Cardiff St.David's Rotary Club

Chartered 18th October 1983
District 1150


Membership information
Uganda/Rotary Doctor Bank

Rotary Doctor Bank

Visit to Uganda 2010


In October 2010 the Chairman of Rotary Doctor Bank, Doctor Arthur Knight asked a number of fellow Rotarians to join him on a visit to Uganda. The visit was to be self funded, but it would be an opportunity to better understand the need for Doctor Bank, it's operation on the ground and to get a feel for the Country.

Five Rotarians took up the challenge including Doctor Knight, Alan Hodgson, Dianne Griffiths and Clive Johnson from Cardiff St.Davids Rotary and Ann Budd from Cardiff Breakfast Club. The trip was to be just short of two weeks in duration and started with the 10 hour flight to Entebbe.

This page tells the story of the visit, in particular, the three hospitals at Buluba, Kitovu and Kamuli together with the school at Buluba, the leprosy centre and the flora and fauna of Uganda more generally.


Getting around
Buluba Hospital
Buluba Leprosy centre
Buluba Apliance Centre
Rotary in action
Buluba school
Kamuli hospital
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Kitovu hospital
Kitovu outreach and immunisation
Chimpanzee sanctuary
Photo gallery with captions
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The Story



The trip started at Entebbe where we stayed at the Gately Hotel and we were able to look around the Botanical Gardens on that first day.

We had arranged for a Land Cruiser with a driver for the duration of the stay. It sounds extravagant but there was no other way to get to the places we wanted to visit.

Our driver Joseph was with us for the whole two weeks and was a great guy, safe driver and knowledgeable guide.

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starting off with Joseph

Getting around

Travel in Uganda was very varied. Most people travelled by bicycle, motorbike or a minibus-like communal taxi.

Driving conditions varied from excellent to mud roads with enormous potholes. Drivers would weave around each other to avoid them regardless of the direction of travel.

Market days were a nightmare as there were hordes of people and produce to add to the confusion.

There was ribbon development for miles and miles with small shops, market stalls and houses set back from the road. Many were brightly painted with the names of mobile phone companies ... the paint job was free as long as it was their corporate colour and they could use their logo. Look out for the pink houses in particular!

Our first day with Joseph took us to the provincial town of Jinja, where we crossed the Nile and saw the hydro power station by the bridge.

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getting around


We stayed at another Gately hotel in Jinja, with quiet cottages set in mature gardens overlooking Lake Victoria.

The longish trip took most of the morning, and after a bite to eat we went to see the source of the Nile. This is the point where the white Nile leaves Lake Victoria.

We took a boat on the young Nile and explored it's banks to find a wealth of bird life and the occasional fisherman.

Kingfishers and kites were much in evidence.

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Gately hotel at Jinja

Buluba hospital

Chairman of Doctor Bank Arthur has been visiting St.Francis Hospital at Buluba for the last 25 years, and we made this our first visit where we were greeted by Sister Rosemary.

The hospital has 120 beds, 3 doctors and serves a population of 1.5 million.

It is also the principal hospital dealing with leprosy. When we were there it was the dermatology out patients day, 200 patients to be seen. What a job they do!

The hospital sits on 800 acres of farmland, which it is able to use to help provide food for the hospital and marketable products to bring in much needed income.

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buluba hospital

Buluba leprosy centre

St.Francis hospital is the leading hospital in Uganda for leprosy cases. Whilst the disease is now curable, there is an ongoing need for treatment and care for those affected. Some are treated in the hospital and those more able to look after themselves have accomodation on the farm and land they use to grow their own food.

Those affected by the disease, especially the women were amazingly happy to be with us and full of fun despite their disabilities.

They were all happy to shake hands with us in spite of their disabilities.

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Buluba leprosy centre

Buluba Appliance Centre

Cardiff St.Davids Rotary has been contributing towards the provision of artificial limbs for several years, and it was good to see the operation at Buluba hospital.

It was originally set up for leprosy sufferers, but has now spread it wings and also produces limbs for people disabled by war or road trafic accidents.

Through the Rotary connection they now link up with the Jaipur Limb project in India and use some of their materials.

Lawrence showed us how limbs and shoes were made, and we later saw them in use at the leprosy centre.

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Buluba appliance centre


We were privileged to visit the two Rotary Clubs: Jinja and the Source of the Nile Rotary Clubs. Both met at about 6 o'clock for an hour or so. Drinks and snacks were served, but there was not a meal as is normally the case in the UK.

Both clubs were very well supported by the Rotaract Clubs which are very evidently strong.

The four way test played a big part in both meetings:

Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Ann and Arthur exchanged banners with the Jinja clubs on behalf of Cardiff Breakfast and Cardiff St.Davids Rotary clubs respectively.

Rotary presence was clearly valued throughout our visit, particularly Doctor Bank, major projects at the hospitals and Cardiff St.Davids water harvesting project at Buluba School.

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rotary in action

Buluba Primary School

This school started with small classes for the children of leprosy patients. It subsequently grew, and was given some land by the hospital when it became too big to cope with in the hospital itself.

It now has over 1900 pupils, is renowned as the best school in the area, and has over 400 boarders. It takes kids to level P7 (can be 11 to 14 years of age).

The welcome at the Primary school in Buluba was absolutely overwhelming. We were greeted at the school gate by the headmaster Moses and what seemed to be the full complement of pupils. There was cheering, African dance and the welcome song.

We went back on the second day for a tour of the school and an African lunch ... matoke, casova and rice with, as a special treat, some chicken and fish. Desert was fresh pineapple and banana.

