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PMI Roots: A Life Committed to Service

By, Britt Baker, PMI Volunteer, Non-Profit Executive and Writer

An interview with Bina Sunday Alex

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“I can’t wait to come back after school, so that I can come back and serve my own people.”

Alex was one of our clinical officers at MKMC and was among our original nine staff when we opened the doors to MKMC. He is currently attending medical school at Kampala International University on a scholarship offered by PMI.

I recently spent a week traveling around Uganda with Alex and others as we worked to set up PMI outreach clinics. My favorite thing about Alex is his deep set passion for serving others. He also genuinely cares for them – so much so that it’s catching and makes you want to go forward differently having spent time with him.

Just by meeting Alex, one can tell that he has always been, and continues to be, a lifelong student of learning. What more could you really ask for in a doctor, right? His passion for helping others is genuine, inspiring, and only telling of his huge heart. I hope you will read his words below and feel moved in some way.

How did you first learn about PMI?

I heard about PMI from a friend and applied through Aliguma Joseph, who was the head administrator of the clinic at the time. I dropped my papers off at the clinic and saw that it was under construction. After a week, I came back for interviews, spent the night in town, dressed up the next day and came back for round two. It was a very competitive interview process but I was confident in my skills. There were five to six people trying for the position – more experienced than me. I kind of just gave up. But I wanted to be considered, so I tried my luck. They asked me questions, I answered, and pretty well.

In the meantime, I applied for another job at the Edpa Medical Center in Homa, Uganda. As I was going back, they called me and they offered me the job. PMI offered me the job too. I had to choose.

Edpa was giving me a house and it was already an established clinic. PMI was not yet established and at the time still under construction. I can’t give you a reason why I chose PMI, I just knew it was the right decision. I wanted to take the Edpa job, but something told me that one was not correct, that one was not good, you are going to work for said person, but it exists for making a profit. That was my reasoning for coming to this clinic [PMI], where you are going to help people.

What is your source of motivation?

For me, if I’m doing something I love, I can go for hours. I don’t get tired.

What made you want to be a doctor?

Always since my childhood, it was my dream to become a doctor.

Can you talk a little bit about where that desire came from?

When I was a child, I broke my hand. My mom was working at the market at the time it happened, and I was transported to her place of work. When she saw me she was devastated. I was then transported to a government hospital. We reached the hospital that evening, you can imagine the pain I was in after breaking my hand at lunch time. It was bad. No one was there, because it was late in the night and everyone was tired and had gone home. My mother begged for someone to see me, but they had no kindness in them. We had to wait for a doctor to come from Kampala. It took nearly three weeks for them to work on my arm – all while I was in pain. There was no medication.

The months I spent in the hospital, I learned a lot of things, because I wasn’t sick, I could move with my legs around and see how the patients were doing. That’s when I developed a lot of compassion for the patients and hospital work.

One evening I touched my mom’s shoulders and told her that I would become a doctor and I would never make my patients suffer. She said, “What, how will you get [the] money?” I said, I will do that, maybe God will provide us. At that time it was a dream far-fetched. It’s like when you are poor and you say, I want to buy an airplane. You can’t. They say you are dreaming.

How long have you been involved with PMI?

Since before the clinic ever opened. I was part of the original group from the beginning.

What did that look like?

A lot of meetings. I sat in meetings and helped suggest fees for services, procedures, and helped in getting the clinic up and going.

In the beginning, PMI gave us a trip and we traveled all over Uganda for a week, bonding with each other and visiting other clinics and observing their systems. We picked out from that trip what we needed for our clinic and made contacts with nurses and communicated with the doctors.

For us, it was bonding. We became a family on that trip.

We came back. We did not start working immediately. It took us almost another two weeks to get the clinic ready to be opened from that point on. We spent the month of December in meetings and preparing and testing the flow of our clinic to see if it would work. Then we opened the clinic up in January.

“You know how the beginning is always hard, right?” Alex asks me. But we started to pick up our flow and it continues to improve every day. The system is complex, if you are not on the inside. But the entire system [PMI] is original. It’s not copied in any way. It’s just a model that we started on our own, by our brains, not by anyone else. Through the leadership we’ve had – Michael, Newman, now Aaron – everyone brings with them a passion to continue the innovative model PMI has created – for the clinic, and for the doctors and our patients.

