NORTHERN UGANDA MEDICAL CLINIC
An Outreach of St. Philip Orthodox Church Tampa, Florida

Blessing at start of work
Blessing at start of work
Blessing at start of work
It begins
It begins
It begins
Another drill pipe
Another drill pipe
Another drill pipe

1st drink by Fr. George
1st drink by Fr. George
1st drink by Fr. George
Now the Clinic Officer
Now the Clinic Officer
Now the Clinic Officer
The gift of life
The gift of life
The gift of life

AT LAST, CLEAN, FRESH WATER!
Deep drilling at the Clinic results in a well of fresh, drinkable water.

The drillers have completed their work and our dream of having a reliable source of potable water at the clinic has been realized. Having previously conducted a geophysical test of the clinic property revealed the presence of water in the rock that lies below the soil layer. The drilling company's confidence that water would be located in sufficient amounts to serve the needs of the clinic and those of the local population was born out when after drilling hundreds of feet the water was located. A hand pumping station was installed and, by the grace of God, another clinic dream has been realized.

 




Brothers in Christ serving mankind.
Brothers in Christ serving mankind.
Brothers in Christ serving mankind.
License received
License received
License received

190 miles on a dirt road
190 miles on a dirt road
190 miles on a dirt road
Old car, bad road
Old car, bad road
Old car, bad road
There at last
There at last
There at last

Hope for good health
Hope for good health
Hope for good health
More patients
More patients
More patients
GIft of homemade beads
GIft of homemade beads
GIft of homemade beads

Children ravished by malaria
Children ravished by malaria
Children ravished by malaria
Drawing blood.
Drawing blood.
Drawing blood.
Fathers, Sue and clinic staff
Fathers, Sue and clinic staff
Fathers, Sue and clinic staff

FR. JOSEPH AND NURSE PRACTIONER SUE NELSON VISIT THE CLINIC
AND CONTRACTS FOR A WELL AND SOLAR POWER ARE MADE.
Staffing has been dramatically added to meet unanticipated need.

   Leaving on July 27th, Fr. Joseph and Nurse Practioner Sue once again traveled the 8,500 miles to the medical center which is located about 25 mile south of the South Sudan boarder. After greeting and conferring with His Eminence Jonah, Metropolitan Archbishop of all Uganda, they traveled by dirt road the 190 miles from Uganda's capital Kampala to the clinic. Nurse Sue, supervised an inventory, checked the center records, met individually with each member of the center staff, chaired a staff lunch meeting and still made time for her first love, the treating of patients at the clinic.
Fr. Joseph and Fr. George, the director of the clinic (in addition to serving three parishes and a preschool), met with a drilling company and with a supplier and installer of solar power. Discussions and negotiations continued for several days and finally an agreement was made for the drilling of the well and for the installation of solar power.
   The well will be drilled into rock and will supply potable water for use in the clinic. The villagers will be encouraged to draw from the well for their cooking and drinking needs and for brushing their teeth. This should help to improve their overall health. The driller agreed that he will drill until he reaches water and if a dry hole is drilled he will continue to drill at no extra charge until a usable well is in place. Initially a hand pump will be used to draw water.
   Solar panels and appropriate batteries were contracted for and will be installed for the electrical needs of the clinic. A specialized refrigerator for storing vaccines was ordered and a sterilizer was purchased as well. The immediate need for lighting was made evident as the clinic overflowed with patients due to a large and virile outbreak of malaria. Many patients had to be kept overnight to administer IVs and the malaria medication. Likewise several venomous snake bites have been treated and those patients also must be kept overnight. The clinic was built with the foresight to prewire it for power, so installation should be relatively fast.
   Originally, we had intended to have a staff consisting of a nurse and a lab technician. Because of the high need for services and the complexity of some of these services we have added a Clinical Officer. This is the Ugandan solution to a critical shortage of medical doctors. Likewise we have added a nurse's aid and an administrative aid to assist Fr. George. We also have a night watchman for safety and security.
   Our next project is a very pressing one. We need desperately to add a nurse/midwife to the staff. Infant mortality is ten times that of the U.S. and we must attack it at its root. The biggest cause of infant deaths is the total lack of any antenatal services. 
   While at the clinic, an incursion into northern Uganda by South Sundanese militia to a point within approximately 20 miles of the clinic occurred. The invaders were quickly repulsed by elements of the Ugandan Defense Forces. Father Joseph and Nurse Sue have never felt in danger including this visit. For Nurse Sue it was her ninth visit and Father Joseph's fifth.
   Donations may be made to the medical center through links on this website. All contributions are 100% deductable and all moneys received are used for the direct support of the clinic.

