Local Catholics organize mission to Uganda
Dr. Joe Dobrosky holds a child during a medical mission to Uganda. The trip was organized by the Friends of Father Vincent, a nonprofit organization started by parishioners
of St. Charles Borromeo, Sicklerville.
In June, the Friends of Father Vincent, a South Jersey group, led a medical mission to Paidha, Uganda, bringing more than $10,000 worth of medicine and medical supplies to the community.
Led by Dick and Marie Schmitt of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Sicklerville, the non-profit organization provided medical supplies that were purchased with funds from donations and fundraisers. Three doctors, a nurse practitioner, two nurses, and administrative help made the journey to Paidha.
During their stay in Giira, with the family of Father Vincent Orum, a priest of their parish, the group of nine ministered to 1,400 patients over a four-day period, performing minor surgical procedures, treating medical emergencies and cases of typhoid, malaria, colds, dehydration and skin conditions.
With a population of over 31,000, Paidha has no doctors at the medical center, which serves the surrounding communities as well as Congo, which borders the town.
Dr. Joe Dobrosky, an emergency physician from Virtua Camden, recalled an incident that happened in his first day in Giira.
While playing games with the village children, he noticed a child sitting idly, head cocked to one side, eyes narrowed and shoulders slumped forward. He realized the child was in distress. Learning that the child was from the next village, Dr. Dobrosky carried him along a dusty jungle trail to a small village of thatched huts. With the help of an elderly clansman who spoke English, Dr. Dobrosky was able to communicate to the boy’s mother that the child was sick.
Running back to Father Vince’s house, Dr. Dobrosky gathered Pat Williams, ER nursing director at Virtua Camden, and Wanita Ramlall, nurse practitioner at Virtua, to assist in what he called the “first house call.”
“I was taken by the fact that the family of the child had so much trust in us to hand the child to Joe, so that we could take (him) to the ward,” said Williams.
The next day the nurse who was in charge of the ward said they were giving him fluids and he was doing much better.
“I wonder what would have happened if Joe had not noticed him in the crowd of kids.”
Dr. Dobrosky said, “I know not the child’s name nor do I know where the child is today. I know not if the child suffered further disability from his illness. This, however, I do know…mankind across the globe must embrace each other and appreciate our beating hearts as one and the same. It is human, it is right, and it is the way of the Lord.”
In another incident, this time at the Paidha medical center, an emergency patient was brought in by her husband. The 20-year-old woman had passed out at home that morning. In critical condition, she was moaning in pain, with her skin cold to the touch, low vital signs, and extreme abdominal pain.
An IV was started and the demand for immediate transport to the closest hospital was arranged, as the clinic was not equipped to handle this type of emergency.
With no ambulances in Paidha, the woman was put onto a stretcher, put into Father Vincent’s car and taken to the closest hospital, 20 kilometers away.
During treatment, it was discovered that the young woman had given birth two weeks earlier, but the baby had died. Since that time, she had been bleeding, which caused her fainting.
The medical mission grew out of a two-week trip that the Schmitts and other parishioners made to Uganda in 2012 to attend the ordination of Father Orum’s nephew. They were appalled at the living conditions at the area they visited — no running water or electricity, dirt roads, limited medical care and no doctor — and soon after returning to South Jersey began collecting donations and recruiting volunteers to help.
Currently, another medical mission trip is being planned for 2016. If you are interested in being a part of the team, or would like more information on the Medical Mission 2016 initiative and the Friends of Father Vincent Organization, contact Dick and Marie Schmitt at 856-435-1629.