Kibito Hospital is the exact opposite of when I saw it last.

Betsy, Fred, Karina, and I visited the hospital two years ago and it was a thing of beauty.  Brand new construction, gorgeous floors, nice sized hallways, a large surgery room, etc.  Problem?  It was empty.  All this room and all these dreams stood empty.

Next door, what remained of a small clinic was still functioning in an old building which had survived a flood.  Today, that building is still used and it looks as old as ever, but it is packed and well used.  The new construction – let me say…it is what hope looks like.  The maternity ward is in full swing, delivering an average of 220 babies per month, up from 20 when the only deliveries were happening next door. The mamas are resting on beds donated by AFCA and the babies are wearing little hats crocheted by those who love these babies, even without meeting them.  Brand new mattresses bring out a groan of delight from one mom who says, “this is THE most comfortable I’ve ever been.  The bed feels so solid and I know it won’t fall beneath me”. The NICU is a wonder to behold with incubators, cribs, baby warmers, and other necessary things.  Yes, all from AFCA’s little warehouse. Every piece of furniture came from AFCA’s warehouse and the head doctor is so incredibly proud to ask us to sit in his office, now that he has a desk and chairs. The file cabinets?  Yes, AFCA.

I must look so silly, smiling away, touching things I’ve touched before, but in Lebanon, PA.  I keep thinking that Betsy should be here to see the fruits of her labor, as well as all the other volunteers who make this type of miracle happen.  There’s even a room for women who walk 20 miles to deliver their baby at Kibito.  They come early so that they can make the walk without giving birth on the road and they can stay here, comfortable and cared for until their little one makes his or her appearance.

Dr. Robert can’t wait to show me his very favorite thing – a potty chair.  I am a bit confused, as there is some seriously neat equipment here, but he explains that in the past, when a woman thought she needed to use the restroom, she was really about to have her baby.  But, she’d walk outside to use the facilities and before she knew it, the baby was born.  Now, they have a potty chair right by the delivery beds so that if this situation happens, the baby can be born right then and there.

The district president arrives and I am supposed to “hand over” the donation.  I have no idea what this means, but he is an impressive man with an impressive voice.  He looks me square in the eyes and says, “please thank the people of the United States for loving the people of Uganda.  You’ve always been so generous to us and you have given us hope. Tell all of them how grateful we are.”  So, to each person who touched any of the items in that container, THANK YOU.  To the guys, to Ivette, to Betsy, to Val, to St. Marks folks, to Sam, to students of so many schools, to youth groups, to Aiden and Julia, to Eric, to Pat, to Nicole, to Mike, to Maine, to Kathy, to all the donors, and to all of those who sewed, cleaned, packed, inventoried, loaded, unloaded, boxed up, counted, folded, and prayed…thank you.

Today’s celebration was not mine.  It was all of ours and I am just the pair of eyes who had the privilege of seeing your hard work come together.

Well done, team.  Well done.