Aspen Ambassadors Trip 2014

Since 2007, The ISIS Foundation has had the great privilege of partnering with Aspen. It has been an amazing partnership, which has shown us all the exponential power of linking the business sector with those in need in the developing world. Together, we have been able to provide the hospital with a new and expanded neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and a brand new maternity ward. In addition, Aspen helps people living with HIV to stay happy and healthy through various programmes. Most recently, Aspen has committed to supporting the ISIS Safe Motherhood projects as part of the larger community based health care programme.

Each year, Aspen staff members from offices across the globe come to Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda to see firsthand the impact of this partnership. Every year, they leave inspired. For the next week, the ambassadors will be writing a blog each day about their experience at Kiwoko. Here is a summary of what they had to say

Day One – Airport and Arrival

By Aidan Kelly, Aspen London Office

“Oli otya” from Kiwoko!
Leaving London on Thursday feels like a lifetime ago. Thinking back, it was fortunate that none of the staff at Terminal 5 asked me whether I’d been given anything to carry, as declaring my ISIS laptop may not have gone down very well. This seemed like the least of the group’s worries, though, once we had looked up from breakfast to find our flight on final call. Clearly time had flown by, which was surely an indicator of how quickly we had all managed to gel, though almost leaving Sam behind at the gate may not have endeared us to him at first.
To read more, please click here.

Day Two – Kiwoko Chase: A Day of Celebration

By Kristy Simons, Aspen Bermuda Office

Many who know me around the office have probably wondered how sometimes I would want to set on out on such an excursion to Uganda. This is not my normal trip to some exotic location or flashy U.S. city. My purpose of making this journey was to see what life lessons this poverty stricken but resilient country could teach me. I must say, I was not disappointed but nothing could have quite prepared me for this trip. This is a country where one must continually question themselves and their values as you meet people and hear their stories. On our first night, our friend Dan, ISIS’s Uganda Program Manager, recounted some of his experiences during Uganda’s civil war when his was still a child. What a humbling experience as we looked at this man who is still able to give us a smile as he recounted horrific experiences that our worst nightmares couldn’t compare.
To read more, please click here.

Day Three – Community Equals Family

By Brandon Lewis, Aspen New York Office

This has to be one of the most life changing events that i have ever experienced. It’s partially because I was the first to cross the “Kiwoko Chase” finish line. One would think it would have been by foot, but with my luck, I tripped,and finished the race in a first class ride in the Kiwoko Chase ambulance. If you know me you know I’m your typically Hypochondriac, so you could have imagined my thoughts after seeing my open wounds on a land that I have never treaded on before. Entering the hospital while being a patient is a different experience then observing it as foreigner. So naturally, I compared it to what i see and experience in New York. I have to stress that even though their facilities may not be as pristine as those in a city like New York, their care and treatment were grade A quality, and quite frankly this is something you sometimes don’t experience in those pristine facilities in New York.
To read more, please click here.

Day Four – All is well with my soul

By Dolu Iloru, Aspen London Office
Ugandan woman holding young child
I wonder why I thought growing up in Nigeria would prepare me for Kiwoko. It didn’t. Not even one tiny bit. I woke up on Monday morning saddened. For a small part of the night, I had thought of Florence, an expert client who was HIV positive who also had a baby with Down’s syndrome. ‘How bad could things get?’ I kept thinking to myself as I slowly dragged my feet and heavy heart with me to the morning prayers.
To read more, please click here.

Day Five – Visiting the Community

By Maria Roche, Aspen Dublin Office
Adara Volunteer holding happy Ugandan Child
Well it’s our last day in Kiwoko… it both feels like we’ve just got here and have been here forever. Our day started early with Morning Prayers. Kiwoko Morning Prayers are not just like any normal morning prayers.. they’re filled with beautiful up beat songs with positive messages followed by a member of the community speaking about how they overcome their everyday challenges and also to welcome any new visitors to the village. However, today we were saying farewell and a member of our team, Dolu, stood up and said some wonderful words about how this visit has affected us as a group and thanked the community for their warm welcome during our stay. The team all agreed that Dolu is destined to be a politician or a speaker of some sort because she did it with such passion and ease!!
To read more, please click here.

Day Six – Leaving Uganda

By Susan Cannarella, Aspen Rocky Hill Office

As I sit here on the plane on my way home from Uganda I am flooded with emotions ranging from great joy to deep sadness. I am very happy to be heading home as I have missed my family and friends, but at the same time I am also sad to leave my new friends and “family” from Aspen and Kiwoko Hospital.
To read more, please click here.

Recap

By Sam DeGiovanni, Aspen Rocky Hill Office
Sam DeGiovanni with juniorIt’s no easy feat to put together a recap of the experiences that have filled my days this week and press “send” feeling I’ve done them any sort of justice, but I shall give it a go nonetheless.As you’ve read in the other blog posts over the last week, we’ve had a full schedule of getting to know the various wards and individuals that make up the grounds and administrators/staff of Kiwoko Hospital. Having seen the remoteness of the surrounding villages and heard the stories of the devastation that the Kiwoko and greater Luwero areas have witnessed in the last few decades, that there’s plenty to see, hear, and do on the hospital campus is itself testament to the degree of success this hospital’s been able to achieve with the help of ISIS’s (and our) financial backing.
To read more, please click here.

Reflections

By Ian Walker, Aspen London Office

I am writing this reflection on our trip on behalf of all the ambassadors. I feel some pressure to be able to convey to you all the feelings we had and lessons we learnt throughout our six days at the Kiwoko Hospital; and, I hope I can do it justice.In a nutshell, this has been an incredible, life-altering week for us all! I have arrived back in the UK not the same person I was before I went; and, I have learnt more this week than in any other week of my life.
To read more, please click here.

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