Israelis to lend medical 'helping hand' in Uganda

"Israel is a lot closer than many others to understanding the needs of developing countries."

israeli in uganda 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
israeli in uganda 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For the second straight year, Israeli doctors and health care professionals will be heading to Namuwongo, Uganda next month on the "Helping Hands Medical Fellowship" to volunteer their time for a community in need. The first delegation will be leaving December 3 and returning February 5 in an effort to build the Ugandans' capacity to sustain a higher level of health. At this stage, the volunteers are there to diagnose the situation. "Each region has its own cultural and environmental needs: How far away are the clinics? How much does the community know about health care? We are looking to empower and educate them," said Rivka Van Raalte, a medical sociologist from Haifa. The founding organization, Global Youth Partnership for Africa, is teaming up with Brit Olam, the International Israeli Jewish Volunteer Movement, to send the Israelis. "Israel is relatively young, given its medical expertise, and a lot closer than many others to understanding the needs of developing countries," said Sharon Wolf, GYPA's Israel liaison. The community is located in the Bukasa parish within the Makindye division of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. Due to extreme poverty, lack of sanitation and little access to medical treatment and prevention, the people often suffer from life-threatening diseases, including malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, and HIV/AIDS. Namuwongo is an impoverished community comprised of internally displaced Ugandans from all over the country who fled persecution from the Lord's Resistance Army. In addition to the medical attention, the delegation is seeking to deal with many of the psychological traumas that have occurred in the community. "It's been a dream of mine to volunteer in Africa. I'm very excited to finally be going over there," Dr. Marnina Urman of Jerusalem said. GYPA is a non-profit organization striving to create partnerships between young African leaders and young leaders from around the world eager to learn and engage in Africa's challenges. Brit Olam is an international humanitarian organization for Israel and the Jewish people. It seeks to address poverty and injustices in vulnerable communities. The "Helping Hands Medical Fellowship" is currently looking for more doctors and health professionals to volunteer in Uganda. Those interested can contact Sharon Wolf at