“ The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to. – Richard Mullin
My name is Augustine Hong and I am a recent graduate from USC with a MS in Global Medicine. Along with 12 other classmates I will be traveling to Jinja, Uganda. We are staying at AOET, Action for Empowerment, an independent, indigenous non-governmental organization that primarily focuses on providing education to orphans left by the AIDS epidemic. Additionally AOET assists children with AIDS and widows that have lost their spouses to AIDS. AOET operates in 5 different African countries: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia and Botswana.
I was first made aware of this organization by my professor and mentor, Dr. Alejandro Sanchez, who has previously volunteered at AOET. He attributes his time in Uganda as a monumental experience and turning point in his life that increased his calling to medicine and deepened his commitment to global health. As a result a group of students organized this trip that we too could enlarge our commitment to global health through a tangible firsthand experience.
With the gracious support of the USC Institute of Global Health, our group will be providing financial support to help launch a new maternal clinic at AOET in Uganda. Even now AOET is taking steps to build a placenta pit for the new maternal clinic. Additionally we have acquired a generous donation of pre-natal vitamins from the Mission Road Pharmacy. Because our time is limited we hope to volunteer whatever skills and more so our willingness to serve the community in whatever capacity that we can. We also hope to assess the situation at AOET to see what their needs are so that we can assist them in the future.
Personally I am excited to have to the chance to go to Africa. Throughout this year I have learned so much about problems in regards to global health. Sir William Osler stated “To study the phenomenon of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all.” I have felt limited with only the knowledge of the situation and no practical applications. I hope that this experience can be a stepping stone to learn how best to apply myself in the field of global health. Moreover I am eager to observe how a productive NGO functions on a daily basis. My hope is that one day I will be a physician treating those with infectious disease so it will be a great opportunity for me to see firsthand many of the things I learned this year in my program. In conclusion in these next two weeks I can operate as a sponge absorbing everything I can. I can’t wait to share my experiences with you!