By Drew McCalmomt
On Tuesday, April 29, Ozone House hosted a casual dinner event for former Minerva Fellow Alexis “Biz” Deeb ’12 and Clinic Manager of Engeye John Kalule. Engeye is a nonprofit health clinic in rural Uganda.
As attendees, mostly Ozone House members, began to chow down on their vegetarian lasagna, Kalule spoke about his life in this third-world country.
Kalule co-founded Engeye in 2006 with the goal of increasing accessibility to basic healthcare for people in the remote village of Ddegeya, Uganda. Engeye provides tests for common diseases such as malaria, HIV and brucella.
It also provides counseling, family planning, vaccinations and basic medical treatments.
The nonprofit is funded overwhelmingly by private donations, since the Ugandan government provides minimal support for such institutions.
Engeye is a small clinic, with about 11 staff members.
In 2008, Engeye also began to provide scholarships to local children, since Ugandan private schools are considered to provide much better education than their public counterparts.
Because these schools are located in bigger cities, children from rural areas must leave home and board at school.
When Kalule started comparing Americans to Ugandans, he immediately said, “Here [in America] you guys have dreams.”
It is common for Ugandan children as young as age three to go into boarding school. Children are expected to take on responsibilities at an earlier age than first-world children.
Young children are expected to do household chores, and yet they still have big smiles.
Kalule’s own son goes to boarding school, and as a single parent, he rarely has time to see his son.
Even children going to private schools wear threadbare clothes. Kalule recalled a time when he bought his son a Spiderman t-shirt, among other clothes, and he later found out that his son gave some of the clothes to needy friends.
It is common for children to walk shoeless for miles in Uganda to get to school.
Deeb was selected to become a Minerva Fellow in 2012, following her graduation. She was sent to Engeye, where she spent a year helping the organization’s daily operations.
Union has been sending students to Engeye for the last six years.
This year, Rogan Quinn ’13 and Ben Weiner ’13 went to Engeye as Minerva Fellows.
There are a few American staff members of Engeye, that are connected to Albany Medical College, which is how the program initially connected with Union.
Deeb was so moved by her experience with Engeye that when she came back stateside, she continued to work for non-profit organizations. She is currently working a communications and marketing job for her former high school, but she is also moonlighting with an organization called 50 Cents. Period., which is a nonprofit that helps connect refugees with resettlement agencies.
Ozone House puts on an annual fund-raising dinner for Engeye.
Students will be given the chance to donate declining balance to this charity. In addition, a small percentage of Ozone Café proceeds are donated directly to Engeye.
If you would like to learn more about Engeye, please visit: www.engeye.org