My two very good friends, Ashley and Sam, are currently in Mbale, Uganda with HELP International. They are planning and implementing projects to help the people of Mbale. However, they are currently lacking the funds necessary to complete these projects. If you take a minute to read the following excerpts from the blogs my friends write and think about making a contribution, however small it may be, you can make a big difference in the lives of some who may be less fortunate than you are.
As I posted in my last blog, I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting the AMAZING village of Bunabuyoka and meeting the people there. These people are extremely humble, loving and so grateful for our willingness to help them. I love them so much already! Due to the isolation of this community, very few resources are available–most importantly, health care. As a prospective health care professional, I was appalled at the lack of medical attention found in the village based on insufficient space, supplies, and medical expertise. There is one midwife, Sarah, who is responsible to administer to the health needs of all ages in the community, and has little training and no location to assist mothers with child-births. There is one dark room with a dirt floor that they currently use for delivering children, but that is the extent of a health care facility for hundreds of people. They have a few medical supplies shoved into a small cabinet but it ranges from a few cotton balls to basic ibuprofen and some ulcer medication, and that is the extent of their health care. I was startled to hear just how people respond to death and how nonchalant people react to death because “it’s just a part of normal life.” We are so privileged to have doctors who will fight for our lives in the U.S., and a life is soon forgotten here in Uganda.I met with the village elders and they expressed deep desire for a clean place with adequate care and medicines for their families and community-members, and I knew that this would beMY goal for the summer. I would do everything in my power over the next 2 months to deliver health care to these wonderful people. We posed the idea of using the school, that we are also helping to complete, to double as a health facility. But after further review, we knew that it needed to be kept at a distance from the children especially with varying levels of ailments that would be entering the clinic we would need to ensure that the children were safe. After discussions in greater depth with the village elders, it was apparent to me that this community was in great need of a health clinic. I took this proposal to the rest of my team and we all agreed–building this clinic would be our top priority this summer.
Not only would we build the clinic, but we’d also help formulate a way to recruit doctors, nurses and other community health workers to ensure that the villagers were receiving the health care once the clinic is complete. Our wonderful partners, CFAI (Christian Faith in Action International) has gone to great lengths to establish connections with doctors in the area that are willing to travel the 2 hours to Bunabuyoka each week to treat the villagers. We will be meeting with some of these doctors and nurses to further discuss long-term health care for this community. Additionally, we will be meeting with a pharmaceutical partner who may be willing to donate or at least sell us discounted supplies for the clinic. We will also be looking for supplies like beds, curtains, stethoscopes, etc, but it will require cooperation from these partners. My biggest worry is sustainability. I need to know that once I leave this summer, that this clinic will continued to be staffed and supplied and that the community will not be reliant on HELP volunteers to maintain their personal health. We are merely the spark to the fire that must be maintained by the people themselves. But, building this clinic is first and that IS the necessity!
Josh and I will be the project leads over this clinic and have spent man hours dividing up the exact materials, labor and additional costs to complete its construction. However, we have come to a roadblock and a significant one at that. In total to create this clinic, we are looking at a $3000 cost, which we as a team just cannot afford with all the other projects that our team is hoping to accomplish over the next few months. Our team has banded together and we’ve decided to fundraise this cost. While this cost may seem exorbitant, we know that this is an achievable goal! We have seen the need and the humble circumstances in which these people live. I am confident that we can construct this facility and that we can improve the lives of these wonderful people.
At this time, I ask you for a favor. My favor to ask of you is to allocate any monetary or supply donation to this impoverished community in any amount that you can, especially for a community that is in great need and has no options as far as health care goes. I know that for many of us, our funds are limited; however, I have seen the lives of these poor fathers, mothers and children that live in circumstances that we cannot fathom. When we are sick, we can head to the nearest health clinic down the road. These people have no funds or resources to be able to travel and many suffer the pains, which go untreated. The people of Bunabuyoka are so loving and grateful for our willingness to help them and my deepest desire is to give hope to these wonderful individuals. If you know anyone in health care in the states that may be able to provide actual supplies to stock in the clinic itself, those would also be greatly beneficial!
If you feel that you are able to donate to this cause, we are willing to provide incentives:
$10.00- A personal thank you with your name on our Website and Facebook Page.
$25.00- A personal village boy or girl thank you picture ecard.
$50.00- A personal video clip emailed or linked to you of the villagers saying ‘Thank You.’
$100.00+ – Your name goes on the wall of the clinic or school (your choice),
Our group will be accepting donations through our private accounts via HELP International. You may mail in donations to:HELP International for Ashley Alexander455 N. University Ave.Suite #212Provo, UT 84601or online at online donations can be made at:
I will be visiting the village tomorrow and will be staying there for the next few days while I teach health classes. I’ll keep you updated on our progress towards building this health clinic. Thank you so much for your wonderful support!
Speaking with Sarah, the midwife and Tesila translating for us. This is the small room where they currently deliver babies and treat all villagers. It’s extremely small and dirty.
