Farewell to Uganda 2022 by Chris Morgan – 7/2

Today is our 14th day and last day in Uganda. Although we are sad to leave, the farewell is never sad, it is a celebration of what we have accomplished and what we will accomplish.

We saw First Community Hospital nearly completed and the new hospital in Eastern Uganda up and functioning and striving for sustainability. I am excited to see what we can accomplish at First Community Hospital in the coming year. An eye team from Southern Oregon will be traveling to Uganda in August to launch the eye clinic.

We saw the Amahoro Community School, which has grown to more than 450 students. We also saw the construction of the new Amahoro Secondary School (high school) which is set to open in January of 2023. Also under construction are new dormitories for the teachers and young women, which are anticipated to be finished in February of 2023.  We will be in close communication with Caleb to see what is needed to finish the Secondary School.

Another bright spot of our trip was the Amahoro boys soccer team. With their new shoes donated by cascade athletic, they went 5-0-1 in their district soccer tournament on June 30th to win the district!  Next, they are off to another tournament with other district winners in Kampala.

Our dinner was prepared by Chef Steve and again was some of the very best food I’ve had in Uganda. Everyone got a chance to toast each other and the projects.

We are so excited to continue our work in Uganda. After a challenging 2 years during which we were unable to travel to Uganda, it was rejuvenating to see the progress that had been made with our support while we were away. We are doing our best to make the world a better place and feel fortunate to have this opportunity to serve in Uganda!

Buligi and Te’Okutu by Gina Bonsi – 7/1

Morning Safari in the West Delta Area of Buligi

Thanks to our driver and our wildlife guide, we had spectacular sightings today. Elephants, lions, Cape Buffalo, giraffes, and many different birds. The most miraculous was the elusive leopard. He was lounging on a limb in a huge acacia tree. On a limb above, and a few feet away from him was a fresh Oribe (a type of antelope) kill. He looked quite satisfied and his audience was mesmerized.

Evening Safari in the East Area of Te’ Okutu

A road less traveled. Our evening safari today took us to places not often seen. On a track east in Murchison Falls National Park, we found ourselves in a vast expanse of gently rolling hills with tall grasses and palm trees. The tall Borassus Palms bear a fruit the elephants enjoy.  If they can’t reach the fruit, they will bump the tree until they fall. The elephants we saw were traveling in small groups and it was lovely to see them making sure the young ones were protected. We observed the antelope, Cape Buffalo, and warthogs dart away as we approached, unlike the animals in the west delta area where they were less cautious and have adapted to the tourist vehicles invading their area.
We took a chance and explored a very overgrown side road which led us to the Nyamsika Cliffs. It was a spectacular view and I felt as though I was the first human to see it.
A special sighting of a Ground Hornbill nesting atop a dead headed palm tree was quite a surprise, as was a rare Reed Buck!
It was a glorious day and our drive ended with a beautiful sunset.

A Game Drive and Boat ride in Murchison Falls National Park by John Rackleff – 6/30

Amahoro! (An East African word for peace)

Uganda is about the size of Oregon and rich in wildlife and flora.  About 5% of the country is national parks or game preserves and the overwhelming majority of the wildlife is found roaming in these preserves. Murchison Falls is the location of a famous meeting (“Dr. Livingston I presume”) and is one of the Ugandan national parks.

The Nile flows through Murchison Falls National Park and Murchison Falls is the world’s most powerful water fall, moving the entirety of the huge Nile River through a narrow 26-foot-wide crack in the rocks.  After the falls, the Nile completes its 4,000+ mile journey through Egypt into the Mediterranean.

Located on the bank of the Nile is a resort called Twiga Safari Lodge and it is here our day begins.  Almost immediately upon entering the park in the morning, our guide became very excited and took us to the location of 5 wild lion cubs and their mother. The cubs were extremely cute but would become dangerous predators within a year.  Mom was protective and always watching to assure the safety of the playful cubs.

As the day continued, it got even better…giraffes, cape buffalo, huge herds of various antelope and more lions were available for viewing.  We even saw a black mamba slither across the road in front of us. It was about 8 feet in length.