It was good to see the water havesting project that the club had financed was up and running, and the moral messages painted on the classroom walls.

We toured the dormitories, kitchen and classrooms, where the children sang to us and made us feel very welcome.

At the farewell Dr.Arthur made a presentation and gave a small donation on behalf of the team. The headmaster Moses gave the team a book to take back to Meadowlane school, and we were treated to song and dance before we made our way back to Jinja.

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Click here to watch video of the school


Buluba school


Fishing in Lake Victoria and the Nile is a key economic activity and an important source of food. Unfortunately stocks are depleted and fish has become expensive, so is an occasional special treat for the general population.

Tilapia seemed to be the main offering, with dried whitebait being common amongst the fishermen.

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Kamuli Hospital

Kamuli hospital is about 60km North East of Jinji and took about an hour on an unmade road. We were warmly welcomed by Sister Sarah, offered cold drinks and a rest before we toured the hospital.

The hospital is one of two serving a population of about 1.5 million with 2 doctors, 35 nurses and 160 beds. More details of the hospital can be found on the following link:

Support from Rotary Doctor Bank has been very important with Dr. Jim McWhirter having completed 3 sessions over there.

Dr.Jim has also been instrumental in getting X Ray equipment for the hospital, and through his help will soon see back up generators installed. With power supplies unreliable these are vital for the theatre and oxygen concentrators.

The main problems the hospital encounter are malaria, HIV/aids and obstructed childbirth. Local surgeon Dr. Matovu has worked for 9 years, 7 days a week without a break.

Volunteer doctors are desperately needed, and other support very welcome.

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Kamuli hospital

Queen Elizabeth National Park

The drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park from Jinja made for a really tough day. With a difficult 12 hours spent on a mixture of a newly built sections of road, road under construction and roads in need of replacement.

But it was worth it. We arrived at dusk to be welcomed by baboons and three herds of elephant with about 20 in each family.

Mweya Lodge was superb, with views over the Kazinga channel and lakes George and Edward. We met hippos, baboons, warthogs and mongooses in the garden.

It was a great base for a few days safari.

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Queen Elizabeth Natiponal Park


We saw a lot of animals in the park, particularly elephant, hippos, water buffalo and Ugandan kob, but were not lucky enough to see lion, leopard or hyena.

Some guests were more fortunate, and proudly marked up their sightings on the chalk board outside reception!

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Birdlife was plentiful, varied and brightly coloured throughout our trip.

The first sighting of a family of enormous Marabou storks nesting above our cottages at Entebbe reminded us of journey to a lost world. With their beating leathery wings sounding like those of Pterodactyl.

The beautiful sunbirds and kingfishers, especially the brightly coloured malachite varieties, were amazing.

Weaver birds joined us for breakfast and lunch at Mweya. We were told that the males weave the nests and females cast them to the ground if not up to expectations! The male is then required to start again!

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Masaka is a busy rural town on the route back from the National Park, and home to Kitovu hospital.

The town was far from the tourist areas, and we arrived in the middle of a tropical storm, with huge winds and torrential rain.

Joseph reversed up the ramp to the lobby to let us get out and unload our luggage.

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Kitovu Hospital

Kitovu Hospital has been the centre for Rotary Bank activity. Many doctors from the UK have worked and taught at this centre, including Mr.David Webster, as surgeon from Cardiff.

We were warmly welcomed by the Medical superintendent and all of the senior staff. It was a privilege to talk to Dr.Maura Lynch, who has spent nearly 40 years as a doctor and surgeon in Africa and is more energetic than most people half her age!

A tour of the wards, and the patients, revealed a wide range of ailments, from accident and emergency cases to obstetrics and fistula repair.

With over 200 beds it is one of few hospitals serving a poulation of 1.5 million. Details of the hospital can be found on the following link:

Extremly well run and organised, the hospital is very sucessful on limited resources.

Having seen most people on the roadside seemingly well fed but poor, it was surprising to find malnutrition in evidence. The cause was put down to a diet based on matoke (boiled plantain bananas), filling, but with no nutritional value. There was a childrens ward specifically for dealing with these cases and an educational facility for mum's.

Volunteer doctors, in particular, are desperately needed .. as is help with the ongoing needs of refurbishing old buildings.

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Kitovu hospital

Kitovu Outreach

Having contributed to polio eradication for many years it was a great opportunity to go out and see the Kitovu outreach operation in action with Regis.

It took about an hour on roads only passable in a four wheel drive vehicle to get to the villagers of Kitwetwe in Kyanamukaka subcounty, and find the mum's and children waiting under a mango tree.

It was far more than just an immunisation clinic. It also dealt with health education, pre and post natal care,and was a place where mothers from this rural area could meet with the traditional birthing assistants who would help them through childbirth.

A variety of immunisation processes took place, including not only polio and measles, but also vitamin deficiencies.

A very well run and recorded operation which underlined the need for ongoing support from Rotary, particularly in the remote areas, where transport and communication are difficult.

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Kitovu outreach

Chimpanzees at Ngamba island

After a hectic tour the opportunity was taken on the final Saturday morning to take a fast boat ride for the 23 kilometers to Ngamba island.

This is a charitable operation designed to rescue chimpanzee's and restore them to their natural habitat.

60 chimps reside on the island and we were privileged to see them being fed. The hierarchy amongst them was quite clear, as was their human like behaviour patterns. Some were greedy, some shy, some aggressive, some really laid back.

A fitting end to the tour.

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Chimps at Ngamba