- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: August 21 2015 August 21 2015
Clinic today started earlier in an effort to finish up earlier. When we arrived at the clinic site, we were greeted by the singing of numerous Ugandans who had spent the night in one of the classrooms at the school. There was also a crowd of hundreds lined up and waiting for us. There was a group of elderly women sitting right by the registration door that were particularly heartbreaking. We are unclear how long they had been there. Pastor James and Pastor Pace greeted the crowd with devotions and singing.
Nelly and Kimberly continued in their same triage roles for this last day of clinic. Many of the cases we saw today seemed to be more serious. We cared for many elderly and male patients today. Apparently the men let the women come to the clinic first to see if the services provided are worth their time away from work and home, and then they come at the last minute to be treated. Kimberly cared for a woman eighty years old, and Nelly helped triage the mother of the patient who is 100. How amazing is that?! The 100-year-old mother lives with the daughter, and both are mobile and fairly healthy. Our team saw a woman who is 102 years old who came to the clinic with a broken hip. She was referred to the hospital for further treatment. Many sick children came through, and we continue to see lots of malaria and ringworm.
My buddy Molotude Gary and his brother Ephraim Gibson, the sons of Pastor James, tested positive for malaria today. The topic came up at our dinner table about how can we get the Lutheran Malaria Initiative to include Uganda in their area of service. Malaria is killing Uganda, and there are preventable methods to help fight this disease. Thankfully malaria is treatable, so the two boys are receiving medical treatment.
Nelly was able to connect with her interpreter, Jimmy, who shared stories about the effect of the Ugandan civil war on his family. The war stretched from when Jimmy was five until he was 25. He spoke about living in fear of being abducted by the LRA. One of his nephews was abducted and was missing for fifteen years before he returned. The nephew underwent counseling upon his return at a camp for child soldiers before he was comfortable returning to the general community to continue his life.
Kimberly spent time speaking with her interpreter, Fiona, who is a nurse here in Uganda. She wears the pink dress and completed three years of education to obtain her degree. Fiona shared that her husband paid for her school fees, and then he died tragically shortly after she finished her education. Her husband was in a motorcycle accident and sustained multiple abrasions. Over time he developed chest pain and then shortly after lock jaw. She rushed him to the hospital, but he passed away 45 minutes after their arrival due to tetanus. Her son contracted malaria at the age of four and has continued learning deficits from the resulting brain damage. Even the more affluent and educated Ugandans are affected by the poor health system here.
In the afternoon our team left their designated stations as the Ugandan doctors decided to see as many people as possible prior to the clinic closing for the week. We took our blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and pulse oximeters and checked in the line of people waiting. Through this method, we were able to treat an additional 100–200 people within two hours. Today we were able to treat 555 patients, and we still did not get everyone in to see the doctors. Everyone remaining received a pill to help with worms, and the pharmacy handed out remaining over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol, vitamins and Tums. One middle-aged man received prenatal vitamins and was running around the school yard trying to find a worthy recipient to give them to. While we worried about disappointing people on the last day, the mood was uplifting. The Ugandans on the bus sang all the way home again, and Pastor James' daughter was tearful about the American team leaving. Several of us cried with her.
This week we were able to reach 2,342 people officially through our Mercy Medical Team clinic. We sang songs, prayed and interacted with these wonderful people. Their stories, positive attitudes and hard work moved and inspired us. We were thankful to be able to work with the local team to bring much needed health care to these villagers. The local team shared their appreciation for the Lutheran Church Mission of Uganda and the LCMS bringing this clinic to Akor and Lira. Their knowledge of local health care needs expanded, and they shared that there remains great need for future clinics to return to Uganda. They heartily invited us back to serve. The LCMS currently does have plans for a Mercy Medical Team to return to some region of Uganda in 2016. It truly is amazing how far our trip fees go to provide medical care here. Collectively our team of nine from the United States paid $15,000 in trip fees, and this money is used to purchase all of the medications and to pay the local teams (as well as our accommodations and lodging). As a result, over 2,000 people were treated for less than $15,000. That means each person is treated for less than $6. What a great way to use God's resources!
“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness”, “mercy”, “loyalty”, “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?