Thursday, February 17, 2011

Home is Where the Heart is...

It's your average Thursday here in Glen Carbon/Edwardsville, Illinois. Except it's 60 degrees in the middle of February. Warm weather after a very cold winter always makes me nostalgic... Especially when the majority of what I think about it Africa. I remember David telling me that in Namulonge, they see the sun 350 days out of the year. It isn't overwhelmingly hot there, but comfortable. I also remember one day it sprinkled for awhile, and it felt so refreshing so a few of the team members were standing in it or playing around, and the kids were baffled. They tried to pull me back under the awning, saying that I would get sick if I stay in the rain. It's the little memories like that which make you miss Africa.
I had the pleasure of talking to Jude, my Ugandan nephew, on the phone this past Tuesday. As soon as I heard his voice I started to tear up, and I am not a crier. It's silly how little time it takes for you to actually forget what their accents sound like, and how beautiful they are. All Jude kept repeating to me was "I can't wait to come to America!". I also got to speak to my favorite little girl, I know I know, you're not supposed to pick favorites... but I did. Anyway, she became attached to me after I interviewed her for a project we were doing. The day after I interviewed her, she took me aside and told me that she had lied during her interview, that she didn't live with her parents, and that she was orphaned because of AIDS. It was heartbreaking. It is bad enough to see commercials on TV with some person saying, "This is Marsha, she was orphaned when she was just 6 months old because her parents died of AIDS"- but to actually have a child say it to your face, to see them cry because they are still mourning that loss is completely life changing. She wrote me a letter, telling me she was grateful that God gave her a new mother... When I spoke to her on the phone, she told me she wanted to come to America to be with me. It is little girls like Hanifah that make you want to change the world.

Friday, February 4, 2011

An Elevator and a Cowhorn

I traveled to Africa for the first time this last November with the group. I have a hundred stories I could share with you about my time there. It is very hard to choose. I thought I would go with what turned out to be my favorite two days there.

Here are some things you need to know about me...

1. I have wanted to go to Africa since I was a little girl (thank you Jane Goodall).

2. I have always been interested in humanitarian issues.

3. Although I have always been interested in public health issues, I hate hospitals and blood.

I really wasn't sure what exactly I wanted to do in Africa, besides help in any way I could. I decided to volunteer to work in the health clinic in the village. I knew I would be interested in health issues that affect the area, the rate of HIV, or Malaria, or any other problems. I was assigned to assist Dr. Dave Guilbeault who was going to train two nurses to extract teeth. I thought I was going to hand him gauze and be bored to death. That didn't matter to me, because I would be in Africa.

On the second day of the trip I'm at the clinic, mostly observing the nurses work while Dr. Dave went to Kampala to pick up supplies. I watch them test pregnant women for HIV so they can give them medications to try and save the babies from contracting it. I witness a women give birth in a room with no electricity and no door and then sent home three hours later with her baby, who still needed cleaned off. At the end of the day I realize I don't want to leave, I love it there.

The next day I started assisting Dr. Dave. The first thing I learned was that pulling teeth is like pulling a fence post out of the ground. I quickly learned the names of the instruments (elevators and cowhorns, etc.) I learned how to fill a syringe. I learned where to give the laticane depending on which tooth is being pulled. I learned the names of each tooth and how many roots they have. I held the flashlight, since we were working in the shade under a tree outside the clinic. I watched Dr. Dave be an incredible teacher not only to the nurses but to me as well. I watched two nurses eager to learn and help out their fellow villagers.

Dozens and dozens of people came to get a tooth extracted. They sat outside all day, both days, for a chance to be seen. I was walking or working from sun up to sun down and loved every minute of it. I can't remember the last time I learned so much.

Here is what I learned about me:

1. I don't hate all hospital and clinics, there is at least one that I love!

2. I can get use to blood and medical procedures.

Dr. Dave asked me if it had lived up to my expectations and I said "Are you kidding? I though I would be handing you gauze." I had the time of my life extracting teeth! Who would of thought! I was sad when Dr. Dave left and I would not get to help extract teeth anymore. I might have even found a potential career.

When I got home everyone I told about this part of my adventure was surprised to hear about the joy I found in it. It is nice to know that at age 39 I can still surprise myself and others. Helping others in need is not only about what they receive but what you receive as well. In this respect it is hard to know who got more out of this trip, the people of Namulonge or myself.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

7 months until August!

Hello friends!
I am blogging in the PR office, we are hard at work! It has been almost 2 months since we went to Namulonge, Uganda, and I miss it very much. Going to Namulonge was definitely the experience of a lifetime... one I hope to repeat in August! I would recommend that everyone should try to experience Africa, because there is no place like it. Their hospitality and kindness was amazing, and inspiring. Just how happy everyone was with what they had really makes you realize just how much you take for granted... like simple things: shoes, phone and internet.. The children are the happiest children I've ever seen, and they don't have video games, gameboys, cell phones, or boxes full of toys. I also noticed how greedy most of us are (or me, at least), we have to have everything but we don't really need any of it! It makes you analyze the true definition of the word "necessity".
Since I returned from Namulonge I have been trying to write letters to two very special children there, but for some reason I have been having a hard time deciding what to say. One of the hardest parts of Africa was not being able to adequately express yourself because of the language barrier. Our slang terms simply do not translate, and even words like "cute" are hard to explain.
On one hand, coming to work at the office is so great, because we all became a sort of family in Uganda, and it is nice to be around them again and remember great stories and help do some of the other work for Project Restore. On the other hand, it sort of makes me sad because we are here, in the US, and not back home in Africa.

