Friday, February 20, 2015

Day 12 - Meeting at the U. S. Embassy

This was my first visit to a U. S. Embassy.  No pictures, thank you very much!  Unbelievable security!

We were welcomed by professionals that deal in maternal and child health care in Uganda.  We held discussions on our project and some of the programs sponsored by USAID, the CDC and other agencies that specifically deal with the health care issues here.

This visit was a thrill for all of us.  For one thing, it was nice to hear people speak with an American accent.  But, it was also heartening to learn of the health care and other initiatives that our government is employing, working with the Ugandan government and NGOs on the ground in the country.  It's amazing to learn everything that is going on here from the likes of Johns Hopkins, Baylor University, Massachusetts General, and so many others, including Rotary and other service organizations such as Lions International.  My Lion brother would be thrilled.

On Thursday morning, Shannon visited with the Ugandan office of World Vision International.  This is a California-based Christian relief and development organization that operates in 60 countries around the globe.  They have a huge presence in Uganda with 900 staff members serving in 28 Ugandan districts and operating 53 Area Development Programs (ADPs).  Through their Child Health Now campaign, World Vision is advancing issues in Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH).  They advocate for the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the country.  They could turn out to be a key partner for Drexel as they advance their interest in maternal and child health in Uganda and as Rotary's Global Grants funding eventually comes to an end.  An important part of our project is assuring that the work being done here over the short-term is sustainable and has made a meaningful and long-term positive impact on the people and communities served.

Michelle had a successful day making the BRCKs operational.  These are Kenyan-designed, U.S.-built portable WiFi hotspot devices with battery extenders that we brought with us from the States.  They will be installed at remote community health centers so that local health care professionals can access digital libraries to assist them in providing care.  This is such cool stuff!  It's such a simple, yet effective tool that will push health care to a new level in remote villages.  Congratulations Michelle and your cohort Bob John.

Tonight the trip to Uganda is over for Dr. Laniece Coleman and Dr. Michelle Rogers, as they headed to Entebbe to return home.  We're going to miss them.  The hotel staff provided us a nice dinner on the back lawn as a sendoff for Laniece and Michelle.

But, we're gaining two new VTT teammates.  Our project coordinator, Past District Governor of Rotary District 7430 Ron Smith returns to Uganda with his friend Dr. Owen Montgomery, Chair of the OB/GYN Department at Drexel University College of Medicine.  Ron and Owen were members of the first VTT in January 2014.  Last year, Ron had my job as VTT Team Leader.  It's going to be nice to have these veterans join us.

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