Ongutoi Medical Centre in Uganda

 
Michael Maloney introduced the guest speaker, Richard Mewhinney.  Richard joined Rotary in 2007, is Past President of the Rotary Club of Newmarket and is currently Literacy Chair for District 7070.  He has been involved in the Ongutoi Medical Centre project in Uganda, a project that the Rotary Club of Belleville supported financially and the question asked (and answered) - was your money well spent?  Richard's philosophy is if a project is just a project.....don't do it.  If a project is about the people....embrace it!  A project is never about you.  It must be about others and relationships beyond the build!
 
Some quick facts about Uganda -- 236,000 sq km (about half the size of Manitoba) with a population of 35 million, 56% of whom are under the age of 18.  The population of Ongutoi where the medical centre was built is 50,000.  Over half the population of Uganda lives below the poverty line identified as $1.25 U.S. a day.  There are 1,200,000 orphaned children in Uganda.  There are insufficient hospital beds and little care from skilled medical staff when babies are born. 
 
The site of the Ongutoi Medical Centre was donated by the village elders at a former IDP Camp.  Each building is an individual ward with 6 to 8 beds and costs $35,000 which includes water collection and solar power.  The first pediatric and maternity ward was opened in February 2010 along with recovery rooms and additional toilets and septic system installed. Two additional wards were built in October 2010 followed by an HIV/Aids Education Centre and Operating Room in 2012.  The medical centre was accepted by the locals, approved by the elders and built by the people. 
 
The money raised for this project was a partnership with the Rotary Club of Myuenga (District 9200), the Rotary Clubs of Newmarket, Belleville, Richmond Hill and Scarborough with additional funding from the District and Rotary Foundation.  In addition, there was partnership extension with non-rotary partners such as High Adventure Canada and Uganda along with ARUDA (Amuria Rural Development Agency).  The total project cost was $110,000.  Some of the victories:
  • in excess of 108,000 patients have been treated at no cost since 2007 at the medical centre
  • over 800 live births have occurred since 2011 with the addition of midwives
  • 90% of pregnant women in the vicinity of the clinic are seen 4 times prenatally
  • donations of ambulances from Simcoe County and York Region allow for ciritically ill patients to be transported to other facilities
  • an active health education program is in place
  • scheduled surgeries now take place in Ongutoi
The next project in the works at Ongutoi is to enhance diagnostic treatment and provide education for HIV/AIDS.
 
As a small token of appreciation, Richard Mewhinney presented the Rotary Club of Belleville with a photograph of the medical clinic (photo courtesy of Lola Reid Allin).  Sharon McConnell thanked Richard for participating in this huge undertaking and for sharing with our Club and demonstrating how our money has been spent.  A good return on our investment!