I have been a volunteer writer with Watsi for two years now, so when the opportunity came together to visit a medical partner in person, it was a dream come true. This past summer, my husband and I traveled to Uganda, and thanks to Mackinnon and a bit of last-minute luck, we were able to meet Edward, Watsi's day-to-day partner from African Mission Healthcare (AMH). We spent the afternoon in the capital city of Kampala learning about AMH’s work and Rushoroza Hospital, one of the main care centers in the country that treats Watsi patients, where we would be heading later in the week.
The day we traveled through the hustle and bustle of Kabale town was a rare foggy morning in Southwestern Uganda. We were on our way to visit Rushoroza Hospital where Watsi patients are treated as part of a partnership with African Mission Healthcare reaching people in need of access to medical care across East Africa.
Photos could not possibly capture the magic of meeting Watsi patients who have received treatment with the support of this community, but hopefully, I can share a glimpse into life at Rushoroza and the amazing team who shows up every day to change lives there.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a warm welcome by the Rushoroza leadership team. After signing the guest log in the main reception area, we were off to a meeting room where we sat down for an introduction to life at Rushoroza. Their community has many barriers to accessing healthcare, but they are a lifeline for people in need. The team proudly walked us through their vision to expand and upgrade the hospital’s facilities so that they can reach even more patients in the future.
Once the expansion is complete, Rushoroza Hospital will be able to accommodate 300 more patients for treatment onsite. They proudly shared that last year, Rushoroza was honored as #6 on a national list of the most improved hospitals across Uganda, underscoring the team’s focus on continuously elevating the quality of care for patients.
We learned that the team is able to help about 10-15 Watsi patients each month, and their commitment to the highest standards for care has meant remarkable patient outcomes and low rates of hospital-acquired infections.
Energized by the team’s vision, we began a walking tour of the hospital grounds. We started in the main hospital building which has emergency rooms for patients awaiting admittance for further evaluation and treatment.
At this point in the morning, the fog had lifted and we walked a short path to the maternity ward, where we saw two Watsi patients sitting outside on a bench enjoying the fresh air.
We passed through a crowded reception area where expectant mothers were waiting for their exams or completing paperwork and we entered the labor ward. Then, we made our way to a sunny room towards the back where we were finally able to meet Watsi patients face-to-face. After two years of volunteering to help share patient stories online, this was such a special moment. ✨
In December 2021, two generous Watsi supporters came together to support Alexia’s C-section and she welcomed a healthy baby boy. During our visit, we were able to meet Alexia and sweet Usher. Alexia was kind enough to let me hold Usher – who has already grown into a healthy, happy, and curious little boy!
I also sat with EdithMary and learned more about how Watsi changed her life. Last March, four Watsi donors came together to fund her hysterectomy. She shared with us that while she was still recovering, she is feeling so much better. This is wonderful news, considering that she experienced pain for years before receiving treatment. We hope EdithMary feels well enough to get back to teaching soon!
We said our goodbyes to Alexia, Usher, and EdithMary, and continued our tour. Next, we passed through the male ward, on our way to the female ward to meet another Watsi patient, Buradina.
After stepping on a thorn near her home, Buradina's foot became infected and required amputation. She was still in the hospital recovering, and her family was visiting while we were there. We shared a teary moment of gratitude to Watsi for bringing us all together. Buradina’s son told me “thank you for helping my mother.”
From there, our group changed into special shoes to avoid contamination of the Surgical Theatre building and visited the operating room and ward, where Watsi patients undergo a variety of procedures. The hospital also has a laboratory where patient medical tests are run, which helps makes care more timely for patients onsite.
We then met one final Watsi patient, Judith, who was in the hospital recovering from a hysterectomy following seven years of abdominal pain. We were thrilled when Judith shared that she feels much better post-surgery, and she looks forward to getting back to farming and taking care of her family.
After our special walking tour of Rushoroza, we regrouped at the entrance to the hospital for a few group photos, lots of laughs, and goodbye hugs. I also passed along some of the thoughtful get-well cards 💌 that Watsi volunteers in the United States crafted for patients undergoing treatment around the world.
After seeing this all first-hand, I am truly in awe of the Rushoroza team and the incredible work they are doing each day to help patients in Uganda receive healthcare. They have already changed countless lives, and have big dreams (and the plans!) to expand their reach in the future. I feel immensely grateful to have learned more about their work and be a small part of sharing their stories with the world. A million thank yous to the Rushoroza team and AMH for the opportunity, and to the global Watsi community who is helping this very special place do more good for patients.
Go Team Watsi!
Volunteer Writer @Watsi