• info@MedicalMissionsFoundation.org
  • 913 338 0343

Uganda 2016 – Together, we are Team Uganda!!

Our days begin early. Breakfast at 6:00 and the buses leave to our 3 locations at 6:45. Each bus is packed with staff and equipment. The pharmacy team heads to the clinic where they will spend the day in a room about the size of a closet. Rebecca Roush and Lisa Buchholz are our “dueling pharmacists”. They stand shoulder to shoulder and dispense the necessary medications to our clinic patients. Lots of antibiotics, tylenol, and anti-malaria meds are passed out.


Rachel Noble

Rachel Noble

Jason Jonas and Lyn Shaw are running our clinic this year. Lyn is a mission veteran and has run clinics in locations around the world for Medical Missions Foundation. Jason has done work in Haiti and Uganda and is a mission veteran himself. After initial triage, the patients are segregated into 3 tents. The well tent, the sick tent and the Malaria tent.



The Malaria tent is full all day. Malaria is epidemic in Africa and we have tested and treated around 500 patients for Malaria this week. Bobbi Zink, a mission veteran and medical technologist who caught the mission bug in Romania 10+ years ago and has been to many locations served by Medical Missions Foundation leads this important aspect of our mission. She works with Jamie Grenier, a Cerner associate test for Malaria in their “lab” which consists of a desk and 3 chairs. They make their own test tubes from the empty testing packets and get results in about 20 minutes. Our team has treated patients fevers as high as 107 this week. Powerful medicine is given and recovery can be swift. One little boy came in with a high fever and within an hour, he was strong enough to join the rest of the kids playing soccer in the grass outside the clinic.


The sick and well tents are nearly as busy as the Malaria tent. Kristin Bazell, Lana Davis, Jody Gould, Lori Stromness, Cassie Yano, and Nancy DeBasio triage and assess patients and pass them to our clinicians who diagnose and treat ailments ranging from acid reflux to dehydration and every other condition that you can imagine.


Dr. Larry Carlson, Dr. Jane Jenab and Dr. Don Hodson are all veterans and have worked with Medical Missions on previous missions. They listen attentively and treat everyone with dignity and respect, no matter their age or condition. They see people of all ages during their long days in the clinic and do their best to offer care and comfort.


Medical Missions is pleased to have Rachel Noble, a therapist and mental health counselor from Washington, DC join us in Gulu this year. Rachel is providing counseling and therapy to many people this week. Some have already made great strides thanks to her advice. Rachel has spent much of her time counseling young victims of trauma and helping them through their difficulties.


Most of the surgeries have taken place at St. Mary’s, Lacor this week. We also staff an OR at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital. This location is about 20 minutes from our main location. Dr. Mark Hechler, a plastic surgeon, has had a very full week himself. He has treated many burn patients and repaired cleft lips and palates. Mark is a mission veteran and just returned from a mission to Romania 2 weeks ago. Lisa Heath, an anesthesiologist, and mission veteran herself provides sedation for Dr. Hechler’s patients. Aria Witherall works as surgical technologist and Tandi Toone, a nurse, assists in the OR. Mandy Sims takes care of Dr. Hechler’s patients before and after their surgery. It is a very different at atmosphere at Gulu Regional. The noise of the roosters, the regular power failures and the presence of a lizard in the OR all contribute to this colorful location. It is my favorite place to hang out!


Medical professionals make up most of the volunteers on these missions, but medicine is not the only aspect of our missions.


The art team is always an integral part of every medical mission. Medical Missions Foundation provides healing to underserved communities throughout the world through medicine and art. This year, the team is led by Beth Dillow, her daughter, Louisa and Erin Langley. They are the creative portion of this mission and take their responsibilities very seriously. They plan games and activities, participate in baseball games and sack races with the kids and keep them occupied. This is not an easy task. They deal with language difference, but they can still smile in Acholi, the native language of many in the Gulu region of northern Uganda.


In most of the locations served by Medical Missions, cooking is done over open fires and charcoal stoves. Burns are a part of everyday life for many and some can be life-threatening. Our surgeons can treat, but the best method of treatment is prevention. Since 2001, we have included a fire fighter among our team. Ryan Beasley of the Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department has been on many missions. He teaches fire safety, fire prevention and has been instrumental in getting much needed equipment for the firefighters here at the hospital. He does community relations work and education at local schools and NGOs as well. Ryan has brought “Stop, Drop and Roll” to Gulu and will demonstrate on demand.


Finally, I need to introduce you to Bekah Toone, one of the youngest members of our team. Bekah is Tandi Toone’s daughter and she has a very important role on this trip. Bekah is teaching the women of northern Uganda how to use and care for their AfriPads. The Medical Missions Foundation “Rounding Up Undies” program provided AfriPads and a hygiene kit to more than 500 young women. Please visit https://www.medicalmissionsfoundation.org/what-we-do/rounding-up-undies/ for details on this critical component of our mission.


Our mission team is led by Abigail Hayo, our mission coordinator. She has led missions throughout the world. She works tirelessly throughout the year to make mission happen. Abby is a leader, a travel agent, the banker, a logistical coordinator, a referee and our chief go-to person. Abby is a great leader because she empowers her team to make decisions and do what is right for all concerned. We are blessed to have someone like her on Team Uganda.


Dr. Tammy Neblock-Beirne is our medical director. This is her 7th mission to Uganda and she has participated in nearly 30 missions. Tammy helps recruit surgeons and medical providers from her contacts in Kansas City. She works the same 16-18 hour days as her colleagues and also meets with the Ugandan administrators to discuss the progress of our mission.


Lastly, I get to write about our photographer, Brad Miller. Brad shoots 95% of the photos you are seeing on the blog. The rest of the pictures come from mission participants who capture life from their perspective. Brad has a great eye and can tell a story in a single image. Brad and I have traveled to Uganda and spend many of our waking hours visiting our many locations here in Gulu.


This year, we are happy to have Rynn Day, the marketing and special events director for Medical Missions Foundation on Team Uganda. Rynn has worked in the clinic, the OR, the burn unit and at Gulu Regional. As a new staff member, it is important it understand what really happens on a mission. Rynn also acts as mom to her 2 children, Brad and I. We are a handful and one of us is always wandering off. She has risen to the challenge and is a great addition to the Medical Missions Foundation staff.

Rynn and Mark

Rynn and Mark


And finally, me…. I get to see it all and write about what I see. I spend lots of time crouched over my iPad. I try to meet and talk with everyone on these trips, because we all have a story. I am in every location every day. Besides blogging, I take some photos, package medicine in the pharmacy, carry bags, and am the official delivery service for Coke products. Those of you that know me know I don’t like to talk about myself. Here is a little insight into how I really feel about Medical Missions and these people who volunteer, pay money to be a part of this team and spend 10 days away from their families to provide care to underserved people.


I am awestruck!


There is no complaining about anything. The hours are long, the accommodations are not luxurious, the food is not what we are accustomed to eating and the environment can be unpleasant, both physically and mentally.


A mission is an emotional experience. We laugh a lot, but everyday, joyful tears are shed.


Together, we are Team Uganda!