Special Thanks

Our trip is only made possible with great support.  For supplies, we had a lot of support from Patterson Dental who helped make our trip successful.  We also received help from Butler, African Christian Fellowship of Minnesota, and of course all of our employers who gave us time to chase our dream.  Lastly we would like to thank our friends and family who keep us in their thoughts and prayers while we are away.

Home at last

We arrived at the airport in Entebbe for our journey home at 10:00PM.  Due to increased security, we had to be dropped off with our luggage at the lower level and carry our baggage up two flights of stairs to the check-in level.  The shower that I took before leaving for the airport was pretty much wasted at this point.  However, we all made it through check-in and flew from Uganda at 1:45AM.  After an uneventful flight, we arrived in Amsterdam at 7:40AM and had a few hours to explore Amsterdam.  After saying goodbye to Jim and Bob (who had an earlier flight), we ventured out.  First we got train tickets for a round trip from the airport.  After asking several people (very few of which spoke English) we were on our way.  After going through several stops and realizing that the scenery was becoming more rural, we decided we were headed in the wrong direction.  We exited the train, crossed to tracks headed in the right direction and 25 minutes later were in downtown Amsterdam.  What a culture shock!  Amsterdam is very liberal with their laws and ideals.  There were many stores that openly advertised drug use and other things.  We were able to find some excellent cheese shops and eating places.  After arriving back safely at the airport and boarding our last flight, we made it safely home.  All in all, it was a great trip with great weather, great patient numbers, great experiences, and everyone being safe.

Last day, then home ..

Our last day of clinic for this trip went very well.  We saw 40 children from the Mildmay Clinic and were ready to pack by 1:00PM.  For packing, we store our equipment and supplies on site in large metal boxes that we have had constructed in Kampala.  The craftsman (because there is no other word that could describe him) makes our metal boxes one at a time without the use of power tools or metal brakes.  He makes everything (hinges, hasps,handles, and tops) by hand with a hammer and small piece of metal to bend the parts over.  They are works of art and have protected our equipment for two years now.  Packing went very efficiently with John Walker taking the lead and controlling the packing groups.  Within 3 hours we were packed and able to start getting ready for the long trip home.  This trip was very successful with over 500 children seen and alot of good work done.  Everyone was kept safe and the weather was ideal.  Tonight we leave for the airport at 9:00 and will leave Kampala at 1:45AM.   After a long layover in Amsterdam, where we hope to do a little site seeing, we will finally arrive home late tomorrow afternoon.  I will post pictures late in the weekend.  Bye for now.

Day and night

Thursday at clinic was loud but productive.  The kids we saw were from upcountry and were more vocal with more of a language barrier.  We saw 86 patients and will be well over our unofficial target of 500 for our trip.  We try to see as many children as possible with no upper limit.
In the evening I, my wife,our daughter, and Amanda were invited to Dr. Rose's home.  She is a Ugandan dentist who helps us greatly each year.  We arrived at her home that has a heavy iron gate with a night watchman and when the gates opened we were surprised to find a very American looking home.  They had 5 bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a family room.  They ordered takeout pizza, fish, pork, and refreshments for us and we were very appreciative.  Pizza is hard to come by in Uganda.  They are fortunate that they are both professionals and can afford some of life's luxuries.  Her husband Steven is also in the Rotary Club which has allowed them to travel.  By traveling to the U.S. they were allowed to buy a flat screen tv (1/3 of the price that it would have cost in the Uganda).  We had a marvelous time.
Today we see patients in the morning and pack up our clinic for another year.  Tonight begins the long journey home.

Ugandan Independence Day

Ugandan Independence Day is January 25th and gives our group a day to recuperate from clinic.  Some of us were up and on a bus at 7:00AM for a bus ride to Jinja to do whitewater rafting on the Nile.  It was a great time with class 3,4, and 5 rapids.  We all enjoyed great weather, great vistas, and surviving whitewater rafting on the Nile.  We joined the rest of our group at the end of the day in downtown Kampala at a pizzaria.  Some had gone shopping and relaxing at a resort.  Others explored the town.  Back to a busy day at clinic on Thursday.

