I left Portland on Saturday morning February 28, 2015 with a team of 4 others to travel to Kamwenge, Uganda for a 2-week mission trip to work at the secondary and vocational school in that village. Once we landed in Enteebe at the airport, we stayed overnight in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and then traveled 8 hours the following day in a van to reach Kamwenge, which is a very rural village in southwestern Uganda.
There is a health clinic at the school with a nurse who basically provides first-aid to the students and teachers at the school. However, once it is learned that a medical professional from the United States is coming, people travel from surrounding communities in hopes of getting desperately needed medical care. There were 25 women waiting at the clinic to see me when I arrived. Complaints included complications from malnutrition, Malaria, worms, fevers, hypertension, headaches, peptic ulcer disease, back pain, prenatal care, dental disease and minor cuts. WOW! As a nurse practitioner practicing in the field of Women’s Health, I felt like a fish out of water trying to attend to all these primary care issues. All the women were so grateful to have someone listen to them and try to help.
When not working in the clinic, I helped with the construction of a building to house married teachers at the school and I can now add brick laying to my resume. I also spent time helping out in the classrooms at the secondary school. For some of the students, we were the first white people they had ever seen so they were very fascinated by us. But kids are kids all over the world and these kids enjoyed playing games and singing songs we taught them.
Although I saw some of the worst poverty I’d ever been exposed to while I was there, I also saw some of the most joyful and hopeful people I’ve ever seen. Uganda’s infrastructure is improving at an accelerated pace and the skills and values that are being taught at the school are going to not only help the individual child and his/her family, but will also benefit the community and the country of Uganda. It was a privilege to be able to work side-by-side with my new Ugandan friends.