KIHEFO promotes local initiated solutions to fight disease, ignorance and poverty in southwestern Uganda
Gaetano Rubarema spoke from the heart when describing his appreciation for the “friendship” between Canadians and Ugandans on the sunny morning when KIHEFO and TO – the WORLD’s team arrived for a 1-day health clinic in Kyanamira.
He pointed to the sheet-metal roof on the primary school in Kyanamira and smiled. Gaetano remembered being “just a school boy” when two Canadian fathers visited his village in 1953 and helped construct the roof that had formerly been grass-thatched. He remembered the excitement shared by his classmates and teachers for the Canadian visitors, and their solidarity with Ugandan community leaders to help improve education and social conditions in Kyanamira.
Flash forward sixty years to 2013. Today Gaetano is the Chair Man for the village of Kyanamira, a retired teach and headmaster, and a community leader who’s taken many strides in his lifetime to help families struggle out of poverty and sickness.
Gaetano and community leaders in Kyanamira began working with KIHEFO several years ago to collaborate on a project to develop a Vocational School in the village. When Dr. Geoffrey Anguyo (Executive Director of KIHEFO) approached Kyanamira’s leaders to host a 1-day Mobile Health Camp in the village, Gaetano felt “simply excited” at the opportunity to bring needed health services to his community.
His soft spoken speech was amplified as he described the severe need health needs in Kyanamira, and explained that many people hadn’t seen a doctor in over ten, fifteen years – and some children had never seen a doctor in their lifetime. In Kyanamira, most families are too poor to pay for the limited health services that are available.
“You just can’t imagine,” Gaetano stressed passionately, “being sick and walking on foot, maybe up to six or seven kilometers, all the way to the Kabale Regional Hospital. By the time you arrive, you’re totally exhausted. They prescribe for you a medication, but you either can’t afford it, or you go to the Dispensary and there’s no medication waiting for you. It becomes completely disappointing for people.”
For Dr. Anguyo, collaborating with community leaders like Gaetano – who are working hard to advocate for the needs of their people – is exactly the approach KIHEFO is taking to fighting poverty and disease in rural Kigezi.
“The critical thing for us is working with community leaders, and building capacity on the ground,” said Dr. Anguyo. “For us, the real work is in the outreach and helping the poorest people in rural communities who can’t afford services.”
Together, the community of Kyanamira, TO – the WORLD, and KIHEFO were able to provide dental and general health services to approximately 300 people.
To learn more about KIHEFO’s Dental and Medical Camps, and how YOU can get involved, please – click here.
To learn more about TO – the WORLD, please – click here.