After my first visit to Uganda in 2011, I wrote a lot – a lot of blog posts, Facebook posts, and even a book. But since this most recent trip a few weeks ago, I haven’t said much about it. I’ve posted fun photos on Facebook of me playing the ukulele, and wrote a short summary on this blog of what it was like, but for the most part I’ve kept more quiet about this trip. That’s because this trip has been a little harder to process.
First, I have to say that the trip was a huge success. Loving One by One is continuing to do amazing (practically impossible) work in Uganda, and once again it was an honor to be part of the team this year. During our two weeks the first part of July…
In four medical clinics in slums and villages, we saw approximately 1500 patients (my count may be wrong, but it’s a guess). With help from our great team of Ugandan doctors, we treated everything from infections to flu to malaria to HIV, and provided funding for surgeries for hernias, eye problems, cancer, and a lot of other problems.
In between medical clinics during the weeks we were there, we visited residents in an elderly home, men in a drug rehabilitation facility, young women recently rescued from teen prostitution, severely handicapped students in an amazing school, and patients in two hospitals.
And maybe our biggest win – we found a little guy in the hospital named George (left) who was dying of typhoid (made worse by a botched treatment by his local village doctor). He wasn’t getting treatment because his family couldn’t afford to do anything for him; he was waiting to die. His brother had already died. Thankfully, we were able to provide treatment for George, and leave team members with him all day, every day, until he was able to leave the hospital. He is now continuing his recovery at New Creation Family Home. A huge win.
And for me and many others on the team, there was also a huge loss. In the town of Jinja, on July 11, we found a baby named “Happy” (below) who was brought to our clinic by her grandmother. After examination by our doctors and a trip to a local hospital, Happy was diagnosed with severe malnutrition, the most severe case the doctors examining her had ever seen. Sadly, further investigation indicated that the baby was being starved by her mother, most likely intentionally. After pleading with the mother to let us provide emergency treatment for the baby, even with involvement of others in the village, the mother refused.
“Happy” died on July 14. Our team members, particularly those who had worked so hard with the family, were devastated.
Why am I telling this story? Because the extremely sad story of Happy, and the extremely happy story of George, illustrates the extreme work Loving One by One does. For a four-week period this summer (Team 1 the end of June, Team 2 the beginning of July), the team members of LOBO did what we always do when we’re there – we have to forget about everything else going on at home or anywhere else in the world (the buildup to the Royal Baby in early July somehow escaped me), and just keep ourselves open and ready for whatever needs we might be able to meet.
While most of the members Teams 1 & 2 have now gone home, several people are still working in Uganda, following up with George and other patients. There’s always a lot of followup work to do when a LOBO medical team finishes their work. In addition, a new children’s home is nearing completion, a second children’s home is in process, and a school is still being operated.
So, I guess I’d have to describe this summer’s work in Uganda as Extreme. Extremely successful, extremely painful, and extremely humbling to be part of the amazing (and impossible) work God is doing in Africa.
I am extremely humbled to read your story. Thank you for your heart for “the least of these.”
Charley, great, thoughtful post. What a blessing to continue to be a part of the great work there – and thanks for continuing to share how it is impacting you, because that impacts me!
Enjoying your blog. Read your book. Going to Uganda in 2 months. You have provided much insight. thank you.
Thanks Marian! Sounds like you’re going on LOBO’s January team.