnerable girls from sexual assault and exploitation. Our Yotkom health team  hope to do many more in the district with assistance of funds from Australia

We spent some time today brainstorming ideas to fine tune the plans for the Yotkom Medical Clinic. Our architect and project manager, Andrew Kilama has been applying himself to the task.
 Andrew Wright will be seeking out quotations from builders here  to construct the clinic in 2015.

Earlier in the week Pat and Andrew travelled to Gulu, where we partnered with Prime International to assist in the delivery of a Whole Person Medicine training course to 40 second year Clinical Officer trainees. It went very well and I was impressed by the calibre of the students and their interaction . Much of the teaching was on consulting skills and managing mental health disorders. Three doctors from the UK  worked with us and two of our clinical officers from Kitgum, Richard and Peter , also participated and received certificates.

While in Gulu we were able to make valuable connections with the Hope for Humans Organisation which is working with children with Nodding Syndrome in that district .
Hope for Humans
 Their director, Caesar is coming to Kitgum next week and we will talk about ways we can work together to address the significant problem of Nodding Syndrome amongst children in our  community.

We also took a 6km Boda ride to the Lacor Hospital, a 500 bed facility established by the Catholic Church in 1959. The Medical Superintendent was very welcoming and gave us a guided tour. It was helpful for our clinical officers from Kitgum, 100km away to meet specialists they may need to refer difficult patients to.  The Med Superintendent  shared with us the challenges of running such a major facility. Only  20 % of all running costs come from patient fees , 10% from Government assistance and the remaining 70% is sourced from donors. How difficult it is for these much needed health care facilities to survive in communities where there is so much poverty , unemployment and major disease burdens.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Emergency Medicine Training Day

It was encouraging to see the interest shown by the medical staff from Bregma  Medical Clinic , St Joseph's Hospital  and other local clinics at the training day. Most of the staff have never see a resuscitation manikin or tried to resuscitate a patient, this showed in their active involvement in practicing their new skills in CPR. The few who had been trained were pleased at learning the current practice for CPR. 

 After lunch Dr Moses helped in the training adding his valuable experience in shock management and fluid replacement. At the end of the day all were happy to receive a certificate of attendance with good feedback from the students interested in continuing training in the future.

Paramedic with Yotkom Uganda Team

Friday, October 10, 2014

A few thoughts on my introduction to Kitgum

Visiting Kitgum has been a great experience. We have enjoyed a warm welcome from many people. I have been impressed by how fertile the land is and yet distressed to hear stories about how the impact of the civil war over many years has damaged infrastructure and ravaged social systems.

Yotkom is one organisation that is helping to rebuild this shattered community by building health infrastructure and caring for the needs of the whole person. We have been introduced to a wonderful team of people who are obviously passionate about the way in which they serve their community. There is a bright future ahead if this team retains its commitment to each other and servant attitude they readily display. There is a great expectation that the new facility would increase their capacity to serve their community.

Yesterday was a Ugandan public holiday and we were invited to visit the homes of some key staff in the medical clinic. There is nothing like being in someone's house and meeting family members to help build relationships and understanding. I reflected that back home in Australia there are some friends where I have never been invited to their house. These houses are nothing like ours but conversations, soft drink, photos and many smiling children helped to made us a feel right at home with our new friends.

In the evening we also enjoyed a meal with Lois from Tender Trust at her home. Living with 90+ children under the one roof is daunting, however we experienced great joy among the children as they played football, and later sang songs around the fire. We were also treated to a wonderful display in the African sky as the sun set as an electrical storm passed by. God took centre stage in both  the scenery and in the expressions in voices and prayers of the children.

This morning we heard the news that Dr Vincent's health had taken a turn for the worse. He is highly respected leader in the community and the organisation and so there has been considerable concern about his wellbeing. Please pray for him and his quick recovery.

It's also been interesting to observe Andrew in this environment. As we approached Kitgum he was bubbling like a child at returning to the community. He fits right in and obviously has a deep love for his friends in this place. He is equally respected and loved by them. His enthusiasm for the people and the potential opportunities is captivating. I just love the way that God reaches into individuals lives and call them to particular people and places. I reckon he is God's man for this time and place.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Recording life in Kitgum

We are getting to know  Concy, our pastoral care chaplain.
On Wednesday, the women in our team will be travelling to a rural village called Mucwini where they will present the Days for Girls program to the local school.  Nurses working with Yotkom, Florence and Winne,  will also be with them.
Pat, our Paramedic has been assessing the triage facilities at Bregma clinic and St Josephs Hospital with a view to identifying ways we can help improve capacity. We have also received an enthusiastic response from the nursing and medical staff working in Kitgum to attend our all day workshop on resuscitation and emergency medicine this Saturday.
Nick, our cinematographer, has been working hard in the heat, recording daily life at bregma medical clinic and hearing stories from the local community and staff who work in the medical centre.


