On February 12, 2011 Engeye Teen Connection board member, Sara Weinman, touched down at Entebbe airport in Uganda to begin a two week experience in the rural village of Ddegeya and the Engeye Health Clinic. She had been saving for and planning for this trip for over two years. Sara was part of the medical mission team which included Engeye clinic co-founder, Dr. Stephanie Van Dyke, Sara's mother Theresa Weinman, co-director of Engeye Scholars, and a group of dedicated physicians and medical students from Albany Medical Center and New York City. At age 16, Sara was the youngest member of the group to arrive at Entebbe. Sara has been committed to the work of Engeye since she helped host a young burn victim, Susan Nabukenya, who traveled to the United States for medical treatment in 2008.
Since that time Sara has helped in the development of the Engeye Scholars Program, and her commitment expanded when she co-founded Engeye Teen Connection (ETC) with another teenager, Brian Hickey. Throughout her trip Sara was able to blog about her experience on the Engeye Scholars website (engeyescholars.org). Adding to the excitement and anticipation of the trip was the awareness that Sara and the medical team were traveling to Uganda during both the Presidential elections and the Kampala Mayoral elections. This provided an additional educational opportunity as Sara learned and experienced how life in Uganda can be affected by these political events.
While in Ddegeya Village, Sara had the opportunity to help at the Engeye Health Clinic and also work closely with Union College Fellows Sarah Yergeau and Elliot Harmon. Sara's work with the Sarah and Elliot provided her with the unique opportunity to assist with teaching responsibilities at a local village school, St. Gertrude's Primary School. At one point, Sara was called upon to step in and teach an English class at St. Gertrude's when the teacher was called away. Sara was struck by how the teachers and students at these schools are able to accomplish so much without even the basic resources such as books, text books and chalk.
Sara was also able to assist with the Engeye Afternoon Program, which provides educational opportunities for local village children who are not able to attend the local school. She accompanied the group that visited Sydney Paul Primary School and Bishop Dgungu School on behalf of the Engeye Scholars Program. Sara had the opportunity to spend time with all of the Engeye Scholars and meet with administrators and teachers at each school. Her experience at Sydney Paul, reminded her again of how much is done for the students without the benefit of basic textbooks. Sara realized how much more could be done at this school if the teachers and students, simply had access to a complete set of textbooks.
A highlight for Sara was spending two days with Susan Nabukenya, the original inspiration for involvement with Engeye and for her trip to Uganda. One of the most memorable parts of her trip included meeting Engeye Scholar Wilbur, the student that Sara helps sponsor through the Engeye Scholars program. Sara has been so moved by her experience in Uganda that she is now working with the ETC members and the Engeye Scholars program to develop a project to support and expand the educational opportunities for the students at the schools she visited. Sara and the other ETC and Engeye Scholars volunteers will meet over the next couple of months to develop a program to provide textbooks and basic school supplies to the schools she visited. If you want to donate to ETC to help purchase text books and school supplies for these schools please visit: http://engeyescholars.org/donate.html and donate to help with these goals.
About the Engeye Health Clinic
Engeye, a U.S. and Ugandan NGO based in Uganda, was created in 2006 by a dedicated group of medical students to address the disparity in basic health, education and environmental needs of rural Ugandan villagers. Since its inception, the Engeye team has grown to include lawyers, architects, physicians, public health enthusiasts, engineers and more. The Engeye Health Clinic provides care for a region in Uganda that is voiceless, despite its substantial need, and that otherwise would not have access to healthcare. The Engeye Scholars program was born to assist the schools in Ddegeya Village. Education is highly valued in Uganda and many experts believe education is the key to raising poor countries out of poverty. Through scholarships, the children of Ddegeya Village have the opportunity to attend boarding school, which delays child bearing, empowers women and provides newfound hope for a child to fulfill his or her dreams. Dr. Stephanie Van Dyke, Dr. Carlos Elguero, Dr. James Walker, Misty Richards, Stephen Po-Chedley and Keith DesRochers comprise the board of directors for the 501(c) (3) tax deductible, nonprofit organization. For more information, visit: and www.engeyescholars.org