Friday, September 19, 2014

A Container of Medical Supplies to Uganda

In 2013 Dr. Christine Dranzoa, whose remarkable history I have blogged about a few times, wrote to ask me if I knew anything about an organization in Hamilton, Ontario who were able to send medical supplies Uganda.  
An artist's plan of what the new university campus will look like
Christine talks to the builders
The nursing station under construction
She was in the throes of organizing the construction of a nursing station as part of the new university in her home district of West Nile at the town of Aura. She has been appointed vice-chancellor of the university and the recently sent me a photo of the early construction of the station.

It took but a moment to realize that we in Saskatchewan could surely do something without going further afield. After all we have a long history of philanthropic activity. It was time to put on my Sherlock Homes costume, the deer-stalker headgear (minus the meerschaum pipe and the cape) and see what I could find out.  

It did not take long. I started out by contacting Dr. Pammla Petrucka, a nursing PhD based in Regina who has had a great deal of experience is this sort of activity.

Those exchanges eventually led me to Mr. Lindsay Brucks, who heads up the Saskatoon branch of the organization Canadian Food for the Hungry. He has shipped 295 such containers to many countries, including Uganda and its neighbours Sudan and Southern Sudan. He in turn contacted Diane Larivee who volunteers with Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region and she too got involved

I had two other essential tasks. I soon found out that it would cost about twenty-five thousand dollars to ship from Saskatoon to Arua.  It was easy to contact all the students who had accompanied my wife Jo and me to Uganda in the eight years up to my retirement from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine . The students quickly bought into the idea and we soon had enough money to cover most of the costs. The funds were deposited with the Hospitals of Regina Foundation under the watchful eye of Nora Yeats. 

Our program involved in a study of the complex relationship between wildlife, humans and their livestock. The rotation lasted a month each year and we all learned a great deal. Without Christine, who had been head of the Department of Wildlife and Animal Resource Management at the Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine at the time the rotation would never have taken place.

The other task was to find out from Christine more about her exact needs. She quickly designated one of medical staff to send me a list. At the last minute she wondered if we could help with a supply of mosquito nets which are so essential in that environment. For this part of the project I contacted our neighbour’s son who is a first year medical student. He invited me to tell his class-mates about Christine and before I knew it we had $468.51 in my hat. That went directly to Uganda as nets purchased there would be a great deal cheaper than any we might find here (about 10% of the cost).

Books for Uganda
Lindsay lost no time in finding everything that Christine needed, and a whole lot more. Jo and I made a bunch of phone calls and were soon given about eighty fairly modern textbooks on nursing and medicine by her former colleagues. The folks at the WCVM and St. Paul’s Hospital gave us seven excellent microscopes.

We then went to visit Lindsay at his warehouse when the container was two-thirds full. We were astonished at the quantity and variety of equipment ready to ship to any destination.
There were whole rows of wheelchairs, crutches, beds, a baby incubator and an ultrasound machine and anything else you can imagine.    
The full container on Sept 15th 2014
The container was soon full and is now on its way to Kampala where it is has to clear customs. With any luck it should reach Arua by Christmas. Wouldn’t that make a great Christmas present?

Ready to roll!