Kitgum Day 1

Sorry for delayed post We arrived safely in Kitgum after 12 hours  Long slow drive over potholed road A little scary after dark with on coming buses who don't yield to on coming traffic Accommodation is located behind St Joseph's church surrounded by greenery Quiet until the church bell calls worshippers to daily mass at 6:30am Team are all well just a little tired Today we visited in Bregma clinic to meet and engage with the staff Nick has been busy filming all aspects of their work
About to head to Hospital to meet Dr Pamela Thanks for all you prayer cover

Monday, June 9, 2014


Yotkom Uganda         is a small non for profit organisation registered in Uganda.
The project has 5 directors , 2 from Australia and 3 from Uganda.
The board of management is predominantly made up of Health professionals from Australia and Uganda.

Our vision is to improve access and excellence of Primary Health Care services to Northern Uganda.
We seek to do this through building strong relationships , sharing resources and encouraging self reliance.
Our organisation is faith based  and our values reflect this strong Christian ethos.
We value Honesty, Transparency, Compassion , Justice and Respect within our team and strive to maintain these standards in our care of others.
The community we serve in Northern Uganda is defined by high levels of poverty and unemployment and a lack of infrastructure and services due to over 15 years of civil war.
The disease burden is high with many children under five dying from infectious diseases such as Malaria, Pneumonia and Diarrhoea.
Women on average in Uganda have 7 pregnancies, and with each one the risk of mortality is 20 times higher than that in Australia due to limited pregnancy care and safe birthing facilities.
Yotkom Uganda is seeking to address these needs through training and mentoring of high quality health professionals and provision of good diagnostic services.
We are currently working closely with an established Primary Health Care/ General Practice in Kitgum town, Uganda.
We have a regular financial commitment to assist with medical staff wages, chaplaincy and ongoing education and training of existing professionals and future team members who work in this community.
We also have a vision to build a purpose built medical clinic and maternal and child health centre for our team to work in.
Yotkom has purchased strategically located commercial land in Kitgum and developed  a construction plan for our future clinic building.
We appreciate our donors assistance for our ongoing committments (currently approximately $15,000 per year ) and also toward the $250,000 target for our  building fund . We hope to commence building in 2015. Stage 1 will be a primary health clinic , costing approximately $180,000 and Stage 2,  a maternal and child health centre for $70,000.

Because of our size we have minimal administrative overheads and can target our donor funds directly to the health needs on the ground. We also have transparent financial declarations and are subject to monitoring by AUSAID through our partner organisation in Australia, Healthserve. This organisation also provides tax deductibility status for our donors.
Latest developments as of June 2014 include:
1. We are working on our plans for a medical clinic construction, calling on expertise from project managers, builders, architects and engineers here in Australia and Uganda. A significant Christmas fund raising appeal promises to give us sufficient funds to commence building in early 2015.
Please consider helping through your donation to contribute to this Health Care Facility .Your contribution could help us reach our target of completion by July 2015 .

2. In April this year our project team developed a particular focus on addressing needs and researching causes of Nodding Syndrome, a debilitating illness affecting children and communities in Northern Uganda. We have developed a specific project proposal for a rural village outreach to address the needs of disabled children and their families and we are working with other organisations to seek funds for this specific proposal.

3. Doctor  Andrew and Anne Wright are Australian  directors of the Yotkom Project and have made a decision to relocate to Doha, Qatar where Andrew will be employed in a new Primary Health Care/ General Practice role from August this year . We see this as a strategic opportunity which will build strength in the Yotkom project . Andrew and Anne  plan to commute more regularly from Doha to Northern Uganda for supervision and project management and to work alongside  Ugandan medical colleagues. Andrew and Anne will be able to continue to meet all their own expenses related to the project and ensure all  donated funds are directed to delivering services in Kitgum.

4. The Yotkom Uganda Support team will continue to meet every three months in Brisbane to provide support and accountability for then Australian leadership . Our Support team provide their expertise in many areas including Information technology, Business development, accounting, media , medicine, nursing, dentistry and Pastoral Care / Chaplaincy.

