So I am really doing this!

Leaving the UK was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Maybe I’m just a sentimental soul, but despite knowing that Uganda will be an amazing experience, perhaps even the best of my career so far. I was still touched by leaving behind my loved ones, my friends, my work colleagues. I guess all the people we surround ourselves with are so important for a sense of our daily being, as well as stability.

As I left Heathrow, the sun was just setting on my awaiting plane with another one taking off behind. I thought it was quite symbolic of this PULSE adventure and a great metaphor for what this assignment means for me.

Sunset over the runway……

After a pretty uneventful flight, apart from too much food and too little walking about (don’t think I have ever slept so much on an aeroplan), my arrival into Kampala was a bit more chaotic than I had planned for!

First , I got pulled aside as I couldn’t produce my Yellow Fever vaccination certificate; completely forgotten in my desk at home 😦 . A bit of chaos ensued where I was given the option of either getting some proof or having a top-up vaccine for 40 USD. Given the option (and aided by the free wifi at the airport), I connected via Skype with Carol D-M and Lucy P , my most excellent team at GSK House, who managed to send me a full list of my immunisations by email. Thanks so much to both for getting me out of a hole and avoiding me having to have another jab! Great example of supportive collaborative team working and IT working!

I then queued up for immigration, it took an hour to get to my turn, where I was promptly advised that despite my entry permit, I still had to go to another queue to apply and pay for my entry visa; apparently not the same thing! I’m sure most if not all of us have had very similar experiences when traveling. Ultimately bureaucracy is the same wherever you go!

Hey ho, I queued up again and eventually got out of the airport 2.5 hours later. I was the last one from my flight evidenced by my bag being all alone on the baggage carousel……….

Thankfully my taxi was still waiting for me. I was whisked away to my guest house, Forest cottages, comfortable, safe, clean and friendly. After an early dinner for the WEARY Traveler, bed beckoned. Can’t remember the last time I was in bed by 8.30pm, maybe when I was 10 years old!

So day 1 and so far I have learnt that Ugandans are incredibly friendly. Lake Victoria, Entebbe and Kampala are incredibly green and lush and being in Africa feels like home already…..


  1. So lovely to hear you are in Uganda safe and sound Arif, despite the airports best efforts to hold you up! Remember you are never too far from home really when you know you have so many back home and across GSK rooting for you. Can’t wait to hear more about your assignment and look forward to getting these updates from you. Take care, Susan.

  2. Which just proves the adage, behind every good doctor there is an equally brilliant nurse!!!. Leaving is the hardest bit so now enjoy every second of your time in Uganda and remember to keep us posted.

  3. Lovely to hear you have arrived safely Arif, despite the airports best efforts at holding you up! Remember you are never too far from home when you have so many back home and across GSK rooting for you. Looking forward to hearing more about your time in Uganda in the coming weeks. Take care, Susan

  4. Thanks for sharing this experience and for the reminder to bring my proof of yellow-fever vaccination as I leave for Sierra Leone this afternoon. Glad to know you’ve caught up on sleep too!

  5. Good that my story was a useful reminder! Likewise for others going to certain parts of Africa. My experience is that its random whether they ask you to produce it or not.

  6. Wow Arif, you made it, keep writing, I like your style. Be safe. We’ll look forward to all your news. xx

  7. Hello Arif,
    Received your email today, what surprising news! I’m very impressed with your decision and I don’t think you will ever regret taking this leap. Looking forward to reading all about it! xo

  8. What a long journey, but glad to hear everything worked out in the end. I look forward to hearing more from you Arif as you settle in to life in Uganda & with Leonard Cheshire.

  9. Glad you got there safely Dr Arif.
    Looking forward to updates from you.
    Take care and stay safe

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