An Overwhelming Response
. I couldn't believe my eyes! Generous folks had already overshot our fundraising target in just two days! I was somewhere between jubilation and relief. We would now be able to prepare for coronavirus properly, and provide our staff with the much needed protection that only a consistent supply of gloves, masks and disinfectant can give. I felt even better as I saw comments that donors had made which showed the incredible love people had for our staff and our work.
The money is in action and has been split three ways.
The majority of the money went to St. Mary’s hospital, Lacor, the largest hospital in Northern Uganda, as they hadn’t been getting support from the government. Lacor is the only hospital north of the Nile with a functional ICU equipped with eight ventilators and a solar powered oxygen plant which can supply about forty people with oxygen at one time. The money helped them with connector tubes for supplementary cylinders, oxygen saturation measuring machines and a thousand surgical gowns for the COVID-19 ward.
Equipment for Lacor Hospital
St. Philip's Health Centre
Much of the money also went to prepare the Diocese facilities. We bought oxygen concentrators for St. Philip’s Health Centre, and enough masks, gloves and disinfectant for all nineteen Diocese of Northern Uganda Health Centres and the four Oneday Health Centres in the Kitgum Diocese. In an economy where most people have little money, masks are insanely expensive. One Health Centre St. Peters, which is deep in the village, generates around $750 every month from patient fees. Masks alone now cost the facility $250 every month, and this will continue for some time. Thanks to you all, we’ve got enough money now to buy PPE until the end of the year, which means our amazing staff can get on with the real life saving work of curing malaria, pneumonia and diarrheal disease.
Because you gave more than we expected, we were even able to give all 70 of our staff at St. Philips about $15 each to thank them for their work. This thank you letter from the centre made me well up a bit!
Fuel for Ambulances
Lastly, we helped out the district ambulances with fuel. These ambulances are the only way sick patients can get from the village to hospital. Under lockdown patients can’t use the normal transport of motorcycle for risk of getting beaten by the army. The district only has two ambulances for the entire area, and for about a month they had no money to fuel them. We usually fear corruption in government, but we started an account at the fuel station to ensure the money was only used for the ambulances. Among the hundreds of patients carried to hospital by these ambulances, there were about twenty from our health centres directly and almost half of them referred during the night!
The Struggle Continues
Much stress remains, as the effects of lockdown drive an already poor population to more extreme poverty. Our staff are under pressure from their families to provide for them financially, their kids are unable to go to school and bored at home, and patients struggle to front up with the money to get care, even while our facilities are the cheapest in the region. But thanks to you all, the COVID-19 stress has been greatly relieved, our staff are protected, and they are ready to continue their incredible work.
To quote the staff of St. Philip “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for what he has done”
Nick Laing, Uganda