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Monday, May 15, 2017


Dearest papa, 
Nakhushesele naabi naabi.
Wanyala byosi byesi ukhola.  Nakhuwandikhila tsi bbaluwa tsingali nenga shuli ni tsambo tta.  You never write back.  Papa, nasima naabi ini wamanya uri indi umwana wowo.  Nenga papa wose aba umulayi khukhufura iwe.  Nenga namanya ini mu mwoyo kwowo ungana naabi inga umumwana wowo.
WHY YOU MUST ADDRESS HEALTH CARE IN UGANDA!
In October 2000, I stormed in my Project Team Manager Helen Quinlan and told her I had to fly home.  She looked at me funny and asked me why all of a sudden when I had deadlines to beat.  I told her that my father was gonna die before December 2000.  She then talked to our manager Jeannette Godfrey and they gave me the okay to drop everything and fly home. 
We flew to Johannesburg and I left Thierry and Rebecca with my childhood friend Audrey Mothupi (Standard Chartered bank.  She had just quit SABC or Liberty Insurance).  I flew home alone to spend one week with father and arranged for my husband and daughter to fly home after one week.
What I saw terrified me.  Father was on dialysis.  Mbale Hospital had ran out of treatments (remember Bududa Hospital was no longer an option).  Daily, I used to go to Mengo Hospital to spend the whole day with father. Our driver was amazing.  He always showed up at 6:00am to drive me to go spend the day with mzee.
Mzee got better and decided to return to Bududa.  But by this time, Thierry and Rebecca were in Kampala and he so loved his grand daughter it was magical to see them together.  This kid had a lot of questions.  "So if you are mommy's dad, that makes you my grandpa?"  So if you are sick that makes mommy must get a well paying job to pay for your medical treatment.  "Grandpa, I get very bad night terrors and mommy said that when I meet you, you will chase the monsters away".  He did.  Becky has never had a night terror since then.
So mzee heads to Bududa on Sunday.  I had a very bad feeling because he looked too peaceful.  I called my siblings and told them all that mzee was going home to die.  They called me a witch.  The thing is I know my father very well.  I could always tell from looking in his eyes that something was up.
My sister had bought for me school supplies for the whole school of Bududa and we drove to Bududa and went straight to the school to give each kid books, crayons, pens and pencils.  It was magical.  Mrs. Masette had returned from retirement and was now teaching in P1.  Joyce Masette taught most people from Bududa. Generation after generation and it was a blast to walk into her class.  She looked at me and asked me why I had not forgotten home.  How can I?  Then Becky took off her shoes.  
The kids were sitting on the floor in dirt.  Mrs. Masette was teaching them the colours of the rainbow.  The driver storms in and says "madam, your daughter left her shoes in the car.  She is going to get jiggers.  Please here are her shoes.  Please make her put them on".  Rebecca looked at him and Mrs. Masette and all the other kids who had no shoes.  She asked "what are jiggers?  Do they have jiggers?  I want to also get jiggers".  
Suddenly a kid runs into the classroom and yells, someone is sick, they are taking him to Bududa hospital.  I looked at Mrs. Masette and said "If I am not wrong, that is probably Dan Nangalama".  Lo and behold, Betty Nakami runs in yelling at me "mzee mzee".  So we jump into the car leaving Mrs. Masette to distribute supplies to the other classes.  We get to Bududa Hospital and I storm into mzee's room.  I will never forget that sight. 
This nurse is crashing pills into water to force feed my father.  His blood pressure was so high it was insane.  I asked the nurse why they could not hook him on an IV and infuse the medication.  She said "we do not have equipment of the medicine".  I am going nuts and yelling to see the doctor and screaming "you are killing my father.  Someone is gonna pay".  Finally the good doctor walks in and tells me that Bududa Hospital had no medicine or equipment.  I am crying like a kid.  
I then ask the good doctor to allow me to take Mzee to Mbale Hospital.  Mzee had a great doctor.  Dr. Masaba was waiting for dad at Mbale Hospital.  I was so desperate and my sister had given me her phone so I was calling everyone frantically to save my father's life.  The doctor asked me if I had driven on the Mbale Bududa Road.  I had.  He then said "the road is very bad and he is too fragile.  If I release him to you, he will die on the way and is this something you want to live with?"
So we jump back into the car and rush to Mbale.  On the way, I called my oldest sister Lois and told her the situation.  Bududa hospital had no ambulance or paramedics.  Lois and her husband who used to run Coffee Marketing Board hire a private ambulance and rush to Bududa Hospital.  But it was only for the morning.
I am sitting outside at 4:00Am in Mbale resort and talking to the waiters and waitresses.  A star fell out of the sky.  I told one of the girls "my father just died".  She looked at me funny and I told her.  She cried with me.  At 5:00AM, Wanga called me.  I answered the phone "Mzee died at exactly 4:00AM".  He asked me how I could be precise.  I know my father very well.  Then at 6:00AM, Richard came to the resort.  We sent Thierry and his daughter to Kampala and went to the village to face the wrath.
All the siblings are making arrangements.  Lois and her husband had jumped back into the ambulance and rushed back to Mbale to get medication to treat the body.  This was not someone who was gonna be buried over night.  Then the real hard work.  We had to put out Advertising in Uganda media.  Newspapers to inform all his colleagues in EAC about his death.  People had to travel from Tanzania and Kenya and even the Ugandans.  The obituary.  Imagine having to write such. I sent a fax to my manager in Toronto and told them I would not catch the flight on Thursday to be at work on Friday.  Helen texted back -- work can wait.  We are with you.
We finally had the funeral.  All the schools in Bududa District cancelled school for that day.  There were so many people.  So many cars.  So many teachers.  So many kids.  Father had started the Library at Bududa Secondary School and given them all our books from our home library.  I have never seen so much love.  We were dazed and our elders are not very nice most times.  They would not allow us close to his body or grave.  We were heart broken.  You think those 15 kids you arrested were trafficked (Kaweesi murder)?  We all stood away from the elders and they read out all our names and we were 45 kids.  A bit funny when they got to Leah "She is his daughter who is in Canada and could not fly home for the funeral".  To this day I can still fool all of Bukirimwa because I am the spitting image of my sister.  I was right there but the whole time they thought it was my sister.
Flew back in time to return to work and refused to take paid grieving work off.  I opened 2 letters and read them.  The first one was when I finished my Masters and dad told me I must go for my PhD (which was a none issue as PhDs in Canada are fully funded).  I had not replied.  I needed a job because his medical bills were costing me USD $100 per day so academia was not an option.  The second letter which he wrote much later said "you may not be a doctor but you gave up school and bought me 5yrs of life".
You see, if your regime had funded and equipped all the hospitals, my father was too young, too intelligent and too talented.  He would not have died at age 61.  Imagine my mother is age 81 and very healthy.  But how many stories must you read about all of us who lost our family members and friends due to lack of medicine and equipment in hospitals in Uganda?  DID you really sanction that report of patients must now pay fees to go to Mulago?
I hope Thunder Strikes you.  I hope Lighting hits all those thugs who tell you lies, siphon money from donors and tax payers while their people die helplessly.  AND by the way, if you approve that Anite's request of sh. 23B, you will live to regret it.  Why do you take advice from school drop outs anyway?  Hire professionals. People who are qualified for their jobs like Uhuru said!  Nepotism and Corruption are cancers and you now see where Uganda is going because you do not hire brainiacs. 
Always your loving daughter.
Martha Leah Nangalama 
#BududaProud

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