Living Your Faith: Annie Hamner

This feature highlights members who are living their faith through FPC ministries and around the world.

Finding Blessings in Uganda

When deciding on a clinical rotation, some may take a nearby assignment, but FPC member Annie Hamner looked for something a bit more interesting…with the Global Health Educators team that travels to Uganda each year. This team is tasked with educating Ugandan midwives about maternal and fetal care and childbirth, performing surgeries, and treating patients at the clinic.

Before going to Uganda, Annie gathered donations of needed medical supplies and other requested items including baby hats (See photos!), blankets, reading glasses, sunglasses and hats for the albino children, and soccer balls. Thank you to many in our congregation who lovingly made or donated these items.

The group traveled to Uganda, flying in to Entebbe and taking a long bus ride (with many stops, including police wanting bribes and families of baboons slowly crossing the roads!) to reach Magale. Since 2013 the teams have stayed in a convent adjacent to Magale Health Center, and this not only reduces time spent traveling to tourist hotels, but also gives them a better understanding of the challenges faced by the clinic patients and staff. Trips to the referring health clinics, where they present educational programs, also offer a better understanding of the Ugandan people and their culture.

After settling in their living quarters, they started their work…many long hours seeing lots of patients and often not having the equipment, supplies, or testing procedures needed. There was only intermittent electricity and no running water. And it is routine in this rural area that health care workers have to reuse gloves and needles, soap is in short supply, most women receive no prenatal care, and winter jackets are used as incubators. The team saw patients who withstood extreme pain with no complaints, some with severe problems they could not treat (and were sent to an urban hospital with hopes they would live), and others who miraculously survived their complications.

All this hit the team hard, especially in contrast to life in America. Despite the hardships of living in Uganda, let alone trying to practice medicine in such an environment, Annie couldn’t help but admire the people there who are so easy to love, kind and appreciative of others, and so very joyful.

In her blog, she writes, “It makes me wonder about what’s missing from the people in America. Our culture is so overly stimulated by excess - an excess of possessions, an excess of food, and an excess of things to do. We find unhappiness in the stress of our daily lives - whether perceived or actual - and these things are seen, in our view, as hugely overwhelming burdens. We’re in a culture so overly stimulated by anything and everything we could possibly need and want that we lose sight of what will really truly make our hearts happy.”

Annie went to help and teach the Ugandan people, but while there she learned from them. Though having little in terms of physical resources, the Ugandans are happy and positive and have so much love in their hearts for others. What a blessing that Annie experienced this, and we thank her for serving them with her skills and her heart!

Annie will receive her M.S. this December from Jefferson College of Health Sciences. Many blessings to her as she begins her career as a Physician Assistant!

Learn more and see more photos: GHE 2018 trip summary and Annie's blog: Uganda, Parts 1-4

FPC Richmond