July 7 Depart Pittsburgh (US travelers) – Irish travelers may be able to arrange for same day departure.
Late afternoon or early evening flight. Travel through Amsterdam, Brussels or Istanbul are typically available with evening arrival in Uganda the following day.
July 8 Arrive in Entebbe (In the evening)
Transportation from airport to Banana Village will be arranged. Look for Banana Village sign. Accommodations at Banana Village. https://bananavillageuganda.com/
Banana Village is an awesome place to stay! The huts all have bathrooms and kind of warm showers. The people working there are wonderful and Jemimah, the owner is really active in the local business community and Rotary and is very supportive of the work that we are doing. There is a nice pool and canteen with really good food.
July 9 Introductions to team and eyeglass clinic
10:00 Late start to recover from travel day – breakfast in the canteen. Team building meeting including introductions & expectations for the group.Organize eyeglasses for distribution and general inventory of donations.
1:00 Depart BV for eyeglass clinic
Point of Contact is Harriet Nannungi who has a daughter with disabilities. She joined the Advocates for Children with Disabilities (ACD) parent group in 2014. She was one of the founders of Noah’s Ark School for Children with Disabilities but eventually started her own sewing business with the help of donations from our VCAYA teams over the years. We will be bringing donated wedding gowns for her rental business. She has organized our eyeglass clinic for several years now. Our team will conduct vision assessment and eye glass distribution (mostly readers) to older adults – mostly women who rely on their vision for their work – predominantly sewing.
Dinner at Banana Village, reflection on our initial impressions, and most likely games in the canteen.
July 10 Bright Kids Uganda Children’s Home – currently cares for 97 children from infant to 18 years
7:30 Breakfast in the canteen.
8:30 Departure to Lake Victoria boat docks. Boat ride to Victoria’s island is about 90 minutes.
Point of contact is Victoria Nalongo Namusisi https://www.carlow.edu/10194.aspx Victoria has been working with Carlow faculty since 2012 and was awarded an honorary degree from Carlow in 2018. Visit to the Bright Kids School and compound. Nursing students will conduct well child assessments including vision assessment for eye glass distribution. Nutrition assessment and recommendations will be addressed. Previous observations reveal a concern for appropriate protein in the children’s diets. Distribution of vitamins and supplements especially targeted for infants and toddlers.
Visit to Chimpanzee Island
” Surrounded by the peaceful waters of Lake Victoria, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is home to 52 orphaned and rescued chimpanzees. Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (Chimpanzee Trust), an NGO, is responsible for all aspects of the sanctuary.”
July 11 Noah’s Ark School for children with disabilities
8:00 Breakfast in the Canteen
9:00 Walk to Noah’s Ark through the local community. Noah’s Ark is a boarding school for over 60 children with significant disabilities. The school was created in 2016 to provide education for children who are not welcome in public general education schools and because the government run schools for children with disabilities are terrible and unsafe. Victoria lost an adopted daughter due to negligence in such a school in 2012. The school requires tuition from parents but unfortunately, some of the children have been abandoned at the facility. The grounds are not ideal for the children with physical disabilities and the infrastructure needs to be improved. Goals for our team are to provide general health checkups, evaluate children with physical disabilities, provide daily therapeutic exercises to improve range of motion and mobility for children with physical disabilities and to design a structure around the well to prevent children from having access. In addition, assessment for alternative communication strategies will take place.
Points of contact: Angel
Nursing students will conduct health assessments of identified children of concern. Analysis of adaptive equipment usage and communication methods including communication books and boards in schools. Plans for creating a barrier around the clean water well will be designed or, if funds are available, construction will begin to prevent children’s access to the well. VCAYA has fixed the well before, however these repairs don’t last long when the children are able to climb on the pump and strip the pipes.
July 12 Travel to Jinja
8:00 Breakfast in the canteen
9:00 Vicente and Ronnie arrive. Transportation by our drivers, Vicente and Ronnie who stay with us for the rest of the week. We have used these drivers for many years, they have well maintained vehicles and take good care of our groups. They stay with us and join us for meals so that they are a part of our team. Visit to the National Park and source of the Nile. Boat ride on the Nile and opportunity to purchase souvenirs from local entrepreneurs. Travel to the Nile River Explorer Camp. Option for an evening cruise. Additional cost of $45 includes food and beverage. Accommodation Nile River Explorer Camp – tents or dorms https://www.raftafrica.com/rooms/explorers-river-camp-accommodation-in-bujagali-jin/
NOTE: Tents are really nice with electricity and locks. Everyone, including dorms use the shared bathrooms and showers which are fine and similar to facilities found in our camp grounds. Monkeys in the trees above the tents tend to wake you up in the morning.
July 13 Rafting
Options for rafting are level 5 (challenging), level 3 (fun), or safety boat. This is a beautiful trip down the Nile River with local guides who are superbly trained to ensure safety.
July 14 Travel to Mbale & Bukedea: Clean water well & Prime Tower School
Point of contact – James and Rachel Okau, of Advocates for Vulnerable Children’s Rights (AVCR) an NGO operating in the Teso Region for about 8 years.
This is a 3-hour drive to Bukedea. We will check in on the drilling of our first well. Stefro Engineering are scheduled to drill 2 – 3 wells during our trip. We’ll have a chance to meet with the community leaders and the women who will be using the new well and to visit their current water source.
