Day 1 – We arrived late last night at the Adonai House in Kampala. Of course my favorite House Manager and Cook, Sarah, was there to greet us with a big smile and warm welcome. It’s hard to describe, but the joy she exudes is infectious! Although it was 2 AM, we happily ate the fresh cake and vegetable egg rolls and drank hot tea and coffee.
Morning came quickly, but we had to get an early start to exchange money and visit Bless a Child Foundation (the organization that provides lodging, meals, transportation, and supportive services for kids with cancer). We visited their two homes in Kampala and met some of the kids and their caregivers. Most of these children come from long distances and without this lodging and services, they would not be able to afford treatment.
Thanks to Kevin Borg, Owner of Potter’s House Apothecary, we were able to donate two full suitcases of first aid supplies. We also replenished their supply of Plumpy’Nut (Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food) that treats malnutrition. This food has greatly improved treatment outcomes since we started funding this initiative about 18 months ago.
It would be easy to assume that visiting Bless a Child Foundation is sad and depressing, but it is quite the opposite. The staff are passionate about their work and some of them are even former residents. Vincent, their young Media Director, is a cancer survivor, and his story and presence alone provides much hope. The patients and their caregivers seem genuinely happy. Despite their circumstances, they are grateful to have a place to live that provides all their needs, but most importantly, they have a community and feel loved and valued.
The team experienced their first long drop at the petroleum station before departing for Gulu. This is definitely part of the trip experience and some of the funniest stories I have from previous teams and trips. (This might take some of you readers down memory lane!😍) Our tired crew weathered the long 6 hour drive and loved the stop at Kabalega Diner where they ate their first Rolex (similar to a breakfast burrito). It didn’t disappoint.
We safely arrived in Gulu and made our visit to St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor. Dr. Martin (the hospital’s Medical Director and general surgeon) and Dr. Sylvester (the orthopedic trauma surgeon) gave us a tour of the hospital. This hospital was awarded The Best Hospital in Uganda in 2021 not because they had the most funding and resources, but because they provide the best services. There will be more to come this week about their efficiencies, sustainable programs, and their school. I’m also sure we will hear great stories from some of our team health professionals who will be starting their work at the hospital tomorrow morning.
We were all exhausted but happy to check in at the Bomah Hotel and eat dinner together. Bruce, our Media Director from Uganda, shared his story. He described the challenges of being an orphan and learning he was abandoned, but he overcame his past by being rescued by Watoto and encouraged by others who believed and loved him. He is humble and gives credit to others, but his perseverance and commitment to personal growth deserves much of the credit to his journey. Bruce’s story brought me to tears, and I couldn’t be more proud of to have this witty, talented, and exceptional human being as part of my family. He is very easy to love, and the rest of the team already adores him too. It’s been a good day!