Shelley Goble and Sharon Carrington were in Africa

Shelley Goble and Sharon Carrington were in Africa

Working with Watoto for a better Africa

Two women from Smithers recently came back from a mission to Africa with the Watoto organization.

Shelley Goble and Sharon Carrington (Shown at right) have returned from a life changing adventure in Uganda.

The pair took to Africa to support Watoto, a care program which supports orphaned children and women in the civil war ravaged area.

Goble and Carrington offered their services to the mobile clinics which provided care and referrals to people who sought their help.

Demand was so high they said they would have seen 70 to 100 people each day they were set up.

“It was amazing,” said Goble. “You prepare for something and never know what you’re going to get. When we got there I think we were both blown away with what the organization of Watoto was doing.”

There was certainly an adjustment to a different kind of living. Uganda had poor air quality, lots of litter, and roads were falling apart. In all, it gave them a new appreciation of the services we have in Canada.

Watoto has different aspects of its service. One aspect is called Living Hope, which is a program to support women who are HIV positive.

Goble said that one of the most tragic moments she experienced involved a woman who was tested for HIV at their clinic.

“She had just found out, within a very short period of time, that her husband has been unfaithful to her,” she said. “She came in, was tested, and was HIV positive.”

That woman was given immediate counseling by a Living Hope counselor.

The philosophy behind Living Hope is that it’s better for Ugandan woman to be treated and kept alive so that their children won’t be orphaned — an average family is seven people.

The experience was enlightening for the pair. They say hospitals in the area were quite dirty and run down, and that electricity was scarce. While it was a running joke to not have power at their accommodation, it makes medical care quite challenging. An area hospital, they say, spent three months’ worth of their budget on fuel in just one month.

With money raised here in Smithers, they purchased supplies, including medicine, in the country. Their clinics were, quite literally, a setup of a few tables. One table the pharmacy, the other the ‘lab’, for instance.

It’s clear to Goble and Carrington that they would go back again, and with their new experience would be able to re-focus their efforts in new areas.

Carrington encourages people to get involved in charity, not necessarily with Watoto — although they were very pleased with their experience — but with anyone because the support is needed out there.

Goble is still trying to help and is asking people to support a new campaign of hers, to bring hearing protection and safety goggles to factory workers in Africa.

She said that a tour of a manufacturing facility in Africa showed workers with very little protection, almost no one with hearing protection, and one person welding in sandals.

If anyone has any hard-shelled hearing protectors handy, or safety goggles, she asks people to call her at 250-847-2885 for information on how to get involved.

Both want to extend their deepest thanks to the community for all of its support for their mission overseas.