Visit to Prime Tower Primary School and Nursery. Nursing students will conduct well-child assessments on children of concern; deliver feminine hygiene products to girls and nutrition suggestions especially for folic acid. Education and nursing students will team up to provide lessons in hygiene and nutrition. Visual assessment of the need for worming medication and distribution of pills if needed. The head teacher can distribute every three months moving forward.
Preparations for the conference that is planned for the following day. If time permits, we will visit Chodong where we drilled a well in 2017 to distribute worming medication. We observed children with distended bellies there in 2019. We can give the worming medication to James of AVCR for distribution if limited in time to travel there.
July 15 Health Conference
The conference will be held in Bukedea – the same town we visited the previous day.
Nursing students will follow up on 2022 conference and present professional development sessions on best practices in delivery, pre, peri and postnatal care. Administrators will share data on maternal health & midwives will present information on their experiences with delivery especially as it relates to proactive anti-natal care. Well child care for birth to 5 years is requested we assume to address the unusually high infant mortality rate.
July 16 Sipi Falls
Drive to Sipi Falls is about 1 hour from Soroti. It’s a beautiful area in the Elgon Mountain. The community there is well established and economically self-sufficient. We have visited the community for several years now and know them well. There is a group of young men (when we first met them they were young boys) who will escort us on a hike up to several falls and provide us with a sunset tour and a coffee tour if desired.
July 17 Travel to Soroti
A 2-hour drive to Soroti. We will visit the School for the Blind Primary and Secondary Schools & St. Martha’s Academy in the morning to visit children who we support and to tour the schools. Nursing students will conduct assessments of identified children including those who may benefit from corrective lenses.
Point of contact – Sister Rose, Petrua and Silver and Judith
Visit to Opucet, another remote village to meet with teachers and children attending the Silver Memorial Inclusive Learning and Education Center (SMILE) . Education students to meet with school administrator and review management practices. Nursing students will conduct assessments of all children and community members as requested. Tour of health clinic that is under construction and meeting with Judith Oonyu to learn about their progress.
If funding is secured, the team will oversee the construction of two projects: Gutters for water collection and holding tanks on the school building & construction of new latrines and sanitation system. Analysis of condition of the SMILE well and agricultural nursery.
Soroti Market to purchase materials for adaptive equipment.
July 18 Visit to Oukut Village
A 90 minute drive to a very remote village which was directly affected by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army but is now living in peace (since about 2008). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kony
Point of Contact – Stephen Onyang and his wife Patricia
Students will interact with some people who escaped from the LRA after being kidnapped and will meet with some of the children who were born out of those abductions. Many are symptomatic from PTSD. Nursing students will conduct checkups on community members. Team members are needed to complete medical records prior to meeting with nurses. Translators will be available as many of the people in this community do not speak English. Nursing and/or education majors will engage in a conversation with young mothers to discover ways that will allow infants and toddlers to move about freely for better physical development. These children are currently being carried on their mothers backs all day while they work in the fields. We notice that some children have bowed legs which negatively impact their bone and muscle development and wonder if alternative practices might be helpful.
A parent group of mothers of children with disabilities was formed during our visit in 2019. We will meet with this group and hope to advise them on healthy practices for their children with disabilities. An unusually high number of children with Ectrodactyly (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2922631/) will be present. Also, brittle bone disease (https://www.healthline.com/health/osteogenesis-imperfecta) has been noted in this village. We have also met with parents whose children have cerebral palsy and some who are hydrocephalic. Our goal is to bring the necessary materials for the village to train a group to create adaptive equipment for the children with physical disabilities. These will include standers, walkers and possibly scooters. We received a list of items that was developed with the help of pediatrician from Soroti. The parents collect dues when they meet each week to begin to raise funds for a visiting nurse to come once a month. Nursing students will meet with the nurse and hopefully the pediatrician to establish some healthy routines and management for the clinic.
It is not clear if the children attend school in the area but some of them may be sent to boarding schools if the families can afford it. This is difficult in this agricultural community in which bartering is more often used instead of cash.
Groundbreaking ceremony for the building of the Oukut Health Clinic (Level II). Dr. Alice has been working with the community to complete the paperwork for official designation of the clinic needed to receive free medicines including vaccines and HIV/AIDS protocols delivered by visiting nurses. Support for the clinic provided by Sharon Stamper has provided the initial resources to establish a pharmacy, two examination huts, examination table, desks and chairs and a tent used as a waiting area for the community during clinic days. The community has made over 70,000 bricks for a building to serve as the clinic in the future. We will be reviewing the plans and learning how we can support this capital project.
Worming medication will be distributed along with supplemental protein for pregnant women and vitamins for children.
July 19 Opucet & Wells
Return to Opucet to check on the progress of the construction of the water collection system and latrines. Check out the progress of the wells as we travel through Bukedea.
July 20 Drive to Entebbe
The drive back to Entebbe can be six hours or it can be nine depending on the traffic around Kampala.
July 21 Safari - for team members who are adding this.
7:00 Early morning pick-up for drive to Murchinson Falls. Lunch along the way and possible evening game drive. Dinner at the lodge
July 22 Safari
July 23 Safari and return to Banana Village
July 24 Fly home
Flights home are late in the evening. We leave this day open to visit an artisan village for souvenirs or to relax by the BV pool.
Improving the lives of vulnerable children
Curious about how we spend our time working in Uganda? Check out our itinerary below. Our team will post updates, when we have access, during our visit so that our supporters can follow along.