Three Non-Profit Organizations Unite to Accomplish the Unthinkable

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Restoring Hope for a Ugandan Child with Shattered Dreams

Small children learn early on to keep their distance from the intensely hot open hardwood fires that many rural Ugandans use for their daily cooking. At the tender age of 11, sweet, shy Susan Nabukenya had a close encounter with her mother's cooking fire that changed her life in one horrific instant. Earlier that day Susan had splashed kerosene onto her dress while helping fill the lanterns that Ddegeya Village homes utilize for light. Her mother was far too busy to stop and wash her dress. There were g-nuts and plantains to harvest, water to retrieve from the village well, a baby to nurse, as well as goats and chickens to feed. So Susan went about her duties helping her father at his place of business and the kerosene stain was quickly forgotten.

Later that day, as her mother cooked beans and rice for the evening meal, Susan came too close to the fire and her dress ignited instantly, covering her body with burns from her chest to her toes. After some time, a skin graft was performed to save her leg, and the rest of her burns were left to heal on their own with no medical oversight. The graft never healed correctly and Susan, now 14, has had to endure an open wound on her leg for four years. She can't run and play like her friends, has missed much of her schooling and is in constant pain. She had to quit school because her ability to walk was so severely impaired. Susan's mother died shortly after the accident, and now she lives with her grandfather, who is paralyzed and is of little help physically or financially.

When Team Engeye (http://www.engeye.org) met Susan, who had visited the Engeye Health Clinic in Uganda as a patient seeking help, they knew they had a major choice. They could explain to her that they did not have the capacity to care for her at their clinic with their limited resources, and try to forget her sad story. Or they could do something. The team knew Susan's care wouldn't be easy, and that only the plastic surgeons and pro-bono work offered in the U.S. could heal her scarred body. So much effort, time and energy ... and for only one person. Yet they realized this one soul was just as precious as their own child. Just as deserving of a vibrant and healthy life. So, in the midst of the rigors of medical school, when most students don't dream of more than the annals of medicine, the team took action.

In mid-2007 Susan was preliminarily accepted to the Boston Shriners Burn Unit. Months of reviewing her applications and medical records passed, and finally Susan was accepted for plastic surgery to repair her leg with all medical expenses covered! Susan and John will fly in on May 18, 2008, staying in Boston for two months. Susan will then return to her home in Uganda to begin her new life unimpeded by her injuries.

Choose A Need (http://www.chooseaneed.org), partnered with Engeye on this exciting event and is donating the entire amount needed for airfare for Susan and John Kalule, the co-founder and manager of the Engeye Health Clinic in Uganda. John will serve as Susan's translator during her stay in the United States.

Just Cause (http://www.jcause.org), Theresa Weinman, and Jackie Lamont are ensuring Susan's stay will be a success. From housing to food, from clothing to emotional support, they are pulling on all their connections to ensure John and Susan are loved and nourished at all levels during their first ever visit to the U.S.

After Susan returns to Uganda, this dedicated team of women is determined to send Susan to a proper boarding school so she can regain the education and life she tragically lost as a young child.

About the Grassroots Non-Profit Organizations:

Choose A Need:
Brian and Mary Dawson, the founders of Choose A Need (CAN), believe that those of us who have been given so much should be held accountable for what we do with our resources and should feel a sense of obligation, if not desire, to help others who are not as fortunate. CAN chooses needs and publicizes them, then solicits donations and funds the selected project. Brian is currently pursuing a career as an Emergency Medicine physician. ChooseAneed believes that we CAN make a difference, and that more of us would create change if only we knew of the need. For more information, visit: http://www.ChooseAneed.org

Just Cause:
Just Cause, founded and run by the vibrant Lorrie King, is dedicated to addressing disparities within the realms of HIV/AIDS, refugee/immigrant empowerment, genocide survivorship and human rights. To that end, they partner with grassroots organizations in Rwanda, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, to facilitate local programming in HIV/AIDS, land and education rights for orphans, women and vulnerable children, and community building after conflict. At home in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia, they focus their efforts on providing stop-gap services to address the on-going needs of newly arrived refugees, who have reached the end of their initial resettlement benefits. For more information visit: http://www.jcause.org

Engeye Health Clinic:
The Engeye Health Clinic was established in 2006 by three medical students, Stephanie Van Dyke, Misty Richards and Brooke Richards, in collaboration with two key Ugandans, John Kalule and Laurence Makana Sitati. Despite the rigors of medical school, the team is in daily contact across the globe, bringing sustainable healthcare to Ddegeya Village in southern Uganda for the first time ever. For more information, visit: http://www.Engeye.com

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Dawna Lee Heising
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