Written by Kelly Davis
I am awoken by the manic barking of nearby dogs. Something is missing… ah, there it is, that rooster. 3:45 AM reveille at Bomah Hotel in Gulu, Uganda. Running my mind over yesterday’s events and anticipating today’s, I think about the visit this morning to St. Monica’s to start the day. Any day that begins with Sr. Rosemary is going to be good. Putting thoughts of yesterday’s ICU at Lacor out of my head, I begin the day.
Our first destination is St. Monica’s, where Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the founder and head of a school that teaches young women to become self-reliant in various trades, including tailoring, catering, and jewelry crafting. The campus also includes a health center III, outpatient clinic and maternity ward. Sister Rosemary is world renowned for her work in saving thousands of lives during the LRA war in northern Uganda and her ongoing commitment to enriching the lives of the less fortunate across Uganda and the world. She was named as one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine in 2014, she received CNN’s Hero Award in 2007 and earned her Ph. D. from Oklahoma University in Literacy for Women. True to her accolades, she is a force of nature, and this is immediately apparent as she gives you a big Sister hug upon entering her humble quarters. She has a calming presence, punctuating the conversation with frequent laughter, drawing you into her circle of peace and love. The Sister has been a strong supporter of Pipeline Worldwide for a long time and we have sponsored many initiatives under her causes and those of Sewing Hope and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this day we are there to deliver 50 baby bags. These bags contain a baby blanket and cap and reusable feminine supplies, all sewn by a Scottsdale group called Stitchers for Hope. The bags will go to young, expectant mothers who are not able to provide these items, without which a professionally attended and safe birth is very difficult to obtain. The Sister then showed us her newest pop tab product, dog collars and leashes (seriously). We then visited the maternity ward to hand off a few of the bags to women who happened to be on site and to review problems with an ultrasound machine previously donated to the clinic by Pipeline. We will return on Sunday for a full Ugandan home cooked meal upon our return from Moyo.
We returned to St. Mary’s Lacor Hospital to pay a visit to Soleterre (https://soleterreus.org/). They are a nonprofit organization that provides medical treatment, safe housing and counseling support to children and caregivers affected by cancer worldwide. This center is located within the hospital campus and they provide aid to patients and their families who come from various areas outside of Gulu. We had previously visited the center last June and provided hundreds of toys. These kids have nothing and are beyond happy to receive something as simple as a ball. This is a very well-run organization with conscientious and dedicated staff who do a ton of good with very few resources. As we were leaving It was obvious to all of us that we must continue to support this organization.
We wrapped up the day with dinner at African Roots with Dr. Sylvester and his wife Maureen. The doctor has been a game changer regarding orthopedic surgery in northern Uganda. He is the principal orthopedic surgeon, working out of St. Mary’s Lacor Hospital, Gulu, in an area encompassing over 700,000 people and has performed over 700 surgeries since Pipeline began supporting Lacor with SIGN Fracture Care in 2020.
As I look back on this day I think the common thread that has run through all of our encounters is that one person or a small group of determined individuals can make a vast difference in the lives of many, and in making that difference, cause a change in themselves.