Robbie Burns Supper

For a bit of diversion, a group of 7 of us plus a Mildmay director (Caroline MacLeod) went to a Robbie Burns Supper.  Every year throughout the world Scots celebrate the birth of Robert Burns on January 25th.  In Uganda it is no different.  We enjoyed a night of great food (yes, including wonderful Haggis), fascinating conversations (with people from the U.K., Sweden, and Uganda), bagpipes, and Scottish country dancing.  Although we were tired from a day at work, we enjoyed ourselves greatly and want to book it with a greater group next year (Lord willing).  It did make for a late night though with dancing continuing past when we left at 1:00AM.  Wednesday is a holiday with people going different directions.  More later.

Tuesday, January 25th in clinic

Tuesday was another good day with 79 children treated.  Some issues were worked out with the spare cart and tech group making everything run smoothly.  Bob, Jim, Terry, and John have done a fantastic job this year keeping everything running.  The children came from just outside Kampala and had fairly decent oral hygiene and could communicate  better than some.  It makes our jobs easier.  We also have had help communicating this year with Ugandan volunteers.  Nicholas (a dental nurse), Dr. Rose ( a Ugandan dentist), an Gladys (a former worker at Mildmay) have been especially helpful and gave of their time freely to help.  We appreciate them.  Everyone says hi to home.

Back from a busy weekend

We all made it back safely from our busy, "relaxing" weekend.  Some of us went to orphanages, shopped, or relaxed around the pool in Kampala.  Others went gorilla trekking in southwest Uganda.  The group I was in went on safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwest Uganda.  The weather was great, mid to upper 80's and we saw a variety of animals.  We saw a leopard, a lion in a tree, cape buffalo, hippos, mongoose, birds (too many to mention), and a crocodile.  The food was excellent, and a little more like home food.  The drive however, was exhausting.  Driving through that part of Uganda is beautiful.  We see several tea fields, cotton fields, banana plantations, and even corn fields.  Parts of it look like the Highlands of Scotland.  We even get a glimpse of the Rwenzori Mountains (Mountains of the Moon).  As we drive through the villages children come out from behind huts to energetically wave at the "Mzungu's".  We ran into a lot of road construction.  Dust clouds and close calls are the order of the day.  Fractions of an inch instead of inches are the margin between our vehicle and oncoming traffic.  Red dust covers everything including us in our vans.  It is always a welcome site to see the gates of Mildmay.  Our home in Uganda.  More tomorrow after clinic.

Last day of clinic for the First week

The last day of clinic for the week was productive and well paced.  We saw 81 patients but because of good planning by the staff at Mildmay the patients arrived earlier and we were able to finish by 5:00.  We have seen some of the fruits of our labors as we have seen some returning patients and some of the kids who were instructed in good oral hygiene had much healthier teeth. 
Tomorrow our group will be going some separate ways for a well deserved weekend of recuperation.  Some are going gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.  Others are going on safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park.  Still others are staying around Kampala and going to orphanages or just relaxing.  I will write more on monday.


Our group phone number has had to change.  It is now 011256788664923.

A distraction for the night

Tonight we went for an excursion in downton Kampala.  During the day we had met Dr. Emmanuel's assistant, a Caroline MacLeod from Scotland.  She told us she was going to a Ceildh (pronounced "Kay-Lee" but probably not spelled correctly by me) and she invited our group.  Most of us decided to check it out, so we piled 17 in a minivan and another 5 in  her personal vehicle.  The "Kay-Lee" is a Scottish dance and was held in a Latin club in Kampala.  We learned 4 traditional scottish line dances and had a great time.  We also found out about a Burns Dinner next Tuesday in Kampala to honor the Scottish poet Robert Burns.  7 of us have signed up and are looking forward toasting the haggis next Tuesday.

