For the past 12 years, we have had the great privilege of partnering with Aspen. Each year, staff members from Aspen offices across the globe visit Adara’s projects on the ground to see firsthand the impact of this partnership. This year, we had the pleasure of hosting seven Aspen staff members at Kiwoko Hospital. As always, they left inspired by the incredible experience and invigorated by the knowledge that so much of this work has been made possible by Aspen’s support. They have been kind enough to share some of their stories and reflections with us.
By Ana Ortega
I can’t believe this beautiful experience is coming to a close. This is officially our last full day at Kiwoko Hospital. I’m sad that we will be leaving tomorrow but I am very excited to participate in today’s culminating event, the Kiwoko Chase. The Kiwoko Chase is a run/walk around the local villages starting and ending at Kiwoko Hospital.
After breakfast we all assembled in front of the nurses’ training center before sun-up to get our race numbers. The runners which included Peter, Sylvia and Carolin from our Aspen Ambassador team took off first. Originally, Jorge was going to ride a bicycle through the course but decided at the last minute to walk along with Bryna, Gill and me. I was very impressed with Jorge’s athleticism because a few minutes into the race he also left the remaining walking ambassadors in his dust.
I was planning on taking a more leisurely approach to the walk but Gill and Bryna motivated me to pick up the pace. Although the course was beautiful, it was also quite challenging for me as I was the least fit person on the team.
As the sun came up it highlighted the beautiful mountain sights and vegetation along the red dirt road. Along the way we saw the beautiful smiling faces of the kids that came out to greet us and cheer us on.
As we passed each humble home the families greeted us and egged us on as they conducted their morning chores. Some of the children joined us on the road as they laughed and ran and even danced along with us.
Halfway through the course we encountered a group of children waiting by the pump to fill their large yellow containers with water for their homes. Some of the containers seemed to be 1/2 the size of the actual children carrying them.
As we passed them, they all made sure to waive at us with so much enthusiasm and joy. It warmed my heart to see their lovely smiling faces and made me think of my 3 kids back home.
Approximately two hours later I saw Kiwoko Hospital which meant we were approaching the finish line. I was surprised that we were able to finish within two hours and I wasn’t dead of exhaustion! We were greeted with cheers and high-fives from all the participants who had finished before us.
After we turned in our race numbers and waited for the results of the race, we participated in the fun filled festivities and activities such as a tug of war, spider web game and a tower of tires challenge. What I enjoyed most was the dancers. I wish we could have gotten a dance lesson before we left. Soon after the results came in and all the participants received their certificates and gifts it started to rain so we all headed back to our quarters. Once the rain stopped, we took a walk to Dan Kabugo, the Adara Team (Uganda) Country Director’s house and the preschool he and his wife built and run.
At 6:30pm we had a farewell dinner and said our goodbyes to all the wonderful people who made our trip so special at Kiwoko. It was an early evening as we all needed to pack and get ready for the next day’s travel. As I sat down in my room and soothed my aching feet I reflected on the wonderful experiences of that morning and the days prior.
My experience in Uganda won’t be forgotten and I could go on for days about the things I saw and learned while there. I saw beauty and heard countless stories of perseverance. The great work Kiwoko Hospital does to improve the quality of life for the surrounding community and beyond is truly inspiring. I felt the love and dedication the Kiwoko Hospital staff has for their community. I saw extreme poverty and heard stories of tragedy and hurt beyond my understanding. These stories just made me admire the perseverance, strength and resolve of our Ugandan hosts. I am joyful for having experienced such a place. Visiting and experiencing places out of your comfort zone is great education and I am so thankful to Aspen Insurance and the Adara Group for this experience of a lifetime. I learned more in Uganda than any documentary or textbook could ever teach me and I urge anyone who is lucky enough to be offered such an opportunity to do it.
Mweraba (goodbye) and Mwebale (thank you) Uganda!