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Soft power health wrap up 2005-2006

By Jessie Stone Learn more about Jessie here

February 27, 2006

Its funny how four months of your life can fly by and it seems like the blink of an eye. That’s how it is for me looking back on the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006. From October to February, I was in Uganda continuing our Malaria education and prevention program and opening our rural clinic. Our days were packed full and I went to bed tired every night but it was truly one of the most incredible times in my life! When I arrived back in Uganda, the Nile was at a good low level and the rainy season had begun. I suspected that our Malaria education and prevention program would be busy and I knew the demand for nets was there but I definitely underestimated how much people wanted nets and how badly they wanted us to come visit to them in their home villages. I was also worried about how I would keep up with demand. Sourcing nets had always been an issue for us. Luckily, everything fell into place. First and foremost, we had a good flow of nets thanks to PSI Uganda and the great people that work in our area Helen and Fred. They have helped us get the nets we need and quickly! And also thankfully, we had the money to buy the nets. Without ongoing donations, none of this would have ever happened! Between October and February, we sold 6000 mosquito nets and traveled from our home village of Kyabirwa in the Budondo subcounty to the foothills of Mount Elgon and to the slums of Kampala. The bush telegraph really got the word out about our program, and people from all over the region came to see us and ask for education sessions with the cheap nets. We employed a new Malaria educator, Rebecca to assist Jessica and I with our program and she is doing a great job. In the coming year we hope to train and employ more educators so that we can continue to reach all the people who want our help. Its a big mission but I think we can do it.

In addition to the Malaria education and prevention program, we got everything ready to open our clinic. With the solar and water systems in place and building finished, all that was left was to outfit the clinic and to hire the staff. And I should mention here too that I had to register the clinic too and the idea of that daunted me for a while. Luckily, again things were a lot easier than I imagined. The registration process was much easier than I had anticipated and quite a fascinating experience. With the help of Dr. Charles from the International Medical Clinic in Jinja, I met interviewed and hired some very good Uganda staff. They are young, enthusiastic, and very smart. They are a good team and thus far are bringing much needed health care to the rural community around Kyabirwa village. We have one doctor, two nurses and two laboratory technicians. Our official opening was January 18th and the entire village plus lots of friends and volunteers came out to support us. It was the realization of a dream, and its difficult to describe what that feels like but it is awesome and unforgettable. I sure did learn a lot from this whole experience and it continues to be a very good and intense learning process for me almost daily. The number one thing that we are treating in the clinic thus far is Malaria, and an informal poll has also determined that all the patients who have come in with Malaria do not own nets. We will continue our Malaria education and prevention program from the clinic and also begin our family planning, vaccination, and pre and post natal care seminars open to everyone. Our clinic is really trying to educate our patients so that they can take better care of themselves. It is also a challenging processbut a very interesting one as well.

We have continued to host volunteers and been greatful for their interest and enthusiasm. And we had Polly Green from the US visiting us and filming her movie Nomads. It was great to spend so much time with Polly both on and off the water. Her film has just come out. It premiered at the National Paddling Film Festival on February 26th and will be traveling around the country and different parts of the world so keep your eyes peeled for it. In addition, Alex Nicks was over filming and paddling. Alex has helped make Soft Power Health’s promotional video over the past two years and has done a great job. Alex, Polly , and I were affectionately referred to as Team Malaria. We also had a visit from ABC World news Tonight. Reporter Mike Lee and Cameraman James Mitchell came to stay with us for 10 days and went with us everywhere from Malaria education sessions to clinic painting to paddling on the NIle. Mike even took a kayaking lesson with me at the famous Hairy Lemon. We had a great time and learned a lot about the inside scoop of reporting and filming in remote and scary places like war zones. And in January, the Jackson Family and Team Jackson Kayak came over to film the new playboating video and help with the opening of the clinic. For me, that was incredibly special and amazing to see how everything had come full circle. After all, EJ was the reason I had gotten interested in Malaria in the first place as it was on our first trip to the Nile to kayak that EJ had gotten Malaria and I had to treat him!





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Malaria education session

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Cameraman James Mitchell from ABC WorldNews Tonight filming Jessie

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Clinic opening