The summer is over, and now it is time to start thinking about the upcoming school year and the additional challenges that COVID is bringing to my final year on campus. Coronavirus is definitely a challenge that has thrown a curveball for everybody. Originally, I had plans to be over 9000 miles away from my home in Arizona in Bukwo, Uganda. Circumstances led me to conduct my internship virtually from home this summer.
World of Work (WOW) is an extraordinary program that provides students with opportunities to participate in a wide variety of fields during the summer. Without WOW and Hiatt, I never could have imagined working with Love4Bukwo this summer. Love4Bukwo is a nonprofit that is creating accessible healthcare for the people of the small town of Bukwo, Uganda. The organization is built upon reducing socioeconomic inequalities facing the Ugandan community. As Love4Bukwo focuses on providing equitable healthcare to community members, their foundation is bringing justice to the people of Bukwo and the inequalities they face through healthcare.
Love4Bukwo is still working to create a fully functional hospital as they have run into complications throughout their journey. As I was involved with this origination virtually, I was tasked with working on various projects. I participated and helped the organization with a wide variety of assignments. I helped my organization write a USAID grant, and worked on several different aspects of creating policies for the hospital. Working to create policies for the hospital, is essential as it creates a foundation for how the hospital will run and function upon opening.
Having the chance to work directly with an organization like Love4Bukwo was an extraordinary opportunity this summer. Something that I quickly realized while working with my internship was how elaborate it is to create a hospital. The amount of behind the scene work that goes into creating policies and procedures to ensure an operational hospital was astounding. I had no idea the amount of work going into addressing inequalities in small rural under-developed communities in the Global South. Working to address the healthcare inequalities that the people of this town face is such a large-scale project that the founders of Love4Bukwo have taken on. They have already built the facility and are working on expansions from around the world. They have to create policies and procedures, transport equipment, and medicine to the site, while also still hiring staff and physicians.
When I was searching for an internship for the summer last spring, I had no idea where to begin. But I found the best way to find an intriguing opportunity of the summer is to look at where you want to be in the future and selectively apply to programs that focus towards that goal. The best thing to do is really utilize networks and ask peers and colleagues for help. The connections that you build now will help you to be able to effectively reach out for new opportunities later down the road.
It was not until I got to Brandeis until I started to consciously think about socioeconomic issues surrounding different communities. Before my studies as a Health: Science, Society, and Policy major (Public Health), I understood the basic concepts of first- and third-world countries, developed- and developing-communities. While at Brandeis I took classes introducing me to a wide array of global health issues affecting communities in the world. I learned about the impact that Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) programs and clean cookstove initiatives can have on low-income developing communities. I knew since before I arrived at Brandeis that I was privileged to be raised with opportunities that kids my age in Uganda would never dream of having.
My internship with Love4Bukwo Hospital is at a point of organizational development with which they are not at a fully operational point. Although Love4Bukwo is already built and the structure of the hospital has already been created there is still much to do. Working at my internship I have been primarily tasked with working to create policies that will be implemented upon the opening of the fully functional hospital. As I have researched and curated policies administered at the hospital, I have been able to understand how my work will directly impact the people of Bukwo.
At the beginning of my internship, I researched the socioeconomic conditions that people of Bukwo faced. This allowed me to really understand what it is like living there. Through previous courses on campus, I began slowly understanding what sort of socioeconomic differences are typically found in third world developing countries, specifically in Africa. While researching those that affect Bukwo, I learned how these burdens affect the citizens of this rural town.
Before Love4Bukwo began working on building a hospital, on top of dealing with communicable disease burdens prevalent to Africa or the Global South (i.e. Malaria and HIV/AIDS) the people of Bukwo had no way to readily treat health issues they may run into. The organization that I am working with is bringing healthcare to these individuals. Once operational, mothers will no longer be reliant on uneducated neighbors to treat labor complications, workers will no longer have to sacrifice their work for being injured and not treated, community members will no longer be dying during transportation to a nearby hospital sometimes over two hours away in Kenya.
Love4Bukwo Hospital is creating a means to bring first-world solutions to a developing low-income third-world community. The Love4Bukwo organization is not the ultimate solution to address all of the issues facing community members of Bukwo, Uganda. However, being a part of this organization and creating a solution to address even just some of the socioeconomic burdens that face the individuals in Bukwo is satisfying. I know that the research that I do virtually during my time with Love4Bukwo will change the lives of many individuals in the town once the hospital is up and functional. I am happy that although I was unable to travel and experience the culture and what it is like to live in Bukwo over the summer that I am still able to be a part of the initiative that fuels the organization: bringing affordable and accessible healthcare to the people of Bukwo.
This summer I am interning at Love4Bukwo Regional Hospital in Bukwo, Uganda. For years, the people of Bukwo have had to travel more than two hours into Kenya to seek out healthcare in hospitals. However, sometimes they would be unable to make it all the way to the hospital. The founders of Love4Bukwo have made it their mission to create a hospital bringing accessible services and healthcare workers directly to the town. No longer would the people of Bukwo be required to (sometimes unsuccessfully) drive two hours on treacherous unpaved roads. They would instead they would have immediate access to hospital health services in their own backyard.
I chose to intern at this organization for a few reasons. I am a rising senior majoring in International and Global Studies as well as Health: Science, Society, and Policy, and combining international work and community healthcare was very important to me. Another reason I chose to work with this organization is that after graduation I hope to be a Community Health Volunteer with the Peace Corps. Working with Love4Bukwo would allow me to combine my two courses of study and provide me with valuable work experiences applicable to being in the Peace Corps.
My main project is to work on developing an extensive set of policies and procedures for the hospital to use when it is fully operational. However, there are many issues that need to be addressed for the hospital to be operational, so I am assisting however I can virtually. Already, I have contributed to the application for the USAID Limited Excess Property Program, a program designed to support overseas development and humanitarian aid programs. As individuals in Bukwo have been working to continue construction onsite, I have begun posting daily updates about the work they are doing there.
Although I am unfortunately not in Bukwo this summer as planned, the work that I am doing will greatly impact the organization. While COVID has greatly affected life globally, it has been particularly difficult for the people of Bukwo, as they typically rely on having open borders with Kenya to get resources from their neighboring country. Facility construction on site had to be halted for an extended period due to the closed border because of COVID. Right now, my job is to work on projects that can be implemented virtually while also helping out wherever my supervisors need help.
The video is from a volunteer able to travel and help with the hospital.
Building a fully operational hospital is difficult. Contributing to the development of building a fully operational hospital thousands of miles away definitely has its difficulties. However, I know that the work that I am doing for Love4Bukwo will be beneficial for when the hospital opens, as it will address many socioeconomic issues in Bukwo. Progress takes a long time and Love4Bukwo knows it, but complications like COVID will not stop the hospital from opening. Love4Bukwo Regional Hospital is focused on the long-term effects of opening the hospital and the lives that will change with having access to healthcare in town.