In the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I traveled to Uganda for a six-week class about sustainable development. The country and its people left a deep impression in my heart; I strongly desired to keep working with Ugandans.
The Slay Fund for Social Justice gave me the opportunity to travel back to Uganda over the J-term of my senior year. Thanks to the Slay’s generosity, I was able to re-engage and continue to work with our Ugandan friends and colleagues. While in country, I helped set the groundwork for a student healthcare shadowing program at local clinics and NGOs. In the summer of 2015, two Drake students were able to participate in this program.
In addition, I was able to contribute to the lengthy project of establishing a health clinic in the rural village of Kikandwa, Uganda. International development and health care are extremely complicated fields; I am no expert. However, thanks to the generosity of the Slays, I was able to learn in-country from Ugandan doctors, architects, and entrepreneurs, as well as contribute in small ways to the health clinic.
I strongly believe that health is a human right. Many of the people of Kikandwa, as well as many other Ugandans, are unable to access quality, life-saving health care. I hope that these projects will make a small contribution towards health equity in Uganda.
For more information about the work that Drake students, professors, and Ugandans continue to undertake, check out http://connectuganda.weebly.com/.
The Slay Fund allowed me to develop amazing relationships within a rural community half way around the world in Uganda. During the summer after my sophomore year at Drake, I received full funding to live in the village of Kikandwa for a month to conduct a basic health care needs assessment within the community. While my experience were structured around the goals outlined in my proposal, many of my unforgettable experiences fell outside of these preconceived bullet points. During my last night in the village, I ended my final blog post saying, "For now, I must get back to my last matooke-filled meal, my last cutthroat game of Ludo, my last laughter-filled conversation with the Galabuzi family, and my last few moments in Kikandwa…at least until next time." It was that night I realized just how fortunate I was to have been able to experience an incredible culture, gain an amazing second family, and do all this while partnering with the community to work towards the expansion of health care in the area. Moreover, "...until next time" correctly foreshadowed my return to Uganda a year and a half later, again made possible by the Slay Fund's support. As a current first year medical student in Chicago, I look back on my undergraduate career and know that I would not be in the position I am today without the Slay Fund.
P.S. I will likely return to Uganda this summer for clinical research with a UIC physician. Jangu tugende!