Catriona Milligan recalls her time serving in physiotherapy as part of the Synergy programme…
I left a cold Edinburgh in April for two months in the sunnier climes of Kampala, Uganda.
As a student physiotherapist I was eager to use all I had learnt to serve God in the mission field; my elective placement in university was the perfect time to do this. I found out about Synergy through a friend of my parents who works for AIM and signed up.
Physiotherapy at Mukisa
I was placed at the Mukisa Foundation in Kampala, a day centre where parents of children with cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, down syndrome, autism etc could bring their children for physiotherapy, occupational therapy and schooling. The centre also ran a tailoring class teaching mothers the skills needed to set up an income for their family. In addition, I also got the opportunity to work at the sister project DAWN, a day care centre for children with special needs.
“She had taken her autistic son to the witch doctor to be told he was being cursed by her sister-in-law and that she must be killed to stop the curse”
My role was predominantly as a physiotherapist catering to children’s physical needs. However, some of the children’s older brothers and sisters had nothing to do in the afternoons, so I started a small Bible class and began teaching them about the life of Jesus.
The sister-in-law ‘curse’
The centre is founded by a Christian Ugandan lady, so she welcomed someone with faith onto the staff and hoped I could influence some of the other non-Christian staff there, while encouraging those that were. My supervisor, who was raised Muslim, and I were able to have some brilliant conversations about Christianity and a relationship with God. I found it strange to be able to openly talk about my faith initially but Ugandans are more spiritual than scientific. This was evidenced by one lady who came to the centre after the local station featured Mukisa and its work in one of its news broadcasts. She spoke about how she had taken her autistic son to the witch doctor to be told he was being cursed by her sister-in-law and that she must be killed to stop the curse. The woman admitted she was on the verge of doing so when she saw the news programme and realised her son was in fact autistic and not cursed.
Overall it was an amazing experience and I’m glad I could discover a way to unite my medical profession with my faith in Jesus, and hopefully change lives through the relationships formed with the staff, parents and children at Mukisa.