You mentioned having another job opportunity, why did you decide on the PMI job instead?

PMI has a different model. It doesn’t take the profits for itself, that’s why. Then there are ranges of supplies and ranges of everything you need, for you to work on the patient. It’s somewhere you can go and work and they’re prepared, consistent, and sustainable. PMI has creative development and relationships – we take it as a family. When you see something growing you take it as your child. PMI is our child. I feel more attached to the clinic than the money they are paying me. When it starts going down, you feel it that you are failing your child and work hard to fix it.

Would you work for free?

IMG_2549Right now I volunteer at the clinic when I am not at school. PMI is sponsoring my medical education so that I can return to the clinic and work here long term. Actually, I do miss it so much. I miss the guys and the patients too. So coming back between school periods is so great. I was grateful to come and work – seeing the patients and how they were so happy. I felt like something was coming out of me, growing, like a light that’s coming out of me that I was missing while I am at school. I can’t wait to come back after school, so that I can come back and serve my own people.

How do you see the communities in Uganda respond to what PMI is doing? What is the impact?

When you try and look at how many people have been impacted by PMI – there are a lot. There are some patients who I know myself, that if this clinic was not around, they would not be alive today. They would be dead. Those patients like Edward…he wouldn’t be alive today. Then there is Ismal. Those are just some patients I know, but there are others like them. Now Edward is walking with his own two legs.

MKMC stands as one of the best clinics in Uganda. It’s a symbol of excellence in this country. Many have come to us copy our model.

How was being part of the PMI family impacted your life?

First, I wasn’t much exposed to a lot of [medical] procedures. Just working with PMI I can do a lot of them now. PMI’s outreach team has exposed me to a lot of different things, especially cross cultural thinking. I’ve also developed as a person, mentally, physically and economically. PMI has sponsored me and rejuvenated my knowledge. I’m a moving clinic – I can do a lot of different things, because PMI has supported me.

Has your perspective of PMI changed since you started working with the organization?

Sure. Before, I knew it was a church clinic, but before we didn’t know what the vision was. Then the vision set in and became real after we started working with Michael and others.

Photography by Britt Baker for PMI

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Volunteer Testimonial: Healing in Nicaragua

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By, Dr. Matthew D. Allen, NeuroSpinal Chiropractor

How did you first hear about PMI?

I first heard about PMI through Steve Carpenter, a friend from Sunnybrook Church in Stillwater, OK. Steve talked to me about how great his trip was and how they were able to help many people in developing conuntries. He also he arranged for Tyler to speak at our church. They did a wonderful job of creating a picture of hope and restoration for many people that have limited access to health care. I felt led to sign up for a trip to Nicaragua, which I did 6 months later.

What was your favorite memory from your trip?

My favorite memory from the trip was the entire team being able to care for over 1,000 people with high quality healthcare and getting hugs and appreciation from many of those people. I personally was able to help one little boy that had a mis-aligned pelvis where one side was almost an inch higher than the other side. His walking and running were obviously altered and he had balance issues. With a gentle and specific chiropractic adjustment I was able to help restore his hips to perfect alignment and he was able to resume running normally.

What advice do you have for others looking to go on a trip?

If any one has even wondered about going on a PMI trip they should sign up today. PMI runs a very well organized, professional and productive trip. They take care of nearly every detail with logistics so the volunteers can take care of people. I also love the fact that PMI has fully functional clinics in every region that there are mission trips. This allows for stability and continuity of care for the people of the region.

Thank you, Dr. Allen! Your work is inspiring and we are grateful for your time and commitment to PMI. The deadline to sign up for our December 2015 trips is September 10th. 

PMI Partnerships: Transforming Water in Masindi Through Water Missions International

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Today’s blog post is by Andrew Armstrong of Water Missions International, one of PMI’s partners around the globe.

Andrew, can you give us some background on your role with Water Missions International?

My title is Community Development Programs Manager, but I guess you could say I am a relationship engineer by occupation. At Water Missions, I spend most of my time thinking about sustainability and spiritual integration (which we like to call “integral mission”) in water, sanitation and hygiene programs. My job involves talking to colleagues at Water Missions and other organizations around the world about what is working well (and not working well) and then harmonizing our work to best practices.