more later....

a Little insight

Today was another typical day with a good amount of patients seen.  I won't bore you with the details but will say that we saw 68 patients.  46 came on two mini-buses (each minibus capacity is about 12 usually) and one minibus only had 3. 
One of the stories from the past two days is a little heartwrenching and put a lump in my throat.  Dr. Paul saw one little girl as a patient.  She came from a rural area and was very small, looking like a 6 month old baby.  He said her name meant "twin" and asked her mother what happened to her twin.  The mother replied that the twin had died recently.  The little girl had arms that were the diameter of a quarter and was very malnourished.  At two years old (her actual age) she was the size of a baby.  She was already on anti-retroviral drugs for HIV and will have to be for the rest of her life.  Dr. Paul could only give her an examination and a toothbrush cleaning because any other treatment could compromise her health.  In her language, he told the mother "God willing, come back next year and we will be able to treat her."  We all pray that we can.

Everyone healthy.  We are thinking of home.

Productive day.

Today we started slowly, but knew that it would end busy.  We started by working on Mildmay adult staff patients to fill the time until children could arrive from rural areas.  Dr. Faith even did some fine restorative work on a very grateful staff member.  Around 11PM, the buses arrived.  Four mini-vans with with 70 kids plus caregivers.  All the work went well, with many extractions and restorations.  The quality of their teeth is deteriorated because of the sugar in the HIV drugs and the lack of good water sources.  At the end of the day, we had seen a total of 95 patients (78 children and 17 staff members).  Everyone was tired at the end, but we will regenerate and expect the same today.  Everyone is well, hope you are all too.  With love from Uganda . . .

Arrived at Mildmay and first days of clinic

Sorry for the delay.  We arrived at Mildmay at around 10PM on Sunday after an thankfully uneventful flight from Amsterdam.  After a good nights rest (being able to lie flat in a bed again) we woke up early Monday and began the always different task of setting up clinic.  Most of our supplies were found and we began laying out our clinic in a different building from previous years.  There were a few problems we had to work around but by 2PM we were able to see patients, until 7PM.  The first patients were the staff at Mildmay.   We found some issues with equipment but by the end of the day we realized we were ready to see kids the on Tuesday. 
Tuesday was a pretty typical day at Mildmay.  We began with a good breakfast of eggs, toast and fresh fruit.  Next is chapel with african drums pounding out a rhythm.  The director of Mildmay spoke at church of his thankfulness for returning and working on the kids.  He also said that they had received funding by the U.S. CDC for another 5 years which will allow a skeleton crew to treat more children with less money.  60 people were laid off from Mildmay since last year. By 9AM we started seeing patients and had a good day.  We saw 60 kids.  Other than a problem with our sterilization unit, which was put back into good working order by Bob and John, we had few glitches.  Tomorrow if all goes right, we hope to see 70 patients.
On a side note, Lisa, I, and the 4 teenagers went to a friend of ours' place near Mildmay.  We had to cross a busy road and we greeted with "Hi, Mzungu" by all of the children on our way.  At Gladys's home we ate a home cooked meal that she had prepared over charcoal stoves.  It had eight separate dishes, some ice cold soda and the sweetest pineapple we had ever tasted.  We brought desert which was totally new to them. Oreo Cookies.  Amanda showed them the American way to eat them (licking the frosting first).  They really enjoyed them.
Everyone is safe and healthy, hoping every at home is too.  By the way it is 80 and sunny everyday here :-).  More tomorrow ....

Halfway there

We arrived in Amsterdam at 11:30PM Minnesota time after an uneventful trip.  We had met up with our two Techs from Colorado and will meet up with two doctors from Colorado and a doctor from Georgia here at the airport.  Then we all depart for Uganda at 1:15AM Minnesota time.  Another 8 hour flight ahead of us.  We will probably make it back to Mildmay (our base camp for the next two weeks) at about 10:00PM (1:00PM Minnesota time).  We are all praying for a safe trip.