A mist was rising over the meadow when I arrived early in the morning at Nyakishumba with members of my Rotaract club, brimming with excitement for the day ahead. Located in the hilly Kabale District of western Uganda, Nyakishumba is colder than most of the surrounding region. So we were bundled in our heavy coats this September day as we hurried to set up the medical camp in time; coordinating with the health care workers, arranging the necessary medicines, and establishing diagnostic stations and areas for HIV testing.

It has been almost three years since we first visited the community to do our needs assessment, discovering their unique concerns and needs. The first phase of our project in 2016 had focused on supporting education at the primary school. Now, we were addressing disease prevention, maternal and child health, education, and economic and community development. We were all excited at the opportunity Rotaract was providing us to work with members of other clubs to help this community.

The Rotaract Club of Kabale and the Health Sciences unit at Mbarara University helped us organize a free medical camp at the school. We provided physicals along with testing for HIV and malaria for 247 members of the Nyakishumba community, with close to a third being elderly. We diagnosed and dispensed medication for a number of malaria cases.

Smiles and jubilation
But the most meaningful moment of the day for me came after the medical camp when we provided school supplies for children at the primary school. The smiles and jubilation as each child received a new pair of shoes were remarkable.

“You’ve given him his first pair of shoes,” I heard a school teacher say. I was astounded by how much we take for granted. By early afternoon, a donation of 10 classroom desks arrived. I loved watching the children run to help unload the desks from the pickup truck. We also renovated the classroom floor and blackboards to give the school a fresh look.

Rotaracts collaborating on the project with the club’s logo in the background.

Nyakishumba tales are one of a kind. The difference we were able to make in the lives of the community was incredible. Rotaract has given us an opportunity to address the needs and concerns of the community and add purpose to life. We do not take this for granted. What truly makes Rotaract special is the ability to come together, to break the “walls” between clubs, and work side-by-side on projects like these.

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