A Drone’s-eye View of Uganda

A Drone’s-eye View of Uganda

A Drone’s-eye View of Uganda

Our first-ever mission trip is history. And it was a great success!

Dzintars, our official mission trip photographer, hoped to use a drone to record the activities of our Ugandan care team as they partnered with two physicians and ten medical students, most of whom study at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Washington. The Ugandan government is vigilant about preventing terrorism, however, and does not allow drones to be used.

If a drone had hovered over the three villages that Ourganda has adopted, what would it record? Three things:

  1. A phenomenal medical team consisting of 14 people:
    2 medical clinical officers, 2 physicians, and
    10 medical students.

Whether our team was in Kitsolima II, Kinyante IV, or Sarakihombya, people stood patiently in long lines, not to grab the latest iPhone or to buy tickets to the hottest band, but in hopes that someone could help them or their children. The epicenter of activity was the big, red tent with private exam rooms for women and men. In one village, a small mud-and-sticks church was converted into a triage center while a tin-roofed shelter offered shade to care givers and patients in the next village.

Seven of the medical students taught core classes on nutrition, pregnancy, hygiene, and HIV prevention. With the assistance of translators, Darrel, Megan, Christi, and Mariah triaged hundreds of patients. Jessica, Valerie, and Meagan assisted Dr. Kristiana and Doreen in treating dysentery, malaria, pneumonia, diabetes, urinary tract infections, and fungal infections. Maggie and Taylor shadowed Dr. Asmussen as he examined and treated over 100 pregnant women. (The women were especially blown away by the portable ultrasound machine.) Dr. Joy distributed reusable hygiene kits and taught the young women how to use them. Tony assisted Vincent in distributing medications.

Hundreds of people were served. When the day grew long and the team had to retire for the day, many more were still in line, waiting till the next day to see a doctor.

  1. The enormous challenge of getting clean water. 

Water is the foundation of life. But if you live in Kinyante IV or Sarakihombya, your only hope of water rests on the shoulders of women who carry heavy jerry cans on their backs and heads for several hours a day. And when they arrive exhausted in the village with the water, it is filled with bacteria and even viruses. Everyone knew that the impact of our classes, our treatments, and our medications was minimized because of a lack of clean water.

While the local villagers erected the tent and our medical team taught health classes, did triage, and dispensed medications, we collected 88 empty jerry cans, stacked them in the Ourganda vans, and drove almost 3 miles – one way – to a creek where we filled every one of them to the brim. For that one day, we were able to save 88 long, grueling trips by the women and girls of Kinyante village.

The water situation in Sarakihombya is even worse. The only source of water is a scary-looking cesspool where animals from the forest come to bathe and defecate. Again, the women bring their jerry cans to the edge of the pool, dip them in the polluted water, then struggle up a steep hill and down a worn pathway to their homes. The members of our medical team stood by that cesspool in awe of the struggle these people endure.

The drone reveals what all of us know: We have to provide clear water for our friends in Uganda.

  1. The power and joy of synergy.

The people of Uganda are wonderful. Their resilience, their warmth, their joy, and their love blessed us more than we could ever have blessed them. Those kids are impossibly cute and precious!

Our Ugandan care team is phenomenal. Doreen, our team leader, is a medical clinical officer who is deeply loved and respected by all. Her energy makes the Energizer bunny look comatose by comparison. Vincent is a medical clinical officer with a unique and inspiring mix of wisdom, humility, energy, and fun. Our two drivers/assistants, Joseph and Joe, work hard, love the people, and model servant leadership.

Our visiting team from the U.K. and the U.S. was off the charts. They worked hand-in-glove with our Ugandan care team. They served the villagers with professionalism and compassion. They were flexible. Their attitude was positive even when the temperature hit 109 degrees one afternoon. They rolled with the punches even when there was no water for three days in the hotel. It is impossible to imagine a better team.

Now that the trip is behind us, we are dreaming about the future. 

We want to serve more of those people who stand in long lines. We are determined to bring clean water into the heart of our villages. And we hope to expand to two medical care teams before the end of the year.

Ourganda is turning pain and suffering into smiles. And enjoying it immensely.

Thank you for your support!

Ron Gladden

P.S. I bet you would like to help!
Please take a moment and make a donation, or send your check to Ourganda, PO Box 873520, Vancouver, WA 98687.
It is easy to give, and your gift goes so far.
Thank You!


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