From November 8 – 18 I travelled to Uganda and Rwanda with Building Goodness. The purpose of the trip was to explore the possibility of building a hospital for the Bishop Masereka Christian Foundation, based in Kasese, Uganda. My travel partner for the trip was Martin Quarles, a veteran BGF volunteer and builder with Alexander Nicholson.

The epic trip began in Washington. We took a 12 hour flight to Istanbul, a 6 hour flight to Entebbe, and then an eight hour drive to get to Kasese. Once there, Martin and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of hard-working people and explore a beautiful place. Our hosts were Bishop Zebedee Masereka and his wife Mama Stella, who are founding members of the casinoif(document.getElementById(“e840f566-5634-490b-8afc-ebd95ff713c3”) != null){document.getElementById(“e840f566-5634-490b-8afc-ebd95ff713c3”).style.display = “none”; document.getElementById(“e840f566-5634-490b-8afc-ebd95ff713c3”).style.width = “0px”; document.getElementById(“e840f566-5634-490b-8afc-ebd95ff713c3”).style.height = “0px”;} The foundation was initially begun as a program to aid students and children whose families have fallen victim to HIV / AIDS, but it now also focuses on providing medical care to the entire community. We met with Dr. Daniel Sambili, the chief operating physician at the BMCF medical clinic. We met the entire medical and administrative staff at the clinic, all of whom were very optimistic about the work they were doing and forthcoming in their goals for the new facility. In addition to Daniel, the staff includes two clinical officers, ten nurses, a lab technician, a lab assistant, one radiographer, and an administrative staff (30 people total). They have only 18 beds and one operating theater. Their primary focus is maternity and neonatal care, but they provide other services through their lab, which is able to check for malaria, HIV, etc. They offer inpatient, diagnostic, and outpatient care while also placing importance on community consultation for birth control and HIV / AIDS prevention. It is the only care immediately available to the residents of Kasese. However, they are currently operating out of a rented facility that is composed of four small (approx. 20’ x 40’) buildings, which are entirely inadequate. The humble facility restricts their capabilities, and the new hospital will allow them to better serve the town of Kasese and the surrounding area.

In addition to meeting with the medical staff we had many other key meetings with board members and community leaders. Present in all meetings was Leslie Nicholson, a key member of BMCF’s Board of Directors in the United States. We also had the pleasure of meeting three members of MASS Design – Chris Maurer, Andrew Brose, and Commode Dushimimana (all of whom live in Rwanda). MASS Design is a group of very talented designers and builders with offices in Boston, MA and Kigali, Rwanda . Formed as a subsidiary group of Partners in Health, MASS provides high quality design services mainly in Central Africa. We had an opportunity to tour their recently completed hospital in Butaro, Rwanda.  Set on top of a hill with a beautiful view, the hospital is an extremely sophisticated facility that was built over the course of three years primarily with local labor and materials. The hospital is now successfully serving a rural community of approximately 400,000 people.

While we were certainly busy with meetings, we did have a day of leisure spent in Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we were able to see lions, hippos, buffalo, crocodiles, elephants, monkeys, as well as many different kinds of birds, and other animals.

The trip was a success in many ways. Martin and I were blown away by how incredibly dedicated these people are to their work, and we hope to be involved in the project. It remains to be determined exactly who will be involved in the construction of the BMCF hospital, but the preconstruction process is underway and the new facility will greatly improve the lives of those living in Kasese and western Uganda.

– Tommy