Monday, September 21, 2009

Mon, 9.21 - Learning from Paul

Having Paul in the car with us for this long journey was just great. He was really able to focus on us and tell us everything we wanted to know about Uganda as well as the Bwindi Community Hospital. The history of the hospital is amazing. Dr. Scott Kellerman came to the area with his wife Carol in 2003 and saw that there was a huge need for these people. There was so much poverty, malnutrition, malaria, disease etc.

Scott and Carol started by driving around and doing outreach clinics under trees – helping those that came with what they could. Eventually they built a Clinic , the Bwindi Community Health Centre, in Buhoma – in southwest Uganda just near the DR Congo border – surrounded by the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, current home to the mountain gorilla and old home to the Batwa pygmies.

In 2006 Paul and Vicky came to the BCHC. When they arrived the clinic was one building. Today, there are at least 8? And 80 staff!

We want to learn as much as we can about the hospital. And the more Paul tells us the more we can’t believe how amazing the hospital is. As Paul is telling us all that they have done, I am in awe of what they have created and how they have thought of everything. They even have a radio show which lets listeners learn about all that is going on at the hospital. Radio is one of the primary ways that people learn of news in this part of Uganda.

Our focus is the children and the new Children’s Ward that we helped finance. I hope I have my numbers correct, but I think that Paul told us that 9 out of every hundred children in Uganda die before they reach their first birthday. And something like 15 (out of 100) die before the age of five.

The biggest problems are malaria, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, diarrhea, pneumonia and complications at child birth.

Paul continued to tell us that treatment alone isn’t a solution – prevention is the solution! Teaching patients/parents about proper nutrition – about protein and vitamins – how to grow the right foods, drink and cook with clean water, use malaria nets, how to make rehydration syrup and family planning. Empowering the women to take care of their families with all this knowledge will secure their futures, reduce unnecessary deaths and lead to a healthier and more productive community.

I couldn’t wait to see the hospital. It almost sounded impossible – that all this great stuff could be going on in this remote corner of Uganda…or any place in Africa for that matter.

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