"The more time I spend in Uganda, the more I find out how much I don't know about this nation and how much I need to learn about the culture and people, as well as the plight of the innocent children. As a missionary, it is critically important to learn as much as you can about the culture and people of the nation where you will be ministering. In addition, it is important to understand the challenges you are facing before seeking to overcome them. I have a strong love for Uganda, but I intend to spend more time falling in love with this nation." -Alissa Cooper Sande
There are many children who long to be educated, but are given no opportunity to go to school because of their orphan status or financial situation. In Uganda, a child is often not permitted to go to school unless he or she has money to pay for school supplies, school uniforms, and other school fees. In high school, a child is not given the opportunity to study without paying school fees; therefore, the majority of children drop out of school after the elementary or early secondary level. (Less than 20% of the children in Uganda enroll in High School.)
Many of the families are struggling to pay for food, shelter, and clothing; therefore, there is little money left over to pay for schooling costs. Most of the orphaned children are simply struggling for survival; therefore, schooling is not feasible. Young women are often married or engaged in sexual activity as a way of earning a living and providing for their younger siblings or children; therefore, they frequently do not complete school due to early pregnancy or marriage.
There is free public education available in areas of Uganda; however, the quality of education is very poor. You can have 100 students to one teacher, and there are times the teachers do not even appear for class. There are private schools that also offer education to children, but fees must be paid to attend these schools and many of these schools are poor in quality. The educational system in Uganda is definitely in need of improvement. Alissa strongly believes that God is going to use her educational background and training to enhance the system of education in this nation.
There is also definitely a huge medical need in Uganda. Many of the people do not have access to health care or medication. There are many districts in the nation, especially in the remote areas, where quality medical care is very difficult to find. According to reports conducted by UNICEF, on average, Ugandan communities have to travel 7 km to seek treatment from a government health facility. In western Uganda, where Kyenjojo District is located, people have to travel approximately 9 km to reach a government health facility, 13 km to an NGO health facility, 7 km to a private clinic, 28 km to a pharmacy, 30 km to a government hospital, and 37 km to an NGO hospital. On the other hand, even if there are health facilities available for the Ugandan people, many of them are of poor quality and/or do not provide adequate medication or treatment. In Kyenjojo specifically, the health facility quality is 5-10 points below the national average.
People and children die every day from treatable illnesses such as malaria and respiratory infections. Parasites are another medical issue that is easily treatable with medication. The majority of children suffer from worms, which grow inside of their stomachs and can even become very large. These worms eat the food that is taken in by the child and have the potential to make the child ill. As a result of these worms, many children suffer from discomfort and malnutrition.
One interesting fact about Ugandan hospitals is that they do not provide meals for their patients; instead, the family or friends are expected to bring them food. As a result, some patients only receive one meal a day.