Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Sick People of Uganda

Just this past month, we returned from Uganda. On each of the trips we’ve made to Uganda (UG), we have always seen sick people, people that are dying and deplorable poverty. Just like Bono challenges us (para-phrased), “…a person’s ability to live should not be dependent on where they were born.” And the converse, for 1st world people is also true, “…it not our ‘fault’ that we were born in a much more civilized, wealthy and organized society.” It’s not our ‘fault’ that we do not have to fetch impure water for half of our waking hours, only to become deathly sick as a result of drinking impure (even boiled) water. What we *do* with *how* we've been blessed is the real challenge or us all.

I took ill halfway through our 3 week trip. I had sever vomiting and lower intestinal issues like I’ve never experienced before. At the peak of my sickness, I probably vomited / had severe diarrhea for over 3 days, not being able to eat or keep anything in my belly. The fortuitous God-orchestrated situation was that we had just moved from ‘the bush’ to Hoima, where our motel had indoor plumbing, which was a huge deal. We were only hours out of the bush. Had I acquired this viral sicknesss whilst in the bush, it would have been extremely more complex.

As it turns out, staying at the Crown Hotel located less than 6 blocks from our newly opened Think Humanity Community Clinic (THCHC), I was promptly greeted early in the morning with both one of our doctors along with one of our Registered Nurse. The hotel room was quickly transformed into a make-shift in-patient sick-room, equipped even with IV drip stands hanging from the wall light fixtures.

Dr. Gift and Nurse Jane were at my side for one full day administering the needed IV to replace my energy as well as helping to relieve and eliminate this awful virus. Blood tests were also ran and the diagnosis was that I had some sort of ‘contamination’ virus. How it was obtained is still a mystery to us all as we are/were extremely consistent keeping our hands sanitized and doing the needful.

As I slowly returned to good health, I was astonished at some of the learnings from this dreadful experience and how extremely positive I view it now. Allow me to share with you some of the learnings that I experienced over these few days…

1) A true team is not dependant on simply one person. Share leadership keeps centered on what it needs to do and carries on despite the potential to make reactive decisions (in this case, just leaving back for the States). The TH Team carried on its needed duties whilst I was being cared for. Share leadership works in TH.

2) During the time laying on my back and recovering, I was blessed to have the time to listen to Jane and Dr. Gift. I was able to have a long and intimate discussion with them regarding what we need to be doing to make the THCHC THE model clinic in UG.

3) Most importantly, this illness taught me a glimpse of how many of the Africans live—being sick—on a daily basis, and in most cases with zero medical attention. They simply cannot afford expensively managed health clinic. The THCHC targets that over 50% of all patients simply cannot afford to pay. And they get the same exact treatment as those that pay their entire invoice. Rather than have my resources, many sick people simply live with their pain and in many cases, simply die. By the way, my total bill came up to less than $75!

4) And finally, I learned that the evil one does not want to make our trips easy, painless and simple to run. As TH grows, we will continue to have huge problems, but trusting God to be ‘in the details,’ is much the challenge!

In retrospect, I’d not recommend the process of ‘getting sick’ to personally witness how the THCHC is something that God is all over, and it is now my firm conviction that He wants us there even more than ever. This was not clear even less than 8 weeks ago. Now the puzzle pieces are starting to take shape, our mission is becoming clearer by the day and our patience, trust and ‘relaxing in His arms,’ takes courage and tons of un-conditional Trust.

I am challenged, now more than ever, to dig deeper, to not just be a survivor, but to be a conqueror and to live with my Godfidence coming directly from God—not TH, not CR and clearly not my day job.

“Character is what it takes to stop you!”

Thanks for listening…



  1. This is awesome, Frog. I am so glad that you have had the time to think about this experience and learn from it, and then share it with us.
    I am sorry that you had to suffer like this, but in the same light of what you said at the beginning, life is not about what happens to you but what you do with that. You could have let this experience derail you, or you can let it make you stronger.

  2. PS, I LOVE that quote at the end - wow.

  3. PSS, I googled that quote and it came up as a quote from Bob Jones... interesting! haha!

  4. Yeah, I think that quote was picked up from whilst doing my time there...