May 10, 2018

Each day brings its own little adventure here in Uganda. Today we travelled to a new site, Byerima.   When we pulled up we were greeted by a long line of patients waiting to be seen. Some travelled over 2 miles by foot to get to our clinic. As Physician Assistant students, we get the opportunity to work with the providers, which is a great opportunity to utilize our new skills and knowledge! Every patient leaves their own mark on our memories and our lives, but there are a few that really made an impact.

A 32 year old woman came in with severe bleeding which lead to a dangerously low hemoglobin level and fatigue. Because of this she needed to be admitted to the hospital to receive a blood transfusion in order to avoid complications and death. When we told her this, she cried because she couldn’t afford the care or the transportation fees since the closest hospital was over an hour away in Masindi. However, our providers and team worked together to get the patient sponsored! Some of the MKMC staff even volunteered to drive her to Masindi. Jesus definitely showed us his faithfulness through this situation. Because of Him and all the work He is doing in Uganda, we were able to provide much needed care to a patient that so desperately needed it!

We also saw a 24 year old patient who was pregnant with her second child. We decided to perform an ultrasound to make sure the baby was growing okay. She promptly told us that she would be so grateful if we could find out the sex of the baby. After 5 minutes we were finally able to tell her that she will be having baby girl! It was such a great experience getting to see the joy and excitement on her face when she found out!

Another impactful case involved an 8 year old boy who has been struggling with incontinence since birth. Despite not being able to resolve his problem, his case made an impression on me. In the US he would have seen multiple specialists and would have been treated many years ago. But in a country like Uganda, where healthcare is unaffordable or difficult to come by, an issue like incontinence can greatly impact a person’s life. This experience made me grateful for the healthcare system and access to care that we have. It also emphasized the importance of this type of work and the impact we can make on people’s lives.

At the end of the day our hands are covered in dirt and we are ready for a nap but it’s all worth seeing the smiles on these beautiful faces. The joy and appreciation they have for the things we take for granted is incredibly admirable! The presence of God is so evident in this place. We’re thankful to be here and to be able to experience everything this amazing country and its people have to offer.

+ Abby and Drasti, Physician Assistant Students
Charleston, SC


May 9, 2018

We had a great third day of clinic in the same village we went to yesterday, Kitwara. A few of the nursing students spent the day at the Masindi-Kitara Medical Center and were able to participate in rounds, learn about the laboratory process and spend a lot of time with a young boy with typhoid. Jerry, a PT student, spent the day exploring Masindi and looking for anything he could find in the town to build a wheelchair. When we got back to the hotel we got to see his incredible work! He used a lawn chair, bike wheels, wood and nails to build a prototype so that locals can build wheelchairs with supplies that can be found here.

The rest of the team was in the village and we saw 204 patients! We were in the therapy department and we saw several patients at the beginning of the day that had limbs amputated. We gave away many canes, walkers and crutches! One of the patients had a stroke years ago, he was using a big stick to help him walk and still needed people to help him on both sides. We were able to give him a walker (so he could walk independently), shoes, a knee brace to help with pain and support and a hand splint to help his affected hand stay open and not get stuck in a fist. He walked out by himself and was so excited to show everyone his new shoes!

In the glasses department we saw an older woman that was unable to see the Bible and the interpreter spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out if she was able to read. We tried on a few pairs of glasses, and none of them seemed to work. After a few more pairs, she started to smile and then began to sing verses of the Bible that she was reading. We could see the joy that she felt, and we were all smiling with her as she continued to sing.

We are going to a new site tomorrow, and we are excited for the second half of the week!

Thanks for following along with our journey!

+ Emmie and Katherine, Therapy Students
Charleston, SC


May 8, 2018

As we drive through the Uganda countryside the light shines through the richly green fields and forests of trees. Everything is moving slowly for now- even the breeze flowing through the cracked windows in the four crowded caravans, encompassing our medical team, is calm and soft. We drive along roads with the rust red dirt swirling around behind us as we pass. People are walking and biking along the sides of the road. Perhaps, off to work or school, but there is no rush.  Others are cleaning their yards and starting chores for the day. Women are sweeping the entry way of their mud and straw roof huts with brooms made of switches and small children are hoeing weeds nearby. Some wave excitedly and others stare in curiosity or just ignore the passing caravan. We are getting close. There are lines of people anxiously awaiting what may be their first encounter with a medical team. We unload our medical supplies and set up camp in classrooms with benches as our “medical offices” and supplies to meet basic needs.

On the way to and entering clinic, I am observing; trying to gain an understanding of the culture, way of life, barriers and moments of joy. Clinic is busy, children are crying, people are everywhere, many different tribal languages are buzzing through the air. A student, our interpreter, and I sit down with a woman from Uganda. She is close to 80 and tells us about her pain. She works hard, but feels her pain is minor and has a subtle twinkle in her eye. We listen closely to her story and continue with the physical exam. I test her strength. She is stronger than I expect. Jokingly, I pretend my fingers are crushed by her grip. She bursts out laughing and for the remainder of the time we are able to connect with her. In Uganda, literally a world away from the hustle and bustle of American culture, I am reminded of exactly how similar we are. We may not speak the same language or live the same lifestyle, but we are able to communicate and enjoy our lives and these brief moments we have to better understand each other.

+ Erin Cuomo, Physician Assistant
Minneapolis, MN