By Chelsea Ducharme, Rotaract Club of Kasese, Uganda
On 22 February, we packed up our trucks with supplies and traveled 45 minutes to Kyempara, a parish in Kasese District, southwestern Uganda, near the Congolese border.
Kyempara has only one government health center, with one head nurse serving a population of more than 6,000 people. With limited resources, the center is unable to keep up with all the community’s health needs. Our small but mighty Rotaract Club heard their call for help and took action to support our neighbors.
During the course of a month, we raised the equivalent of $640 and in-kind donations valued at more than $1,450 from our members, networks, and local government. Through these generous donations and the commitment of our members, we partnered with the health center for a two-day community health outreach program.
From the moment we arrived at the health center early Saturday to when we left Sunday afternoon, crowds of community members gathered to get their health services. It was a beautiful sight to see: babies sleeping on their mother’s’ backs, friends smiling together, fathers holding their children’s hands.
Our team, including qualified nurses and lab technicians, worked hard to organize, teach, test, counsel, distribute, and ultimately serve more than 800 community members.
This included testing 300 people for Hepatitis B; testing and counseling 200 people for HIV; giving de-worming pills and vitamin A supplements to 300 children; vaccinating 50 children against polio; vaccinating 120 people for pneumonia; collecting 28 units of blood; making 20 health education home visits, and distributing 3,000 condoms.
I was tasked with working the station for children. As I handed each child their de-worming pill and dropped Vitamin A on their tongue, I knew it would help them to live a healthier, stronger life. And even if those two days were all we could offer at the moment, the small impact on each person’s life was worth it. As an American living in Kasese for a year, it was such a gift to participate in local, community-led mobilization efforts and to witness sustainable, grassroots development first-hand. I left the weekend feeling deeply inspired and overwhelmingly grateful to be part of such a committed, service-driven community.