Thanks to our thousand plus supporters, friends at Nike and Runner's World and many other generous organizations, the dedicated work of the Achon Uganda Children's Fund team and our sister organization Love Mercy Australia, Kristina Health Center (KHC) was formally dedicated on August 25, 2012. Julius Achon's dream - bringing local healthcare for the first time to thousands in Awake village and beyond to Otuke District in Northern Uganda was realized. Named after Julius' mother, Kristina, killed in Awake in 2004 by LRA rebels, KHC will provide essential and life saving healthcare to the community. (note: The Kristina Health Center concept was formally launched in January 2010; construction commenced in April, 2011; the total cost of the project, thus far, is $185,000. Kristina Health Center was 100% built by the hands of villagers and local tradespersons.)
Over three thousand people, many walking several miles to the health center campus, attended the KHC dedication. As only an African village can provide, the singing, dancing, speeches and atmosphere were joyous. The Ugandan crowd was joined by a team of 27 from America and Australia who had worked diligently the past two years to raise the funds needed to evolve KHC from Julius' dream to a reality. Julius spoke to the crowd of his dream "to not let the death of his mother Kristina be in vain, but be the seed to become a flower for the community". Together with the Honorable Achieng Sarah Opendi, Uganda Minister of Primary Health Care, Julius cut the ceremonial ribbon and Kristina Health Center was declared open. Minister Achieng spoke eloquently to the crowd of the shining example of one barefoot village boy, abducted at the age of 12 as a child soldier, later to become a celebrated Ugandan Olympic runner, and then returning to his village to help his community of birth. She urged the youth in attendance to follow the example set by Julius and, as he preaches daily, "never give up".
Literally, as the dedication speeches were presented to the crowd by Julius, his father, and several other district and national leaders and before the dedication ribbon was cut, local Otuke healthcare workers provided blood testing for adults and inoculations to children of the community in the health center. Thanks to Rotary International, vaccines for inoculations were available due to the first ever solar power in Awake powering the only refrigerator/freezer in the local healthcare network, to store vaccines requiring refrigeration.
Full KHC operations will commence October 1 as the newly hired Ugandan medical staff relocate to the KHC living quarters and a large shipment of medicines and supplies is delivered. Kristina Health Center now moves to the challenge of providing consistent quality healthcare to the community and over a period of years, the self-sustainability of the facility. During the interim, regular infusions of funds will be required from the USA and Australia to maintain KHC operations and purchase additional critical elements of the health care delivery system such as an ambulance. So we ask our generous supporters to continue providing financial support with a one time or monthly donation.
We only wish you all had been in attendance to witness this marvelous event and to see how your donations thus far have been utilized.
Awake villagers await the formal dedication of Kristina Health Center on Aug. 25, 2012. Consisting of two buildings - a 10 room clinic and 4 unit living quarters, final preparations are in progress to complete the facility, bringing local healthcare for the first time to thousands. Uganda national leaders and Otuke district officials have been invited to witness this historic event which began with a dream by former Uganda Olympic runner Julius Achon as a result of the death of his mother Kristina - killed in 2004 during a Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel attack. Julius' subsequently founded Achon Uganda Children's Fund (AUCF) which undertook the Kristina project in 2010.
The fourth quarter of 2011 brought three major accomplishments for the Achon Uganda Children's Fund and the Kristina Clinic project:
1) Kristina Clinic construction neared completion in Awake Village as both the clinic and living quarters structures were completed with doors and windows added. Kristina Clinic has become a local destination site as villagers come daily in numbers to marvel at the buildings - unmatched by any local structure. See the attached photo showing Kristina clinic buildings in the rear with Julius' Achon's father's home and kitchen in the foreground.
2) On November 5th, the Nike sponsored Julius Achon Run was held at Orum Primary School bringing 21 schools and 1,200 students together for a 5k run - the first of its kind in over 20 years. The attached photo shows former Uganda Olympic runner Julius running in a boys race. A crowd estimated at 3,000+ raced, watched and were all fed during the awards celebration. This race was step one in Julius' effort to resume sports in the region.
3) Runner's World Magazine, in its January 2012 issue, featured Julius Achon as it 2012 Hero - for his humanitarian work in Northern Uganda. Julius' efforts through the Achon Uganda Children's Fund are focused on improving health via Kristina Clinic, supporting the education of 35 local orphaned children and returning sports competition to the region.
Kristina Clinic construction will complete in Q1 with the focus now switching to staff recruitment, securing furnishings, supplies and medications and training. Kristina Clinic is targeted for opening in the 2nd quarter of 2012.
Thank you to the many Global Giving supporters whose funding has been the necessary catalyst for significant progress in 2011. From a grassy field in February to two beautiful new clinic structures at year end - we thank you for your help.
Kristina Clinic construction in Awake village, where Julius Achon was born and raised, is progressing very well since our May visit says Julius Achon, founder of AUCF. The clinic is named after my mother Kristina who was killed in 2004 by the LRA during the civil war. She bled to death in the village as there was no healthcare to save her. Since that time my goal has been to build a clinic in her honor to provide healthcare for future generations. Under the leadership of construction manager Patrick Ebyau and my brother, Jimmy Okullo, the living quarters are virtually complete, save windows, doors, painting and a patio surrounding the building. By Uganda standards, the facility is attractive; by village standards it is luxurious, as 99% of the people still live in mud huts with straw roofs. We expect the living quarters will be a significant asset recruiting staff. Since the May trip, clinic construction has progressed to completion of the walls and roofing; in addition Lifewater International has installed the clinic bore-hole well and cool, clear water is flowing for future clinic patients and staff – a huge asset and accomplishment. Clinic construction is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. Many villagers come to visit the construction as such a development has not occurred for 20 years in my village - since before the war.
Julius and I held a meeting with the Kristina Clinic board of directors; once completed, the clinic will be owned by the Awake community and governed by the board. The are enthusiastic and passionate about this wonderful addition to their community and committed to its success. They believe it will serve as a catalyst for economic development of the community as well
While in the village, Julius spoke to 450 students at his former primary school where he announced a Nov. 5th fun run sponsored by Nike at which 20 schools and 1,200 students will participate. When told each of the kids participating would receive a Nike shirt, the students went bananas.
We are grateful to our many supporters for their generosity said Julius as he surveyed the tremendous progress since his last construction visit in May. My mother would be so proud
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