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Peace Corps + MKMC

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We are thrilled to welcome the newest addition to our team at Masindi Kitara Medical Center. Lynda Krisowaty will be spending the next two years with us in Masindi growing our public health curriculum through the Peace Corps.

Lynda hails from New York, and has a rich history of experience across public health and education sectors. Most recently having received her Master of Health Science in Mental Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, she is interested in marrying her interests of mental health and the developing world. Through the grassroots experience she gains in working with the Peace Corp and MKMC, Lynda hopes to gain experience that will help her work on behalf of those with mental health issues in the developing world.

As soon as she arrived in Masindi Lynda dove in and joined PMI’s August medical team at outreach and worked with Village Health Teams (VHT) to teach about proper nutrition along with other public health initiatives. Part of her role with the VHTs was to review the curriculum together before presenting the material to the patients. As she continues to gain an understanding for the preexisting programs in Masindi, she will be able to strengthen and expand our initiatives.

We are thankful to have Lynda on our team for the next two year, and we will keep you posted with updates on her projects!

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Patient Spotlight :: Baby Tumwesige

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It was the August Uganda team’s second day of clinic when a 6-month old baby named Tumwesige was brought in with a fever of 102.5 and a rapidly growing, unidentifiable mass on her abdomen. The child’s mother said that she first noticed the mass on Friday, which had since grown in size to its current baseball resembling state.

After a thorough assessment by the PMI team, it was determined that the abscess was a threat to the child’s life and needed to be removed. Without appropriate equipment in the field, the team immediately referred the child to MKMC for further examination and an IND (incision and drainage). The child’s family agreed to go to MKMC with their referral, and that they had sufficient funds to pay any medical bills incurred.

It was not until the next day the team received news of Tumwesige’s status. With great excitement Dr. Godson Senyondo, MKMC’s Medical Officer, reported that the baby had arrived, been assessed, and the abscess had been removed. Tumwesige’s fever had left, and she was recovering wonderfully in MKMC’s Inpatient Department. Later in the week, the doctors who had initially assessed the baby in the field were able to stop by MKMC and see how well she was recovering.

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PMI Volunteers, Dr. Greg Barabell and Henry Gass, were happy to pay a visit to their little friend and her thankful mother.

This story highlights the valuable synergy between PMI’s short-term teams and our long-term presence. In sending quarterly teams of medical volunteers, we are able to blanket large areas with medical care and identify patients who need follow-up at our clinic. Having a long-term presence on the ground allows for cases like Tumwesige to be cared for to the full extent of their need. Tumwesige, along with many other patients we have had the privilege to treat, would have died had it not been for PMI’s intervention.

Team Uganda :: Free Day

Waking up in Masindi this morning, our team had a sense of accomplishment from the hard work each of us put in this week.  Breakfast was at 7AM this morning, a little later than usual which means we had our first day to sleep in.  After breakfast, we packed up the vans and hit the road to have our day of fun and relaxation.  Our destination was the Para Lodge in Murchison National Park of Uganda.

We arrived at the front gates of the national park after about an hour drive.  We then proceeded through a forest with dirt roads and miscellaneous animals on the side of the road.  Finally, we got to see some monkeys!

We reached the Nile River after about 1 more hour of driving through the beautiful hills.  The vans loaded onto a barge to cross the river, where we happened to see a family of hippopotamus lounging in the shallow water.  On the other side of the Nile River, our hotel was located the top of a hill about a quarter mile away.  The front view of the hotel has a waterfall and an architecture that resembles something out of Jurassic Park.  We entered the lobby and were greeted with mango juice and a cool towel to wipe off sweat and dirt from the car ride.  Since there was no real agenda, everyone split into their rooms, took naps, went to the pool, looked around the hotel, and got massages.

A delicious buffet was served for lunch where we gluttonously stuffed our bellies.  I don’t think anyone waited, per historical doctor myths, the recommended 15 minutes before swimming.