5. A container with some medical equipment and materials for the new clinic will be leaving Brisbane in August bound for Kitgum. We thank the The Mater Hospital Brisbane for their generous giving which makes this possible
6. A small team will be going to Kitgum in October with a focus on Emergency Medicine training and upskilling and Womens ministry. We will be working with other health focussed organisations working in the community including DAYS FOR GIRLS,  PRIME INTERNATIONAL ,  and              ST JOSEPHS HOSPITAL .  See web links at the bottom of the blog page for more information on these projects.
Our Team members include Pat and Maree Holdsworth and Lynne Pemberton. (below with Andrew)

Other team members from Gateway Baptist Church in Brisbane will also be travelling with us.
Rhys Tregenza,  Nick Paton and Ainsley Winton :





To GIVE....Go to:  Yotkom TAX DEDUCTIBLE Donation Website

or post to Healthserve Australia .
PO Box 3032
NSW 2250
please state  the donation is for Yotkom Project
Receipts will be forwarded to you

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Strong Leadership

Dr Charles travelled on buses for about 18 hours across the country to be part of our Yotkom Uganda Directors meeting here in Kitgum.  He is staying 24 hours then hopping back on the bus to return to Mbarara where he is doing post graduate study in Internal Medicine.  His studies are being partly sponsored by Yotkom and a Government scholarship he won. His new skills will be of great use in the Kitgum community.
We had a lot of things to discuss at our meeting and there was a real spirit of unity and excitement for the future. We can see real growth occurring and so many answers to prayers  . We know we have challenges but we are determined to do our part to build strong foundations and be effective in all areas of health outreach and to be fully transparent and accountable so donors can know that the funds they give are going  directly to the areas of need.
Yotkom has a residential plot in a quite part of Kitgum, purchased in 2003
We have our title deed in hand now, securing the land
Estimated cost to build $30,000AUS
We would like to build a small duplex with two x 2bedroom units on this site, suitable for long term rental and short term guest house use. This structure would provide income for the project and save us paying for accommodation when short term teams arrive.
Meanwhile our main focus is on commercial land  on the main road in from Gulu which we purchased six months ago . We have plans drawn up to build a Primary Health Care Clinic on this site with Reception area, three consulting rooms, emergency room, small operating  theatre, overnight stay ward, Pharmacy, Xray, Ultrasound and Pathology services.
commercial land for Clinic
We are still awaiting approval from authorities to visit the Nodding Syndrome community we have targeted for an outreach project. We hope to go on Tuesday but appreciate your prayers on this matter.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Medical Matters

The focus of the Yotkom project is to assist in delivering better quality health services and improving access of the community of Northern Uganda to this care.
The Bregma Clinic we are assisting sees many cases of broken bones or Orthopaedics. This can be due to events such as children climbing trees, pedestrians being hit by bikes, motorcycles , cars, trucks or buses ! The roads are quite dangerous.
Yesterday while I was in the clinic we had several patients attend with fractures, ranging from a fractured jaw as a result of a punch, to broken arms in children and a frail elderly gent with a broken hip from a fall. The clinic is able to Xray and apply plasters  and splints to most fractures. Those which are displaced from their normal position can be reduced into alignment by the doctors while the patient is given a light anaesthetic through IV.  Dr Vincent particularly enjoys providing this sort of care.
Having diagnostic equipment such as an XRay machine and Ultrasound on site can make such a difference to the accuracy of diagnosis and level of care which can be provided.
The staff here are really missing their ultrasound machine which requires repair but will cost about $1000 and currently this is not in the budget. Consequently the centre is operating below its capacity.
Fractured Hip
Young boy has light anaesthetic while fractured elbow is put back in place
Over at St Josephs Hospital, there is a need to improve the Ambulance service and do more inservice training of the staff involved in delivering emergency care . Andrew met with the Medical Superintendent and other hospital staff, including Augustine, one of the Ambulance drivers to look at ways we can have input. We are hoping to be able to have Pat Holdsworth, an experienced   Paramedic from Brisbane spend time here in October and assist with this area of need. We are requesting donor funds  or donated equipment be sent in the container this year to assist with fitting out the ambulance which is currently bare . The outpatient department may also benefit from setting aside  a designated area for managing emergency cases and stabilising them.
St Josephs Ambulance
interior of Ambulance
St Josephs Hospital OPD/Emergency Dept
with Dr Pamela, Medical Superintendent and Obstetrician