Celebrating the future Bukobero Community Health Centre!
I hope you are all keeping well and safe. Covid 19 has taken over all of our lives and we are all worried about the impact to families, friends, the country, and the world. Hopefully, sharing some of the highlights of my recent trip to Uganda will be a welcome break from the increasingly difficult news.
A fast-paced “business trip”
While I did manage to squeeze out a few days to visit friends and my Ugandan “son”, this was primarily a business trip. We criss-crossed the country meeting with people and organizations to learn best practices and build relationships for the future Bukobero Community Health Centre. Most of our travel was on bumpy, dusty, dirt roads. But it was worth it!
We visited health centers and hospitals (including the new Terrewode Women’s Hospital), a chicken farm, many local government leaders, the Mbale Rotary Club, solar and electrical suppliers, the Engineers without Borders (EWB) Uganda Country Office, and met with the community. Some of the highlights:
- Commitments from local government to assist with things like land preparation, bringing piped water, and, most importantly, salaries for future health care workers.
- Establishing a relationship with Terrewode Women’s Hospital to lay the groundwork for the health center to be a fistula screening center in the future.
- An inspiring community meeting where we were able to share our progress in planning, fundraising, and partnership building, and gather ideas from the community.
Below are some of the women who shared their ideas for the health center. Working with these strong women is an honor and hearing their struggles to access health care and their hopes for the facility was at once moving, inspiring, and humbling. One comment says it all:
“Please provide services for mothers. The district hospital has no doctors or electricity. Serious cases must travel all the way to Mbale and we loose the baby and sometimes the mother, too”
I left for Uganda on February 14 and returned three weeks later to the shutdowns of Covid 19. The Bukobero team is figuring out how to negotiate this new normal because providing health care to those in need is more important than ever.
Uganda is in complete lock-down. Borders, the airport, schools and many businesses are closed. There is a 7:00 PM curfew, social distancing is mandated, and internal movement is restricted. These are strictly enforced because there are only 35 ICU beds with ventilatory capacity in a country of over 42 million people.
As is possible, the Ugandan team will continue to move forward developing income generating businesses and meeting with government agencies to establish working relationships. I am working with our US partners virtually, but, while the shut down continues, my main focus is researching and applying for grants and other sources of funding.
This trip inspired me and confirmed my belief in the Bukobero community and this project. After I returned home, I heard that our meetings in the community had generated excitement throughout the district. The next few months will be difficult, but we will continue to work towards the goal of the Bukobero Community Health Centre.
Thank you for your support and be safe.