Lugala, Uganda. Another dot on the vast map of Africa and a reminder of Uganda’s war-torn and impoverished state. With malaria, tuberculosis and the AIDS epidemic expanding, a single woman struggles to care for the 26,000 residents of Lugala. Nurse Clementina Awino, with little help and few medical resources at her disposal, is faced with the daunting task of rescuing the village of mainly women and children from a seemingly hopeless situation.
Enter UR Uganda, a newly formed non-profit organization with its base here on the UR River Campus. Founders junior Megan Battin and senior Daniel Ludwig aim to build Nurse Clementina a sufficient medical clinic, along with providing medical supplies and care on a trip to Lugala during the summer of 2011. Battin and Ludwig are planning on recruiting UR medical students, undergrads, doctors and nurses to help facilitate the process.
“With UR being such a big medical facility and campus, [I knew] that it was a good resource to use,” Battin said. “There are so many people here willing to help.”
Battin first visited Lugala, Uganda two years ago on a mission trip to Africa. She was sponsored by Medco to bring much needed medical supplies to Nurse Clementina.
Realizing the critical social and health conditions of the village, she felt a desire to help. UR Uganda began to materialize this past summer.
Equally intriguing as the origins and goals of the project is the process Battin and Ludwig have gone through to establish the legitimacy of their organization. UR Uganda’s decision to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit was based primarily on the expanse of members and contacts that the group hopes to achieve.
Actively communicating with the Charles Drew Pre-Health Society and doctors, nurses and graduate students from UR’s Medical Center, the group is also receiving a great response from the campus community. It has received positive feedback from Greek life, performing groups and athletic teams.
“I feel like everyone wants to help,” Battin said. “We have a group of people involved in so many aspects of the school. I run cross country and play lacrosse and Dan’s on the baseball team so tons of athletes are involved. Do they want to go? No, not necessarily, but they’re so willing to help out.”
UR Uganda will be kicking-off its efforts with a class at its “Taste of Africa” Wine Tasting & Silent Auction, Wednesday Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. In collaboration with a variety of local businesses, the auction will be held at the Sahara Gallery of African Art, 645 Park Ave., and will feature wine, hors d’oeuvres, live music and desserts. Ticketholders will be able to acquire some authentic African Art with proceeds going to supplies for the proposed clinic. They can also learn more about Lugala and the group’s mission. Visit www.uruganda.com to purchase tickets ahead of time at a reduced price.
Aside from fundraisers and similar events, the group will be dedicating a good chunk of time to researching and writing grants, expanding its connections in the Rochester area and finding those interested in establishing the clinic for Nurse Clementina. Eligible members are not limited to students: UR Uganda is focusing on any individual dedicated to not only medical and social issues, but also global stewardship.
Once the clinic is built, Ludwig and Battin would like to teach preventative health care to Lugala’s people, empower its women with relevant artisan skills, micro-business loans and play a little soccer with the kids during an evening hours camp. It is a big undertaking, but one necessary to give hope and life to a destitute and disenfranchised community.
Ludwig, an economics major, appears to be an outsider on this health related trip. Recalling the dedication of his missionary grandparents, he says that the bent of helping and caring for others is in his blood.
“I’m not sure where it will lead me in the future, but I know this [UR Uganda] is one of the ways,” he said.
Anyone interested in traveling to Lugala this summer, or for more information on Uganda and ways to help its people should contact UR Uganda at email@example.com or visit www.uruganda.com.
Colaruotolo is a member of the class of 2012.