Sometimes the impossible isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. Nine San Diegans joining together to build the first dedicated children’s hospital in Mbarara, Uganda – and then add a surgical center…? Good luck…! But more than good luck turned this dream of Ugandan Archbishop Paul K. Bakyenga into a reality – and now this reality is getting even better.
After a three-year fundraising effort, construction of our long-awaited surgical center is underway. On October 17, 2015, the hospital staff hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the surgical center, complete with a blessing of the building site by Archbishop Bakyenga and a formal handing over of the building plans to the contractor.
Archbishop Bakyenga presided over the groundbreaking ceremony, saying, “The launching and building of the Surgical Center is a happy and historical event that will ensure the survival and improve the lives of multitudes of children!”
“Establishing a surgical center at HICHU will have a significant positive impact on the children in our communities,” noted HICHU CEO Andrew Ndamira, M.D. “There is a serious shortage of surgical space for children in general hospitals, which are overwhelmed with emergency adult surgeries for accident victims, and obstetric emergencies.”
Msgr. Dennis Mikulanis of San Rafael Parish in Rancho Bernardo, CA has been involved with HICHU since the beginning. “When we first gathered together to talk about building a children’s hospital,” he said, “I thought ‘What have I gotten myself into? This is never going to fly.’ However, the Lord had other plans. At first things were really not going well until we hit on the idea of putting the whole project under the patronage of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. She said she’d spend her heaven doing good on earth and that she’d let fall a shower of roses on anyone who came to her for help. Well, we got a whole rose garden full! Once St. Therese was on the job it took off. Really, it’s quite remarkable! This whole hospital is God’s doing and I think because St. Therese was so ill as an infant that she almost died, she took this hospital on as a special cause.”
San Rafael parishioner Margot Kyd spoke for many HICHU supporters as she explained, “When I heard about the critical need for a children’s hospital in Mbarara, Uganda and Archbishop Bakyenga’s request for help, I was so touched. I wanted to be part of bringing life-saving medical treatment to those kids. The hospital has saved countless children since it opened, and the planned surgery center will bring even greater blessings to the children there.”
Perhaps Ugandan Evard Kaabali said it best when he wrote to the hospital after his daughter Joy was successfully treated for a life-threatening bout of cerebral malaria: “I thank God…. My Baby Joy got enough care from this hospital, and now she is well.”
The surgical center will be completed in approximately one year and will include two operating rooms, pre- and post-op facilities, and more. When fully operational the facility will be able to handle up to 200 pediatric surgeries a month, providing yet another critical health service for the children of Mbarara, Uganda.
HICHU has raised $855,000 in cash and $92,000 in pledges for the surgical center. To complete construction and equipping the center, we need an additional $190,000.