Water Missions International recently brought treated tap water to MKMC, PMI’s facility in Uganda. Can you tell me more about how the vision for this project started?

Water Missions and PMI have been “friends” for a long time. We have the same heart for the poor and underserved, we are both passionate about holistic health, and our headquarters are rooted in the holy city. We rub shoulders around town and even worship in the same congregations. PMI is committed to providing the highest level of treatment and care to people who are suffering from illness around the world. Likewise, Water Missions is committed to ensuring the highest level of water, sanitation and hygiene services in the areas we work in order to prevent illness. We are different parts of the same body with different skill sets, but when we work together in the spirit of unity our ability to promote positive community transformation is exponential. To Water Missions, this partnership was simply a matter of building into and supporting our like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ in their mission.

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The MKMC facility was our second project in the Masindi area. To be honest, the first project was challenging on a number of fronts and is not leading to the kinds of long-term benefits that we would have hoped for. We strive for excellence in everything we do, so we decided it was time to make things right and working with PMI on MKMC was the best way to do it. We hope the collaboration at MKMC will lead to further opportunities in Uganda and elsewhere around the world!

In layman’s terms, what was the process like to turn MKMC’s tap water into drinkable, treated water?

PMI’s MKMC relies primarily on rainwater that is supplemented by the Masindi public water system when needed. Although these water sources are capable of providing a fairly stable supply, the water is not necessarily safe to drink or use directly because it doesn’t contain a disinfectant residual to keep harmful microbes from multiplying in it. Water Missions constructed an underground tank to collect the rain and city water in one location. Then we installed a solar-powered pump to push the water through some filters and a chlorinator and into a storage tank. A small amount of chlorine remains in the water to protect it until it gets used. From there, safe water is distributed through pipes to taps around the MKMC compound.

Can you help describe why this is such an amazing accomplishment and how it will help transform the facility?

20734051988_cfeee755fb_oI think most folks understand the importance of safe water in healthcare settings – it is absolutely critical. Because of this project, caregivers at MKMC will have a reliable supply of safe water that can be used directly from the tap (instead of a bottle or boiling pot). Not having to worry about whether or not the water is safe to use means they can focus their attention on the thing that really matters – caring for patients. It also means the clinic won’t have to batch treat or purchase water for drinking, washing and other procedures because every drop is safe to use for any purpose. Personnel and patients alike will have a stable, safe drinking water supply. Most of all, people in and around Masindi will have better physical health and, as a result, fuller, richer lives!

Given that it’s World Water Week, would you care to highlight any statistics about the importance of treated water?

This project highlights an important issue that will be gaining more attention in the coming decades as part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: the importance of paying attention to water quality. It is estimated that in the last 25 years, the number of people in the world who lack access to an “improved” drinking water source has been cut by a factor of almost five: from over 3.2 billion in 1990 to 663 million in 2015. When you consider that the global population is currently estimated at over 7 billion, this is very encouraging. However, as exemplified at MKMC, most water sources that might be considered “improved” (such as piped water from municipal systems) are actually not “safe” to drink. In fact, a recent report estimates over 1.8 billion people still drink microbiologically unsafe water every day. This means much of the global effort that has been put into increasing access to water may at best only be leading to increased convenience and not improved human health. Water Missions is passionately working to ensure accessibility, sustainability and safety of water supplies and we hope other organizations and government agencies will do the same.

Thank you Andrew and Water Missions International for your commitment to ensuring that clean, safe water is available to people in every part of the world. We are grateful for the work you have done in Masindi, particularly at MKMC, and we look forward to working with you in the future.

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Introducing Clean Tap Water at MKMC

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In-Charge Cleaner, Anthony inspects the filtration and chlorination system.

By, Aaron Stroud-Romero, PMI’s East Africa Director

Water is so prevalent in the US that we can easily forget just how critical it is in sustaining us, and how much of people’s lives in developing countries revolve around it. The current water crisis in California and other parts of the West, may bring it to mind a little more, but it still pales in comparison to the water challenges for billions of people around the world.

