By Anna Glendon, with contributors Eva McDorman and Carol Best

MNU alumni performing compassionate service across the globe are, in many ways, the hands and feet of Jesus to those they assist. Anna Glendon (’12), a recent RN-to-BSN graduate, took a month-long trip to Uganda with Project Helping Hands in January 2013. Originally a cardiac medical/surgical acute care nurse, a career change to clinical nursing in infectious diseases ignited Glendon’s passion for the care of individuals with HIV/AIDS. Here, Glendon speaks about her experiences in the developing world.

I spent one month in Uganda with a nonprofit organization that sends interdisciplinary medical teams to developing world countries. We stayed near Kawempe, one of the most densely populated slums in the world, in the capital city of Kampala. Our team was comprised of six registered nurses, two physicians, one dentist, and at least 125 Ugandan volunteers.

People lined up early and waited hours to be seen. We treated 250-350 patients of varying complexity and gave out 700 prescriptions.

A major component of the mission was educating locals and village healthcare providers, with the aim of helping them become self-sufficient.

One outstanding memory was of treating an HIV-infected baby who had lost both parents and was taken from a neglectful environment. He is now in a stable, therapeutic orphanage with other HIV-positive kids. My initial reaction was to question how so much bad could happen to an innocent baby. While I was focused on the negative, my Ugandan interpreter said, “That boy is blessed. He should be happy.” The interpreter went on to explain, “His parents died, but he didn’t. His aunt neglected him, but he survived. He lives in an orphanage with other people like himself, so he won’t be lonely. God has a plan for him and that should make him happy.”

In that moment, I was schooled in optimism by a baby who was raised in a Ugandan slum without two shillings to rub together. Therein lies the beauty of mission work -- you are both the teacher and the student. Everyone learns from one another.

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