A letter from NUMEM clinic co-founder and first Global Scholar, Atiya Patrick Kasagara
Dear fellow Alliance members,
I am a Ugandan from the Northern part of the country, in a district called Gulu. I am an Acholi by tribe called Atiya Patrick Kasagara, born in the year 1988 in a family of seven people: four other siblings, my Mum and Dad.
In the year 1996, I started my Primary schooling at a missionary-founded boarding school call Negri Primary School in Gulu district, where I completed successfully in the year 2002 with a first division grade and was then admitted for ordinary level of studies at St Joseph’s College Layibi in the year 2003.
I had my schooling for both ordinary and advanced studies at St Joseph’s College Layibi. However, while working for my advance level of studies in 2008, I lost my Dad and, then, in the immediately subsequent year, lost my Mum. By then I was 20 years old. Losing both parents in just a short period of time was very challenging for my family: this brought with it grave economic and social hardship. Despite the situation that prevailed at that time we kept a forward-move by God`s grace.
In the year 2009 I was admitted at Gulu School of Clinical Officers for a course of diploma in Clinical Medicine and Community Health. My schooling was greatly supported by my friend Lauren Taylor. I am so proud of her!
While at Gulu School of Clinical Officers, by God’s grace, I met my wonderful friends in the names of Mr. Oyoo Benson, Oyet Patrick, Okello John , Olanya Denish, and Tabu Geofrey. We were in the same discussion group while at school. After our end of course examination we sat down one evening and discussed on how we could support our community, which is faced with gaps in distribution of health facilities, health-workers, and problems of psychosocial morbidity following the twenty years of war we were in. We then all agreed on one day starting up a health facility that would contribute in enhancing access to quality yet affordable health service for the community, with satellite distribution of other clinics in the region to contribute in filling the gap in health service.
After the meeting we all departed to our various homes in the districts distributed within the region. Benson, who then got a job in Pader, met with David William Joseph (co-founder of Asteroidea Health Alliance) and shared our vision with him. David was very positive in helping us to ensure realization of the vision. In the year 2012, we brought together money and ensured registration of the Northern Uganda Medical Mission as a community based organization with Pader district local government. After that, through continued support from David William Joseph and money brought in place from the six board members here in Uganda, we procured a few pieces of equipment and drugs. We then registered the clinic with the ministry of health in Uganda and suggested to kick start the Northern Uganda Medical Mission health care centre in May 2013.
By then I was working at Fitzman Clinic Gulu. When I looked at the need and the difficulty of getting a clinician for our newly formed clinic that would accept our situation at that time, I decided to leave my family and work and go to work for NUMEM health care centre with a goal purposed in my heart to do whatever I can in my ability to ensure that our vision is realized, whatsoever the situation that existed.
On 21st of May, 2013, through courage and humility, the clinic was opened. The clinic barely had any beds, or drip stands in the wards; it only had a few pieces of equipment, drugs, chairs, benches and tables. I was employed as a full time clinician and Benson as a part time clinician. Through hard work from us and the other board members, now the clinic serves a considerable population in the district and stepwise we believe the vision that we have will be realized.
While working at the clinic, I was challenged with management of medical and surgical conditions that truly required a Medical Clinical Officer (what is equivalent to an MD in the U.S.) if the patient’s life were to be saved. This then prompted me to apply for further studies in human medicine and surgery (medical school) to enhance my ability to better serve the people.
By God`s grace, through Mr. David William Joseph we were introduced to a team from Asteroidea Health Alliance who came to Pader, included Dr. James Walker, Miss Anny Su, and Dr. Emily Van Beveren. After them learning about us and the purpose for which we wanted to further study, and yet that we were limited by financial resources, they offered for us a scholarship. I am so proud to say they blessed my life, and the community that we serve through NUMEM health care centre, enormously by offering a scholarship to us [Patrick’s colleague at NUMEM, Olanya Denish, was also awarded a scholarship to attend medical school]. Asteroidea also has tailored financial support to the Northern Uganda Medical Mission health care centre to ensure its operations and have begun subsidizing of medical cost for patients.
In one spirit we work as a family pursuing a global course in enhancing access to affordable health care services, and contributing to improvement of distribution of health care infrastructure in Northern Uganda for the service of humanity.
With humility I extend my sincere thanks to the board members of Asteroidea and the donors around the globe that support Asteroidea Health Alliance for their support to us in schooling, to the Northern Uganda Medical Mission health care centre, and to the community of northern Uganda at large.
At present I am at Kampala International University pursuing a degree in human medicine and surgery through a scholarship from Asteroidea Health Alliance. I am in my first semester. Studies are going on well. I am working hard at school with the hope of completing the course successfully, and further serving humanity.
May the Good Lord guide and bless the works of your hands.
Atiya Patrick Kasagara