The view from the village
The half-completed school house that we will also be roofing before we start building the clinic
Surveying the progress made on the school and what still needs to be done.
The villagers describing to us what we’ll need to complete and how we will all do it.
Some adorable children that were following us around during our visit. They also performed for us when we first arrived!
We as a team are receiving so much support from all of you at home and so many questions about how you can help and be involved in the projects we are doing. We are so humbled by this outpouring of love and support and are greatly appreciative of your desire to help these wonderful people in Uganda that we have already come to love so much. We’ve had several discussions about it as a team, and I am happy to now present to you how you can help!We are VERY excited about a lot of work that we are doing here. For the most part, we have the funds to help people–because a lot of the things we want to do don’t cost a lot of money. There are two projects, however, that we feel are very compelling, can help a lot of people, but are going to cost a little more than we may have resources for. I have talked about both of these projects previously. Here is what the projects are, and then I’ll tell you how you can help!
Namatala Slum Water Project. I’ve posted a couple of times about Namatala. It is a slum with 20,000 people that are drinking and cleaning with dirty water. The majority of the people are therefore sick very often and have no way of preventing disease that is spread through water–like cholera, for example. It’s a big deal. Last year, the team was able to get 3 water filters donated to two different “neighborhoods” (like a group of 10 huts) to filter their water. These groups have not been sick, they’re using the water filter, they’re cleaning it properly, they have someone in charge of it to make sure it gets cleaned, they completely avoided the cholera outbreak. So…it’s working! The problem is, these water filters are helping 200 out of 20,000 people. We really want to get more water filters to these people. They are some of the most lovely people that I’ve met–who coincidentally have the very least I’ve seen, and close to the least you can humanly live off of. They teamed up with Rain Catcher last year. The water filters cost 55 dollars. We flat out cannot afford to buy all of the water filters necessary. HOWEVER, we have set up an Indiegogo fundraising website, and if you are interested in contributing to this project, you can go on this site and donate as much or as little as you’d like. Write a note that it’s for the water filter project in Namatala. We, as a group of 15 people here in Mbale, will get the money directly, as well as your notes. It’s really important to us that your money goes where you want it spent. We would love to get 36 water filters for the slum. That’s our practical goal. You can see, however, that they could use more–so earning more than 36 water filters would be amazing. They’re incredible people and there’s no reason they should have to be sick because of water–such a basic necessity. So that is the option for the water project. Here are some of my pics from my time in Namatala:
This is one of the water filters donated last summer. Up and running!
Bunabuyoka School and Health Clinic: The other huge project that is greater than our funds allow is in a village called Bunabuyoka. It’s a village that you have to take a boda to and then hike straight up for two miles. Last year the team built a school for the children there–because they obviously didn’t have one. Because of the location of the village, people aren’t able to come down very often–nor do people frequently go up. So having a school there was greatly appreciated. In fact, not only have they been using the school that was built, but they ADDED on to it! They ran out of funding so they just need a roof to complete the addition to the school. So we really want to help finish the roof to this school that they’re using and have put great effort into finishing.
This is the school that was built last year plus the new addition. The
orange roof is a tarp, which we will be replacing with a tin roof.
In addition to that, when touring the village, their “medical center” was heart-breaking. They have a dark room, about four feet by four feet, one cupboard, and like seven bottles of medicine–like aspirin, etc. That is the room where the 2,000 members of this village go seeking medical attention. It’s also the place where all of the women give birth…if not outside. There is ONE midwife who administers health needs but has very little training. Our team would love to build a health clinic for these people. We’ve researched costs, supplies, and even have a doctor, nurse, and a community health worker committed to go up during the week to provide for the villagers health needs. The cost of the school roof and medical center is $3,000. If this is something you feel interested in, this will be the other project that you’ll be able to contribute to on this Indiegogo site. Once again, please specify what you’d like your donation to go to. We’re very passionate about these projects and are so grateful for your willingness to help. Any donation will be used on exactly what you’re most passionate about.This is the ONLY fundraising that we’re going to be doing this summer. We talked about these projects, how important we feel they are, and decided that we will fundraise for them, but these are the big bangs. I’m not going to be asking you for money or having continuous fundraisers throughout the summer. This is it. We feel they’re both very compelling and have the possibility to influence so many loving and wonderful people. Thank you so much for your interest and outreaches to contribute. It fills my heart with gratitude that I have such loving, sweet, generous friends and family that care about what’s going on over here. It means the world to me!Our Indiegogo fundraising website has been launched, and we are now officially accepting donations! You can follow the link below to go to the site, and be sure to share it with friends, family, co-workers, and anyone who might be interested! Please comment in the comment box which project you want your donation going to. It’s very important to me and the other volunteers that if you have a preference, your contribution goes to the project that you’re most passionate about.
