Saddleback students step into the reality of poverty

Ill Ugandan woman sits on floor of Atutur Hospital due to lack of hospital beds. (Frederick Malinga)

Ill Ugandan woman sits on floor of Atutur Hospital due to lack of hospital beds. (Frederick Malinga)

Every hour, over 38 children and adults die in Uganda due to water-related diseases.

For most rural villages in Uganda, the idea of having readily attainable and clean drinking water is inconceivable. According to the World Bank, Uganda, with a population of 33 million people is one of the poorest nation’s in the world, with an average of 37.7 percent of individuals in rural communities living under $1.25 a day.

Five Saddleback College students will take a 10,000 mile journey across the world to visit the Kumi District in Uganda.

From June 26 to July 13, these students will fight against the harsh reality of Uganda’s lack of resources by restoring the Atutur Hospital, specifically to build a water well, provide new technological resources and sustainable material goods.

For ASG Honors Council President Lydia Natoolo, a Ugandan native, the reality of poverty in Africa and its toll on children and adults is a constant crisis that she seeks to solve.

Fourteen years ago, Natoolo lived the reality of having one meal a day. She drank unclean water from ponds to avoid walking past three villages (to obtain clean water) from a well. Natoolo left her hometown in Kampala, Uganda to begin her journey in the United States as a philanthropic, global citizen who strove to make change.

Natoolo has made a significant difference in the global community by voicing her passion for Uganda to elected officials such as Senator John Kerry, setting the framework for plausible change in the impoverished nations of Africa.

“We just want to dream for those who cannot dream, because they cannot dream beyond their current reality,” Natoolo said.

After a medical trip to Africa in June 2013, Natoolo was contacted to reach out to the hospital administrator at Atutur Hospital in the Kumi District of Uganda.

Nataloo learned that the Atutur Hospital is overpopulated and deficient.

Patients who enter the hospital must fetch their own water and food and often are given no option other than to sleep on the floor due to the insufficient amount of beds.

Natoolo reached out to her peers and members of Associated Student Government because she strongly believes that everyone can contribute to helping the Saddleback team with Uganda’s current crises.

Sophomore Dylan Brooks, the Officer for the Budget Committee with ASG said,

“I’m passionate about helping out for Uganda simply because I’m passionate about helping out. It’s always been fun to be involved in student organizations in school, but I decided to take on another challenge to really see if I can make a difference in the world,” said sophomore Dylan Brooks, the ASG’s officer for the budget committee. “The great thing about working with so many talented individuals is that we have an amazing plan and that we are going to make a huge difference in the Kumi District in Uganda.”

For the past few months, Dylan and his four classmates have been planning the trip to Uganda in various ways by fundraising, planning and spreading awareness.

Under the name “MaxLove Uganda” (a tribute to the “MaxLove Project”), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping suffering children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases, the trip to Uganda will mirror a similar message to provide aid and resources to suffering children and adults in the Atutur Hospital.

Although most students attending the trip to Uganda are involved in ASG at Saddleback, this trip is run and headed by their own jurisdiction and funds are allocated by donations.

To raise awareness for their trip to Uganda, students have created “Walk for Water” on April 23 held at Saddleback College.

The Ugandan Team is open to any student or individual interested in helping out with the project. Contact Lydia Natoolo at lydia.natoolo@gmail.com for more information.

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