As warmer weather beckons and minds turn to the season of holidays – part of my mind turns to a bed. Why? Because for 31 nights I have slept in a sleeping bag, on a thin foam mat, on the floor of my bedroom.
The 1st of April 2021 saw the end of what started out as The Chairman’s Challenge earlier in the year following a meeting with Friends of Kiwoko. We didn’t know then what it would look like or if it would even attract donations but a seed was planted.
I mulled for several weeks how I could raise the profile of Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda and raise much needed funds to help them. Covid-19 had, like us at South Eastern Trust, necessitated unanticipated costs and the normal fund raising events of marathons, coffee mornings and stalls could not work and financial reserves were running extremely low.
Given the restriction on travel and unnecessary journeys I could only legitimately work within the confines of my home and garden. A certain centenarian had already cornered the idea of walking around the garden so I needed to think beyond that.
The lead into Easter is often recognised by many as the period of Lent – a time of simple living and self-denial. I then decided I could give up the normal foods I enjoy, give up my comfortable bed and see if that would spur family, friends and colleagues to donate to Kiwoko Hospital.
It worked! 31 days on with over 200 people contributing we are closing in on £10,000.
My initial hope was I could raise between £1000 and £2000 but generosity and good will towards the Hospital pushed that total way beyond anything I could have ever expected.
I am indebted to every person who donated and were so liberal with their giving.
The most difficult part? Hip joints and their dislike of the hard surface and the inability in the latter nights to get long periods of sleep.
But after 31 nights I have a choice – I can climb into my bed – the patients who live close to Kiwoko Hospital do not have a choice.
The best part? Laying on the floor reading Dr Ian Clarke’s account of setting up the clinic in Kiwoko and his struggle to build what is there today to help and care for such poor and resource starved people. His faith and belief in the calling he had to create the Hospital is truly inspiring – a great read if you can find a copy.
Would I do it again – absolutely! I count it a privilege to endure some personal hardships for people much less graced with access to free healthcare or the wherewithal to pay for it. This challenge was never about me – it was about Kiwoko Hospital, raising the profile to people who did not know about it and raising vital funds to allow them to continue the amazing work they do.
Thank you to everyone who has invested in people in Uganda who they will never ever meet!
Chairman and Chief Executive
South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust