Daemen College Health Care Studies Team on Mission to Uganda

December 10, 2013

Media Contact

Bobby Mills
Special Assistant to the President
Daemen College
(716) 566-7881

On December 31, five Daemen College Health Care Studies faculty, students and alumni will travel to the Rakai region of Uganda to provide services to the Bethlehem Parent School and Orphanage (BPS) and over 90 secondary school students in Kyotera.

Ms. Deborah Naybor, Founder and Director of Buffalo-based non-profit Both Your Hands is providing support for the Uganda mission where the Daemen team will be teaching HIV prevention workshops, and building the Regions students knowledge of a health issue that is all too common and devastating in their daily personal lives.

In a statement from her campus office, Ms. Justine Tutuska, Chair of the Department of Health Care Studies and Assistant Professor, said: These students have been rescued by the Directors of the school, many off of the streets of Kampala. Through Bethlehem Parent School they have received a chance to grow through education, mentoring and support. Daemen is honored to be a part of this transformational project in Uganda.

Overall, the school requires much repair to the classrooms and two dormitories and often lacks adequate food, health care services and supplies and materials. They are fortunate to have a well that provides a clean source of drinking water, a matter of utmost importance to their health.

The group has also sent money for the purchase of bricks and mortar and upon arrival will be working with the students to repair at least one of the large classrooms. Furthermore, the group has had 48 solar lamps donated by the Daemen community and extended family and friends, allowing them to bring light to the 27 women of the Rakai Wellness group to assist with their evening craft making and safety around their village in the evening. Additional lamps will be gifted to the teachers of BPS, and a few for each of the girls and boys dormitories. The lights enable a student or teacher to read after the sun goes down (which is quite early) as well as navigate safely to the latrines at night. These solar lamps are a Nokero product, and can be found at www.nokero.com.

The Daemen group has also collected donations and will be bringing as much as United Airlines allows them to carry, including suitcases full of clothing, first aid and hygiene items, for the young women.

The Daemen mission group will consist of Justine Tutuska, Department Chair and Assistant Professor; Christina Midy and Christina Turner, both Daemen College alumni and graduates of the Health Care Studies program; and Ashley Nesselbush and Regina Mowery, current Health Care Studies students.They will be joined by Michael Curtis, an International trainer for the International Association of Infant Massage and Certified Educator of Infant Massage through Infant Massage USA. Dr. Tutuska is also a Certified Educator of Infant Massage with Infant Massage USA, as well as Board Vice President, and a Trainer Candidate through the International Association of Infant Massage.

Tutuska went on to say: At the school, day to day life is still difficult as the students spend much of their day collecting firewood and digging in the garden, tending to chickens and cooking. Students are required to wake early to complete chores, will receive schooling much of the day, and then return to daily tasks until nightfall.Our Daemen delegation hopes to make a positive impact on the lives of these remarkable students.

There are also approximately 8 teachers that live on the campus, each in a single room block, there is an Assistant Director who has a background in trauma counseling, and the Director, Fred Sserwangu, who has welcomed Daemen to his school and community.

Also in the area being visited is the village of Nokogongo and a dedicated group of women called the Rakai Womens Wellness Group. The group was developed and is maintained by 27 widows and their children and they are beginning a craft co-op to earn an income to support their families. The Daemen delegation will also be assisting them as they are friends and supporters of BPS.

In addition to their work in health education, a key component of the services being provided will focus on massage therapy services and training.

As part of Infant Massage USA and the International Association of Infant Massage, Justine Tutuska has assisted in organizing a 5-day certification training for community workers. Michael Curtis is joining as the trainer for this course, and will be teaching the benefits of infant massage for bonding, communication, regulation, stimulation, physical development and growth, and relief of common discomforts. A total of 15 community leaders, educators and health care professionals will be certified to work with parents and caregivers to deliver this curriculum. Providing this training allows the community workers to bring their skills into their own villages and communities, further sharing the work of the International Association of Infant Massage and its founder, Vimala McClure.

Justine Tutuska concluded by saying: Daemen College is excited to provide this opportunity to our students and to the Bethlehem Parent School and local Kyotera community. The group has greatly appreciated the many donations and wishes for safe travel and a productive journey.

For additional information on the Daemen College mission to Uganda, please contact Ms. Justine Tutuska at (716) 839-8556 or jttutuska@daemen.edu.

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