Listening to the school chaplain talking about Uganda, I knew I needed to go there. I have always wanted to go to Africa for as long as I can remember.
My first trip to Uganda was at the end of my Year 11. We went round the shanty towns and saw some of the places where people live. I remember seeing one woman who had lost a child owing to lack of proper medical care and poor standard of living. She showed me the room where she lived. Even today, ten years on, I can clearly picture the room in my mind. It had one bed in it and this woman, along with her husband and four children, lived there. The mental image of this room has always stuck with me. I knew that this woman’s living conditions and the personal tragedy of losing a child was not unique, for it was the story of so many women and families. While out in Uganda, I saw a poster saying how one in eight mothers die at birth and that the life expectancy of their babies is dramatically reduced because of inadequate maternity care.
On returning to school from this first trip, I couldn’t get out of my mind the thought of setting up a maternity unit, a place where mothers can have their babies safely and give them the best start in life right from the beginning. I began to speak to a few people and they encouraged me. One day, I decided to talk to the chaplain. He told me that I must go out and do some more research. Before I could think through the implications of traveling out on my own and the fears I would have to face, I was flying out to conduct my research in the rural area of Maya.
Five years on and we have made significant progress in the building of the maternity centre, and I can see my dream finally becoming a reality.
Through my school and Link International Innovation, I found a confidence in myself that I had never experienced before.