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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Gulu University and a link to Manchester

Once a feared place by every one is now very different.
Once a place known for war is now a place of peace. And source of education.
Among the most significant courses that bring people from all the parts of Uganda and the neighboring countries is the bachelor of medicine and surgery. Thanks to the Government of Uganda for setting up a fifth public University in the Northern Uganda, Gulu is now known internationally because of the University.

There are five public Universities in Uganda, Gulu in the northern Uganda, Makerere and Kyambogo in central, Mbarara in the west, and  Busitema in Eastern Uganda.


Gulu University was began in 2002 and started medicine in 2004. The students were being watched over by armed men within the University. For the faculty of medicine which is two km away from the main campus were all living in a hostel near the hospital still for security purposes.

Among the pioneers, many of them were victims of war and greatly  traumatized .
They were former abductees and others were once soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army. Like the late major general Walter Ochola who has just passed  away and was pursuing his masters in the in the University after his first degree.

Many victims of war have really benefited from the University, both academically, with job opportunities and created small businesses around the region. Some of the victims can easily be recognized as some of the their body parts are missing.

The vice chancellor of the University is Prof. Pen Mogi, an Acholi from Kitugumu.

The average age of students usually admitted undergraduate degree is 21 years for the direct entrants, these are the ones who come directly from high grade schools. For mature entrants it iss around 30 to 35 years. These  are usually admitted on merits of  their previous performance in their diplomas and degrees in Health related courses, like Nursing and Clinical Medicine.

The students of courses other than Medicine do study in shifts, some study during the day and are called Day students. Others study during the weekends on Saturday and  Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm simply because we dont have sufficient resources.

Helping the success of Gulu University is the Partnership with the University Hospital of South Manchester. This hospital has twinned with Gulu and many doctors, nurses and other staff have either volunteered or taken career breaks to go and live in Gulu and teach a wider variety of subjects. It is a great example of how the uK can help others around the world and at the same time bring back invaluable experience.

There's an exchange program that's yet to take place in the near future, were some medical students from Manchester University will come to study with us and some of us hope to study in Manchester.  Every one is praying to be among the chosen few.

Written by Sr. Grace Nannyondo who is being sponsored by HUGS and has now completed her third year.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Leaving something to remember

Is it unusual to think about leaving something to be remembered for? Margery and I have just returned from a 3 day stay in what must be one of the most exciting cities in the world, Barcelona. Not just because their football team overwhelmed Manchester United but because each year we try to see one or two great places and there are not many to beat it.
It really has everything from wonderful beaches and marinas but the most fantastic Gothic quarter, Cathedral, the world famous Ramblas and of course the architecture of Antoni Gaudi.

He lived for the last 2 years of his life in the cathedral which he started in about 1902 and which will be finished one day. "God is in no hurry" was his answer when asked about completion. He was knocked down be a tram when in his late 70's and nobody recognised him and walked by. He died a few days later.
And he really did leave something to be remembered. So many quite extraordinary buildings. Quirky perhaps but quite wonderful in vision and in detail.

He started to build a town in a park but this was way before people were ready for it so his Parc Guell only has two houses but what a Parc?  It is really worth seeing.

Then add all the sunshine and great squared and restaurants and we will certainly go again. Pity about flying though. The security processes are now making the experience quite horrible and one cannot help but think we are overdoing it. Maybe Barcelona by rail would be OK.