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2012 News Releases

Called to Serve: Uganda Mission Trip Redefines Hands-On Learning

March 11, 2012

Sophomore nursing major Emberli McGann in Uganda
Sophomore nursing major Emberli McGann traveled to Uganda where she worked with Street Reach, a program that provides safe environments for orphaned children.

After fall finals, most students head home to recharge for the upcoming spring semester.

But not sophomore Emberli McGann and seven other Longwood students. They answered a higher calling - and took their higher education to another level - in Kampala, Uganda.

After raising more than $3,000 each to make the trip, McGann and her colleagues spent three weeks working with Abaana, a charity that supports children in Africa. The organization's Street Reach program sets up safe environments for Kampala's orphaned children, many of whom live on the streets without shelter, social services or protections.

Many are malnourished. Many are ill. Many are injured.

Street Reach feeds them, conducts medical examinations and provides other services - thanks to volunteers like McGann, a nursing major who applied classroom knowledge to real-world work in a health clinic for the children.

"We would see 35 to 40 boys every day," said McGann. "These are kids who are orphaned or have been kicked out of their homes. They live on the street on their own. The youngest boy we saw was 2, the oldest, 19."

McGann performed tasks her training allowed, including wound care and breathing checks for children suspected of having tuberculosis. She even saved a life.

Sophomore nursing major Emberli McGann and other students in UgandaShe recalls a 12-year-old boy suffering complications from AIDS who indicated that he wasn't taking his medicine because dirty drinking water was making him sick. McGann and fellow students helped hydrate him and get him to the hospital.

They learned later that if he hadn't gotten to the hospital, he wouldn't have lived.

"It was a life or death situation," said McGann. "The whole team got involved. Lots of prayers and teamwork. We saw him a few days later, and he was so gracious and thankful, he ended up helping us in the clinic for the rest of the week. It was an incredibly rewarding experience."

Though only a sophomore, McGann senses that her Longwood experience is playing a valuable role in guiding her to a career of service wherever the world calls her.

"I've met friends and professors who share my passion to serve others and everyone is so supportive," she said. "After Uganda, I'm more determined than ever to pursue mission work and Longwood is 100 percent behind me."