Uganda 2015 – The Pearl of Africa
On September 25th, we began a journey that would change our lives forever. For some, it was a return trip to Uganda. Uganda is known as “The Pearl of Africa” and with good reason. My expectation was lots of dirt and desert and poverty. I got 2 of the 3 (no desert!). Uganda is a beautiful land of green jungles with lakes and rivers and wildlife. The poverty surrounds you, but the people are some of the most resilient I have ever encountered. They care for their families and loved ones. Family is everything to them! When a member of the family is hospitalized, the entire family moves the household to the hospital and the care surrounds the injured or ill person.
A medical mission happens in much the same way. We become a family during our time together. We become brothers and sisters striving to achieve a common goal. Our skills are diverse, but the titles we hold go away when you are on mission. We are equals. Some have the gift of healing, while others give comfort in other ways. We are all organizers, leaders, followers and helpers. Everyone jumps in and does whatever needs to be done. I have been on many missions and “coming together for a common goal” is the reason why I come back. One of our participants said “A medical mission feeds my soul!” I think all of us would agree with that statement!
Approximately 2 weeks ago, we boarded our final flight from Uganda back to our homes in the United States. It is time for “re-entry”. Some of the things that were important to us before we left fail to impact us in the same way now that we are back. Getting a promotion, watching the Royals, purchasing a new car—all these may seem less attractive or fulfilling. After working with people in dire need of medical care, some of our previously important activities may now seem trivial. Some of the things that supported our sense of well-being before we left now seem tasteless, dull, less desirable, and perhaps a waste of time, money, and effort.
The stress of “re-entry” is a very real thing. Someone once said, “When you travel to another culture and people, your heart becomes enlarged in such a way that it will never be as small as it was before you left.” The faces of the people we serve will stay with us forever. We make friends who will be with us for a lifetime. A medical mission changes your perspective and it changes you. After you experience a medical mission, you begin to realize that you are a different person from the one who left just a couple of weeks ago. It can take a while to readjust and begin to feel normal again.
If you are interested in joining us for a mission, please visit our website to learn about how to volunteer! After you come back from a medical mission, you will never be the same again!