Medics overwhelmed as Fort Portal pilgrims top 1,000

Healthcare workers attend to pilgrims at a resting point on May 25, 2022 during their walk from Fort Portal to Kampala in Western Uganda. PHOTO/ALEX ASHABA

What you need to know:

  • Frontline health workers moving with the pilgrims are now sensitizing people on how to ensure fitness to complete the journey exceeding 280kms.  

Medical workers have raised alarm due to overwhelming numbers of pilgrims from Fort Portal Catholic Diocese headed for the Namugongo Catholic shrine ahead of the June 3 Martyrs Day. 

On Monday, Fort Portal Diocese Bishop Robert K Muhiirwa flagged off about 700 pilgrims but by Tuesday evening, that number had shot beyond 1,000. 

Frontline health workers moving with the pilgrims are now sensitizing people on how to ensure fitness to complete the journey exceeding 280kms.  

"The numbers keep increasing and we have to attend to them regularly. We are telling them to rest whenever we reach a resting point that when we reach at resting place they should rest first before resuming," Ms Beatrice Kabanyoro, a senior nursing officer said. 

The guild president of Bakaiso (church group) in Fort Portal said they expect the number of pilgrims to increase to 2,000 by the time they reach Namugongo.

By Wednesday morning, the pilgrims trekking day and night had reported shortages in crucial medical supplies. 

"For the first two days, the pilgrims wanted to walk very first and that is why they are getting body pain but we hope as we continue walking their body will get used," Ms Kabanyoro told this reporter.  

At least 76 kilometres had been covered by the pilgrims by Wednesday morning. 

“We have moved up to Rwibaale Catholic Church in Kyenjojo District. We shall rest and move in the evening before our stopover at Kibuye in Kyegegwa District,” a leader of the pilgrims informed. 

The pilgrims are expected to make 10 stopovers while averaging a 40-kilometre walk daily. 
“Pilgrims are still in good conditions apart from a few who got body pains due to the speed they used while walking,” said Rev Fr Titus Winyi, the Parish Priest Fort Portal Diocese and chairman of the pilgrims committee. 

Congolese pilgrims blocked

This year’s walking pilgrims from Fort Portal to Namugongo were only joined by two people from the neighbouring DR Congo.  

"We were many that planned to come but some citizens in our country never took Covid-19 vaccination serious and they were blocked at the border,” Jannat Kabugho from Butembo catholic diocese in DR Congo disclosed. 

From the same diocese, Ms Kahindu Teodezia said her pilgrimage is purposed to pray for raging fights between DR Congo armed forces and several rebel groups. 

"I lost my child and relative in the ongoing war in our country and decided to come and pray to Uganda Martyrs to intercede for us such that the war can end in our country," she remarked.

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