Thursday, October 27, 2016

Arriving in Africa

The 4 H’s (John, Merrill, Brittany and Alex Herzenberg) left Baltimore Friday morning with our bags packed. We brought eight 50 pound red duffle bags filled with surgical equipment as well as teaching materials for the conferences our team conducted.

After over 24 hours of travel, our team arrived safely on Saturday evening. While getting to Uganda is no easy trip (Baltimore to Atlanta to Amsterdam to Kigali to Entebbe), it is definitely worth the trek. We arrived in Entebbe airport late at night, but were able to faintly see the building where Operation Entebbe, a legendary counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission carried out by the Israeli Defense Force in 1976, led by Yonatan Netanyahu, took place. Once used as the main terminal for the airport, the building is now occupied as the headquarters for the UN’s RSCE (Regional Service Centre Entebbe), which coordinates projects in East and Central Africa.

We were greeted by our host and long time friend Dr. Norgrove Penny. Norgrove is a long time Africa hand, having lived and worked in Uganda for 6 years. Since we arrived close to midnight, we stayed at J. Residence Motel (4.5 on Trip Advisor!), a nearby inn. That night Dr. Penny shared some tales about Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.  The language is called Lugandan, and the people are Bugandan. The next morning, we visited the hospital where we would be volunteering, the precursor of which was established by Dr. Penny when he was here as a missionary surgeon with Christian Blind Mission (CBM). Dr. Penny’s hospital morphed into CoRSU (“Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services in Uganda") Hospital, a lovely pavilion open air style hospital with well manicured grounds, and the feeling of a safe and healing environment.  We met some staff members, including the head nurse, Halima, to coordinate the week, and toured the campus. It is safe to say we were all impressed with the grounds. The hospital campus is beautiful and calm, with light peach single level buildings, and lush mango and jack fruit trees growing throughout. Covered walkways connect all the buildings, shielding from the frequent rain, though this week has been quite dry. However, a closer inspection of the walkways revealed streaming colonies of African army ants, but more about that later...

Learn more about CoRSU's story on their website!