Helpless in Africa, a Singaporean's tale

Helpless in Africa, a Singaporean's tale
Wrongfully accused: Ren's trip to Uganda as a volunteer took a bad turn when he was threatened with terrorism and spying charges.

A singaporean went all the way to Uganda in Africa to do volunteer work, but fled back after police threatened to charge him and another Asian friend with terrorism and spying.

The 21-year-old, who wanted to be known only as Ren, was to spend a month working at a hospital.

But, slightly after two weeks into the trip in April, he was forced to spend four days on the run. His friend, meanwhile, was hauled up by the police and had to hire a lawyer and pay money before the case was closed.

The trip started out innocently enough, with Ren working at the biggest hospital in the region, in a town called Mbale.

His first experience on the night shift was a sobering one. There were about 30 victims from a crash waiting to be treated.

"There was a crash between a school bus and a trailer carrying bricks. Two kids died on the spot, and another four died on the way to the hospital," he told My Paper yesterday.

He would work the night shift from 6pm to 5am, and then turn up again four hours later for a six-hour shift. He would check up on patients, read charts and prepare medical equipment.

Then, one weekday morning, he took his first break from work for a hike in the mountains.

His friend called him from the hospital and said: "You need to pack up and leave town now."

The police had walked into the hospital, asking to speak to Ren and his friend. They examined his friend's phone, saw photographs of the hospital on it, and accused both of plotting to blow up the building.

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