In the four years that I have lived in Uganda I have seen the challenges in various ways, and its effect on people. Prior to working with PMI I was living in a rural district in the central region, near the border of Tanzania. The small town my wife and I lived in had piped water which came from the nearby lake. Theoretically, it was clean and ready for domestic use, but it often came out greenish in color. Although we did not have to go directly to the lake and carry the water home, like most people living outside of town (wells were not common in this area because the groundwater was salty), we still needed to boil or filter it to ensure that it was safe to drink (as an aside, let me tell you boiling greenish water does not make you more comfortable with drinking it). Instead, like many neighbors, we harvested rainwater for drinking, often by getting up in the middle of the night if it started raining to make sure we were collecting several buckets full.

At Masindi Kitara Medical Center we have been lucky to have fairly clear piped water provided by the town, but it’s certainly not ready to be consumed. Anyone who has been on one of our volunteer trips has heard our warnings about not brushing your teeth with the tap water, let alone drinking it. Clean drinking water doesn’t just come out of a tap; it either takes much more work to make it safer and is costly by purchasing bottled water. This is probably why tea has become so popular here in Uganda. Since people already had to boil water they might as well drink it as tea rather than wait for it to cool. It also probably factors into the reason that many Ugandans do not drink enough water and often experience headaches related to dehydration.

Recognizing the importance of clean drinking water, PMI has partnered with Water Missions International to have a complete water treatment system at MKMC. Now both rainwater we collect, as well as water from the municipal system is sent through Water Missions’ filtration and chlorination system and pumped back into our reserve tanks. Every tap at MKMC is connected to the system, meaning we have drinkable water coming out of every faucet. While I am sure we are not the only place in the country to have such a system (though I’ve never seen a system like it), the idea of drinkable water coming straight from the tap is incredibly foreign to both staff and patients. In fact, it has been a terribly challenging education campaign to convince our staff that the water is safe to drink. I always try to make a show of it when I am filling up my water bottle so that staff sees me drinking it. Sometimes this creates confusion among patients. During our most recent volunteer trip, our Director of Operations, Tyler McCoy, was startled by a patient who was very concerned she was about to drink the water. She informed him that it was in fact clean drinking water. I am sure he walked away thinking Tyler was crazy and had no idea what she was talking about, but at least he had tried to keep her safe.

We hope to continue partnering with Water Missions International to bring safe drinking water to all of our medical clinics, but we now recognize that patient education will be just as important as installing the physical systems. To most Ugandans, safe water is not something that comes easy, but at our facilities we are trying to change that idea.

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The Roots of PMI – PMI’s Unique Model for Healthcare

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Today, MKMC’s Administrator, Patrick Byamukama, talks more about how PMI, through MKMC, is able to offer sustainable healthcare. The concept of paying for healthcare in Uganda was new, and PMI was proposing something uniquely different – and as Patrick will tell you- most thought it was impossible. Today, MKMC is funded by its patients and it is running completely in the black – a feat most thought wouldn’t be possible.

What motivated you to seek a position with PMI?

I was working as a community advocate, but for the last couple of years I had spent a lot of time and money, even traveling to India to try and get treatment for my girlfriend. I learned firsthand the challenges facing Ugandans trying to access the public health system. During that time I knew that I wanted to get involved working in the health field.

How did you first connect with PMI?

Bishop Stanley of Masindi District had talked with Michael O’Neal (Michael was PMI’s first Project Director in Masindi) about my experience and qualifications and Michael invited me for an interview at Masindi Hotel. I remember arriving and Michael was sitting and drinking a cup of coffee, it was very casual and he offered me a cup of coffee. I actually thought this was some kind of trick because I’ve never seen a candidate offered tea or coffee during an interview. Following the interview I went to speak with the Bishop. Although PMI had offered me a position I was planning to turn it down. I was not sure that PMI was very serious because Michael was so young, and this was the first project so there was no track record to prove their success. The Bishop reassured me and within a short time we had signed all the paper work and began building. Michael and PMI proved just how serious they were and how quickly they could get things done.

What was your first impression of the model PMI is using around sustainability?