I love you so much! Please only contribute what you can and know that anything you do contribute is so greatly appreciated by us volunteers and the people here in Uganda. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Welcome to the first edition of HELP International Mbale’s bi-weekly newsletter! Thank you for your interest and support! First, I must apologize for my tardiness in sending this first update – we have been hard at work trying to get our initial projects up and running, settling into our new routines and and exploring the culture and surroundings we find ourselves in. This would not be possible without the support of family, donors, friends and altruistic strangers. We therefore have made it our priority to show you what your support has enabled us to accomplish for the less fortunate. Beginning this Thursday, June 7th you can expect one newsletter in your inbox on (or as close to it as electricity allows) every other Thursday. Please use the anchors below to jump to the sections that intrigue you the most or scroll through and read them all. This newsletter contains photos of projects and scenery so please enable your images or follow the link at the top. If you have received this as a forward from a friend and would like to receive updates, please subscribe to the newsletter and our media outlets using the links on the header of this email.
Finally – we would love to hear from you! Please visit our Facebook page and leave your comments and tell us what you would like to hear more about – we are happy to oblige!
Thank you again,
Holly, Rebecca and the HELP International Team!
Last year, HELP International partnered with the village of Bunabuyoka and Christian Faith in Action to build a primary school in the remote village in neighboring Manafwa District. The team raised funds to build a modest, one room primary school and held teacher training workshops to formalize and improve the intermittent education that students were receiving in the nearby church. The school was wildly popular and the students in attendance quickly outgrew the small classroom. Since the completion of the school last year, the village has used scarce resources to add two more rooms to the school but have not been able to build a roof.
This year we returned to evaluate the school and were greeted by the whole village with song and traditional drums (click here to watch the video). After the evaluation, interns Josh Nelson and Ashley Alexander also toured the village, which includes the one room that currently serves as the medical center and maternity center for the hundreds of villagers (picture at right). The supply cabinet remains mostly empty and the village nurse has no formal medical training. Her brief employment in a hospital maternity ward several years ago has made her the most qualified person in the village to serve in this capacity. The nearest hospital is a days walk down a steep mountainside and several kilometers to the village of Baduda. It is therefore common to wait until it is often too late to make the journey and fatalities from treatable illnesses are common and just accepted as a part of life.
Inspired, Ashley and Josh developed a project proposal to build a small mobile medical clinic for the school, train the nurse in first aid, reproductive and women’s health and common illness while searching for qualified medical staff to come to the village weekly to assist the nurse. HELP International requires that the need for projects be defined by the community as well as a small financial or resource investment from beneficiaries to ensure project success and sustainability. In Bunabuyoka, the village elders held a town meeting with HELP International and negotiations began to determine each party’s contributions. It has been decided that community members will be contributing the land, labor and walls for the medical clinic and upon successful raising of funds, HELP International will be providing much of the materials to build the clinic, assist in the building process, provide basic training to the resident nurse and facilitate government health workers to visit the village once per week once the facilities are built. To assist in cutting the costs of transportation for volunteers to and from the village, the village has also provided room and board for three nights each week.
This project has brought together everyone in the village to assist in the hauling of materials up the steep mountainside to begin the building process. (Click here for photos). We are hoping to raise $3,000 to roof and floor the school expansion, build the medical clinic and provide some basic medical supplies.
Once construction is complete we are planning to partner with local NGOs to host a number of health camps in the clinic. The camps will involve a large education campaign and providing health services around various health issues that are pertinent to village life. These will likely include HIV/AIDS awareness and testing, vision testing, malaria testing, neo-natal classes, child nutrition and more. Look for updates later on this summer to how these plans are progressing.
This year, in addition to the micro-enterprise, capacity building, and education projects we are developing, we have two large scale projects we are hoping to accomplish in the community: the Mobile Medical Clinic in Bunabuyoka village (described above) and water and sanitation services for Namatala Slum.
Namatala slum is home to over 20,000 people who live on under US $2 per day, many on less than $1. The people in the village are here through no fault of their own yet are forced to eek out a living with little to no clean water, no money to educate their children or seek medical care. An estimated 20% of the slum is HIV positive or has contracted AIDS, 7,000 children are of school age and are forced to work or beg rather than attend school, and almost none of the residents has access to improved drinking water.
Last year HELP installed three water filters in the slum that were donated by the NGORainCatcher, trained a local elected manager in proper maintenance of the filter, and provided health and sanitation trainings to the beneficiaries. This past February Namatala endured a severe cholera outbreak due to lack of clean water and no system to manage waste. On our evaluation of the filters with partner organization Child of Hope, we were thrilled to learn that no one using either of these filters, over 250 people, contracted cholera as a result of using the filters daily to drink, bathe, and cook in the case of not being able to afford the coal to boil water. We are hoping to install at least thirty more of these filters this year. In doing so we are researching other water filter systems and will be combining some with a waste management system so that human waste does not contaminate the local water sources.
To build the medical clinic and install these water filters we are hoping to raise $3,000 dollars. 100% of all donations received will go to building the clinic and providing clean water solutions to these two communities. To aid in our fundraising progress we have launched a campaign on IndieGoGo. We hope to have these funds quickly as we begin work in Bunabuyoka and are beginning the assessment process for water and sanitation services in Namatala.