Baylor Medical Mission Team Extends Trip To Serve Orphans, Visits Former Student

News Photo 3368
Lori Spies (right) and Rose Nanyonga (left) sit with a special needs child during the Nursing School's Uganda trip in March 2005.
Feb. 15, 2006

by Frank Raczkiewicz

For many Baylor University students, March will be spent in the classroom with a week off for rest and relaxation. That is not the case for some Louise Herrington School of Nursing students and their faculty sponsor. Their March will be spent half-a-world away with little leisure time.

Lori Spies, a lecturer in the family nurse practitioner program, and four students will spend the month in Uganda providing health care to children. Uganda, located in sub-Saharan Africa, has one of the highest orphan rates in the world, with nearly 30 percent of children living without their parents. When Spies returned from a similar medical mission trip to Uganda last year, the first time the trip was organized, she immediately knew more time was needed.

"I set a somewhat grueling work schedule last year, so this year we have a little time to sight-see," Spies said. "We also extended the trip so we could spend more time at a rural hospital where the students could really work one-on-one with the patients."

The group will leave Feb. 28 and will stay until April 1, a week longer than last year's trip. The trip will start in Kampala, Uganda's capital, where Spies and her students will work in a city orphanage. They will set up a clinic and check more than 250 children for viruses and other problems.

"They don't get yearly check-ups like American children get. Usually, Ugandan children only go to the doctor when they're seriously hurt," Spies explained. "We'll be checking them for things like ring-worm and respiratory infections."

Each child that is seen by the nurses will be given a course of medicine for de-worming, Spies said.

From Kampala, Spies and her team will travel to the city of Kiwoko to spend time working in a hospital. The team will spend 10 days at the hospital, making rounds with the doctors, before traveling to Rakai, another major Ugandan city near Kampala, to work in another orphanage.

"This trip will give these students real hands-on training that they will use as medical missionaries. They will learn how precious resources are distributed, what healthcare is like in a lesser-developed country and how to treat the different diseases and viruses unique to the area," Spies said.

After spending several days in Rakai, the nurses will travel back to Kampala to spend the remaining time visiting the International Hospital and its associated nursing school. Rose Nanyonga, the hospital's nursing director, is a former student of Spies who traveled with the group last year. Spies said Nanyonga was the inspiration for starting the annual trip to Uganda.

Nanyonga, a Ugandan national, was forced to flee her country at the age of 15 when her family became angry that she embraced Christianity. She eventually ended up in Dallas, where she completed her master's degree at Baylor and graduated as a family nurse practitioner. She returned to Uganda last May.

"Rose could have held a powerful position in the hospital system in this country, yet she felt called by Christ to return to Uganda and work for the benefit of her people. I have tremendous respect for that," Spies said.

Baylor's team of four students, all of whom are in the family nurse practitioner master's degree program, raised money through donations to pay for the $2,500 trip. Spies said they will buy most of the medical supplies in Uganda, although they also will bring some toys to give to the children.

"This trip just fits perfectly into Baylor's mission," Spies said.

For more information, contact: Lori Spies at (214) 820-4173

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