From the very beginning there was talk of patient’s paying, but initially it was not clear to me that 100% operational sustainability was the goal. If Michael would have told me that when he was hiring me I may have left, believing it to be impossible. Even one of the biggest hospitals in Uganda, which charges user-fees was only reaching half of their operational budget by that time, so the idea of making it to full sustainability seemed impossible.

The idea was introduced slowly and MKMC started taking on more and more of the operational costs. We are now able to consistently meet our operational expenses with patient fees.

How do you work with patients who cannot afford the service?

At first we offered a lot of credit to patients who could not meet their bills, but without a strong system in place we had a lot of debtors who never came back to pay their bill. A couple of years ago we started to use a more formal process to create payment plans with patients. This has significantly improved our repayment rates, but of course there are still patients who struggle.

With these patients we work with them to give them lots of time to payoff the total amount, but consistent payments are key. We have had patients who arrive to MKMC offering us a chicken or sack of peanuts in order to contribute to their payment that month.

Ugandan culture is very communal so we often reach out to relatives or friends to help a patient clear their medical bill. There was an old man who had diabetes and needed to receive regular care, but had no money. We talked with him about if he had any family or friends who could support him. He finally shared that he had a son working in the capital who had money, but because of some issues they were not really speaking and he had refused to support his medical treatment. We made some calls and shared with the son about the father’s condition and the need to provide ongoing treatment. It was a long process but in the end the son not only contributed to the father’s medical care but also started supporting another family member as well. The father and son also reconciled their dispute and you would not even know that they had been fighting.

Your generous support and prayers over the years have achieved quite a milestone in Masindi. The success of MKMC came quickly, and Patrick and his team have done a phenomenal job at providing accountability and changing the face of healthcare in Uganda.

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PMI Nicaragua Recognized by First Lady Rosario Murillo

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The talented PMI Nicaragua staff from both El Viejo and Sebaco.

Recently, Nicaragua’s First Lady, Rosario Murillo, was giving an address , commemorating the National Day of Health Workers.  During her address, she commended PMI’s team at El Viejo for their work throughout the community.   Here is the translated excerpt from her speech:

“We have many activities from the Ministry of Health surrounding health promotion as we celebrate the National Day of Health Workers, every August 8.

We also currently have medical teams visiting us, many of them from the U.S, including Fundacion Cristiana Iniciativa Medica Palmetto (PMI:Nicaragua), working in communities around El Viejo, Corinto.  There is much to celebrate about the impact of health workers here in our country. “

To read her speech in it’s entirety, click here.

Congratulations to our team in Nicaragua! Keep up the excellent work. And to our volunteers who give up their time to travel to Nicaragua, thank you. Your hard work is being noticed and we are so grateful for your support!

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Team Uganda: Reflections from the Week

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Oh gosh, this week has been amazing. In just five days time, we were able to treat 750+ people in four different villages.

I’m writing from the Parra Safari Lodge, as tonight is our last night in Africa. Tomorrow we will begin the long journey back home to our families, friends, jobs and regular lives – although not quite the same. As I reflect back over the last week, words from Azar Nafasi come to mind:

“You get a strange feeling when you leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but you miss the person you are at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

What sweet words and so applicable for all the friends serving with PMI this week.

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Nine days ago I set out on a journey with a team of 18 people – none of whom I had ever met beforehand – unknowing of what or who I might encounter. And still one of my favorite parts of the trip took place early in the week, around the dinner table of all places. (Which is fitting for me because that’s one of my places where I feel the closet to God.) Gathered around the table each night, a few friends would share their life stories with everyone and, as they did, walls were dropped, tears were shed, laughs were shared and bonds were made. We came as strangers, but by tonight it’s as though we are one big happy family traveling from place to place, sharing parts of ourselves with each other and with those we encounter – some things we may have never shared with anyone else. Perhaps that’s what seems different about the community in Masindi and neighboring villages. They all show such raw affection towards each other – always looking after one another and living in deep community. One day while in Bulima, I stopped to watch two little boys no older than three or four, walking arm and arm as they left school and began a long walk home – together. Moments like that stay with you forever constantly reminding you of the gift of community.

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As our journey here begins to wind down,  we are all starting to get a little sad. Today we said our goodbyes to some leaving us in Masindi and our team headed to Parra for the night.

