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Our CEO Geoff's Muzungu Blog: Day 6, to Kumi Hospital

The view from  Mbale to Mount Elgon
The view from Mbale to Mount Elgon

Day 6 began with the journey from Mbale to Kumi Hospital.

It was an early start with a 6am change of hotels for breakfast and a pickup at 7am for the drive to Kumi Hospital. I met with their medical director Dr Raymond, who needed to meet before he began his surgical list. The meeting went well with both sides pleased with the progress of the Education Exchange Programme. They are hoping that we can send out more therapists as part of the team as we did recently with Josh, one of our physiotherapists.

Rusting Kumi Hospital sign in a rural setting

We then began the conversation about the second half of the program which is to have doctors from Kumi Hospital come and visit the UK. This will be a challenging task because of the visa restrictions on educational visits. We would also need to do this in partnership with another hospital such as the Royal London Hospital. So there is a lot of planning to do before this becomes a reality.

Then the conversation got into equipment and we were asked if it would be possible to ship over old beds and other items such as crutches. No promises were made on this one because of the complexities around shipping and customs. However, the NHS does throw away a large amount of kit after a single use because of the tortuous rules around recycling this equipment.

When the meeting concluded we received confirmation that we had been invited to the Bishop's house, and so off we travelled to meet the Rt. Rev. Michael, the Bishop of Kumi. As you might expect the Bishop’s house was grand. In fact, he had a second house on his land just for receiving guests.

Rt. Rev. Michael Okwii Esakan, image courtesy of New Vision

He was an extremely nice and welcoming man who could talk for Uganda and would take the opportunity to pray for absolutely anything and everything. This was to be a brief flying visit to update him on what was happening with our Education Exchange Programme with Kumi Hospital and our hope for the future. This brief meeting turned into two hours which then turned into lunch. I wish I had been brave enough to ask to take a picture of his house but imagine his purple Bishop's robe with an exactly matching purple sofa, chairs, table cloth and curtains!

I finally returned to the hotel during the afternoon where they had a room now ready for me… with a working shower, windows that closed and mosquito nets that have not seen better days, as in, they would be effective! I finished off the day working with a very loud reminder that we were in the rainy season.

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.