A WEEK IN UGANDA

By: Don Barton, MT, MS
DCMH Laboratory Informaticist

This past May I was privileged to join the Fountain of Life Foundation with a few dentists, nurses, and others on a trip to Uganda, Africa.

Our flight to Uganda took 22 hours, broken up with an overnight stay in Dubai, Arab Emirates. Those first two days were a study in contrasts between one of the richest areas in the world, to one of the poorest.

Our destination was the Canaan Junior School in the Ndagga village about 2 hours north of Kampala, the capital city. The school was started in late 2014 literally out of the forest, and already has 7 grades (K-6th) and about 250 students. The foundation not only supplies access to education for the villagers (free of charge) but also two meals a day for all the students. For some students, the afternoon meal is their biggest and most nutritious meal of the day consisting of white cornmeal, rice, and beans.

In the process of building the school, a small medical clinic was also established and this is where my wife and I spent most of our time. I assisted the dental team and was put in charge of sterilization. I also had the opportunity to play dentist and pulled some teeth on two patients. I wish them well! We were very busy as the Dental team saw 400 patients in 5 days.

My wife, who is an RN, helped on the medical side of the clinic and with an interpreter passed out medication for a variety of ailments. Resources at the clinic are very limited at this time. Even though limited, many villages waited for days to be seen by the nurses.

Uganda is a very conservative country in many ways, but AIDS is a serious problem. Some of the students at the school had no parents because both died of AIDS. The United States gives Anti-Retro Virals (HIV meds) to Ugandans for free as a way of combating the AIDS epidemic there.

Uganda is a beautiful Country with even more beautiful people. Their lives are very hard but in spite of the many challenges, they manage to smile big, sing incessantly, and dance there cares away at every chance they get.