Dear Just Like My Child supporter,
I received this message from Sr. Ernestine at the Bishop Asili Hospital in Uganda. I met Sr. Ernestine 15 years ago and she has been our close partner and “fixer” on the ground in Uganda, always directing us towards the most useful programs for donors’ time and money and steering us away from corrupt situations where we could easily be taken advantage of.
Among other tragic news, Sr. Ernestine informed me that Sr. Ernestine’s “right hand” partner in good, Sr. Angela Tweheyo (pictured left), had lost her fight against cancer during this Covid lock down and passed away.
I know that it’s easy to be consumed with the issues we are facing on a daily basis here in the US. They are very real! Disease, racial tensions, political upheaval, climate change and so much more.
But when I read Sr. Ernestine’s message, once again, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the richness in my life: things like running water, consistent electricity, access to health care and the freedom to love whom I love with no retribution (homosexuality is a crime subject to capital punishment in Uganda). And, I’m also overwhelmed by how little it takes to make a difference in the lives of so many with so little.
Sister Ernestine writes:
Here things are not going on very well. Many people have died and are dying because the infection is diffused in the villages.
COVID plus outbreak of malaria, especially in children with anemia, is on the rise. I am so grateful that you are all thinking about us and praying for us. We do the same for you and continue to pray that you stay protected. Continue reading about the dire impact of COVID-19 from Sister Ernestine here.
COVID 19 has indirectly impacted on maternal, child, neonatal, sexual, and reproductive health. The problem is largely due to restricted access to services due to the lockdown and fear of contracting COVID-19. Even services for children and newborn immunizations against tuberculosis, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae, rotavirus and pneumococcus has decreased significantly because of difficulties in movement as most mothers are vulnerable and poor and cannot transport themselves.
Many pregnant mothers are suffering and losing their babies and their lives because of these effects. Many are having premature deliveries, those who cannot reach the hospital either lose their lives or get serious complications with disabilities. The newborn babies who need intensive medical care often in the hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) by trained healthcare professionals to give special care for the tiniest must be moved from home to the hospital. Babies who need intensive care do better if they are born in a hospital with a NICU than if they are moved after birth. Some newborn babies require care in a NICU but in the homes they cannot survive.
Many children are suffering from malaria, anemia and malnutrition and sickle cell disease. This is because many parents have lost their livelihood. Even as I write one baby arrived and died this morning with severe malaria and anemia. Even the blood we gave was too late to help. We are also admitting pregnant mothers infected with COVID 19. Some children are admitted with parents when the whole family is infected with COVID. We have created a separate room for COVID patients as well.
The hospital needs to pick up mothers from homes and small dispensaries in the villages and children for care and treatment so we particularly will need:
Sister Ernestine’s wish list:
These are the things we are trying to do to overcome the situation. We shall be very grateful for any little support we get because it will save lives. Day and night we pick mothers and children from home and sometimes we take them up to Kampala to Mulago for very severe cases.
Our staff has been very good. They are not running away from the infection. They understand they are to be here for the people. 15 staff got infected but we treated them and they are back working and helping people to recover. Our main challenges are the lack of protective equipment and materials. They have even become very costly, lack of enough oxygen cylinders and concentrators.
We have not been vaccinated. We hear that more vaccines will be brought in the country but we can’t be sure if we shall get them. Most of it ends up being commercialised by few people – talk about corruption. None of our staff is vaccinated so we are so exposed and yet we cannot run away from people.
We should be very grateful for any bit of support you can provide.
Sister Ernestine Akulu
About Just Like My Child Foundation: About Just Like My Child Foundation: Since its founding in 2006, Just Like My Child Foundation has developed deep partnerships with rural communities in Africa to deliver sustainable programs that address health care, education, microenterprise, social justice, and women/girls’ empowerment. Through that work, JLMC came to understand that empowering vulnerable adolescent girls to amplify their voices and achieve their fullest potential is the most powerful weapon in disrupting the cycle of poverty. Today, Just Like My Child Foundation is focused on expanding its evidence-based, replicable model of girls empowerment, Girl Power Project® Global, beginning in the US with the Lakota Sioux Nation in South Dakota, and in Rishikesh, India. Learn more about our quest to transform the world, one girl at a time, at www.JustLikeMyChild.org