We're finally out in the daylight and starting to see Kampala! Our first stop was to UNICEF offices for an overview of the country's child health situation. Some progress is much more encouraging than I anticipated and some challenges are much greater than I imagined.
Uganda shows phenomenal growth with 7-8% GDP growth per year for the last 10 years - faster than China. We met officials from the Ministry of Health proud to be in partnership with UNICEF to employ innovation in programs dizzying in scope. Mosques and churches work together hosting Family Health Days at houses of worship easily accessible to families four times a year.
The problems the students of Railway face are extraordinary. Many are orphans, live in one room homes, are affected by HIV/AIDS, and have to find odd jobs to try to earn money after school. In the recent past, most girls were pregnant by age 11. Yet inside school gates, kids are encouraged by teachers who are more family than mere staff. And lives are changing dramatically for the better.
Overall, I was amazed at how at ease I felt as I saw familiar feelings reflected in people around me. UNICEF field staff are driven by the same passions that motivate Shot@Life champions. Children in poverty are silly, theatrical, clever, and beautiful...just like my own daughters. That's why I'm here. Because I would never sit idly by if my own kids needed help like this. And we're not about to give up on the children of Uganda.