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Unsung: Anna Cronin

Unsung: Anna Cronin
September 10, 2015 No comments

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Many villagers came from miles away and it would take hours to get there. As we were driving to the outreaches we would see mothers carrying their babies on their backs with sweat rolling down their foreheads. They were headed to see us and some of them had been walking since before the sun was up.

At the clinic, the very sick people would arrive on boda-bodas (a motorcycle/dirtbike) that costs shillings. Some boda-boda drivers would take the sick person and not charge money, these drivers are neighbors, friends, and relatives. We saw boda drivers who would stay with the patient once they were admitted until the patients family could get there.

The most common disease we saw at the clinic was malaria and it was mainly children. We did see plenty of other things but I would say 80% of the patients that were admitted over our 7 week stay it was malaria. The children room was always full and had pitiful baby cries all day. Many of these families would be given mosquito nets but families would use them for other things (nets, strainers, wedding dresses, yes that happened) at the outreaches the mothers would receive mosquito nets as well and we would write down who got one and when to keep records for the Uganda ministry of health. There are health team workers within villages that have oral malaria meds but if those don’t work that is when the those infected with malaria would come to the clinic. When they arrived they needed IV medication as well as plenty of rest.

Why did you choose the nursing field and why did you choose to serve abroad?

I chose nursing because I have wanted to help people since I was a little girl. My brother and sister were accident prone and always seemed to be headed to the ER or needing some form of care, so my passion was born. I loved the feeling I got when someone who was sick would just give that knowing look of appreciation even though they didn’t feel good.

I chose to serve abroad because I had always wanted to. My mom kept a photo album and when I was 10 I made my version of a ‘bucket list’. On that list was to be a nurse and help people all over the world, especially Africa. During my Freshman year of high school I looked into joining Nurses Without Borders to finally accomplish that dream. I have been working toward that ever since. So, when I found out that Saint Mary’s offered a summer course doing just that in Uganda, Africa.

What are some challenges you faced and ways you have grown from your trip?

The biggest challenge was my mindset. I was seeing all this suffering and so I was always looking at the sadness. After a long day at the clinic we went out to play with the children and I truly saw happiness in their eyes. I was judging their living situations as that I had seen in America, not how they were living compared to each other. To them they weren’t suffering, they were alive and therefore life was good. We did see suffering but if you’re suffering you’re still alive. I’ve gained a whole new perspective on life that I will always carry with me. When something goes wrong in my day I pull up pictures on my phone of those amazing children and they turn my day around even though they are thousands of miles away.

Why did your team choose Uganda?

Our team chose Uganda due to the Sisters of the Holy Cross having a convent there. They were so welcoming in hosting us as well as thankful for the extra help. I am so glad we have that relationship with the Sisters. I owe them more than they know, they showed me how even though I had worked so hard to not take my life for granted I still had. Daily mass and evening prayer really helped me to delve deeper into my faith and it was a great refresher after I had gone to church camp all those years.

The main people I remember from the trip are all the happy, smiley children. I remember each and every person and I will never forget those memories (also thanks to my journal), but those children and their smiles are with me everyday! They can turn my whole day around.

Was there anything else you wished would’ve been made available prior, during, or post trip?

I wish that this clinic could have the basic necessities. They do not have epinephrine, they do not have oxygen! If someone is needing those things, they are referred. Sometimes, to the government hospital 3 miles away, others to Fort Portal an hour away. They have one thermometer for the entire clinic which they clean with alcohol and cotton swabs between patients. I have an entire list that I compiled over there of things that they needed. We are still trying to figure out ways to fundraise over here and how to get the supplies over there.

– Anna Cronin, Saint Mary’s College Class of 2016, Belles for Africa Vice-President

Unsung, is a feature MDF proudly brings to the MDF community highlighting the incredible MDF’ers who are truly #CraftingWellness. We hope to inspire, encourage, and connect humanity by sharing the stories from the thousands of anonymous individuals whose imprint can be seen in the lives of countless others.

Posted in: blog