First Posted: 2/22/2012
In a little more than two weeks, several members of The University of Scranton community earned enough memories to last a lifetime.
Emily Harasym, of Factoryville, and Dan Haggerty, of Waverly, were among 15 University of Scranton students and faculty members who recently returned from a trip to Uganda.
A philosophy professor at the University, Haggerty is also the director of the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Honors Program (SJlA), which is a four-year liberal arts program reserved for the top 5 percent of the students at the University of Scranton.
This year "Christianity in Africa," a course taught by Charles Pinches, Ph.D., chair of the Theology Department, was offered as an SLJA elective.
According to the University's website, the travel course covers the life and story of Ugandan Christianity since 1877, including the Uganda martyrs, the relationship between Anglicans and Catholics, and the role of Christian churches in Uganda culture, especially related to education, justice and medicine.
In addition to Uganda's history, the group also took the time to delve into its present, participating in a number of activities where they had a chance to meet the people, including visiting a few hospitals.
"One public hospital in the town of Masaka… was heartbreaking. The conditions were desperately poor and deplorable, with very ill, and I assume dying patients… it was very sad," said Haggerty.
Thanks to a gift of $1,000 from the grandmother of one of the students on the trip, the group was able to provide rice, sugar, soap and bread to about 150 patients in the hospital.
"Readers might wonder, ‘Well, why is that necessary?' And it's because hospitals in Uganda don't cook, they don't provide any meals for the patients, so how does that get done? The families of the patients have to move…camp out back and do the meals and the wash, so this gift really was very useful to the patients," said Haggerty.
Despite the conditions, Haggerty and Harasym said they were impressed with the positive attitude that everyone there seemed to possess.
"There is an abundance of joy and warmth and love, and incredible hospitality," said Haggerty. "You feel honored and lucky to be there because you're welcomed so much," said Harasym.
The two said the conditions were much better at another hospital they visited in South-West Uganda, the Bwindi Community Hospital.
Bwindi Community Hospital was founded in 2003 by Dr. Scott Kellerman, an American physician, and his wife, Carol.
"It was beautiful, very hopeful, well- equipped, clean by contrast to the public hospital. It was another world," said Haggerty.
"Seeing what people can do, like the Kellermans, is inspiring to me," said Harasym.
"It gives me motivation that I want to do well in school so that hopefully I can do something as amazing as the people who are helping. It motivates me every day."
Harasym is a biochemistry cell and molecular biology major, with a minor in philosophy.