As I am sitting here on the long long airplane ride home my thoughts are going back to some of the amazing moments during the trip. The team left on September 27, 2014 and I will be back on the ground coherently in Seattle on October 14, 2014. In all there were 14 days “boots on the ground”. As many of you know the primary purpose of this trip was to provide medical relief for the villages around Katende, about an hour north of Kampala the capital city. I wanted to share some of the highlights of the trip with you in a single post. To see all the updates during the trip head to https://ben.lobaugh.net/uganda. That link contains posts from both this and the March 2014 trip.
We had a team of 27 people travel 8,800 miles.
10 members were traveling to Uganda for the first time.
17 members have been 2 or more times, with most having been 4+ times.
The youngest member was 17 and the oldest in her 70s. The average age was mid to upper 30s.
2 people had birthdays during the trip!
The first leg of our journey started in Seattle and landed in Dubai. It was about 16 hours. We had 9 hours to explore Dubai and then back on the plane we went for the second and final leg which put us at the Entebbe, Uganda airport in another 5 hours. All told 21 hours sitting on an airplane, 9 hours in layover, 6 hours getting all our gear through security (International airports usually have 3 layers to go through. Entebbe had 4), and 60 minutes driving to/from airports. That is 37 hours worth of travel on the way to Uganda. Without the majority of the gear and a shorter layover the trip home will be about 30 hours. That is 67 hours spent traveling by 27 people, or 1,809 human hours!
The base cost for the trip was $3,200 USD. This purchased the plane ticket, lodging, all the needed medical supplies, and went towards a few ongoing projects we have with Destiny. This was the money you donated.
The optional safari was $650 USD. This money was out of pocket and not part of the money donated online.
The shots, malaria pills, and other medications clocked in at about $500
Uganda entry visa costs $50
Most of the team brought about $200 out of pocket spending money for personal food, toiletries, and gifts to bring home
Additionally several of us brought additional outside funds for various projects outside of the medical clinic portion. This probably was $10,000 amongst the entire team.
That is approximately $4,600 per person or $124,200 for the team (minus the additional funds).
That sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but the majority of that money was not spent on us but sent out to the people of Uganda in many forms.
The Medical Clinic
This was the focus of the funds. The clinic saw about a thousand people all told. Each person who came in the door recieved a bag of assorted vitamins and suppliments regardless of their medical state. Even those just coming with someone recieved this as a gift.
We ran the clinic similar to how doctor offices work in the USA. People would come in, get triaged and sent to the most qualified person for their symptoms. That medical person would hand out vitamins and traditional over the counter medications such as Ibuprofin and Tylenol, give first aid supplies, etc. There was a lab setup to test for many things ranging from simple things like pregnancy to malaria even to HIV/AIDs. From those locations they were sent to the pharmacy with a “perscription” from the medical personnel. For anything from a cold to some major illnesses treatable by medicines we were able to provide what the people needed. We even had glasses for those with poor eyesight and toothbrushes for everyone.
It was great watching people try on glasses and seeing their faces light up into big grins when they found a pair that allowed them to see their world again!
On the USA portion of the medical team there were 7 nurses, 1 phramacist, and 1 doctor represented. There was also an optometrist from the USA who is currently living in Uganda who joined us. On the Ugandan side were 4 doctoral student and 2 lab technicians that joined us. 15 medically trained personnel.
Additional projects funds went towards
* More cows! In March we purchased many pigs and cows. This trip we added a few more cows to the mix.
* New pig pens. 5 of the original pigs are pregnant and the current pen is too small to hold all the additional new piglets. A new pig pen large enough to handle the piglets was funded and partially built while we were there.
* Drying rack for clothing. Destiny kids currently lay their clothes out on the ground to dry after washing. This does not get the best cleaning and is not the most sanitary method of drying clothes. Because it would cost too much in electricity and use too much water to have modern laundry machines we provided new drying racks for the kids to hang their clothes on.
