­

A visit to the hospital

We were sitting in the office of the Executive Director of St. Luke’s Hospital in the Nebbe District of northern Uganda, along with the Medical Director and several other department heads. Our main reason for being there was that our organization, Pathways to Hope Africa, is working with a medical equipment company in the States that is donating medical supplies and equipment to the hospital, where it is desperately needed. St. Luke’s is in one of the poorest districts in the northwest Nile region of [...]

Lots to Celebrate

They didn’t walk across the stage individually to receive their diplomas – which is a good thing, since there were more than 9,000 of them. Instead, as each area of study was presented, the graduates came out as a group, singing and dancing in celebration of their accomplishments. The graduates were women – young women mostly, but also women of all different ages – who completed community education programs throughout Wakiso District, one of the largest geographical districts in Uganda.  To understand how significant this [...]

The week before Christmas

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the night, I had fitfully slept on a long airline flight From Uganda to Amsterdam, and then to Atlanta Where I’d finally be home to await our own Santa. The couple beside me were speaking in Dutch, So we nodded a greeting, but didn’t say much. I knew none of their language, they knew little of mine. But we somehow communicated, and things worked out fine. At one point, the wife tried to turn on her light. [...]

By |December 29th, 2018|Columns, Holidays, Making a Difference, Travel, Uganda, Values|0 Comments

A Simple Gesture

A friend posted something on Facebook recently that really warmed my heart.  She had been in a coffee shop with several friends, discussing a difficult decision she had to make, and apparently got a bit teary-eyed while talking about it. A little later, a young woman stopped by their table on her way out, with a piece of coffeecake for my friend, telling her she hoped it would make her day a little better. I’m sure it did. And I’m going to try to keep [...]

By |November 23rd, 2018|Columns, Holidays, Making a Difference, Values|0 Comments

A great day

I had the pleasure and privilege yesterday of working with a young woman to help her prepare for an upcoming speech contest. Her story is an inspiring one of some of the issues and obstacles she had to deal with while growing up, and of how she overcame them – as well as the insecurity and self-consciousness she felt because of them. She expressed gratitude for the people and organizations that helped her along the way, and described how they inspired and motivated her. She [...]

Is there power in knowledge? It’s debatable.

I wasn’t on my high school’s debate team, but I had enough friends who were that I knew how it worked. Every debate season, a complex issue would be presented, and the team members had to collect and document every bit of information they could about it. They had to learn as much as they could about both sides of the issue. When the actual debates took place, students needed to be able to argue whichever point of view they were assigned to present. It’s [...]

By |October 7th, 2018|Columns, Making a Difference, Respect|0 Comments

Bracing for another storm

For those of us living in the southeastern U.S., it’s hard to focus on anything but Hurricane Florence right now. Although I live far enough away that we aren’t in any danger, we’re close enough that we’ll feel some of the effects of the storm – including a fair amount of wind and rain this weekend. Nothing like the brute force pummeling the coast, however, and nothing like the pounding we took last year when Irma came through. But even that didn’t hit us nearly [...]

In a World of Our Own

Australia… Bahrain… Canada… China… Denmark… France… If you’re anything like me and you’ve ever seen the opening ceremony of the Olympics, you get a lump in your throat as you watch the Parade of Nations. I love seeing the athletes parade into the stadium, dressed in their team colors, and proudly displaying the flag of their country as they wave enthusiastically to those who are watching – from the stadium and from around the world. Germany… Guyana… Haiti… Hungary… India… Indonesia… As far as I’m [...]

Problems go beyond the pale

Their hair and eyebrows are pale yellow or platinum blond. Their skin is whiter than mine, although they are African and their parents and other relatives have black hair and skin. They are albinos, and several hundred of them live in the Nakivale Refugee Settlement in southern Uganda. We visited with many of them during my recent trip to Uganda, and most of what I learned about them is heartbreaking. As you might guess, they have problems protecting their skin from the hot African sun. [...]

By |June 1st, 2018|Columns, Family, Making a Difference, Travel, Uganda|0 Comments

A difficult question, a simple answer

This column was written after my last trip to Uganda, in 2014. It was originally published in the Chanhassen Villager on 9/18/14. I still have difficulty answering a question that many people have asked me about my trip to Uganda last month: What did I do while I was there? I can list many of my actions and activities. Spending time with the young women in Ki-Mombasa that we are helping to break free from a life of poverty and prostitution. Distributing books, handmade dresses and teddy [...]