 

OPEN AT LAST

Fr. Joseph cuts the ribbon to open the center.
Fr. Joseph cuts the ribbon to open the center.
Fr. Joseph cuts the ribbon to open the center.
Met. Jonah enters to bless the Medical Center.
Met. Jonah enters to bless the Medical Center.
Met. Jonah enters to bless the Medical Center.
Praise God! We are finally open.
Praise God! We are finally open.
Praise God! We are finally open.

AKONYIBEDO MEDICAL CENTER OPENS

   On January 12, 2014, the medical center at Akonyibedo Village in northern Uganda was dedicated by His Eminence, Archbishop Jonah, Metropolitan of all Uganda. Under a blue African sky, a hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence and Fr. Joseph was honored to celebrate as the first priest of the Liturgy. Hundreds of residence of this war torn part of Uganda traveled many miles to join in the celebration. Fr. Joseph cut the ribbon to symbolically open the clinic and the Metropolitan then proceeded to bless every room of the center. Speeches by local government officials then followed, after which, there was a meal and dance performances.
   On January 15, the first patients were seen and treated. It was a joy to see for all of those who worked so hard to make this center a reality. We are now in the process of being certified as a Level 2 Medical Center. This will, among other things, qualify us for some free medicines from the government as well as vaccines. It will also allow us to better and more completely serve the needs of the people. We are permitted to operate fully during the certification process and therefore it is to our advantage to receive the level 2 rating.
   The need for a well is seen in one of the accompanying photos where it shows water being delivered to the Center and stored in outside vats. Also we pray that it will not be long before we have erected staff quarters so that we can have emergency services available 24 hours per day.
  


Receiving Communion at Divine Liturgy.
Receiving Communion at Divine Liturgy.
Receiving Communion at Divine Liturgy.
Met. Jonah gives the final blessing.
Met. Jonah gives the final blessing.
Met. Jonah gives the final blessing.
Hundreds came to celebrate.
Hundreds came to celebrate.
Hundreds came to celebrate.
Dancers entertain.
Dancers entertain.
Dancers entertain.

Enjoying the festivities.
Enjoying the festivities.
Enjoying the festivities.
We are 40 miles from the South Sudan border.
We are 40 miles from the South Sudan border.
We are 40 miles from the South Sudan border.
NOW OPEN
NOW OPEN
NOW OPEN
Water for the Medical Center.
Water for the Medical Center.
Water for the Medical Center.

Dr. Sue with the staff.
Dr. Sue with the staff.
Dr. Sue with the staff.
Our first patient.
Our first patient.
Our first patient.
Waiting room.
Waiting room.
Waiting room.
Examing room.
Examing room.
Examing room.

Lab awaiting equipment.
Lab awaiting equipment.
Lab awaiting equipment.
Testing lab.
Testing lab.
Testing lab.
Drug storage.
Drug storage.
Drug storage.
Consult room.
Consult room.
Consult room.


CHILDREN OF AKONYIBEDO VILLAGE


THESE ARE THE REASON FOR THE MEDICAL CLINIC

   These children of Akonyibedo Village in northern Uganda are the fortunate ones. They have survived an infant mortality rate ten (10) times that of the United States. However, most of them will not live beyond their mid fifties, the life expectancy in Uganda. This is only 2/3s that of the United States. All of these children are infected with intestinal worms and many have already suffered at least one bout of malaria. A recent study showed that at any given time 64% of them are sick.
    Right now it is relatively secure in their village but should the rebel forces return they could be pressed into service as soldiers by the rebels at the age of 10, 11 or 12. This happened to their parish priest when he was 12. After one month he escaped and hid out on his own from the rebels. When they are old enough they will help their parents with the subsistence farming that is the way of survival in this region.
   More than anything they need a medical clinic. There they can be vaccinated, receive tablets to keep them free from worms and receive treatment for their diseases. What does this mean overall for them. Simply this; longer, healthier and happier lives. For them we have undertaken to build and staff a medical clinic located just outside the village to serve all of the people of the region. Some may ask: "why doesn't their government do it?" The answer is that it does not matter. Simply put, either we do it or there will continue to be no clinic.
   Please read the other articles on this website, review the photos and then click on the "Donations" tab at the top of any page. Thank you and God bless you.

