Sunday, July 27, 2014

Next Adventure - Ready or Not!

{This is a series in posts about our trip to Uganda for the Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team. To start at the beginning, go to this post. Check out the team blog at If you visit the team blog, please leave a comment! The team loves to hear your encouraging words!}

While in the works for a while, I officially bought my first ticket to Africa!

In September, I will be tagging along with a team from Riley Children's Hospital to Kampala, Uganda. This is their 5th trip to the Uganda Heart Institute and the team's trip (not mine - my accounting experience won't get very far in a medical grant :) ) is funded with a Rotary Foundation Global Grant, funds raised by our club at our Annual Gift of Life Auction, funds from the Kampala-North Rotary Club and funds from our District (also through the Foundation). The purpose of the mission is to work with and train the doctors, nurses and staff of UHI to help build their capacity as a fully sustainable Pediatric Heart Center. The Riley and Ugandan teams will also operate together on quite a few kiddos while we're there.

You can read all about the past missions to UHI here.

Here is a brief excerpt from one of the posts which explains the program a little more.
This (Uganda Heart Institute) looks to be the most promising program in all of Uganda and Eastern Africa to care for children with congenital heart disease. Gift of Life International, through the efforts of Rob Raylman, the Executive Director of GOLI, and the first Gift of Life patient ever, Grace Agwaru, started a program of “Our Hearts Are in Uganda” in 2009 to help address the vast needs in this country. Our Riley team, specifically Dr. Turrentine, has cared for several children in Indianapolis from Uganda and in 2010 our team traveled to UHI with the first Vocational Training Team completed in the world under the Future Vision Plan of Rotary International. Each year, our team has expanded and worked together with local Rotarians from Kampala and surrounding clubs to build on the work the wonderful doctors, nurses and staff do at the Uganda Heart Institute (UHI). Gift of Life in turn helps to coordinate 3 other visiting teams from all over the world throughout the year to share their skills and expertise with the wonderful surgeons Dr. Tom Mwambu and Dr. Michael Oketcho, as well as cardiologists Dr. Sulaiman Lubega and Dr. Peter Lwabi and the rest of the nursing, OR, Cath lab, anesthesia, and perfusion staff at UHI who will be mentioned by name throughout the week.

(I've posted before about Gift of Life International and our club's involvement when we brought Baby Sara and her mother Mira to Indiana from Kosova. This is another way the Auction funds are used through a partnership with Riley.)

Don't know much about Uganda? Don't worry. I didn't either. Here's a map...

We'll fly into Entebbe (via Detroit and Amsterdam). Then, we'll drive to Kampala which is the capital city. 

For more facts about Uganda, go here to where I found these maps.

I have a general idea of what to expect as my neighbor and friend, Stephanie, has been the Rotarian Team Lead on all of the trips and is a veteran. Although, with my absolute lack of any medical knowledge or training, I will not be helping on that front. I hope to interact with the families of the kids as well as the local Rotarians. And, of course, I'll do whatever I can to help out with what needs done once we're there. I helped to write this grant and will help write the final report, so I'll be collecting info for that as well.

The very cool thing about Global Grants through the Rotary Foundation is that a partnership is required with another club in the grant recipient's district. We are partnering with the Kampala-North Club so we will get to interact with club members there as well. I hope to visit with Rotarian's and see some of the other Rotary projects happening around the area.

Once we're done in Uganda, a few of us will fly to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The plan is to meet with Rotarians and medical staff to discuss the possibilities of partnering with a new hospital and staff there.

I had to look Dubai up on a map as well.

And, now, in relation to Africa.

I am excited and nervous and anxious and lots of other things right now. Mostly though, I'm excited to be able to see it all happening in person. My biggest hope is that I will have an experience that I'll be able to share with others back at home to further the cause of saving kids lives and changing the future for these families.   

More to come...

Day One has been posted! Go to this post to continue the journey!

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