A Week in Uganda

Northwestern Medicine
News November 26, 2018
In May, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital Nurse Clinician Jennie Bagaconza, RN, traveled to Uganda with the Fountain of Life Foundation* to care for patients in a clinic held at Canaan School in the village of Ndagga, which is about two hours from Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. 

The mission team, which included dentists, nurses and obstetricians/gynecologists, saw more than 1,000 patients. The patients had various ailments, including fever, cough, fungal infection, syphilis and malaria. Many of the patients were treated and given medications provided by Fountain of Life. High school students who are interested in the medical field served as interpreters.

The children that Bagaconza saw were shaved to prevent fungal infection that arises from not having access to water for a bath or shower. One child told her he had to walk 40 minutes to get water. It turns out, these students spend much of their days walking. Many children who attend the school travel far, so they eat two meals at school — one in the morning and one in the afternoon — before they go home.

“It is heartbreaking to hear that kids walk two hours to school and two hours from school,” says Bagaconza. “They start walking with their little feet at 5 am when it's still dark, and again at 4:30 pm to go home.” The mission group also visited three students’ homes and brought groceries to their families.

The school, which was built in a forest, opened its doors in 2014 to children in grades 1 through 6. Next year, the school will add a 7th grade, and will celebrate its first graduating class. Across the street, a high school and a village chapel are being built.

Bagaconza, who has completed nine mission trips, was profoundly impacted by her journey to Uganda.

“We all hear stories of poverty, need and injustice about Africa and other parts of the world,” she says. “To hear about it is one thing; to actually witness it brought my compassion and giving heart to a different level.”
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