Day nine - Graduation day
It’s Saturday and a very important day for KCMC and the university as its graduation day. The University has been covered with flowers, lights and gifts for those graduating and the ceremony began really early in the morning. We could hear the music from 7am.
Yesterday evening Professor Namita Kumar, Dean of Postgraduate Education, arrived to join us for the weekend so it was perfect timing for her as she is able to attend the graduation ceremony and see the medical students become doctors. The parade was fantastic and there were hundreds of students parading through the streets wearing their gowns. It was particularly special for Brenda as there were 6 students graduating who had been sponsored by Friends of KCMC, a charity that Brenda chairs and which has supported our partnership work with the hospital for many years. There were also many familiar faces amongst the crowd, such as Eusebious Maro and Bonnyfass Temo whom had undertaken professional fellowships in Northumbria. It was proud day indeed!
After the graduation we met up with some of the team to introduce Professor Kumar and show her around some of the hospital. Professor Kumar was delighted to meet the burns nurses, Catherine and Meg, on the ward along with their patients. We all talked about the different issues and challenges healthcare professionals faced in these environments compared with the UK. as Mohammed and Kirsty in our team had seen this for themselves being faced with very difficult cases and experiencing situations that many healthcare professionals working in the UK would never ever see. Despite only being at the very beginning of their careers they remained motivated, focussed and demonstrated immense resilience, taking on any challenge that was put to them.
Unfortunately our day at the hospital ended with a final harsh reminder of the realities of the issues faced by people living in countries like Tanzania when we met a young boy, Peter, sitting outside the hospital. Peter’s foot was bandaged up and as he sat intrigued at the production team’s cameras, we couldn’t help but ask him what had happened as his foot as it looked very painful. He told us he was ten year’s old and he was soon to be going home after being diagnosed with Kaposi Sarcoma. Jeremy explained that this is a tumour caused by Aids. Peter spoke very clearly and matter of fact about his situation, it seemed his illness had made him older than his years. We all wanted to check on Peter the next day and make sure he at least got a gift from us before we left to help cheer him up – a Newcastle United top seemed to do just the trick!
In the evening, Liam and the film crew were leaving for home. It was time for one last team photo and a few hours to reflect on the activities of the week