Giving Uganda supplies, hope

Rotaries receive $18K grant to help Ugandan village

The Rotary Clubs of Wheaton and Carol Stream Illinois were recently awarded a $18,000 matching grant from Rotary International for the benefit of an estimated 78,500 rural population within the Kabale District, located in Southwestern Uganda. A delegation of Rotarians from the Chicago western suburbs recently visited a number of Ugandan rural schools and medical facilities, conducted a needs assessment and met with community leaders. They observed the many humanitarian needs and the successful completion of two previous projects that had provided eco-san toilet facilities and created libraries at secondary schools.

Dr Sheri BillingUgandan and Wheaton Rotarians jointly determined that the most cost effective and beneficial third joint project would be the provision of additional sanitation facilities and to ship a container of medical supplies and equipment and secondary school books and reference materials.

Billing said, “While we were there we held town hall meetings with local health centers, hospitals, the schools. People came out and gave us ideas on what they could use and what they needed. The hospital gave us an 11-page document of equipment that they wanted. We call it the Uganda Project. We are collecting high school classic literature books, clothes and linens for the people there and to line the inside of the container. I want to send rubber gloves, slides for microscopes, Braille machines, old microscopes. It would be great if we could get an Isolette (incubator) or a centrifuge, any sort of lab equipment.”

How she got involved: “I’ve always wanted to do a mission trip,” she said. “But when the team from our chapter came back and did a presentation, I was just enamored. … I thought it would be an amazing opportunity and experience. Doing all the town hall meetings and seeing they were 100 years behind us was more fuel to the fire and I wanted to do more. Out of that came ‘Let’s do a medical container.'”

It was observed that the concept of a Ugandan student reading a novel, be it an American, British, Russian, etc classic was unheard of and unavailable to thousands of rural school children. The Wheaton Rotary Uganda Project Committee would like to send several hundred boxes of classic literature to the Ugandan school children. If your class or school would be willing to provide such a box of classic literature, please contact Cathy Hetrick at cathy.hetrick@comcast.net.

The Wheaton Rotary delegation also observed medical facilities of the poorest quality and a lack of supplies and equipment that explains the high14% infant mortality rate whereby 140 children out of 1,000 die prior to 5th birthday. High on the requested list of medical equipment and supplies were a neonatal incubator and a hematology lab machine. Dr. Sheri Billing is coordinating medical equipment and can be reached at sheri@thehearingdoctors.com.

The Wheaton Rotary Club provides local and international humanitarian service activities; a Fall 2010 Uganda trip is being planned and if you would like to see firsthand the benefits of International Rotary service or otherwise provide of assistance, please contact Robert Lyon at 630 653-1914.

Portions and quotes from this entry credited to The Chicago Tribune October 14, 2009 By Helene Van Sickle

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