In May of 2010 Father Samuel Okori appeared on the popular U.S. talk show, The Bonnie Hunt Show with Dr. Kevin Hunt, MD. Together they shared their experience of working together in Father Okori's home country of Uganda. During their time together in Uganda they administered free medical services and provided medications to numerous underprivileged Ugandan patients. These patients struggle with not only access to healthcare but to afford even the basic medical needs. After seeing this inspirational program and some live video from their trip, many Americans were moved by the struggle of the many people in Uganda. Specifically, Jo Boudreau and Jeanine Krueger were moved into action. Jo quickly compiled a personal letter to Dr. Hunt with a donation showing a desire to learn more about the efforts and the possibility to get more involved. Jeanine emailed Dr. Hunt and Father Sam also inquiring about volunteer opportunities. Father Sam responded to both inquires and began to organize a mission trip for Americans to accompany him to Uganda and continue the work initiated earlier.
During the upcoming months Father Sam began to make final preparations to organize the next medical mission. Jo Boudreau, of Aurora, Illinois, and Jeanine Krueger and Nicole Schreiner, pharmacists from Green Bay, WI, also began their preparations to make the long journey to meet Father Sam and help him accomplish his dream to further help those in need. After a laborious process of completing international travel requirements and a series of vaccinations, the three ladies were ready to begin their travels on the 5th of January, 2011. Two plane rides and 24 hours later they arrived for their first time in Africa. Meeting Father, and now Doctor, Sam was an exciting dream made reality.
The work they had set out to do, began on Monday, January 10, at Aber Hospital. During the next six days, together with local Lira physician, Dr. Emmanuel Ocen, and Cecelia Kambabazi of Isingiro-Mbarara, the team saw over 1200 patients and provided over 3000 prescriptions. Illnesses varied from chronic diseases, such as, hypertension, diabetes, asthma and peptic ulcer disease to acute respiratory and intestinal parasitic infections. Many individuals were aware of their conditions, but were unable to purchase proper medications to maintain health. Many others were not even fully aware of the severity of their illness and had dangerously high blood pressures and blood sugars. Without continued medical attention, unfortunately, some of these patients may suffer serious adverse consequences, such as, heart attack, stroke or premature death. Sites visited were scattered around the Lira area and included: Ngetta, Aduko, Aloi, and Minakulo. Jo was also able to spend a day at the Lira Babies Home to work with orphaned children.
For Jo, Jeanine and Nicole the experience was life changing. They felt so welcomed and honored to be received. Jo remembers being in complete awe and inspired by the true kindness of the Ugandan people. So many people went out of their way to express their sincere appreciation. Although they were pleased to do what they could, they wished they could do so much more. The need for continued attention for medical services was very apparent. The team was impressed to see efforts being made to raise awareness on such issues as HIV, family planning and appropriate vaccinations to the general public. It was an honor to serve the people of Uganda, but especially to work with Fr. Dr. Sam. He is truly dedicated to his people and trying to provide a better standard for them. Jo, Jeanine, and Nicole have been inspired to share their experience with family and friends back home in the U.S. Their hope would be to continue to help provide additional resources or medical equipment to health clinics and hospitals in the Lira area. Some items already being considered are funds for a X-ray facility at Aber Hospital and a defibrillator. Each of them shares the dream to one day return to Uganda and offer their services again.