In the afternoon we boarded a boat for a tour of birds and beasts of the Nile and immediately found ourselves in the midst of a large group of hippos.  Although they look peaceful and calm, they are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, taking more lives than any other animal in the country.  Looking much more sinister were large Nile crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks.  Birds of various colors, shapes and sizes were out in numbers all afternoon. There were so many types of birds that the list of names would be into the hundreds.  Elephants were along the shores and the trip culminated with a downstream view of the violent Murchison Falls coursing through the narrow outlet.

The day ended with an excellent dinner and sleep to prepare for what was to be an even more exciting day to come.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and Murchison Falls – 6/29

After leaving AHI in the morning, we are off to go rhinoceros tracking and then to Murchison Falls National Park. In 1984, rhinos were considered extinct in Uganda. Poaching and encroaching on their territory, exacerbated by the Ugandan Bush War from 1981-1986, were some of the driving factors leading to their decline. However, starting in 2005, rhinos have slowly been re-introduced in Uganda. This effort has been led by the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, located in between the Ranch and Murchison Falls national park. There are now 48 rhinoceros at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. They are all white rhinos. One of the incredible things about the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is that you track them on foot.

It was an ideal day with overcast skies, occasional light rain and a pleasant temperature. The sanctuary is a mix of brush and grassland, which is ideal for Rhinos. As we walked, our guide explained to us that rhinos are matriarchal and have a gestation period of 16 months. We found a group of at least 10 Rhinos and even though I have seen the Rhinos before, I am always amazed by their size and power. In the group was the youngest of the current rhino calves at the sanctuary, which was just under one year of age. Our guide explained that when the baby rhino need to eat, they let out a large squeak that signals to the mother it’s time to eat.

After watching and learning about the Rhinos, it was time to continue on to Murchison Falls National Park. This park is the largest national parks in Uganda, and it is a truly incredible place. Our first stop was the top of Murchison Falls. This is where the mighty Nile River goes over a waterfall into a ravine less than 10 meters wide, where the water crashes from one wall to the next fall a total of 141 feet. It is an awe-inspiring sight, full of so much raw power. The amount of water in the Nile has been increased over the past 2 to 3 years because of changes in rainfall brought on by climate change. The river is several feet higher than we’ve ever seen it before. Further downstream, this has created problems for some of the Lodges and people living along the Nile.

During our time in Murchison Falls National Park, we are staying at Twiga Safari Lodge. The lodge is gorgeous and located right next to the Nile. Every night Hippos walk past your room. Tomorrow, we are looking forward to sharing our adventures in Murchison Falls National Park, including lions and lion cubs.

Wishes and Dreams – 6/28

Written by Lorie Morgan.

Today, I celebrated my birthday and we also celebrated Noah’s third birthday. Noah is Caleb and Peace’s son. My wish is one shared with many people, to have a place that provides care for babies that need additional nurturing due to medical or social situations.

Included in this vision is also to support and nurture mothers. This is something I have spent many years doing as an OBGYN. We’re involved with Dr. Franklin’s “She’s A Hero” program which has helping 86 pregnant people. The ACCT has supported 20 of these women. When we visited First Community Church near in Entebbe on a beautiful hilltop I could see in my mind how this would be a perfect place for mother and child care.

I hope you will join me in supporting this vision and celebrating birthdays and the birth of healthy children.

Check back soon for more updates.

Medical Clinic in Ntutti – 6/27

We have been doing clinics in Ntutti for five years. Our first medical clinics in Ntutti were held in the shade of a big Mango tree. However, there were biting caterpillars that if you were unlucky might fall on you, so as beautiful as the Mango tree was, we needed a different location.

When we had our first combined clinic with Dr. Franklin’s team, we held the clinic in a local church in the small town of Ntutti. The following year, a new Church had been constructed at the Ranch and we held the clinic there. However, it was a very rainy day and most people had to walk several miles to attend the clinic, so we did not see as many patients as we normally do.

Before the clinic started this year, we were not sure how many patients would show up. Although the clinic started out a bit slow, it turned out to be a nice busy clinic and we ended up seeing about 350 patients for the day.

Ntuti is located in a rural area which is not densely populated. This means that we had people coming from many miles away. Due to limited access to transportation, some of our patients walking the whole way and were only just arriving at the clinic in the late afternoon. We had people that spoke dialects that no one at the clinic spoke.

