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Our CEO Geoff's Muzungu Blog: Day 5, Mbale

Updated: May 10

Rural Mbale
Rural Mbale

Well, we knew that today was going to be challenging physically and it was. We had to journey from Masaka to Mbale via Kampala and today was so hot.

Fortunately, the temperature outside of Entebbe, which has its own micro-climate, is generally a few degrees cooler, but it never dropped below 28C until the last two hours of the journey when the sun went down.

The first half of the journey to Kampala was relatively easy as I was in the front seat of the car and we made reasonably good progress, making the trip in just over four hours. We then met with leaders from the Deliverance Church in both Kampala and Mbale where we discussed many things related to the possibility of a new hospital-build in Mbale.

They were aware that we had serious concerns over governance and the management of such a project and by the end of the meeting, they had a good picture of what they needed to do before Mildmay would consider involvement, by way of a partnership. I was pleased that they fully understood and they had a commitment to get to where they needed to be. I will be drawing up an MoU* so that everyone is clear about their part.

Geoff with Dr Jan White, Pastor Silva from the Deliverance Church in Mbale and Pastor Edward from the Deliverance Church in Kampala
Geoff with Dr Jan White, Pastor Silva from the Deliverance Church in Mbale and Pastor Edward from the Deliverance Church in Kampala

So two hours after arriving in Kampala, we were back on the road for the second leg of the journey. This time I would be squashed into the back seat with two others so I knew that I was in for an uncomfortable ride. Six hours later, after having to make four stops to stretch my legs due to my knees not being as young as they were(!) we finally arrived in Mbale; but the day's trials were not yet over.

Google map of journey from Masaka to Mbale, Ugnada

Whenever I arrive in a hotel there is always a moment of relief when they confirm the reservation… well today was not one of those days. When I showed them the confirmation they went into something of a tailspin because all of their rooms were full. Fortunately, the manager was able to arrange a room in a ‘hotel’ across the road. I would return at breakfast with my bags and they would have a room for me for the following two nights.

Sleeping in a hotel room with windows that do not close properly and mosquito nets that have more holes than you would like is not the best way to get a good night's sleep! That said, I had arrived exhausted and so sleep eventually caught up.

Geoff Coleman

CEO, Mildmay Hospital 


Mzungu, also known as muzungu, mlungu, musungu or musongo, is a Bantu word that means "wanderer" originally pertaining to spirits. The term is currently used in predominantly Swahili speaking nations to refer to foreign people dating back to 18th century. The noun Mzungu or its variants are used in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Comoros, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mayotte, Zambia and in Northern Madagascar (the word changed to "vozongo" in Malagasy, but locals will still understand the word mzungu) dating back to the 18th century.