 



HOW IT STARTED

Fr. Joseph takes a turn breaking ground. Fr. George is to the right<br> in gold vestments. Metropolitan Jonah is in the background.
Fr. Joseph takes a turn breaking ground. Fr. George is to the right
in gold vestments. Metropolitan Jonah is in the background.
Fr. Joseph takes a turn breaking ground. Fr. George is to the right
in gold vestments. Metropolitan Jonah is in the background.

Click here for a short video with Orthodox
Ugandan
chanting from the grouund breaking.

A DREAM COMING TRUE

By Fr. Joseph Ciarciaglino 

I am Fr. Joseph Ciarciaglino, pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida. In 2010 I had the great privilege to serve on a short-term medical mission team to northern Uganda, under the auspices of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center. In ten days our doctors and nurses, aided by several laymen, treated almost 3,800 people. This is a testimony to the wonderful heath care providers who were on the team. For most of the people that we saw this was the first medical attention they received since the team was there in 2009. It would also be the last that they would receive until the team returned in 2011.

Malaria and intestinal worms were pandemic. Patients presented with tuberculosis, dysentery, open wounds, broken arms and legs that had not been set and even leprosy. Many of these people were only two years removed from the displaced person camps into which they had been forced due to previous rebel and terrorist activity. Some evenings our traveling pharmacy did not finish filling the doctors’ orders until after dark by the light of a kerosene lamp. None of our mobile clinics had electricity, running water or toilets.

No matter the temporary inconveniences, all of us on the team were well rewarded by the love and gratitude shown to us by the northern Ugandan people. These are truly the poorest of God’s children. Most have only the clothes that they are wearing, yet they are some of the most joyful and appreciative people that I have ever met. At each village we were met like rock stars by throngs of cheering, jumping children screaming over and over: “Bazanga, Bazanga” which means white people. At one village of mud walled huts with thatched roofs, I asked Fr. George, one of our native priests, what the people thought of Americans. His quick and sincere reply was that their definition of Americans is “white people who bring us strong medicine because they love us.”

Upon my return home, of all of the sounds and sights of this trip there was one thing that I could not get out of my mind. If I close my eyes even now I can plainly hear one of the interpreters telling the triage nurse: “He knows that he is filled with worms because he can feel them moving around.” I was appalled. I knew that there were tablets that could effectively deworm a person. And for want of a few pills this horrible condition existed in most of the people we saw. I could not get the wonderful people of Uganda out of my mind. I kept up an email correspondence with Fr. George and we discussed building a clinic in Akonyibedo village. If Archbishop Jonah, Metropolitan of all Uganda, gave his blessing I would try to raise the funds and Fr. George would oversee the construction. In June of 2012 we received permission.

Our first large donation was from the Tampa Bay area Pan-orthodox vespers’ charity collections. The Orthodox Clergy Brotherhood of Greater Tampa Bay voted to donate the entire collected amount of $6,500 to the clinic. My own parish of St. Philip the Apostle has been most generous in its collective contributions as well as understanding as to the amount of my time necessary for this project. To ensure the operation of the clinic once it is opened, St. Philip parish has committed to paying the nurse’s salary for two years. Our parish in Jacksonville, St. Justin Martyr, has committed to paying the lab technician’s salary for the same period.  

In December of 2012, I was once again among the people of northern Uganda whom I have come to know and love. We met with the Metropolitan to give him an interim report, a bank account was opened, plans approved and job offers extended to and accepted by a nurse and laboratory technician to staff the clinic. Construction has now begun. Fr. George tells me that every day people come from all around to see the progress and that many tears of joy are shed. Our long-term plan is to provide running potable water from a deep well. This will be very expensive. Likewise we hope to build staff quarters so that the nurse and lab tech can be on call afterhours. Finally our plan is to build a birthing facility in an attempt to reduce the infant mortality rate. To do this we need your help. Please click on the “Donations” button at the top of the page.

God bless you. 

 
 


PAINTING

Red cement is used to finish the floor.
Red cement is used to finish the floor.
Red cement is used to finish the floor.
A second coat of primer.
A second coat of primer.
A second coat of primer.
Fr. George shows how it is done.
Fr. George shows how it is done.
Fr. George shows how it is done.
BUILDING THE CLINIC.

A distinctive color makes clinic identifiable from far off
A distinctive color makes clinic identifiable from far off
A distinctive color makes clinic identifiable from far off
Attention to detail with the white trim.
Attention to detail with the white trim.
Attention to detail with the white trim.
 