Our safari started at 4PM.  Two land rover-like SUV’s and one of our trusty vans were used to take our group though the protected animal kingdom area of the park.  We saw a family of elephants about 5 minutes into the journey.  Everyone started snapping pictures and “ewing and awing” at the incredible sights we were witnessing.  We went on to see giraffes, elk-like animal, deer-like animals, reindeer-like animals, bambi’s, water buffalo, monkeys, muskrats (Timone), hippos, and a couple other miscellaneous animals.

Two of the cars finally found a lioness at dusk and came close to nearly blinding her with an escapade of flashes, headlights, and flashlights.  Good thing she had a small appetite and lots of patience.  After she worked the camera, we moved on to go save our brethren in the 3rd SUV that had a driver straight from Ricky Bobby’s drivers ed class.  “Shake and bake” was his style of driving in an eager attempt to find the lions before the other cars.

At this point in the safari, it is pitch black out with an illumination of stars and the Milky way above.  The tire got changed within a few minutes and we began heading back, whilst still riding on top of the van.  About 20 minutes pass, and we come across a mama elephant and her baby elephant on the middle of the dirt road.  She felt threatened and stood her ground, stomping and making noises that elephants make.  We felt rather vulnerable on top of the van with no protection and a frightened elephant in our path.  After a minute stare down, she directed her baby elephant off the road and we continued back to the hotel.

We are back at the hotel and have had a wonderful time in Uganda.  Thank you for your support and prayers throughout this journey.  Godspeed.

Michael Pruitt & Megan Jamison

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Burundi Team :: Final Day

Hello all! My name is Charlotte Basala and I am 15 years old. I am on this trip with my mother and grandmother and experiencing Africa for the first time. This trip had overwhelmed me in so many ways. The people here are wonderful and have truly changed my life forever. I have made so many new friends on this trip so far, some from the states and some here on the ground in Burundi. I would like to share with you all the fun day we had today with the team and translators at Club du Lac. The club we went to was very nice and a good closing activity to a challenging trip. Upon arrival we learned that some, if not most of the translators had never been to a club like that in their entire lives, so it was fun to be able to share a new experience with them. Once we arrived and got some lunch while relaxing under the Burundian sun, the real fun began. Some of the other team members and myself taught the translators how to swim. This was no easy task. So as we all splashed around in the pool, we were able to teach everyone to try to float and almost successfully do a handstand. All in all it deemed to be a great learning experience for all and we got to bond over something that seems like such a normal life skill to most Americans. I will truly miss this team and am already having a hard time writing about them. There were so many different personalities intermingling on this trip and it was a blessing to see how we all brought out things in each other that we normally wouldn’t see. I have seen different sides of everyone on this trip that few people get to experience and I am glad for it. Tonight at dinner, our last dinner together, everything felt normal and it was such a cool experience for me to be able to look around the table at the faces of people who I didn’t know a week ago and smile at the way we all connected on a certain level and to know we have all been through the same adventure and will be changed somehow. Maybe we wont see it now, in ourselves, or in others but eventually something that we learned on this trip will change something within us and my biggest hope is to be able to translate that over to my everyday life and the people that I surround myself with everyday because we know that trips and life experiences like these are rare. Thank you!

 

