Written by Rick Murdock
On day two, we gathered for a quick moment in the morning to share breakfast with one another as many of us tried to understand why we just experienced a sleepless night. Was it the time change, the unfamiliar bed, the birds that were obviously being attacked by mountain lions, or was it the anxiousness in our heads for the day ahead? All of these symptoms were legitimate as to why we decided to spend our 2:00am morning wide-awake but for most it was an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful experience we shared with the amazing care givers and families at Bless a Child Foundation. Without a doubt, one of the most inspiring moments of our lives.
The morning of Nov. 28th, 2023 had a somewhat lackadaisical feel as each individual attempted to rejuvenate with a mixture of pastries, omelets, and almost enough coffee to want to commander a boda boda and challenge the streets of Kampala in a real-life game of Frogger. Before I continue, let me help describe what the boda boda environment feels like. Picture a group of Black Friday shoppers racing towards the $39 flat screen TV but these shoppers are using motorcycles to outmaneuver the other patrons. Mix in a plethora of busses, all traveling at 70mph in the opposite direction, sharing a road the size of a greenbelt. Yes, it feels eerily similar to being part of the Hunger Games, where many play the game but only a one will survive.
Considering the lack of sleep, the team were all in high spirits as we discussed the day’s upcoming events. Jamie started the morning with a warning, which was said with a smirk, that the “luxury” accommodations were going to quickly erode as we set our travels north to the city of Gulu. Our travel on this day was long...really long, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of the proverb rooted in the appreciation of the journey, not the destination. As challenging as the drive was, we all were thankful for our highly skilled driver, George, one of Pipeline’s very own team members, who cuts through all the chaos with the precision of a skilled samurai. This Pipeline hero expertly navigates the extreme rapids that Uganda calls its roadways.
Speaking of extreme rapids, along our journey to Gulu, we were lucky enough to see the Victoria Nile flowing at nearly full capacity. She was throwing water against the rapids at a rate I’ve never seen before. These rapids were as tall as a city bus with raging waters demonstrating the kind of power that would be impossible to harness. Our experience of the river was amplified with our first sighting of real African wildlife! The roadway surrounding the river was home to several baboons as they used the pathway to stalk vehicles in search for food. It was exciting as it was taken as a foreshadow of what is to come on this adventure.
We made a brief stop at Kabalega Diner to eat on the patio and to try a Rolex; a local favorite. Chip, Ashleigh, and I dived right in and within moments our plates were bare.
We reached our destination at around 3:00pm. St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor, ranked 3rd in the county, welcomed us into their amazing facility and, after meeting a few hospital administrators and physicians, Dr. Sylvester, one of only four orthopedic trauma surgeons in the region, spend the afternoon with us as we toured several departments across the campus. We had the opportunity to meet the incredible caring staff and talk with many of the patients. Although it was apparent that many were suffering it was easy to see that everyone was working collaboratively to provide the best care possible. One of the very unique circumstances of hospitals in Uganda is that the patient’s family is responsible for procuring,preparing, and feeding the meals and any other basic care needs for the patient. Families lay on the floor together bedside of the patient, ensuring that they feel love and support. It warmed our hearts as many families invited us into their area to give thanks for our support. The highlight of the day was getting to visit the pediatric and NICU units that were filled with children who, despite their circumstances, offered us ear to ear smiles.
We finished our day checking into our hotel, the Bomah Hotel Limited, where we were sharing the campus with the US Ambassador and his 20 vehicles filled with armed guards...I think we will sleep comfortably given the extra security tonight.
I’m honored to be among Jamie, Kelly and others who have already given so much to the Uganda community and Pipeline Worldwide. I truly honor the journey they have been on that has prepared them to be the magnificent advocate and resource for such amazing people.