The ride was gorgeous and probably what you envision Africa looking like: red dirt roads (they’re a lot more bumpy than your imagination leads you to believe), vass views of green, mountains, straw roofed hut villages, little darling children screaming with smiles and waving as we pass, ladies walking with baskets on top of their heads. The people here are incredibly strong. Speaking of ladies, I’m pretty sure all the ones on this trip want to bring back a cute little Ugandan baby. But don’t worry we won’t because that’s wrong and we don’t support human trafficking. Seriously, we don’t.

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After a few hours, we arrived at the Parra Safari Lodge greeted by smiles, cold towels and fresh squeezed juice. (It was wonderful!) Then we headed out on a three and a half hour sunset safari. Wow, just wow. The views, the animals, the fellowship with each other. The best part was getting to stop and watch the sunset. Oh and not getting mauled by a lion, which we got to see! Back to the sunset. Watching it set over the Nile river in the middle of an African safari puts the extra in extraordinary. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!

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As our trip comes to an end, I’m reminded of a book I’m reading by Steve Garber. His book revolves around the question: can you really know the world, and still love the world? It goes even deeper discussing that knowing is doing. Therefore knowing what we know we become implicated in a story and we have a responsibility to act.

As we all head back home to families and friends, and friends we have yet to meet, may we return knowing that we have been implicated in a new story. A story that’s bigger than any one of us. A story about what God does to a human heart. May we be brave enough to both embrace this new part of our story and share them with others, because when we tell them, we are sharing the story of who God is and His power to stretch, pull and transform us into his storytellers.

Please pray for us as we begin our journey back home!

-Britt

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Team Uganda: Clinic Day Five

Day five marked a return to Bulima. As we have seen the other four days, the people were gracious hosts. I had the opportunity to work with an incredible interpreter named Julius. He is a teacher at the school where we set up the clinic. He also has a farm and raises animals as a supplement to his teaching salary. At 31, he is looking to start up a business by next year as a way to further establish himself. Throughout the day we discussed a wide range of topics in between patients. He has a great passion for the economic conditions in Uganda. A large oil find in western Uganda presents a great opportunity for the country. The western portion of the country surrounding the oil site has already seen a boost from the economic activity. While the changes are small thus far, already schools and health facilities in the area have seen improvements. The oil site is currently preparing to be drilled. Expectations are that the oil could be flowing in as early as three years. Uganda plans to also build their own refinery. The combination will provide good jobs and revenue for both the people of Uganda and its government. It will also allow them to spend less on importing from neighboring countries. The hope that he has is that the politicians use the extra revenue to build out infrastructure, including roads, hospitals and schools.

We also discussed the differences in our cultures. In particular the topic of marriage was of interest to Julius and his friend Jim. In Uganda a man is expected to pay a dowry to the father of the woman he wishes to marry. The amount depends on the tribe of the woman and the level of her education. They mentioned that educated women are too expensive for most men to afford. The reason being the father expects to be compensated for the money spent on his daughters education. Another custom in Uganda dictates that men are not allowed to speak at all to the mother-in-law unless it is an emergency. This came up as Julius received a call from his mother-in-law who had been unable to reach her daughter for a day. It took about a minute for Julius to answer as he was very concerned about why she would be calling him. They then asked about marriage in the US and ‘how much American women cost.’ We explained that it traditional in the US for the father of the bride to pay for the wedding and that the groom would pay for the dinner the night before. The concept that many in the US would be unmarried and/or without kids beyond the age of 30 was comical to them. Learning from Julius about Ugandan culture was a true pleasure. I can only hope that on future trips I can make a connection with someone as I did this time.

I would love to say that every experience today was as happy. Unfortunately, given the lack of continuous health care, we again saw some individuals with health conditions that were heartbreaking. One mother came in with a young boy who appeared to be around 7-8 months old. His arms were hardly bigger in circumference than a quarter and he weighed in at about 11 pounds. It turns out he was 7 years old. Teammate Chelsea saw him in triage and suspected he may have Downs Syndrome. That usually requires a feeding tube, as many times kids with Downs will refuse to eat on their own, which is not available for the mother. In Uganda that normally leads to death at an early age. Another case came in where a young woman had Ascites, where a parasitic worm causes fluid build up in the abdominal region that can also lead to an early death if untreated.

