The single thing that impacted me most during my paediatric nursing training – both professionally and spiritually – was the month I spent at Kiwoko Hospital, a mission hospital in Uganda.

A medical elective is a once in a lifetime chance to see healthcare in a different setting, with different resources, in a different culture.

Being sent on mission through UFM for my medical elective meant I felt prepared and supported throughout my trip. Having the support of believers praying for me at home, and working alongside believers at the mission hospital, was a new but great experience.

A different mindset

My mindset was challenged as I saw Christians starting a shift with an attitude of joining together in the Lord’s name, to do His work, for His glory. It was common to see staff comforting one another and their patients, with reminders of God’s presence and love, and praising the Lord for His provisions – something which is unheard of back in the UK.

I had many opportunities both on various wards, and in the community, to learn about new diseases and illnesses, practice a huge range of clinical skills, and grow in my understanding of many aspects of healthcare. Witnessing healthcare in a new culture really equipped me to deliver better care in every setting.

Reducing barriers

For the last two days of my placement, I returned to maternity and the neonatal unit as these were the wards where I learnt so much and made good friends with many staff. It is amazing how after just one month, both the language and culture barrier seemed so much smaller.

It took time to become comfortable caring for patients and families with whom you could not communicate with many words, although it’s amazing how far a smile and an ‘oli oyta’ (‘how are you’) went towards making these friendly people feel comfortable. They were open-hearted towards me, even though they were at a difficult time in life.

Upon returning home, I reflected on my time in Uganda and wrote this:

“It is strange to be home. The suitcase hasn’t yet found its way back into storage but when it does I pray that none of the new things I’ve learnt – about the world, about culture, about nursing and healthcare, but most importantly, about God – would be stored away with it. I pray these experiences would remain a very present part of my life, that I would not forget anything the Lord showed me whilst I was away.”

Choosing mission for your medical elective can seem daunting, particularly following the pandemic, but I would encourage anyone to go for it. You will grow in so many ways and come away with a fresh and broadened understanding of healthcare, the Lord and His world!

 

Esther Hughes completed a medical elective placement in 2019 at Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda, where UFM mission workers Becca Jones and Stephen & Linda Park are also based.