Orthodox Christian Mission Center’s Blog

August 11, 2009

Apoyo: Thank You! Medical Mission Team Returns from Uganda

Apoyo, Apoyo, Apoyo!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

The medical mission to Uganda was a great success. We operated clinics for nine days, and we were able to help about 4000 people! Without the support of many people this valuable work would not have happened. Our team of ten consisted of three doctors, two nurse practitioners, three nurses, and two medical students. We worked well together, enjoyed being with each other, and developed some great friendships.

Our time in Uganda started with a program given by the children of the Orthodox primary and secondary school in the capital city of Kampala. The children prayed, sang, and danced for us. Most days started with a trip to the local pharmacy to get the medicines that would be prescribed and given out that day. Then we would drive thirty minutes to two hours to the village where we would setup our clinic for the day. Some of the villages that we visited were very impoverished; simply surviving seemed to take great effort.

Typically, we would be greeted by a welcoming committee of some of the women who would sing and dance for us. Then we would go about setting up the exam rooms and pharmacy. We listened to the patients, examined them, prescribed medicines, filled the prescriptions in our pharmacy, and explained to the patients how to take their medicines; all with the help of local interpreters, who were usually students. We saw and treated between 300 and 500 patients at each clinic. Common ailments included: malaria, parasitic infestations, dysentery, pneumonia, TB, dehydration, and infections of all sorts. The medicines that we provided were prescribed to reduce pain and suffering and reduce cases of infant and child death from preventable diseases.

We stayed at hotels in the two cities that we worked out of. The ride back to the hotel after a day of work was always a mesmerizing combination of being tired and looking out the window at a very different world. In the evenings we would pray, eat dinner, enjoy our time together, and get ready for the next day.

On Sundays, we celebrated Divine Liturgy in a local Orthodox church, which was always a joy. The Ugandans love to sing and worship. After church there was more visiting, singing, and dancing outside. It was truly a day of rest and worship. Many of us became quite close with the priests, nuns, students, and others that we met or spent time with daily. I now have an African brother, Fr. George. We developed a close bond and I miss him.

For fun we visited Murchison falls on the Nile River: they were spectacular, and the mist was very refreshing (Uganda is hot and humid, and we were just a degree north of the equator). The next day we took a ferry across the Nile as the sun rose and went on a safari. We saw baboons, birds, wart hogs, a lion, a crocodile, many giraffes, lots of water buffalo, many hippos, all kinds of antelopes and some elephants too.

I am left with the faces of the Ugandan children in my mind. They are God’s children and our brothers and sisters in Christ. This sense of connection now serves as a powerful reminder of the Bible verse: “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me….assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:35-40).

Author: Darrell Fox, 2009 Uganda Medical Mission Team Member

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