Let us place ourselves in the life of a pregnant Ugandan woman living in the district of Kamwenge. The population is roughly 300,000 where the majority of homes do not even have water as the fee for piping is not affordable. When the time comes for the birth of a newborn if we are in need of an emergency caesarean there is no chance for us.
There is not one qualified doctor in the region.
This is where South Australian couple, Dr Michael Findlay and his passionate wife, Kim are putting their lives on hold to make a difference. Kim, who has completed a Bachelor of International Studies at the University of South Australia and is now studying International Development, is very passionate about making the project and her warm personality is evidently a key factor to the success of the organisation.
Maranatha Health has been a five-year project and is now in its final stages and through the continual support of sponsors will aim to make a difference to this thriving yet poverty stricken community.
The vision began when Dr Findlay discovered his lifelong interest in Africa could be tied into his medical qualifications. On a holiday to many different parts of Uganda he enquired as to some areas that were in need of help and was pointed 300km from the Ugandan capital of Kampala to Kamwenge.
Initially Dr Findlay was desperate to build an up and running hospital but soon learnt that this was not going to be an easy task. ‘‘I realised that the health problems were a lot deeper than not having a hospital. There was no education and no sanitised water,” he said.
Together, the married couple who were set up on a blind date due to similar interests have come up with the organisation. As well as building a health centre they are also pulling resources to focus on HIV care and community development. Kim believes that the key to success is becoming involved in the community and this is exactly what the two have done.
“A lot of NGOs will just dump a hospital here and there and forget about them two years later – they don’t understand you have to get involved to achieve,” she said. The death of a child in Australia is a difficult concept for a social community to deal with but in Kamwenge, one in four children do not reach the age of five.
“The most devastating thing is that most of them die from malaria which is not only treatable, but also easily preventable with the use of mosquito nets and clean water,” Kim said.
Kim believes there is a type of ‘fatalism’ in Uganda but still says it is equally as traumatic when a child dies.
Thankfully, the inspirational couple have been surprised by all the support they have had from home.
“People have started to catch the vision and recognise the needs and we are so encouraged by people giving to us,” Kim said.
To help Maranatha Health visit their website