* Dozens of new shoes to replace worn out shoes and provide shoes for new students without shoes
* A washing station near the baby house that will dramatically help with sanitation and general cleanliness.
* Handkerchiefs for each kid in the baby house. Right now the few towels are used to wipe the faces of all the babies and toddlers in the baby house. That promotes quick spread of sickness through contact with bodily fluids. A hanky for each kid that is theirs alone will quickly cut out the spread of sickness.
* New backboards for the basketball courts. The backboards that existed were in pitiful condition from years of use by 1,500+ kids
* 10 acres of land to plant and grow crops to feed the kids from. A few years back a large chunk of land was purchased to grow rice and it has proven very effective at keeping the food costs from skyrocketing as Destiny has continued to grow.
* Funds to repair the primary tractor that is out of commission currently.
The college kids
The first group of kids to graduate from the Destiny highschool was in 2013. All of the graduates were sponsored to go to university this year. We invited the students to come from across Uganda to an informal lunch to reconnect with and provide encouragement to.
The students were all incredibly grateful for the sponsors that have literally altered the entire course of their future by providing the possibility of a higher education for them. Most of them would be living on the streets without the sponsorship.
I was able to meet Stella, the girl I am sponsoring, at the lunch. When she found out I was her sponsor she lit up like the sun and almost jumped on me in her excitement and joy. She thanked me non-stop for 15 minutes and told me how grateful she was to be going to college an not worrying about when, where, and how she would eat next. I was speechless at how grateful the students are and respectful of the funds that have been made available to them.
P.S. We are looking for continuing sponsorship of these students. Cost is only $1,200 – $6,000 for a university education! Contact me if you are interested in sponsoring!
The New Graduates
We were privileged to be able to attend the graduation for the 2014 students at Destiny. As with the students already in college these highschool graduates continually expressed their gratefulness of the sponsorships that allowed them to live at Destiny and receive an education, a warm dry place to sleep, and meals each day. The graduates will be taking exams over the coming weeks to place in universities.
I will be sponsoring another university student from this group. If you also would like to please contact me.
Sponsoring any kid still at Destiny starts at $40 per month depending on age needs. If you would like to sponsor one of them just let me know and we will make it happen!
In the USA pencils are a dime a dozen and we all probably have a few lost dust encased pencils rolling around in the nooks and crannies of our houses. We do not even really use or care about pencils in the USA anymore. This is not the case in Uganda. In Uganda a simple No. 2 pencil is expensive and hard to get. We were able to purchase (brought from the USA. One of the few products that are actually cheaper in the USA!) and supply brand new pencils to all the students at Destiny!
Over the 13 years this group has been travelling to Uganda many pivotal relationships have been formed. Each trip is a chance to reconnect face to face and strengthen the relationships. Even with this being only my second trip I have already created many personal relationship with the beautiful Ugandan people that I will cherish for the rest of my life. These relationships help us get into areas in Uganda where needs are that we may not be able to get into as foreigners normally and also help us find the areas with the greatest needs that we can have a significant impact in.
Though I do communicate with my Ugandan brothers and sisters between visits I am always looking forward to the next visit when I will get to see, laugh with, and hug them again.
I could continue to go on about more of the wonderful things that happened during this trip but this post is already very long. If you made it this far props to you! You can find a lot more in the (nearly) daily post I was able to provide at https://ben.lobaugh.net/uganda.
Uganda is a beautiful place and the Ugandan people kind hearted and loving. Even though they lack many of the things we in the western world consider “essential” to our daily lives they are a happy contented lot for the most part and love spending time with the Muzungus (foreigners) when they visit. I encourage you to take a trip through one of the relief organizations to Uganda. I would love to have you come with my group sometime if not one in your area!
To everyone who has helped support me in any fashion during this trip I say thank you again even though the words cannot convey the deep sense of gratitude I have for your help partnering with me to change lives in Uganda. Stay tuned for the next trip and we can continue to change futures for the better some more!