Engeye started as a single room health clinic with one nurse and Engeye clinic manager, John Kalule. We opened the clinic as medical students in joint partnership between Ugandans and Americans and continue to rely on this bond in a variety of ways.
The clinic was created because of the lack of any affordable, quality or stable health care in the region surrounding Ddegeya Village. Masaka, the nearby trading center, had several health care centers, however, most villagers cannot afford the 30 minute taxi fare to get to Masaka. This meant that children were unnecessarily dying from malaria, a treatable illness, as well as going unvaccinated, women were left without contraception, obstructing any efforts toward family planning, and men were without first aid after sustaining trauma, leaving infected wounds and irreversible damage that could have been prevented, were the basics of medical care available.
Since 2006, the Engeye Health Clinic has expanded its services and staff in Uganda and the board of directors stateside has also blossomed. The clinic now has paid local staff and visiting volunteers. The board of directors and advisory board in the U.S. continue to be an entirely voluntary position, a testament to the commitment we have to the cause.
When asked how we can justify our focus on the villagers of Africa when we have plenty of need here at home, our answer is two-fold: One philosophical, one statistical and reality-based. Where exactly is our own backyard? Where does it begin and where does it end? Is it defined by political borders? Or physical borders like mountain ranges, rivers, or oceans?
Do race, religion, or other cultural variables help us pinpoint it? What about America’s commonwealths and Americans living overseas? How do resident aliens living in the U.S. figure in? They’re not really “our own”, are they?
For Team Engeye, there are no borders. There is no “us” or “them”. There cannot be. If we honestly hope to someday bring peace and prosperity to this planet, we need to accept that, like even the tiniest branches on a giant oak, the diverse and distant civilizations on our earth are connected. We are, indeed all one. If one part of the organism is in jeopardy, if there are people on Earth who are dying needlessly, we all suffer.
The World Health Organization reported in 2006 that the African continent bears 24% of the global burden of disease, but has only 3% of the healthcare workforce and 1% of the world’s financial resources. We believe it is our moral responsibility to raise awareness and work together with our neighbors toward a society where children are not malnourished, families have the option for family planning, vaccinations are a standard and clean water is readily available. We look forward to this day.