I’m often asked why I chose Uganda for this project. I respond by saying “If not there, where else?”
I traveled to Uganda for my first medical mission in September 2017 and my life was forever changed. I recall coming home and knew I needed to go back. Often we take the simple things in life for granted like shoes, running water, cars, and a homes with electricity. It’s a basic necessity for some of us. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in a 3rd world country like Uganda. Healthcare is also a necessity we have here, but is not affordable or available in the many rural communities of Uganda.
My mission to return to Uganda is to create an impactful solution to the needs of the rural communities of Uganda. Our mission in September 2017 was to a city called Jinja, which is 3 hours from the capital of Kampala. Jinja is rich in its African culture including many markets, hotels, and restaurants, but lacks adequate community clinics and hospitals to take care of the demands needed in the community.
We used an abandoned building for our 2-day clinic. We saw over 200 people who had walked several miles to see us. We met with the elders, men, women and children. Many were hungry and barefoot. Several we had to turn away, because we ran out of supplies. As supplies were becoming scarce, I could see the lines continuing to grow outside.
I took my Ugandan translator with me and triage patients in the lines to ensure we used the remaining supplies on those we could help the most. We saw conditions like untreated high blood pressure, acid reflux, diabetes, body aches and pains, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.
I remember when we closed the doors of the abandoned building, packed up all our supplies, took down the tents and drove away, I could see the faces of those we didn’t help. I saw them walk away disappointed and unhappy as they started their long hike back to their villages. I could only imagine the sadness in their hearts, because we couldn’t help them. I remember the bus ride back to the hotel was silent, because as caregivers we have a passion to serve people. In many ways I think we all felt that we could have done better.
I wanted desperately to help every person that came to see us. It was important to me to give them hope, as they trusted that we could help them. Often times, I believe we failed at our mission, because adequate preparation wasn’t made to ensure we brought the most beneficial medications and materials for the population we were going to serve. Failing has never been an option for me, and because I didn’t spearhead the mission, I learned from the mistakes of our mission. I made a commitment to myself that if I took on a solo mission that I would prepare, research and make every attempt to strategize and collaborate to make it successful.
I remember a verse in Matthew 22:14 that says, “For many are called, but few are chosen." There are many interpretations of this verse, but it reminds me that we all may have great ideas and great intentions, but only a few will commit to selfless acts of love and kindness, that have no hidden agendas, no egos and will sacrifice the most. This is the meaning of Project Give Hope and why I chose Uganda.