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Nicaragua Clinic Day 5

Hey everyone,
Today was our last day of clinic here in Nicaragua and it was a wonderful day; we finished strong by seeing over 200 people. That brings our total to over 1,000 people cared for by one amazing team!
Today we split into two teams. Michael, Meredith and Roxanne went to PMI’s clinic in El Viejo to perform surgeries and procedures for patients who waited a long time for their skilled hands. The rest of the team traveled to a church nearby and treated numerous Nicaraguan locals. We had a productive and joyful day at clinic as we all tried to soak it all in before our time here comes to an end.
This week has been such an eye opening experience for the whole team. We have been so blessed to be a part of such a positive change in such a beautiful country as Nicaragua. This week we have surgically removed a young woman’s congenitally deformed thumb, separated a mans webbed fingers so he could wear a wedding ring for the first time, pulled dozens of decaying and infected teeth, cleaned hundreds of mouths, provided therapy and assistive devices to those in need, treated acute and chronic life altering diseases, prescribed countless vital medications to so many individuals, and prayed for, healed and blessed so many lives.
In the process we have all become closer to one another, became friends with our interpreters and local helpers and strengthened our faith. It is truly amazing to see all the happy faces leaving our clinic just by providing what is considered basic health care in America. We have all made some sacrifices to be here however they have been far outweighed by what we’ve each gained personally and will be taking home full and grateful hearts. We are saddened to see our trip coming to an end but know the impact we have made will be long lasting. It’s off to a day of much needed R&R before a long day of travel back home.

Adios!
Lindsey and Matt

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Burundi Team :: Clinic Day Five

The team enjoyed another wonderful day in Bujumbura.  A group of us were able to visit a home for elderly ladies.  We learned that in Burundi there are often situations in the countryside where older ladies who have never married or their husbands have died, and their children are too poor to care for them, are often left to die alone in a hut. A Burundian lady named Petranea, who had a vision to care for ladies in this type of situation, began to start a home in Bujumbura that would provide for them.  Currently there are seven ladies living in the home together.  Her dream is to have a large home that will house fifty.  The ladies appeared to be in their late seventies to early eighties.  They were so happy to receive visitors and welcomed us at the gate with smiles, hugs and dancing.  Some of them had poor eye sight due to cooking in the home and the smoke damaging their eyes.  They also suffered from hypertension, arthritis, and acid reflux.  Unfortunately, there are no financial resources available at this time to treat their current ailments.  Their spirit for life and their beautiful smiles, despite their adversity,  are precious memories that we will always carry in our hearts.

In the evening we shared our last meal together with our Burundian friends who have been so gracious and helped us throughout our time in this beautiful country.  Many more stories were shared about the difficulties they have overcome in their lives, but they are filled with hope for the future.  One of the Doctor’s shared that when he was growing up there was one doctor for the 400,000 people that lived in his village. This is something that we as Americans cannot comprehend.  Some of them were refugees who have lived through the atrocities of war and genocide, but through their strong faith, have been carried to a place where they are able to bless and help others who have suffered alongside of them. As we bid them farewell, we will keep them in our prayers and ask that God’s grace and mercy been shown to them.  As the Burundian’s say, “We do not say goodbye but instead we will see you soon!”

Blessings
Judy and Tracey

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Uganda Team :: Clinic Day Five

Hello everyone, we are coming to you live from Masindi, Uganda!

Today we visited the village of Kigumba for the second day in a row. We arrived early in the morning and everyone got to work right when the heavens began to pour rain down on us. That didn’t stop us; our wills continued to drive us. We started seeing the Ugandans right away, wasting no time. Everyone treated every patient like it was their first, with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts. We experienced a wide range of conditions, including saving the eye of a young teenager. Every Ugandan was always very appreciative of the care we gave to them, and it was a very humbling experience. Every team did an awesome job, and worked to their best abilities to give the Ugandans the best care possible, even after a tiring week.

Since today was our last day of clinic, it was a bittersweet conclusion to an amazing week. We want to thank all of our team members for being awesome and great teachers to us. We also want to thank everyone who made this wonderful trip possible, including all of our donors, the Masindi Hotel Crew, the staff of Masindi-Kitara Medical Center, the drivers, the Christian Community of the Church of Uganda, all of our exceptional translators, and especially Ms. Janine Legrand for getting everything organized and put together. We could not have imagined a better way to share God’s gift of serving than the work we have done in Uganda.

