The Real Heroes

We are so grateful to have had two wonderful UNC interns spend their summer with our partner in Uganda. Last week, Brianne summed up her experience for us. Now it's Tori's turn.

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As I reflect on a summer spent well spent, I can’t help but come back again and again to the people I worked with at New Life Medical Center. Now that I’m home, everyone asks me about what I did, but the people at New Life are the real heroes of the story—the ones who are still fighting HIV, malaria and premature death every day. I picture Cosimo teaching me and anyone who will listen about tuberculosis control, Denis checking a patient for anemia, Josephine giving a vaccination and Jennifer singing as she does the wash.

Public health students learn a lot about statistics and policies. In my opinion, the diseases of poverty can only be fully understood by going to a place where people don’t live long enough—where they don’t have the means or the ability to choose what they will eat today, how they will get water or how they will dispose of waste.

I want to tell everyone, first, that it’s not sad. Yes, it is difficult and awkward to explain to new friends that the diseases they deal with simply don’t exist in your country. Yes, it is hard to watch the little neighbor children playing with empty juice cartons and string because it’s all they have. But most of all, northern Uganda, and Africa in general, is joyful, lively and positive.

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I have one more year to finish my Master’s degree, and I can’t wait to get back to work, making all those statistics and policies into something useful for my friends around the world.