Summer Medical Ministry Update

08/22/08

I left northern Uganda last year burdened with the knowledge that these amazing people have indeed been wounded. Not just emotionally, but physically as well. The internal trauma caused by the decades-long struggle against the Lord’s Resistance Army competed with external sores and scars. The treatment area was always lined with rows of children five or six deep, and both time and supplies were limited.

This year, I came prepared. Armed with duffle bags and boxes full of donated first-aid supplies, the team and I arrived on July 13 ready to do God’s healing work. Because the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps have all but been vacated, our travels instead led us to schools in the Lira district.

Immediately, it was apparent that the physical healing process had already begun in many children. Legs and feet once riddled with deep, infected wounds now only bore the scars of previous injury. Skin was mostly free of rashes, and signs of dehydration were much less. While the swollen bellies of either malnutrition or worm-infestation were still visible, it now appeared the exception, not the norm. Overall, the aura was one of happiness and good health. And once again, my faith in God’s mercy and grace was confirmed.

Someone once said that Knowledge is power, and nowhere is that more evident than in the field of medicine. The well-being of our children depends on the adults entrusted with their care. This value is held most sacred at Children of the Nations in Uganda.

Every morning at the COTN house, staff and volunteers gathered in the living room eager for an educational lesson. One day, the topic was health and the focus was prevention. Subjects covered included personal hygiene, sanitation, parasites, dehydration, diarrhea, skin disorders and first aid.

The format was an informal lecture, and the very active participants constantly confirmed information and asked relevant questions. The session also included a practicum—an opportunity to utilize diagnostic equipment and perfect treatment techniques.

A final-day examination tested their knowledge. The staff recognized the importance of avoiding illnesses through preventative medicine. They acknowledged that medications are generally a quick fix, and diseases return unless the cause and not just the symptoms are addressed. There is much more to be learned, but the COTN children are in very good hands. I leave this beautiful country and its amazing people hoping I will return again next year but knowing if I don’t, God’s love will prevail.