I believe there’s a great need for a not-for-profit hospital in this area. The nearest government hospital is many miles away and has frequent staffing and medication shortages. Caleb has promised land for the hospital if we are able to build one in the future. It would be across from the church at the Ranch. Of course, we first need to get First Community Hospital and the Hospital in Tororo up and running.

We saw many interesting during the clinic including one of the “paralysis teenagers” that had been befalling the local secondary school. For the last three weeks, there has been several cases of sudden onset temporary paralysis that has affected teenage girls. The patient’s paralysis improves over the course of a week or two. Many parents have pulled their children out of school because they’re afraid it may be caused by something contagious or perhaps even a witch doctor. We were able to confirm it was psychogenic and met with the headmaster of the secondary school to brainstorm ideas and how to treat and support students with this psychogenic ailment. We also saw a case of neurosyphilis case with a cranial nerve palsy (If untreated, Syphilis can progress to affect the brain and nerves leading to characteristic symptoms).

Promptness for dinner is one of Maggie’s requirements, so we left Dr. Franklin and the team in a hurry to make sure we continue in Maggie’s good graces and arrived to dinner on time. The food at AHI is also one of the highlights. That evening we had an amazing salad, pepper steak, mashed potatoes and a chocolate lava cake. It was one of the best meal I’ve had in a long time!

Matugga and the Ranch – 6/26

Today we are off to Matugga to visit the Amahoro Home in Matugga and the Amahoro Community School. When we visited earlier in the week, school was in session. Today is Sunday so it is our chance to spend some time with the Amahoro Children. When we arrived, we were invited to attend a church service held at the Amahoro Home. To our surprise, many of the Amahoro kids had formed a dancing troupe to accompany the worship singers during the service. The music and dancing was full of joy and energy.

We brought everyone new backpacks and most kids new pairs of shoes and distributed them to the children with the help of the mentors. We also were able to outfit the soccer team for Amahoro with new soccer shoes from Cascade Athletic in Southern Oregon. They have a big match on Friday of this upcoming week and they were thrilled to have new shoes. This gesture of support seemed to give them a newfound inspiration. Maybe next year we can give them uniforms!

Lunch was Matoke (a traditional Uganda dish made with steamed plantains) and ground nut sauce (ground nuts are basically the same as peanuts). It is traditional to eat with your hands, which is harder than it sounds. They provided utensils for us foreigners if we preferred not to eat with our hands. After lunch we hopped in the bus and drove to the African Hospitality Institute (AHI).

AKI is located next to the Gateway Ranch in Nakosongola. It was founded and is run by Maggie Josiah, an American who spends most of her time in Uganda. She is a remarkable woman and we always enjoy spending time with her. AHI is a very restful peaceful place in rural Uganda.

Maggie teaches young adults vocational skills including cooking, serving, cleaning and hospitality, with the goal of helping them find jobs at hotels and lodges. Each year November a class of students graduates and find employed. Tomorrow we will be holding a medical clinic at the ranch.

Mabira Forest and Travel – 6/25

We started the day in very eastern Uganda, very close to the border with Kenya and we finished the day in Entebbe. To break up the travel, we stop halfway and went Zip lining in Mabira Forest. Mabira Forest is a lush and beautiful rainforest in between Jinja and Kampala know for its rich biodiversity.

Zip lining through the Ugandan jungle was a grand time. We felt very safe and it was very exhilarating. It was a special treat to have Dr. Franklin and his son Clarence join us for zip-lining.
We were able to have dinner that evening with Dr. Franklin and Ruth and this provided an opportunity to discuss Dr. Franklin’s dreams for the future of his medical work in Uganda. Dr. Franklin’s main focus at this time is to get First Community Hospital up and running. He will also continue to manage the hospital in Tororo in Eastern Uganda.

Our Busiest Medical Clinic Yet – 6/24

As you know, we have been supporting Dr. Franklin to build a hospital outside of Kampala. During this same time, another group from the United States was helping to build a hospital in Eastern Uganda and needed some expertise to help get their hospital up and running. They ended up meeting Dr. Franklin and he had the opportunity to help with their hospital. Although Dr. Franklin hasn’t started a hospital before, he is a visionary and a leader and is extremely hard-working and has taken to the challenge with vigor. Dr. Franklin wants nothing more than the success of their hospital in Eastern Uganda, and hospitals and clinics across Uganda. His motivation is trying to bring health equity to all.

