Dear friends and family,
It’s Friday evening for us and we wanted to give you another update from our last couple of days in Uganda. On Tuesday, we were blessed to spend the morning at a Teen Challenge home in Kampala. We made our first connection with them last summer when we were here. For those not familiar with Teen Challenge, it’s an outreach and support program for those struggling with addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and who desire to change their lives through a long term commitment to the program. It actually began many years ago and originally was set up to deal only with teens, thus the name, Teen Challenge. At some point they expanded their outreach to include men and women, other than teens. It’s very active in many areas in the states and obviously we found them here in Uganda.
As you would imagine, addiction problems exist any and everywhere and Uganda is no exception so Teen Challenge is meeting a definite need and helping people find hope and healing and new lives of purpose. Each person who chooses to turn their life around makes a one year commitment to make that change. It’s not an easy journey but it’s made possible by this commitment to the program. The foundation is realizing their only true hope of staying clean and sober is through a faith walk with Jesus Christ and a commitment to accountability and working the program consistently and with diligence so that in the end, they find freedom from their former lifestyle.
We were privileged to hear many of their stories and see changed lives for those who were well into the program. Some, after completing their commitment, actually go on staff at Teen Challenge and are able to mentor and encourage ones just beginning. It was so great to share with these men and women who have or are turning their lives around and are so proud of who they are becoming through a consistent walk of faith. They were very grateful for our visit and we were touched by their sharing and blessed as we worshipped and prayed together.
On Wednesday, we did a medical clinic at a church here in Kampala, Pastor Henry’s church. Though there are certainly similarities as we do clinics, this one is unique because of how the church supports and works with us as we serve the people who come from their surrounding village. Their church members pray with each person seeking medical care which does not happen at any other site. The pastor and his wife, Camilla, have totally invested in their ‘community’ and really train up their church members to do so as well. We are invariably on our own in trying to keep order for the hundreds of men, women and children who come to our clinics, but in this case Pastor Henry and Camilla and their church staff are the ones who make the difference. They serve as translators, prayer partners and they actually follow up with many of those who come to the clinic. In fact, in that day we met two men in particular who are committed to enter Teen Challenge to change their lives of addiction and alcoholism. Pastor Henry will be the one to facilitate that…we KNOW we can trust his follow through which is not the case out in the slums or villages where we serve.
To help you understand, we have three stations at every clinic. There is a deworming station for children to receive their deworming pill then a ‘sweetie’ and ‘biscuits’ and some sort of treat…a couple crayons and coloring pages or some other small ‘gift.‘ We see anywhere from 500-900 or more children at each clinic. We actually put the pill in their mouths and make them chew it before any treat or biscuit. Ring worm is huge a problem for children in Africa and getting pills every six months is necessary. Thus, LOBO has teams come in January and then in summer as we are. Here shows the exact reason to bring teams regularly and to be CONSISTENT.
For those desiring to see a doctor, a short medical form is filled out when each patient describes his/her ailment to a Ugandan helper. From there, they have their vitals, temperature and blood pressure, taken by one of us on the team. Yes, we do become ‘medical personnel’ here in Uganda. But the unique and special opportunity at this point is the chance we have to speak with them and often pray for them. Just a moment or two and there is a connection which blesses them and us.
We always have four or five Ugandan doctors who join us on our clinic days and they are the ones who do the diagnosis and write prescriptions. And our team runs a full pharmacy with a local doctor actually dispensing and explaining to each person about the medications to be taken. Yesterday alone we filled over 900 prescriptions!
In the end, these medical clinics often are the ONLY medical care these dear people are able to access. And it’s very often the case that needed surgeries, serious illness and desperate wound care is provided and/or arrangements are made. Lives can actually be saved but certainly quality of life is improved. Life is so hard here….there is no assumption of adequate food much less good health. We are here to make a difference, obviously not for everyone but for many.
Sorry for an abrupt ending but must go. It’s now Saturday morning and we are off to another clinic.
Love and blessings,
Jan and Stephanie