I’ve been struggling with how I should talk to Pipeline’s supporters and even my friends and colleagues about “How Pipeline Worldwide is doing.” We’re all experiencing a “new normal” that has impacted each of us a little differently, and I want to be sensitive to everyone’s fears and struggles.
I’ve read about one high school friend on Facebook who has shared his daily heartache of being away from his dad as he battled the coronavirus alone in the hospital; listened to the Executive Director of one of our partner organizations on the radio as she discussed the moment she was driving in her car to get tested and thought she might actually die from this disease; and while Facetiming with my girlfriend, I watched the joy and overwhelming relief on her face and in her voice as she announced that she was a grandma for the first time to a healthy baby boy.
These stories, although scary and not even my own, have made me feel empathetic and compassionate. This isn’t a bad thing although sometimes it’s easier not to know about others’ suffering. If you don’t know then you don’t have to worry, feel sadness, or compelled to help. However, I think it’s an opportunity to be a reader, learner and listener because even just choosing to know makes that person or situation matter. My friends in Uganda matter, and I want their stories to be heard.
My favorite part of the day is waking up each morning and checking all the messages I receive overnight from my friends 10 hours ahead of me. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe always sends me profound messages. She’s currently quarantined in Oklahoma finishing her Ph.D. Prior to the pandemic, she was living in the dorm because she wanted to be close to all the students. She said she learns a lot from them and wants to teach them too. Picturing that always makes me smile. The last time I asked her how she was doing she told me it was so difficult being in the U.S. and understanding the magnitude of the problem when the people in Uganda don’t have the option to wash their hands a hundred times a day because they don’t even have enough water to drink. Her school in Atiak is a boarding school for vulnerable children and orphans. They are dependent upon the school to provide housing, meals, education, and a family. When their diner is closed and when they can’t transport goods from their farm, they can’t sustain the costs to pay their teachers and feed their kids. A stimulus check does not come in the mail.
This week was especially hard for my friend, Brian, Founder of Bless a Child Foundation. This organization provides housing, meals, transportation, and supportive services for kids with cancer. They lost Bahati, a 7-year old boy from Congo. He passed away at the hospital with no family. He was certainly memorable with his contagious smile, snazzy sunglasses, and eagerness to hold your hand. They’ve also lost Mungu, Annet, Latif, Mable, Rehema, and Valentino is now receiving palliative care. This has been very hard on the staff.
The pandemic has been a death sentence for many kids with cancer due to disruption in treatment. In the beginning only kids with leukemia still received treatment. Nobody else was allowed in the hospital. Slowly a few more who lived close to the hospital could also get treatment because only vehicles with government permission and a validated sticker could be on the road. Most of the kids come from poor, rural parts of Uganda, and have been quarantined in their remote villages waiting and hoping to survive the lockdown.
Not all stories have been sad. My friend, Bessi Bernard Eberu, the Hospital Administrator at Moyo General Hospital, notified me that his wife delivered a healthy baby girl at the hospital. She had to have a cesarean section which is a complicated surgery in third world countries due to lack of resources. It becomes even more complicated if the hospital does not have electricity. Thankfully, Pipeline Worldwide with tremendous support from our donors had just installed a power solution for the operating theaters and wards at the hospital. While visiting with a midwife on my last trip in February, she told me that she had to hold her cell phone in her mouth and turn on the torch (flashlight) in order to see when she had deliveries during the night. Our timing was just right for Bernard. His baby, Jamie, was born with reliable power and light.
Timing can be everything. Some people believe that things work out just because of good luck. I understand there are many things we can’t control, but I also believe we still have a choice to know and be part of a bigger story. This is why Pipeline Worldwide exists today and how Moyo General Hospital has power. Regardless of canceled events, challenges to completing projects, and roadblocks to fundraising, we are still listening to the vulnerable people in Uganda and choosing to move forward with solutions.
We posted this quote on social media earlier this week. It really resonated with me and I’m hoping it does with you as well.
To the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.
If you can provide support on this Giving Tuesday, please go to https://pipelineworldwide.org/