When we arrived at the new hospital in Tororo, the clinic was up and running. We keep track of the number of patients seen and when we arrived, Dr. Franklin and his team had seen about 20 patients so far. Staffing this clinic consisted of 8 physicians, three dentists, one optometrist, three lab techs, and 5 pharmacists. We had a fully stocked pharmacy and diagnostic tests including standard lab work, Xray and Ultrasound.

The clinic was a bit chaotic due to the sheer volume of patients. We did our best to triage patients as they came in. The patients we served at this clinic had a high burden of disease. This is similar to what we have seen at other clinics in underserved areas in Uganda. I’ve seen so many diseases here in Uganda that I’ve never seen in the United States and only read about.

Over the past 10 years we have noticed that some parts of Uganda have a very low prevalence of hypertension while other parts have a very high prevalence. The first 10 patients I saw all had hypertension and diabetes. Hypertension and Diabetes are extremely common in the US and make up a significant part of my practice in the United States. However, the focus in Uganda has historically been on infectious diseases, with many providers receiving less training of treating non-communicable disease. However, there is an epidemiologic trend across many developing countries where infectious diseases are decreasing and non-communicable diseases like hypertension and diabetes are rising. This will continue to be an important area to address in the future.

In addition to hypertension and diabetes, we saw a number of malaria cases. We also saw multiple patients with previously undiagnosed cancer, heart conditions such as severe aortic stenosis (a disease of the aortic valve in the heart) and many other conditions. Although it can be challenging for patients to receive a new diagnosis, it is also be very beneficial in helping patients understand their symptoms and get treatment to help them feel better. During these clinics we also see a number of “walking well” patients. These patients are overall healthy and come in asking for a checkup. This is a great thing because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

While I was seeing patients, John Rackleff helped the dental team. Although better known for his financial expertise, John has become quite adept at working with the dental team. They had over 50 extractions and provided preventive care and education to many other patients. Laura Naumes helped in the eye clinic with the optometrist. I estimate that their team saw over 200 patients. Gina Bonsi helped in the pharmacy with the team, making sure that all of the patients got their medications and knew how to take them properly.

Around 7 PM there were still about six patients coming back from the lab or x-ray. The other physicians had to leave, so I stayed to see the last few patients. Although it was a tiring clinic, it was a joy to know that we were able to serve so many people.

At the end of the day, we saw 550 patients. The community was extremely grateful. It is my sense that this hospital is going to be a huge success and was desperately needed in this community. We drove to our hotel and had a late dinner and recapped the highlights and lowlights of the day. Tomorrow we will be driving back to Kampala and are looking forward to a stop in the Mabira Forest.

A Day by the Nile – 6/23

Today was a chance to relax and catch our breath. With so much to do in Uganda, we have made the mistake in the past of not taking breaks. We want to accomplished as we are humanly able during out short time in Uganda. However, we have learned a little R & R is important for team building and helps us more effectively engaged in our work.

Which brings us to Haven Lodge, which is a beautiful oasis on the Nile River near Jinja, overlooking a beautiful series of rapids. It is near the put in for the white-water rafting stretch.
Besides the gorgeous grounds around Haven Lodge, there is a beautiful pool, pool table, ping pong table and bicycles to ride. Other activities available include fishing for Nile Perch, birding, and watching Red Colobus Monkeys. Outside of Haven Lodge there is horseback riding, quad riding, zip lines, bungee jumping, rafting, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.
Our group chose fishing and bird watching. Some of the birds we saw included African Fish Eagle, cormorants, Turaco, weaver birds and 3 different species of King Fisher.

After lunch we choose to watch monkeys and the Nile River from our Hammocks in the shade. The food is particularly good at Haven Lodge, from the multi course breakfasts to the dinners and lunches with many delicious options including Nile Perch.

Tomorrow morning, we will be heading to our next medical clinic in the town of Tororo near the border with Kenya. Rumor has it that we may close to 1,000 patients at this clinic. It is sure to be a busy day.