May 07

Little Big Heroes

Small steps can lead to Big Changes…

The unavoidable happened; my six-month Pulse assignment is over and I am back ‘home’ in the la-la-land of the rich, a country which is 100 places further up the rank of human development (literally) from where I was only days ago; now settling back into normality almost too easily, for not much seems to have changed here… or is it just me?

Did I achieve what I set out to do? No. I have not changed the world or saved lives, or even achieved half of all the things I thought I could do to make this world a better place and close some of the divide between the rich and the poor. Someone said to me ‘little steps, Alex, focus on the little things you can do to help a few, and you will change their lives’.

I remind myself of the three-fold Pulse Volunteer Programme Mission: Change oneself, communities and GSK; and realise the Pulse assignment itself is only 33% of the end-game purpose. I have changed, hopefully have planted some seeds towards changing some communities (or a few individuals) and more importantly, through what I have seen and learnt I have renewed energy to influence positive change in GSK, which in turn will improve access to healthcare… one step at a time.

I could write a whole book on impactful and inspiring people and experiences from the past few months, but for now I want to share those closest to my heart which are the engine behind my wanting to do more, even from afar. These are ordinary people that through little steps have impacted lives of many and achieved the extraordinary, people that welcomed me and shared what they do day to day. Let me introduce you to some new heroes in my world who have taught me that anything is possible:

  • Sam, Claire and the team at Kawempe Home Care, who started running a mobile clinic with an old car and a few volunteers, now have New Hope for Children Hostel that cares for children undergoing cancer treatment, providing shelter and food so they don’t have to sleep on the streets or by hospital gates.   I was lucky enough to visit them regularly, humbled and touched at every visit, for their resilience, perseverance and passion to help others has taught me there are different levels of humanity, even through tough periods where not all are ‘survival’ stories, they remain strong and keep putting smiles on children’s faces and their families.
  • Margrethe and the team at Rays of Hope Hospice Jinja (RHHJ), whom I was lucky to accompany on a few Field visits to remote and poorer areas. They showed me that helping patients understand their disease, counseling their carers and treating the pain is as important as healthcare and treatment itself. They are the perfect example of the few heroes that go the extra mile for patients, rather than expecting patients to go to them.
  • Carol from Transport for Uganda Sick Children (TUSC), whose passion and can-do attitude planted a seed in me thinking about logistics and the complexities of getting to-and-from a hospital without resources, a few pennies and lives can be saved by just being able to reach a hospital. I have never seen so much value in wheels and transport before, because I have always had access to it. Again, I opened my eyes to the real world of poverty.

The list of people, societies and groups that are changing this world is endless, but today I wanted to tell you about the little heroes that inspired me and are driving my purpose. I have seen a different dimension to philanthropy, volunteering, healthcare and life and death itself.   I have GSK to thank for this personal growth, and now to focus on making a difference, step by step, as my new commitment.

A wise man we all know said ‘Demonstrate your opinion through the changes you make, the decisions you take and the commitments you do’.  Watch this space, Pulse was only the beginning.  I can’t wait to hear more stories from all the new volunteers going out this year.