Vancouver nonprofit, Ourganda, launches programs to provide medical care to Ugandan villages
VANCOUVER — “Come dream with us. There’s always a way to help more people, and if God impresses someone to make that happen, let’s do it together.”
Ron Gladden first put that dream into action in January of 2018, when he founded Vancouver based nonprofit, Ourganda, to reach the unreached and bring medical care to some of Uganda’s most remote villages.
Gladden explains the name’s origin as it not being “U” or “You,” but rather “Our,” as in, “our responsibility, our calling.”
“We feel a responsibility and calling, to be a blessing,” Gladden said.
The organization’s primary goal is to save lives and extend lives through emergency and ongoing medical care, Gladden said. This is accomplished through an in-country, seven-person team of medical professionals equipped with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, as well as by providing essential items in health kits.
“We provide the building blocks for health,” Gladden said. “We provide water to the villages, water filtration systems, soap, mosquito nets, shoes, and so on.”
Ourganda focuses its resources in one particular district of Uganda near the Congo border, known as Bundibugyo. It is one of the more remote and impoverished parts of the nation; often overlooked.
Only three government hospitals are available within the district, which is within a country roughly the size of Oregon, but with 10 times the population. Currently, the organization is working in the three villages of Sarakihombya, Kinyante IV and Kitsolima II. All together, well over 6,000 people live in these areas.
Due to lack of pure water and medical supplies, disease and infections can run rampant, with even small cuts becoming life threatening. Pregnant women are also, as policy, not admitted to local hospitals without a birthing kit. Ourganda now provides those kits as well as kits for feminine hygiene and children.
Gladden and his team said they were compelled to help put an end to the unnecessary death.
“If we can get to that point where they’re self sustaining and moving on and being able to sustain their own life from, being where they were, they got a scratch, they can die, this way here that they’ve got a fight for life,” said Steve Stubits, a member of the board for Ourganda.
The program is already serving 1,800 Wellness Club Members (people who can look in on the health of their village) 5,000 people are receiving clean water from two water systems and 375 pregnant mothers are receiving vitamin supplements.
With the average life expectancy in the Bundibugyo District estimated to be only in the high 30s, the organization believes their practical but compassionate medical aid will double the life expectancy in the coming years, as well as be able to serve all 650 villages in the district.
Presently, the organization is turning some of its attention to a program for children.
The Kids Sharing Project and Coins for Kids, was established as the latest component of Ourganda’s mission earlier this year. It began with Gladden’s granddaughter, Kylie, deciding to donate all her birthday money to help the children in the Bundibugyo District.
“We’re real proud of them and we’re trying to pour fuel on their fire,” Gladden said. “I’m positive it will change their lives forever. They’re going to see themselves as generous, giving and making a difference in the world over across the ocean, 11 time zones away.”
Together, with her best friend Clara, the girls raised an initial $1,500, before starting the program in earnest. Now, they are supplying branded water bottles to people, churches, schools, and other nonprofits to raise awareness and allow people to donate coins into them.
They are starting with 200 bottles, ready to distribute, and have a goal for 2019 of raising $10,000.
For every $10 collected through the program, the girls purchase health kits for children and their families. Items such as shoes, soap, mosquito nets, toothbrushes, underwear, and a reusable water bottle are included.
A large school class in Chowchilla, CA has already ordered 20 water bottles to fundraise, and several groups and schools in Clark County are expected to join soon.
To partner with Ourganda and the Kids Sharing Project, you can reach out via their website, or email either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. To give financially to the organization, you can also visit ourganda.org/give-life or send at check to the address listed on the site.
“We’re going to end our lives on this earth trying our best to help other people,” Gladden said. “We’re going to lay our head down the pillow for the last time, someday, and say, ‘we did everything we knew how to do, to help those people.”