Last year when I visited the Reverend Mother at the Masindi Kitara Diocese of The Church of Uganda to deliver quilts that my friend, Janel’s quilt group had made, I asked her what I could gather and bring to her on my next trip to Africa. She mentioned that reading glasses would be very helpful for the older women and men who were having difficulty reading their bibles as their eyesight worsened with age. Boy that hit a chord with me as I have needed reading glasses myself for several years now and don’t know what I would do without them. So, I lifted up this need to the Christian Education director at my church, St. Luke Lutheran Church in Bloomsburg, PA and she jumped at the chance for the youth to get involved in this project. A call went out to the entire congregation and they gathered some 250 pairs and my Mother’s church in Florida sent up some more for a total of 275! Then last Sunday, the church Sunday school middle school and high school youth created bubble wrap eyeglass cases using brightly colored duct tape. We figured this would not only serve as good packing material but also could be used to safely store the glasses.
This year I am also bringing about 80 lb of pharmacy textbooks to Makerere University, several prayer shawls- 2 made by me and several more made by a friend at church, a bunch of newborn baby hats made by one of my pharmacy students and her mother as well as by people from my mother’s church, and not to forget, a couple of boxes of “Little Dresses for Africa” that were also made by members of my Mom’s church.
All of this stuff has filled about 9 suitcases that we are bringing in addition to our personal clothes. We will offer these gifts to the Ugandan people we meet as a small token of our appreciation for letting us into their lives so that we can grow in our global understanding of different cultures. We want to better understand the health challenges they face in hopes that learning and sharing our knowledge will lead to a greater awareness which will breed new solutions and compassion and help us to be better pharmacist and healthcare providers.