Nonprofit, community-led Sunrise Centre was co-founded and is directed by Nicole Van Seters. Goal: to reduce poverty through a combination of education, nutrition, healthcare and income generating activities. Buiga-Sunrise’s Grace Medical Clinic serves 5 villages in the Mukono District of central Uganda. Three nurses (two are also registered midwives), 5 trained community health volunteers, one per village, and two traditional birth attendants provide outreach and education, prenatal and postnatal care to mothers and babies. The clinic also provides emergency transport for women with obstructed labor, family planning, and mosquito netting to pregnant women, basic laboratory services, immunizations and basic healthcare for 150 students attending Sunrise School onsite. Sunrise School offers education from preschool through grade seven, and was founded in 2004. Traditional academic subjects and vocational training are offered. Two free meals are offered per day. The school intends to be self sufficient by 2017.
Their Story — Clinic Update 19. That’s how many healthy babies were born at Buiga Sunrise Grace Family Health Centre in the month of June 2016. 19 tiny beating hearts, 380 wriggling fingers and scrunched up little toes, and an insurmountable amount of joy and relief in the welcome of new life. June marked the record for the most births in one month so far, and represents a milestone as the clinic continues to expand its impact and practices in the community of Banda Kyandaaza in central Uganda. Along with this burgeoning growth comes new hopes and new trepidations as traditional medicine is incorporated along with western practices to try and ensure the safest and most comfortable care possible for their patients. In the community where Grace Family Health Centre first opened its doors, trips to the hospital are often avoided due to the overwhelming medical bills that come along with them. A delivery at the nearest hospital can cost anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 shillings, and while it is often safer than a traditional home birth, this safety comes at the price of forgoing many traditional cultural practices. In comparison, a delivery at the Grace Family Health Centre costs only 15,000 shillings (the equivalent $5), which covers the price of the birth kit with medical supplies for the labor. If women at the centre cannot afford the price of the kit, they are able to pay it in installments or through working in the garden that supplies the centre with medicinal herbs and plants. However, much of the trepidation surrounding hospitals and clinics still lingers in the community, a fact that became all too clear when a mother in critical condition came into the Health Centre after many hours of active labor. The staff at the clinic worked tirelessly to try and save both the mother and her premature baby’s life, however due to late stage of the labor and the lack of proper medical equipment for such a critical birth, the baby died on the way to the hospital. In moments like these, there are no numbers or statistics that seem capable of justifying the loss of a new life. The grief felt by all involved with the birth seems to echo in a collection of what if questions: what if the mother had known about the affordable price of an assisted birth at the health centre? What if we had been able to afford the proper equipment to prolong their life? What if that number was 20, instead of 19? This loss served as a harrowing reminder of the importance of the work and services offered by the health centre. Since its doors opened in 2010, Grace Family Health Centre has gradually worked to become a pillar of compassionate care and health in its community. Now, with the recent hiring of two traditional birth attendants from the village, there is an even larger number of mothers and babies who have access to these services. Together, the health team is working to strike a balance that allows tradition, culture, and medical technology to harmoniously provide the best possible care. This is precisely what happened on the 9th of June, when a mother delivering twins was brought into the clinic after avoiding the government clinic she was referred to for fear of the overwhelming fees. Together, the birth attendants and midwives surrounded her with love and support as they brought two healthy babies into the world. In central Uganda, twins are considered a magical occurrence for the family — however due to the lack of safe and affordable medical care, this sense of magic is often lost in the stress and danger of what should be an uneventful delivery. Due in part to the services that the Health Centre provided, the magic of two new lives was able to be celebrated with joy by all. As the clinic continues to grow, there will surely be more opportunities for celebration and for sorrow, for tradition and technology. But most of all, there will be more women and babies that are given a chance, and nothing seems more magical than that.
Taken from the Summer 2016 Global Force for Healing post written by Sarah Richmond.
For more information on the Sunrise Centre, visit their website.
Founder and Director — Nicole VanSeters