Those are just a few pictures from Africa... who knows, maybe in a few months you will join us to meet the wonderful people there :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pictures from Africa

The 2010 trip to Africa was a huge success! There were thirteen teammates that worked on some pretty exciting projects:
- repairing of a broken water well
- connecting a clean water line to the Health Clinic
- distributing 1800 LLIN (mosquito nets)
- hosting medical and dental clinics
- building a 500 roost chicken coop - a sustainable feeding program for the school
- building a swing set for the kids at the Namulonge Senior Secondary School - something they had never seen before!

Check out some of the pictures from the trip!
A water Well fixed in Namulonge, Uganda

1800 double sized LLIN (mosquito nets) were distributed - giving universal coverage to 9 villages!

Dr. Anne and Brandon hosted medical orientations for the staff at the Namulonge Health Clinic and attended to over 75 patients

Dr. Dave and Sherri trained two nurses on basic dental procedures

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Traveling Team

The Project Restore Africa team of 13 left St. Louis on November 20th. They have landed in Amsterdam and are awaiting their flight to Entebbe, Africa. Spirits are high despite the lack of sleep. The team will try to blog about their work over the next 10 days if they are able to access the internet. So stay tuned and check out their progress and hopefully some pictures!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

600 Pounds of Hope

The tweleve team members leaving for Africa this Saturday filled twelve extra suitcases PACKED with donated items . . . school supplies, shoes, swings, clothing, medical supplies, sports balls, musical instruments, thousands of bandaids and much, much more! On November 20th, the 50-lb. each bags will take 3 airplanes over 2 days to reach the people of Uganda . . . restoring hope in the lives of many hurting men, women and children in Namulonge!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Twin Echo Elementary Bandage Collection

The students at Twin Echo Elementary in Collinsville, Illinois had a busy October collecting bandages of all shapes, sizes and colors for Project Restore. They took the challenge head-on to help Project Restore collect 100,000 bandages to take to the medical clinic in Uganda this November . . . and what a dent they made! Thank you to all the administration, staff, students and parents for your kindness and generosity...what a difference you will make in the lives of thousands of hurting people!!!

one bandage at a time

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Malaria Net Goal Exceeded!

Thank you to everyone who generously donated to Project Restore's Countdown to Hope.

Together through this campaign we raised over 1000 nets!

This November we will take your nets as well as 800 more raised over the past year and distribute them to individuals in Namulonge. While our goal was to cover 80% of the village, our net count will enable us to cover every single person as well as share the additional nets with a neighboring village.

We are incredibly excited to travel to Namulonge next week and restore hope to so many people! We invite you to sign up for our e-newsletter so we can send you photos and updates of the net distribution and more when we return.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Healing Namulonge, Uganda one band-aid at a time!

Worden Elementary of Worden, IL collected bandages of all shapes, sizes and styles for a medical clinic in Namulonge, Uganda that serves over 35,000 villagers but has no bandages. Members of Worden's Student Council designed posters to display around the school to promote the collection and set a goal of 5,000 bandages. Week after week, bandages were counted and displayed on a large graph near the front of the school. At the end of week 3, the grand total was 14,120 bandages!

Mrs. Feco's 5th grade class collected the highest percentages of bandages and will receive a popcorn party to celebrate! A team with Project Restore will be taking the bandages directly to the clinic in November.

Thank you Worden! YOU ROCK!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Jumbo Problem

The children that will die today from malaria would fill 7 jumbo jets.

Malaria is the world's single largest killer of children. In Africa, most children have no hope of preventing the disease because they do not have access to medical care.

You can't provide these children with medical care, but you can save a child from malaria. All it takes is a long-lasting insecticidal bed net. And all it costs is $5.

Donating is simple, but the impact is immeasurable. Just visit our page at Against Malaria and click "Donate Now":

Every penny of your donation will purchase nets. And every net donated will be personally distributed by Project Restore to an individual in Namulonge, Uganda this November. So far we have distributed 1300 nets to the village. If we provide 600 more during this trip we will have covered 80% of Namulonge. 80% is the magic number needed to see a dramatic decrease in the prevalence of malaria in a village. Together, we have the power to make this difference.

Please help us restore hope.
...The deadline for donations is November 1st...


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Namulonge 2009

Today I wanted to share with you some photos from Project Restore's trip to Namulonge, last November. During this trip we distributed hundreds of nets to hundreds of people in the village. These photos capture the joy and hope these individuals received along with their nets. While many people in Namulonge are protected from malaria thanks to generous net donations, over 600 men, women and children in the village remain at risk. You can save a life with your donation. PLEASE DONATE AT

574 Nets to Go,