December 8 - 19, 2022

Just some of the children who showed up to greet us in Kawaaga!

In December 2022, Eddie Joyce and I travelled to Uganda in East Africa. Eddie has been travelling to Uganda for several years and supports several humanitarian projects in this area. In 2021, Genille and I were approached with an opportunity to help build a medical centre in an area well-known to Eddie and we gratefully accepted this endeavour.

The purpose of this trip was to view the healthcare centre in person and understand the needs and limitations for this area. It was also to donate food, clothing, and shoes to an orphanage and locals most in need. To everyone who donated in support of this trip, the children and families of Kawaaga are eternally grateful. There were many songs, dances, ear-to-ear smiles, heartfelt 'thank yous' and sad stories. Every dollar truly makes a life-changing difference.

Kawaaga Health Care Centre

Site Visit

Our first day was a site visit to Kawaaga and the Health Center. We met with village elders, engineers, and builders to see what had been completed with the first round of funding and what was required to have the centre operational. It is currently a 23 km walk or bicycle ride to the nearest health centre and many patients and pregnant mothers have perished trying to get to medical help. This centre will make an astronomical difference to the 12-15,000 people living in the villages surrounding it.

While there, we hired a new engineer to oversee the next phase of the project which is to complete the outpatient department and we donated the $26,500 necessary to do so. The inpatient and maternity ward are on hold until there is adequate funding to complete them and the outpatient ward is fully operational. Once the building is complete, the Department of Health has committed to taking over all costs and funding associated with staffing, supplies, and medical equipment.

Over 34000 Pounds of Food

Purchased & Delivered

A local volunteer, Maria, and the local physician selected the families and people most in need. There were two sites selected for the donations to be given out, and when we arrived at these sites, we were given the warmest and most appreciative welcome I have ever experienced.

These days were both the most rewarding and emotionally challenging. To witness this level of poverty leaves you speechless, and then to observe the pure kindness and gratitude by all recipients is unbelievable. As word spread around the countryside that there was food available, many people arrived who were equally in need. Of the families that were selected, we witnessed them sharing their bags of rice and flour so more families would have a secure food supply over Christmas and the new year. After the flour, rice, sugar, oil and soap had been given out, I had children coming to me asking, “Excuse me sir, thank you sir, is there any chance you might have just one more bar of soap sir”.

Through everyone's kind donations, we gave out:

  • 22000 pounds of maize flour.

  • 11000 pounds of rice.

  • 620 pounds of sugar.

  • 150 litres of oil.

  • and 200 x 18 inch long bars of soap (Equivalent to ~ 2000 bars).

Shoes For Kids


Jiggers are a type of parasitic sand flea in Uganda. They burrow into feet and particularly affect children as they lay their eggs in sacs under the skin and multiply. This can lead to severe debilitation and pain and potentially death if left untreated. When the children have too many in their feet to walk, they begin to crawl, and the jiggers get into their knees and hands and worsen from there. These are preventable with a little education about foot hygiene and most importantly a pair of shoes that most children can’t afford.

While in Uganda we gave out over 1261 pairs of shoes to children with none. The majority of these we purchased with money from friends and family back in Canada and some were donated by Sole Hope. We purchased the shoes from the Sole Hope factory in Jinja to support their work in Uganda.

Sole Hope is a US-based charity which treats over 8000 people a year by surgically removing jiggers and dispensing shoes to prevent their recurrence. The shoes are made by hand from recycled car tires and fabric in the factory we visited.

Sponsored Jigger Clinics


With the assistance of Sole Hope, we sponsored a jigger clinic in a rural area on the outskirts of Jinja. We loaded up a van with all the supplies and staff, drove into the countryside, parked in what seemed to be the center of a sugar cane and banana plantation, and children magically appeared. They almost instantly devoured the 100 bananas Eddie and I brought with us. (We quickly learned yellow bananas were a giant hit with kids everywhere so almost always had between 100-250 bananas in the back seat).

The skilled staff from Sole hope quickly set up a mobile treatment center with a registration station, washing stations, nursing / jigger-excision stations, post-op instructions, and a shoe-fitting area. It was amazing to see 35 kids show up and be perfectly well-behaved, register, sit down, and let strangers cut jiggers out of their feet with razor blades or needles (no anesthetic). There were 5-year-olds helping 3-year-olds wash their feet. They were fitted with their new shoes before heading home, the majority without a parent. Incredible resilience and independence at such a young age.

You only need to attend one of these clinics to realize just how trivial so many things we complain about really are.

Hundreds of Articles of Clothing


While helping with the jigger clinic we noticed many of the children had clothes that were falling apart. The children would confide that it was the only article of clothing they owned. We decided to give these children the donated clothing that we had brought with us from Canada. We took pictures and shared the stories. I don’t think I have ever seen more excited children then when they put on a new shirt or pair of shorts!

Eddie and I were so moved by this that after completing the jigger clinic we decided to cancel our few hours we had booked in the afternoon to relax and plan for the next day. Instead, we drove the hour back to our hotel and picked up the 2 hockey bags of clothing Eddie’s wife, Heather, had organized and went back to the village and gave every child in that village and a few adults a new set of clothes. Christmas came early for us as much as them. It was as exciting to give as it was for them to receive.

A Duffle Bag of Prescription Glasses


Apex Surgical and Vogue Optical donated a duffle bag full of prescription glasses that were donated by patients. Wanda McFarlane, who works at Apex Eye Institute, kindly measured and documented the power of each pair of glasses. They were given to a local physician who will distribute them to people who otherwise would continue to go visually impaired.

Over 600 Toothbrushes


Humber Valley Dental also donated over 600 tooth brushes, tooth paste, and dental floss, which were very much appreciated when given to the various schools and orphanages we visited.

Project Conclusion


Overall, I just want to say a humungous thank you for everyone's support and kindness throughout this experience. I’m looking forward to making Uganda an annual trip and if anyone would like any more details, I’d be happy to chat any time.

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