I’ve been home from Uganda for 14 days. I’m over jet lag, the kids are back to school, and life is back to “normal”. My trip was awesome, but I say that after every trip. I’m amazed at how much I still learn and how much I still feel after traveling for all these years. But this trip is no different, and I have a story that continues to occupy my thoughts.
Moyo, Uganda is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I’ve only been visiting Moyo since 2017 although we started doing projects there in 2014. I hate to admit it, but I was afraid to go to Moyo. It is located on the border of South Sudan and you have to take a ferry to cross the Nile River to get there. The roads are bad and it’s very remote. There’s a huge refugee settlement and much of the population are refugees which causes a bigger burden to their already strained infrastructure. Besides the slums, it’s the poorest place I’ve ever visited. But it’s beautiful! The landscape reminds me of the Boulder’s in Carefree and the people have transcendent spirit. I always feel so loved and at home in Moyo.
I remember meeting the Chairman of the District (similar to a governor) last summer. I couldn’t believe he knew every project we had funded and also acknowledged the fear we had to face to come that far. He knew this because there are hardly any nonprofits that are doing work in Moyo. Much of the community feels forgotten and broken. Our work in Moyo is a really big deal. The Chairman went on to say that he appreciated the ultrasound machine, the container of medical equipment and supplies, and the van donation to the Babies Home, but what he was most grateful for was giving the people of Moyo hope.
I’ve been on a mission to continue to provide hope to the people of Moyo, but on this last trip I left Moyo General Hospital with a heavy heart. I was anxious for our meeting with the executive staff to discuss their needs. On the top of my list was to provide equipment and training for a maternal health initiative. This certainly is a huge need but it wasn’t their top priority. I came to learn that this hospital that serves a district of 107,100 people and delivers over 1,700 babies each year has unreliable power. They have sporadic power throughout the day with their 10-year-old solar system but it doesn’t provide any power at night. This means that their emergency room, delivery room, and 3 operating rooms do not have power. This means that any piece of equipment that has to be plugged in doesn’t work without power.
The day I returned home, I saw a Facebook post from a staff member at Moyo General Hospital. He was preparing a burial site for a boy who was on oxygen and died after the power went out. Shortly after that post, I received another message from our partner, E3 Africa located in Moyo. One of their coordinator’s family members also lost their baby that week due to loss of oxygen after a power outage. I was devastated and even felt angry. This story hit too close to home.
My oldest daughter, Morgan, had severe asthma growing up. We spent many sleepless nights giving breathing treatments and taking trips to the emergency room. Her health was so bad that we were even referred to the National Jewish Research Hospital in Denver, Colorado. We had to go there on two separate occasions. Morgan had a great team of physicians and her health was managed, but we wanted to improve her quality of life, so we moved from Omaha, Nebraska to Phoenix, Arizona. Our hope was that a dry and more moderate climate would improve her health. Our story has a happy ending. Morgan is 22 years old now, and I don’t know what I’d do without her. I’m so grateful that she was born in a nation without war, full of opportunities and resources.
There are many things that are beyond our control, but we also have choices. Sometimes I have my own power struggle over selfish wants versus doing the right thing. My child never had to be without oxygen. I didn’t have to watch her die due to a treatable illness. If this did happen, I would have built my own army to fight the injustice and implement change. I don’t know the boy or baby that died at Moyo General Hospital due to the power outage, but I do know that both of them have grieving mothers who want change. They’re looking for their army. We don’t always get opportunities where we can control or impact change, but this is an opportunity where we can. I believe in being the change that we want to see in the world, and I want to be the part of their army. This is one power struggle where I’m going to do the right thing and be on the winning team.
New solar power for Moyo General Hospital will cost $40,000. I have raised $17,000 so far. If you’d like to contribute to this project, checks can be mailed to Pipeline Worldwide, PO Box 22236, Phoenix, AZ 85028 or you can contribute online at https://pipelineworldwide.org/product/general/. Please make note in memo for Moyo Power.