As you’ve probably heard by now Kampala was rocked by multiple bomb blasts on Sunday taking over 70 innocent lives and counting. This meant an extremely busy night at International Hospital Kampala (IHK) the hospital where Clea and I both work (though as administrators not medics). One of the bombs was detonated in a local restaurant called the Ethiopian Village in a district called Kabalagala, less than ten minutes drive from the hospital. Kabalagala is concentrated around a strip of seedy bars. It is a popular place to watch football, drink beer and eat BBQ. There is also ample opportunity for gambling and prostitution. All in all not the type of place that hard-line Islamic extremists tend to approve of. It was probably a combination of fanatical intolerance and Al-Shabab’s animosity towards Ethiopia following the 2006 invasion of Somalia that prompted the terrorists to select this innocuous restaurant as a location for their callous demonstration of inhumanity.
To give you an idea of just how barbaric this act was, most of the injuries that were seen in the hospital were head wounds inflicted by small steel pellets or pieces of brass shrapnel. I’m no munitions engineer, so I wouldn’t even like to speculate as to what type of device inflicts wounds like that, but you don’t have to have a qualification in murder to understand that whatever it was it was designed for slaughter. I think the anodyne military term is an anti-personnel device, which sounds rather like something that belongs in HR. If you see the pictures of the bomb site there seems to be minimal damage to the building, no broken walls, no scorch marks. In the pictures from the Rugby club rows of white plastic chairs sit relatively undisturbed, unremarkable except for the occasional corpse slumped where a man was once sat enjoying a football match.
Just knowing that there are people in this world capable of such a thing is enough to cause me to despair. Were it not for the incredible compassion I have seen demonstrated by the staff at IHK this episode would have left me feeling very bleak indeed. These dedicated professionals have worked flat out over the last couple of days to save peoples lives and by doing so have inadvertently saved my faith in humanity too. The below extract from an open letter written by the Chairman of IHK, Dr Ian Clarke, to the staff sums it up for me:
I am very saddened by what happened – for the American’s family, the Ugandans and the Ethiopians who have died needlessly. But it is also gratifying to go round the ward this morning and see patients who were covered in blood last night and for whom I might not have given much of a chance, sitting up in bed and smiling and at least those with serious head injuries are getting the best possible chance and some will pull through. This is what we are all about folks, and I mean all of us . . .
On the night of July 11th 48 of the injured were brought to IHK. Last night we had six patients in the intensive care unit, three critical, three stable and 19 still on the wards. Sadly eight of the patients admitted died.
If you would also like to help those affected you can do so by donating towards the cost of their care. Uganda is a poor country and many of the victims cannot afford to contribute anything towards their medical bills. Where this is the case the cost of care is paid for by the hospital’s charity. If you want to help contribute, you can do so here:
You can also read personal stories about some of the victims and more about the charitable work the hospital does here: http://blog.suubitrust.org.uk. The hospital’s website is here: http://www.img.co.ug.