Here is an excerpt from an written by Miriam Donohoe that was published in the Irish Independent on May 4th 2015. She was volunteering in a hospice in Kampala, Uganda. You think your life is bad until you see true poverty:
Rose is 29 years of age and has advanced cervical cancer. From a small village outside Mbarara in Western Uganda, she was diagnosed last September after complaining of abdominal pain and heavy bleeding. If she was living in Ireland – or indeed any developed country in the West – she would have started on treatment straight away. It wouldn’t have mattered if she had money or not. And her chances of survival – or at least an extension to life – would have been high.
But Rose lives in Uganda, where the health system is underdeveloped and chaotic. And it’s not free. If you can’t pay for treatment, the likelihood is you suffer and eventually die.
At 29 years of age, Rose is finding it hard to accept that her life may be cut short.
Living in Uganda for the last three months, I am still finding it difficult to come to terms with the life people face here, and the vulgar disparities that exist.
The vast majority of people in Uganda are just subsisting. The rhythm of every day is the same. It’s a constant struggle.
The priorities are housing, food, and school fees for children. Like health, education is not free here either. When somebody gets ill, this completely upsets this life rhythm and there is a desperate scramble to try and get funds. Often, ill people forego health treatment rather than risk money for housing, food and education.
We in the West have first-world fixations with creature comforts. We do more than just exist. We get to live also. For most of us, our lives are not a vicious circle of survival. We can complain that at times money is tight; we can’t take that second holiday or upgrade the car. But even those unemployed get support from the State.
It is easy for us to forget about the struggles of life and death that so many in other countries have to deal with every day.
Of course, I am following the farcical efforts back at home to form a government. I have read reports about the Independent TDs’ attempts to hold the nation to ransom with a €13bn list of demands; new motorways, railway lines, re-opening of old mental institutions, tax incentives and local vanity projects. Yes, they matter, but not in a life or death kind of way; nothing at all on any of those lists about increasing foreign aid to help people in other parts of the world in dire need; nothing to provide any hope for people like Rose, for whom life is so bleak.