It is extortion. Beyond amoral, it is cruel. It is inhuman…not inhumane but actually absent of all humanity.

The hospital TeaQueen took our friend to on Monday was holding him hostage with an ever rising ransom disguised as a hospital bill.

IHK is known as the best hospital in Uganda. When Shoes and T were injured they were not initially taken there but, with their medical connections, that was quickly rectified. And so when our friend and UVP volunteer was in a boda accident Monday and the district hospital was unable to treat him, we insisted he be taken to IHK.

Care comes at a price though. And IHK care$. And so the bill was estimated at a million shillings (roughly $500) a day.

Once stabilized we were pushing to move him to the public hospital. Both the family and my small non-profit are unable to afford the exorbitant price. But only hospital excuses reigned down. Tuesday was Eid (a public holiday) so we were told he couldn’t be moved until the next morning. Wednesday morning the 1.7 shilling bill was increased to 3 million and a refusal to transfer him until the bill was paid in full. Every hour it was unpaid and he remained there the bill threatened to increase.

The only “compromise” initially provided was to turn off the ventilator breathing for him.

TeaQueen, already traumatized by the accident she witnessed, voice cracked into the phone. She’d held it together for three days but the brutality of it all was too much.

Her tears managed to soften someone…the payment was deferred until after the hospital transfer and the amount still outstanding reduced to 1.55 million shillings (in addition to the 1.3 we’d already given them).

I don’t have words for the kind of helpless I felt. I didn’t know where the money would come from – but kindness is at least as abundant as cruelty and MK, part of the UVP family, raised funds in a day and had the money wired over. TQ was able to settle the hospital fees and we all breathed a little easier.

I wish that were all of it. I wish the worries ended there. But the public hospital has fees for ICU care (far less but still fees). I wonder how care will continue. We are living from day to night, crisis to solution, despair to hope, and then the reverse all over again.

I ask for prayers of recovery. I ask for strength in the meantime. I ask Uganda not to sacrifice another beautiful life.

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