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Uganda 2015 – Day 4

In the course of a mission, the stories are many. More often than not, they are told at end of the day over dinner and a beer or two. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you get to witness one right in front of you. I had that privilege yesterday and I am still overwhelmed thinking about it. David Waite, a IMG_0499physical therapist from my hometown of Ellinwood, KS, is a traveling clinician. He and his wife, Nicolette, are traveling from place to place in 3 month assignments. Their travels have taken them to Texas, Kansas, and after this brief stop in Gulu, they are off to fabulous Las Vegas for their next assignment. David is working with Amy Paulson, an occupational therapist who specializes in hands and Carla Northington. Carla came to Uganda as part of a nursing program. She came to Uganda 2 years ago and worked in the burn unit here. She was impacted so much that she now works in the burn unit at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Carla and Amy spends their days in the burn unit at St. Mary’s Lacor Hospital. It is one of the most sad and difficult places to visit here. There are 8 beds and they are always full of children. Children burned at home because they fell into the cooking fire, got too close to the steaming pot of porridge or played too close to the fire used to heat the hut.   Amy has been coming to aid the kids in the burn unit for years and they staff at St. Mary’s know just what to expect. Amy’s bug, bubbly personality and “never quit” attitude are well known. She brought 300 pounds of toys, movies, games and supplies. She even had a friend donate a DVD player to the unit. Today, she hosted her annual dance party. All she left behind were smiles and exhausted children. They will all sleep well tonight. I think Amy will, too.


Check out this great video :  Amy Dance Party


Now, back to my David story. David does physical therapy and yesterday, he found a space outside on the verandah to help a women who was in a wheelchair and needed help to strengthen her muscles so she could walk again. He was able to fit her with a set of braces he brought with him. The women’s problem was she lacked the proper shoes for the bra Vidces. Amy mentioned to me that the woman was wearing David’s tennis shoes. I thought nothing about it at the time. Later that evening, David walked into the hotel wearing the same pair of flip flops he was wearing that afternoon. I asked him where his shoes were and found out they were no longer his shoes. They now belong to a woman whom David may never see again. A woman who was the beneficiary of David’s generous gesture. He taught her exercises to help her transition from a wheelchair to a walker and eventually she will walk unassisted. His efforts will change her life.   Our clinic is organized and ran by Lisa Buchholz, our pharmacist. Lisa orders all the medications and supplies for the mission. Her work starts weeks before the mission begins when she coordinates the needs and wants of the clinicians with what will be available from Ugandan medical and surgical supply companies. Everyone has learned to be flexible.

Lisa Buchholz and Bobbi Zink

Lisa Buchholz and Bobbi Zink

Bobbi Zink got her start in missions doing scheduling in Romania. Today, she is a mission veteran to places all over the world. She works closely with Lisa to ensure the pharmacy orders are filled quickly and accurately. Bobbi helps wherever she is needed in the clinic. “The most interesting man in the world would use his own gut instead of cat gut.” Dr. Lisa Heath