MEDICAL CLINIC FOR NORTHERN UGANDA
In 2010, Fr. Joseph, pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida and Karleen Kunz, a parishioner and professor of nursing, were members of a medical team which served the poorest of the poor in northern Uganda. In ten days the team treated almost 4,000 people. Fr. Joseph was appalled to learn that the annual medical team is the only medical services available to most of the people of this region. Also Fr. Joseph and Karleen observed that there were few people who appeared to be past their forties in age. This is because of the low life expectancy. Ground Zero for Ugandan terrorist and rebel activity was in this area. The people are only a few years removed from the displaced persons camps.
In 2011 and 2012 the parish helped raise funds to send a medical team for each of those years to northern Uganda. Fr. Joseph became convinced that a full-time medical clinic was the only answer to the medical needs of the area. In discussions with Sue Nelson, team leader in 2010 and team member in 2011 and 2012, he learned that a doctor from Greece had purchased land in Akonyibedo as a site for a clinic and/or school. Akonibedo is ideal because it is centrally located and is relatively secure. In correspondence with Fr. George, a local Ugandan pastor, it was decided that a 2,200 square foot building would be adequate for use by a native R.N. and a lab technician. The initial cost is anticipated to be about $90,000 US. During Lent of 2012, Fr. Joseph addressed those in attendance at the weekly Sunday Pan-Orthodox vespers and a total of $6,500 was raised toward the clinic construction. Fr. Joseph then sent letters of direct appeal to lawyers, physicians and other professionals in the area whom he knew and sufficient funds were raised to begin construction in January, 2013.
As of April 1st, the land has been cleared, the foundation laid and the walls erected. Plans have been expanded to include an on-site well, staff quarters so that they may be on call for emergencies after hours and ultimately the construction of a birthing facility and neonatal care. As of now the infant mortality rate is over ten times that of the United States.