Alex Jessmore and Jack Runnels

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Nicaragua Clinic Day 4

Today was a great adventure from the very beginning as the team gathered at the bright, early hour of 5:45am for devotion. Dr. Williams, our team’s amazing dentist, led a heartfelt devotion about not distancing ourselves from the people we serve. Building on her own experience of being raised in a country that is often on the receiving end of missionary work, Dr. William’s inspired us to seek first what we have in common with those we serve, rather than the differences.

The adventure continued with a long journey through a new and somewhat remote area to serve the people of Iglesia de la Profecia. A few minor detours left us late for clinic but provided a breathtaking view of several volcanoes along the way. When we arrived on site, we quickly made up for lost time because the team was so confident in setting up and getting started after three days of practice.

As always, the diagnoses of the day ranged from headaches and simple infections to unusual maladies some of the providers hadn’t yet seen in the states. One particularly touching story involved a young man who came seeking help for a webbed hand he had had since birth. Surprised to hear the man wanted the webbed fingers cut apart so late in life, provider Michael Overcash and student Phil Bergen soon learned that the man had been told as a child that if he had surgery to separate the fingers, a 6th may grow in the space between! Michael reassured him this would not be the case, and the man shared that he would happily proceed with the surgery. He elaborated that his wedding was only a few weeks away and he wanted his bride to be able to place a wedding ring on his finger during the ceremony while they exchanged their vows among family and friends. The surgery went well and the patient left happily looking forward to the upcoming nuptials.

It’s hard to believe it’s the eve of our last clinic day. The time has flown and tomorrow is certain to be a joyful ending to a beautiful week of service!

Buenas Noches!

Alison & Maria

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Uganda Team :: Clinic Day Four

Greetings from the therapy team!

This week has already flown by far too quickly. Wednesday was hump day, but today was a day we woke up feeling tired and weary from several days of the mobile clinic. Despite feeling this way, we continued to be motivated to keep going strong because of the overwhelming gratitude and appreciation that the Ugandan people have been giving us over the past few days. Today we had our clinic in Kigumba with a steady line of people waiting to be seen upon our arrival. We, as the therapy team, have been able to treat a wide variety of conditions, some more common than others. Many people in Masindi work as farmers/diggers for a living and deal with significant back pain, among other ailments. Ugandans are very hard workers and live with a severe amount of pain as some of the people we treat may be receiving healthcare for the very first time. Over the past few days we have educated the people on keeping their muscles and joints as healthy as possible while living in a harsh environment. We provide education, medical equipment (some fabricated out of our creativity due to lack of supplies), shoes, glasses, stretches, and exercises.

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We’ve seen everything from developmental delay to significant leg length discrepancies to paralysis (Ugandan’s term for “weakness”) and everything in between. One of our most complex cases of the day was a 4 year old with cerebral palsy who presented with severe development delay and had not received proper care. Sadly, many of these children do not have access to the healthcare they need and present with significant impairments. We were able to spend time with the mother to demonstrate proper positioning and range of motion as well as providing a foam head support to improve function. We feel as if there is so much more we want to do for our patients than what we can give them over one-time treatment, but deep down we know that what we are providing for them is invaluable. The amazing thing is that we are able to refer many patients to Masindi-Kitara Medical Centre, a clinical site founded by PMI that provides affordable, accessible, and sustainable healthcare, which is rare in Uganda.

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The registration team, triage, providers, prayer team, family planning, and pharmacy have played a crucial role in helping these patients receive the proper medical examinations, tests, and medications they need to improve their quality of life. We could not be more grateful for the expertise of these teams that allow us to be better physical therapists as we serve in Uganda. We are continuing to work better and more efficiently as a team, but even more so as friends and have greatly enjoyed getting to know our teammates.

It continues to not only be a blessing to serve the people of Masindi, but to also to learn from their experiences and apply them to our own lives. There is no doubt we will be forever changed from our own experiences here.

Webale Yesu (Thank you Jesus)

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