Friends of Ruwenzori's visits to Kitojo are focused on building relationships that foster mutual understanding between Uganda and the US. Visitors are often given the opportunity to volunteer by providing assistance with KIDA's many humanitarian tasks.
Visiting Trip #3: June 28-July 10, 2010
Team members included four Gleasons: Karen and Gil with son Michael and his wife Jennifer, Brian Kast, a freelance professional videographer from Georgia and Jan Doninelli from Moraga, California. The main task on this trip was to document KIDA's work on film and collect stories and interviews under the very capable leadership of Jennifer and Brian. 16 rolls of tape were filled with colorful video footage! After returning home, Jennifer. assisted by colleague Scott Hicken, spent hundreds of hours editing the footage and writing the script. The seven minute version is located on the home page. Check it out!
Gil shared his violin music, playing often at the KIDA clinic for the clients waiting in the waiting room and for KIDA's cultural evening on July 4th. Brian gave guitar lessons and wrote a song, "Uganda! We are one!". Jenn and Jan rehearsed the dance with KIDA's drama group and got to perform with them in costume. We enjoyed a two day safari with Kenneth of "Bushmemories" at Queen Elizabeth Park.
February 21-March 14, 2007 (our very first Friends of Ruwenzori Trip)
"Our mission is to seek understanding of the economic, health, and educational challenges facing the Kitojo community in Uganda, to offer assistance in day to day tasks, to offer companionship in the struggles, and compassion and friendship to the people we encounter. We hope that our experience in Kitojo will inform and inspire our future engagement and response to the needs we observe."
We drafted this mission statement once the group was confirmed. The nine member team included Karen Gleason, Delia O’Hara, Herb Johnson, Ann Squires, Jim and Flo Haedt and Erin Haugen all from the San Francisco Bay Area; Stephanie Dybsky from Eugene, Oregon and Gregory Kay from Buffalo, New York.
We participated in KIDA’s programs in a variety of ways. Jim Haedt, Herb Johnson, and Greg Kay worked alongside KIDA’s vocational students and made significant progress on the clinic building extension. Erin Haugen, Stephanie Dybsky, and Ann Squires taught computer skills to KIDA volunteers and staff. Delia O’Hara, a licensed nurse practitioner, offered her clinical assessment skills alongside the nurses in the clinic. Karen Gleason, Flo Haedt, Erin, and Stephanie counted pills for monthly dose packages and assisted with HIV testing. We all helped put together first aid kits for the home care volunteers, organized supplies, gave out gifts, participated in VCT, seminars and workshops, visited HIV positive clients in their homes, and observed drama shows. We even danced the “Hokey Pokey!”
We appreciated our hosts and believe our mission was accomplished! The goal was to impact Ugandans’ lives, but our lives are forever changed after this amazing adventure in Africa. We all left with unforgettable memories and uplifted spirits.