While those cases are heartbreaking, we saw about 124 people today that were able to get great treatment from our triage and provider teams. This brought us to approximately 750 patients seen for the week. As a non-medical team member, I cannot begin to express how much admiration I have for the doctors, nurses and pharmacists that took such great care of those that they saw. Always cheerful, always professional and always reassuring to their patients. It was truly an honor to work along side them and watch them work.

We returned to the Masindi Hotel and were greeted by a variety of artists and craftsmen. The quality was amazing and we were able to find great Ugandan treasures to take home with us. We were treated yet again to a great dinner, and tonight we also were entertained by the Masindi troupe. They performed a wide variety of Ugandan dances that gave us a wonderful experience to end the day. The drums, beaded boots, and skirts were brightly colored and helped create an energetic atmosphere. For the final dance they invited our group to join them (video will be posted somewhere soon :). Watching our group join in, seeing the wide smiles and laughter, marked an excellent end to the day.

For those reading this that may be considering joining PMI on a mission trip: I cannot express in words how incredible the journey has been thus far. This is truly the way to visit Africa (or Nicaragua). Being able to connect and interact with the people is a life altering experience. If you are on the fence, jump off and sign up for a future trip. You will not regret it. This is by far the most enlightening and spiritual trip of my life, and I will be forever grateful that I had the opportunity to visit Uganda. I cannot wait until I am able to return.

Best wishes to all,

Jack

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Team Uganda: Clinic Day Four

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During my Ugandan volunteer trip with PMI, I was given the opportunity to observe and assess the anesthesia department of Masindi Kitara Medical Center (MKMC). Compared to my past experience of 15 years volunteering in developing countries in various capacities as a Nurse Anesthetist, teaching nursing students and providing preventive health care education at community levels, PMI has established a self-sustaining medical center in less than 6 years which is an incredible accomplishment.

MKMC houses one operating theatre (operating room) and one labor and delivery room suite. There is one nurse anesthetist available for general surgical cases and neonatal/maternal resuscitation for labor and delivery. MKMC has one physician who wears several “hats” as internist, pediatrician, obstetrician, neonatologist, general surgeon and several other specialties. There are five midwives who oversee family planning, prenatal care, all deliveries of newborns and providing care for stable premature babies. These providers are amazingly resourceful and innovative with limited equipment and supplies. MKMC has a family oriented patient care model where family members are not just visitors, but they also take care of the patient and work alongside the nurses, which is an exemplary model for the patient to transition home.

As I spent time in the operating theatre and with the anesthesia providers, one needs to keep in mind a balance between enhancing the anesthesia knowledge and maintaining the cultural appropriateness. Advanced techniques do not always equate safe practice in countries with limited resources. Although, a steady stream of knowledge and enhancement in small increments has potential to provide sustainable progress.

-Marvesh Mendhi, Nurse anesthetist from Mayo clinic Florida and PhD nursing student at MUSC

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Team Uganda: Clinic Day Three

Today was the third day of helping the people of Africa and spreading our love to the villages. I can truly say that I feel right at home. As the morning started, you could see all the kids and the excitement on their faces running along the road following us as we entered the village. Everyday I grow through learning that every person I meet in Uganda is so humble and grateful for the help we provide and for the time we spend with them. Nothing is taken for granted here. It makes me realize how truly blessed each and everyone of us is that God gave this as our path to follow and serve others. The group of friends that I have grown closer to during this trip expresses the same passion as I do in making a difference and giving back without receiving anything in return. Today we witnessed more children enjoying ministry in the morning and playing soccer. Some of us could not keep up with them. The kids were running all day long in the heat without recognizing how tired they were from the enjoyment of spending time with us.

As the day went on, I experienced one of Africa’s insects and had a allergic reaction to the bite. But the providers took good care of me. It just shows that we all support each other no matter where we are and what we are doing. I am thankful for meeting Tyler and Leslie and for them allowing me to join them on this journey because this experience will be kept with me and has inspired me to continue to do missions.

-Cody

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