It only takes one person to make a difference
October 30, 2012 BY Stephanie Geddes
Wow Uganda, only 48 hours here so far and I'm beyond inspired and humbled by your generous spirit. Today was an important lesson in the success of implementing simple solutions to fix problems on the ground. 90% of Ugandans attend a church or religious ceremony once a week with their families. So how do you get access to children and families? Go to where the people are!
UNICEF started Family Health Days recently, bringing health services and vaccines to places of worship. It was a public holiday today for a Muslim day of prayer. We were graciously invited to attend a Family Health Day. After morning prayers, children under five where given the opportunity to be vaccinated for measles, polio and tetanus. I feel I'm failing to adequately express how truly emotional it was to see families so welcoming to us, so willing to get their children vaccinated and to give them a 'Shot at Life'. I'm sure some of the children didn't agree as they got their injections! To be welcomed into their day of worship to observe and speak with them will stay in my memories for years.
An over-used saying, it only takes one person to make a difference. But this trip has illustrated to me the absolute truth of this statement. Head Teacher of St Zoe's School Lamben Begumisa was kind enough to show us around his school this afternoon. St Zoe's is both a boarding and a day school with 332 students, a relatively small number for Uganda. The class sizes were impressive as well, around 28 students per class compared with a primary school we visited yesterday that had around 100 students per teacher. Despite living 16km from the school, Mr. Begumisa arrives promptly at 6.00am and doesn't go home until 9.00pm each night. The result of his hard work is a school to be proud off, children who are thriving. They are open and wiling to learn, respectful and excited to be educated. It was overwhelming to speak with them, and ask questions about what they wanted to be when they grow up, lawyers, teachers, nurses, and President!
Once a month a nurse comes to St Zoe's to administer vaccines and health checks. Today girls over the age of 14 were given Tetanus shots. To have access to vaccines in schools is a powerful tool. An action that takes less than a minute will change these children's lives forever. It makes their education worthwhile as they have the chance to continue through school without the fear or risk of polio or measles. It makes life possible! I cannot express in words how grateful I am to be welcomed with such an open spirit to the schools and places of worship here in Uganda. The lessons I am learning from the children and families here has indeed changed my life, and will for years to come.
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