Help World Children’s Initiative build a children’s heart hospital at Mulago

Posted September 23, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 3,945 views


By Teddy (TMS) Ruge ~ Fellow Ugandans, As a creative consultant, it is not often that I get to work on a project that both pays me and also contributes to the development and well-being of Uganda. I would like to introduce you to such a project.

I met Pratheepan “Deep” Gulasekaram in DC at the Clinton Global Diaspora Forum. He, along with a crew of determined colleagues put their skills together in the wake of the Asian tsunami and built a fully functioning hospital in Sri Lanka. They successfully negotiated a public-private partnership with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health to complete and ensure the long-term success of the newly constructed Matara Children’s Hospital. ( )

After the completion and hand over of the project that was recognized by Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr., they have set out to build a children’s hospital in Uganda. “Project Heart: Uganda” has already broken ground. The walls and roof are already up and completion is in sight.

After a long talk with Deep last month, I agreed to assist their efforts to connect to members of the East African Diaspora that would bring value to their initiative. Not because they are my clients, but because it is a much needed initiative that will bring value to Uganda’s medical system. Additionally, I wanted to share this project with you as a plea for all of us to help support this initiative to make sure it is successfully launched with as much of our buy-in as possible. After all, it will be our family members that will benefit in the long run.

Here’s a video of one such child who was helped by these very same doctors to repair her heart:

Here is a project that is reaching out directly for us to be part of its success and the re-invention of Uganda’s medical services & facilities. For once, it is not another aid project that FAILS to request to partner with us. It is a project that we all know could save the life of one of our family members.

On Sept. 24th, “Project Heart: Uganda” is having a fund-raising event in Los Angeles. If you are in California and are interested in meeting Deep and his inspiring colleagues, I am sure they won’t fail to inspire you with the vision that they have for the hospital.

Here are some things you can do to help this project:

  1. If you would like to attend, please do register at Eventbrite.
  2. If you are unable to attend, you can still contribute to the success of the project with a small donation on the same Eventbrite event page
  3. Share the World Children’s Initiative Facebook event page within your network and follow them on Twitter for updates on their progress

I look forward to seeing us all rise to the occasion for this initiative. Even if all you do is donate $1.00 (though I secretly hope it is more than that, nearly $3 billion in remittances is sent to East Africa annually-let’s put some of it towards a sustainability initiative). If you’d like more information, I’d be happy to put you in touch with Deep and his team.

For more information about the Mulago Initiative, please visit this website:

Join us on Facebook and suggest as many friends as you can so we can build a wider reach for this noble effort:

Have a great weekend and thank you so much for your time.

Project Heart: Uganda Background

In the fall of 2010, a desperate Ugandan mother with no other options made the long transatlantic trip to Washington DC with one goal: to somehow save her daughter’s life.

Gift had a hole between the top two chambers of her heart and an abnormal blood vessel overwhelming her lungs and taxing her heart.  These heart problems caused her to struggle through her young life with recurrent lung infections, difficulty breathing, and the inability simply to play with her friends.  More grave was the certainty that if these abnormalities in her heart were left uncorrected, Gift would soon develop heart failure and live a very short life.

In May of 2011 at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, this same Ugandan mother talking about her 5-year old daughter says, “…no more medications, no more lung infections, and she can keep up when playing with all her friends…”

WCI flew Gift from Uganda and funded her corrective heart procedure at Children’s National Medical Center in October 2010.

Gift’s recovery has been remarkable, and to her mom’s delight, she is now enjoying an active and happy childhood.  They extend their deepest gratitude to those of you who helped make Gift’s journey and procedure possible, and gave her the opportunity for a long and productive life.

But, WCI’s vision is broader.  There are thousands of children in Uganda and East Africa who are suffering from congenital heart defects similar to Gift’s.  Within 5 years, our goal is to empower local doctors to do this same procedure IN UGANDA for the thousands of children like Gift.  They all deserve the opportunity for a joyful childhood and a healthy, long life.

Uganda Heart Institute
A children’s heart program

Nearly 6,000 children are born each year with a correctable congenital heart defect in Uganda. This number is nearly 50,000 each year for all of east Africa. Unfortunately, this entire region currently has no capability to treat children inflicted with these correctable conditions. As a result, they struggle with respiratory infections, heart problems and ultimately die at a very early age.

Over the past 8 months, WCI, in a public-private partnership with the Ugandan government, and in association with Siemens Medical, is working to build a children’s heart center and program to treat this problem. From building a heart lab, organizing training programs for local healthcare professionals to procuring catheters and balloons we have been pushing forward to making this children’s heart center functional and resource efficient.

We have been making incredible progress. By early 2012, we project that construction will be near completion, and the site prepared for full lab installation. That will lay the foundation for the truly impactful work that follows: training local doctors and developing the requisite skills and intellectual capital in Uganda.

WCI’s fundamental philosophy through our “smart” model of development, is to design long-term, self-sustainable solutions. Working with local Ugandan cardiologists and health officials as well as utilizing US training standards, we have developed a “fellowship” training program. The curriculum is focused on teaching a team not only how to manage children’s congenital heart disease but how to perform the procedures.
How? First, we will be coordinating mini 3-month training externships to the US and India for hand-picked qualified local healthcare professionals: cardiologists, nurses, and ultrasound technicians.
Second, utilizing the completed children’s heart lab, we will lead clinical missions to Uganda and work side-by-side with this team of healthcare professionals.

Over the next 5 years, WCI hopes to create a self-sustainable children’s heart program in Uganda enabling thousands of children afflicted with heart defects to receive local treatment so that they can lead productive and fruitful lives.


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


Be the first to comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.