If Home is where the Heart is, then Agule Community Health Center is Home

Family and Friends,

I want to thank you for all your support and prayers in the past month that I have been in Pallisa, Uganda with the group Akia-Ashianut (Medicine Blessing in Ateso). I had the amazing privilege of working along side of eleven other great people, that I now call family, at the Agule Community Health Center. Without your prayers, encouragement, moral and financial support, none of this would have been possible.

I find it hard to put this experience into words, because trying to explain this place doesn’t do it any justice. In the last week we were there, Anneka, one of the trip leaders, told us “Don’t try to tell the story of this place, for it already has a voice. Tell your story in this place and their story will shine through.” Our team had the awesome opportunity of watching God move through this place and privilege to be part of that movement.

One of our biggest goals was to see the completion of the second ward for the clinic (the maternity ward) which was just a shell of a building for the past two years due to a lack of major funds. We are glad and awestruck to see this building come to life in the short time we were there. It was amazing to watch how these men constructed something solid and permanent for the community using no machinery and only their ingenuity, strength and determination.

We were able to help twist metal into beams that gave support to the concrete over the windows and doors and watched as the clay bricks were laid up higher and higher, lifting the walls and gables to roofing levels. We helped lift the wooden trusses up to the roof with our hands and wooden beams as lifts and levers. We shoveled and moved in at least two tons of dirt and sand (grout) into the ward to help level the floor as the workers lifted up thin iron sheets and nailed them to the wooden beams, creating a roof over our heads. We watched as the concrete was poured over the floor, bringing the building one more step closer to a functional ward.

It was breathtaking to watch as this building came to life. While we were not able to see it completed in our time there, it should be up and functional in the next couple of months. Akia-Ashianut is still in the process of raising funds to allow for the walls to be cemented and plastered, windows and doors put in, and beds to be placed in the clinic, as well as gaining enough prayers to begin filling the place with joy.

We also had the opportunities to work alongside the amazing nurses and doctors of the Agule Community Health Center, assisting them where we could and learning through hands on experience and through interactions with patients. As a medical missions trip, our primary focus was helping the medical staff of the clinic with our individual talents and skills, from helping diagnose patients to putting in IV’s, talking and learning Ateso in the hopes of comforting patients to riding in the ambulance along side them, working in the lab to helping deliver babies, and organizing supplies and paperwork to, in my case, staying out of the way.

Those who were comfortable with helping in a medical setting took the opportunity to help out with medical work. Others of us sat back and observed from a distance. We saw many people and many different infections and diseases, but about ninety percent of the cases that came in were Malaria. Each diagnoses meant that another person had to be hooked up to an IV line for Quinine treatment, unless it was caught early enough (within a couple days of infection) and then a treatment of oral pills would do the work.

While most of the cases that we saw were manageable for the clinic, there were some days when the patient would be beyond the care that the clinic could provide and we would have to rush them to the government run hospital in Pallisa Town, a 25 minute dash across dirt roads in the back of an ambulance, or a bota-bota (motorbike) when the keys cant be found at four o’clock in the morning. On average, we would have to make this journey once a week, except for the last couple of days when we had to use the ambulance four times, twice in a single day.

While I would like to say that everything worked out medically while we were there, it wasn’t the case. In the first week, a tiny child was brought in (only 6 months old) with a severe case of Malaria. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do, even though we tried. The parents had gone to a witch doctor who told them to feed the child some herbs and to pray, by the time that they rushed her to the clinic, she had no pulse and didn’t bleed when her finger was pricked. There are very few words that can begin to describe the feelings I felt as I watched a life fade before my very eyes.

In our sorrow and through death, God showed us the opportunities of life. Days later, the team had the strength and wisdom to save an older gentleman from the brink of death. The next week, some of the members of the team also helped birth a beautiful and healthy baby boy into this world. We got the opportunity to experience something that few people ever dream of experiencing, the beauty of life and death.

We also got to experience the Ugandan community each day, as we lived on the grounds of the clinic and were surrounded by the beauty of life around us. Each morning we were woken by a lovely chorus of cows and roosters, as well as the little children who lived behind the compound in which we were staying. It was a blessing that many of us often overlooked.

Each afternoon, children flocked to the clinic to see and play with the Mzungus (white people). We were constantly surrounded by kids who didn’t want to do anything else than get your attention (or a picture). We played soccer, listened to traditional music, climbed trees, and danced in the rain. The kids and the adults enjoyed having us around, and we loved being there amongst them, experiencing life in Uganda.

There is a saying that “Home is where the Heart is.” If that is true, then each and every one of us will tell you that our homes will forever be the Agule Community Health Center. Something about that place stole a piece of each and every one of our hearts.

Without your amazing prayers, encouragement, financial and moral support throughout the trip, none of this would have been possible. Again, I want to thank each and every one of you for helping make this dream become a reality for the people of Agule.

God Bless and PEACE

::For more info on what happened on the trip, visit the group blog::


1 Comment »

  1. stkerr.wordpress.com’s done it once again! Great post.

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