Trip reflections from Shaunessy

I am so proud of our international work! These two recent trips to Uganda and Congo have brought me so much joy and a positive challenge both personally and professionally.

Clearly GRI is made up of a many people, both here and abroad, who work really hard to achieve great things. I am humbled to be a part of it all.

GRI’s Rhino Camp Clinic is situated in a large refugee camp of approximately 50,000 people from South Sudan and Congo. It provides services that are critical to those in the area. Last year the 9 staff members treated over 40,000 patients out of a small government health center building and a large (and very HOT) tent.

Although the work is not perfect and has it’s challenges, there are many victories….

-The clinic always has a consistent supply of medications. The larger clinics in bordering areas frequently come to our clinic to inquire about “borrowing” medications. Our patients can be sure that when they make the walk to our clinic we will have medications in our pharmacy.

-We always have staff on duty. The majority of our staff live behind the clinic in staff quarters. They take emergencies 24/7 and rotate with other staff members to provide coverage as needed.

-We deliver LOTS of babies at the clinic! We always have staff there to deliver with the women. This encourages women to come to the clinic and not deliver in their huts, which can be quite dangerous.

-The work is all done by Africans! This concept is actually quite rare in Africa, but we are very proud to say that the staff members own this project and have been integral in its creation and direction from the beginning. We value locally run projects where the staff speak the language, are familiar with the cultural values and traditions, and have a basic understanding of how things work in the local context. This is altogether more sustainable and we believe this is how transformation happens both for people personally and in their culture.

-The staff is well trained! Over this past year we have faced many challenges in referring our emergency patients to the district hospital which is over an hour away on very poor roads. Many of our patients die in transport or once they reach the hospital, as the care at this government facility is very poor. Therefore, we recently increased our capacity at the clinic and are striving to provide more services “in house” to cut down on referrals. We are also actively hiring additional staff members. With this new clinic we will also have rooms to accommodate visitors, so we plan to continue to increase our staff’s knowledge with visiting doctors and nurses. I’m happy to say that the day after the new clinic is built a physician and nurse will arrive from the US to assist at the clinic for a few weeks. In the coming months we are excited to be able to host visiting medical staff from around the world who will continue to invest in our staff members to help them grow in their knowledge and practice.

In summary, we are so blessed to be in partnership with hard working, intelligent men and women on another continent to bring life-saving and life-transforming care to those in need. Our work in this area is so valuable and with this new clinic building we can do even better work in the future.

Thanks to so many of you who have joined in this project. If you haven’t joined us yet, will you help out today? We are almost there….