History of Gilead Health Development Charity
In 1997 'Nobby' Clarke, a Fire Officer in Coventry, was invited to go and teach 'First Aid' in Uganda by the 'African Childrens Choir' charity. A small accident involving a young girl and the potential consequences of her injury, led to an appeal being set up in 1999 to build a clinic in Luwero, Uganda, which opened in 2000. Gilead Health Development was formally established as a charity in 2006.
As a Fire Officer in Coventry I was no stranger to the subject matter, but still needed to do plenty of research in order to make the teaching relevant to the culture I was visiting. The first couple of days were spent acclimatising to both the heat and the severe change in culture. It’s not necessarily the poor conditions, but moreover the huge scale of the poverty and the feeling of inadequacy of being able to do enough to make a difference that affect the first time visitor. Having carried out a few sessions at the schools in Kampala, I was driven out to a school in Luweero and it was an incident here that would lead to our initial appeal.
Having just been dropped off at the school and without transport or communication, I heard the screams of a threee year old little girl, who appeared in the doorway with blood trickling down the side of her face and on to her clothing. She had been playing outside and had fallen onto a nail, which had caused a small puncture wound to the side of her head adjacent to her left eye, she was shaking and very distressed as you would expect. Well, I had come to teach First Aid, so I was therefore expected to do some! Thankfully, it was a relatively small injury and was easily dealt with, with an antiseptic wipe, a plaster and some TLC, but it occurred to me, that had it been much worse and beyond my capabilities, I would have been little more use than anyone else there.
Although this incident made for a dramatic start, it became apparent that injury and sickness were every day occurrences and I became used to seeing cuts and bruises and, more alarmingly, numbers of children lying on a dusty floor shaking with fever caused by Malaria in addition to cases of TB, Typhoid and HIV/Aids. A lot of the children in this area are orphaned, but almost all have suffered the loss of close family through disease and live in extreme poverty. I had no problem committing myself to help provide a medical facility at the school.
By the time I returned home, having heard the story, my family and friends were fired up and raring to go! The initial appeal meeting was held in March 1999 and by May an account had been opened and the fund-raising had begun in earnest.