Operation Health for Comic Relief: The Positivity I Experienced in Uganda is Completely Infectious

19/02/2015 16:54 GMT | Updated 21/04/2015 10:59 BST

It's been nearly a week since I travelled back from my visit to Uganda with Comic Relief and I think it's taken me that long to fully digest the experience. I knew at the time I was part of something amazing, but now I'm home I can appreciate it as one of the best weeks of my life. 

Before leaving the UK I had an idea of what to expect, but I never could have imagined how much of an impact the people would have on me. The positivity I experienced in Uganda is completely infectious and the individuals that I met had the biggest smiles, the biggest hearts. 

Iyolwa was my destination, home to 'Operation Health for Comic Relief' - an ambitious plan to turn a dilapidated clinic in Eastern Uganda into a fully functioning healthcare facility in just nine weeks.

The first thing you are struck by when you arrive at the building site is the energy from all the workers - it's practically tangible. Gonza, the local architect envelops me in an unexpected hug before introducing me to absolutely everyone he can find. I meet plumbers, electricians, bricklayers - exactly the type of people you would expect to see on a building site, but I'm also introduced to teachers and shopkeepers, local men that have come looking for work as they feel so passionate about creating a good local health facility for their families.

And who can blame them. The old clinic was a wreck. There was no running water, no electricity; there were bats in the roof, rats in the waiting room and broken beds for patients to stay in. Hardly inviting at the best of times let alone when you are pregnant or sick.

I meet Dorothy, the only Midwife at the clinic and she's feistier than Super Woman! Dorothy is very modest and explains that delivering a patient's baby while in labour herself was just something that needed to be done as there was no one else around at the time to help. I have to pry further before she reluctantly admits this super human feat took place in the pitch black and on a concrete floor, as there was no electricity or spare beds at the clinic. 

Lack of light is one of the biggest obstacles Dorothy has had to overcome. On average she delivers 25-30 babies a month on her own and as soon as the sun goes down, she is forced to carry out this work by lamplight or using the glare of her mobile phone. On one occasion she tells me that she'd forgotten to charge her phone and had to carry a pregnant woman outside to see the baby coming by moonlight. Can you imagine that happening in the UK?

It's halfway through the week though before the gravity of the situation in Iyolwa really hits home. I'm doing a live link for my 1xtra radio show and my guests are Mary and Jassa, a lovely local couple. Jassa explains that they lost three babies in childbirth because they didn't have the money to pay for emergency transport for Mary when she was in labour.

The cost I work out would have been around £2. Three times Jassa was forced to cycle home 25km on a dirt road with a child in a blanket that he was bringing home to bury. Jassa's eyes are glistening as he recalls his story, but when he moves on to talk about the new clinic and the hope it will bring to other families by having a safe medical facility in the heart of the community, he looks delighted, and proud.

I will never forget my week in Iyolwa. I know my little contribution to the demolition won't make a massive difference to the overall success of the build, but if someone heard my interview with Jassa, or reads the comment above and stops to think for a second about what they last spent £2 on, then my trip was well worth while. I cannot express how much I have taken away as a person. I feel privileged to have witnessed this project in action and hope that people in the UK add their support, no matter how small, to help give a step-up to a community that are grasping this opportunity with both hands and planning a sustainable clinic for future generations to come.

This Red Nose Day your help, combined with local skill and determination, really will help make a vital change to healthcare provision, not only in Iyolwa, but across Africa, from training medical staff to providing life-saving vaccines and mosquito nets.

Tune in to The One Show tonight at 7pm on BBC One to see Alex Jones reporting from 'Operation Health for Comic Relief' in Uganda. For more information about 'Operation Health' or to make a donation, visit .