 
 
 (Clink here to go to constrution photos and slide shows.)

 

MEDICAL CLINIC IN NORTHERN UGANDA NEARS COMPLETION

   By the grace of God, the first phase of construction is nearing completion on the medical clinic in Akonyibedo village in northern Uganda. With native pastor Fr. George in overall charge of the project, we are now painting the clinic. Remaining to be done before opening is the building of the latrine and of the incinerator as well as fencing the property. All construction is by hand, from digging of footers to the mixing of concrete, to the building and installing of trusses. The clinic is located in one of the poorest areas of Uganda and its construction is a much needed source of employment for the local villagers. A Ugandan engineering firm from Gulu is directing the project and its onsite foreman ensures day to day progress. Fr. George keeps Fr. Joseph appraised of progress by email and they confer regularly regarding the overall project.
   We hope, upon passing inspection by the Ministry of Health, to begin seeing patients before the end of this year. Once we have opened and have raised more funds we will, God willing, begin phase two which will be the drilling of the well, installations of the well head, pump and generator and the piping of water to the clinic. Phase three will be the building of staff quarters and phase four will be the construction of a birthing and neonatal facility.

(Click here for construction slide shows,)



Medical Clinic Ground Breaking

Archbishop Jonah, Metropolitan of Uganda, and Fr. Joseph discuss details of the clinic
Archbishop Jonah, Metropolitan of Uganda,
and Fr. Joseph discuss details of the clinic.
Archbishop Jonah, Metropolitan of Uganda,
and Fr. Joseph discuss details of the clinic.
"Dr." Sue, Met. Jonah, Fr. Joseph and Fr. George pose for a group photo after the meeting.
"Dr." Sue, Met. Jonah, Fr. Joseph and Fr. George pose for a group photo after the meeting.
Fr. George incenses during Liturgy at Akoney Bedo village.
Fr. George incenses during Liturgy at  Akonyibedo village.
Fr. George incenses during Liturgy at Akonyibedo village.
Met. Jonah listens as Fr. Joseph chants the gospel.
Met. Jonah listens as Fr. Joseph chants the gospel.
Met. Jonah listens as Fr. Joseph chants the gospel.
 
Fr. Georges gives Communion.
Fr. Georges gives Communion.
Fr. Georges gives Communion.
We walk to the clinic site.
We walk to the clinic site.
We walk to the clinic site.
Preparing to bless the land.
Preparing to bless the land.
Preparing to bless the land.
Ground breaking.
Ground breaking.
Ground breaking.

GROUND BREAKINGFOR UGANDAN MEDICAL CLINIC

   On December 9th, 2012, ground was broken at Akonyibedo village in northern Uganda for the construction of a medical clinic. In this area the people are just a few years out of the displaced persons camps and security is only now taking hold. Fr. Joseph visited this area in 2010 as part of an OCMC medical mission team. Moved by the need of the people for a permanent clinic, he sought and received in 2012 the blessing of Archbishop Jonah, Metropolitan of all Uganda, to attempt to raise the funds necessary to build and equip such a clinic. Through the generosity of both Orthodox and non-Orthodox, sufficient money has now been raised to begin construction. Despite having been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident two months prior, Fr. Joseph traveled to Uganda to meet with the Metropolitan, review plans for the clinic's construction and to help decide on the staff for the clinic. Sue Nelson, a nurse practioner, who has treated patients in Uganda for a number of years and with whom Father served on the 2010 medical team, accompanied him. Lovingly referred to by the Ugandan people as "Doctor Sue," her knowledge and experience regarding the medical needs of the people in Uganada had been very helpful in the planning and fundraising and her assistance was a great help on this trip, especially in suggesting changes to the proposed clinic plan and in interviewing potential staff. On Sunday the 9th of December, a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the mud walled, thatched roof church at Akonyibedo village. After Liturgy, the land was blessed and the ground broken. Following that came speeches, native dancing and the serving of a meal. Local officals were in attendance and many people traveled long distances by foot to join in the celebration of a dream coming true.

 


Plans for the Clinic

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

PLANS ARE DRAWN FOR NORTHERN UGANDA MEDICAL CLINIC

Above and below are drawings for the medical clinic in Akonyibedo, Uganda. The building has been staked out on the land and construction is underway.

 
Front of Clinic
Front of Clinic
Front of Clinic