As reported by WFSB Channel 3, August 21, 2007.

Everyday Heroes: Bernadette Kazibwe

Woman's Dream Brings Medical Care To Ugandan Village

COLCHESTER, Conn. -- Because of the dedication and hard work of a Colchester woman, medical care has been brought to a Ugandan town.

Bernadette Kazibwe's dream was to improve the Ugandan town where she was born.

"There's hospitals, but the medical, the medicine is limited over there," she said. "There are no resources really. I said to my husband, 'We need to do something.' He said to me, 'What can we do, we have no money.' I said, 'You know what we can cut a little bit on what we eat and maybe start something up.'"

Karen Hudson said she's known Kazibwe for six years and is amazed by her determination to improve lives so many miles away.

"We both worked at the same group home for retarded adults, and she approached me one day and she showed me a picture, a snapshot of this piece of dirt in her hometown, in Uganda, and I looked at it and said, 'Well that's very nice. What is it?' And she said, 'That's the site for my hospital that I'm going to build.' And she said, 'Do you want to help me build it?'" Hudson said. "I said 'Sure, OK, tell me what you want me to do.' It went from there. I didn’t' really believe it was ever going to happen."

Kazibwe convinced doctors, including an infectious disease specialist from the University of Connecticut, to help her in reaching her dream.

"She looked me up," said Dr. Kevin Dieckhaus, an associate professor of medicine at the UConn Health Center. "I had to admit that the first time I met here I thought she was little nuts."

Dieckhaus said the area proposed for the health center is extremely poor. He said that 75 percent of health problems in Uganda are infectious-disease related.

"There are over 3,000 children that die every day, every day of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Malnutrition is very common. HIV/AIDS is incredibly common," he said. "In this area, it is estimated that between 5 to 7 percent of adults have HIV. In this district alone, there are over 26,000 children that have lost at least one parent because of HIV."

Hudson that with much determination, Kazibwe was able to open the health center's doors last month.

"She canvassed, she begged, she borrowed. She asked for volunteers, we did spaghetti suppers, we did fundraisers, we sold candy bars, she requested grants," Hudson said.

Kazibwe said opening the center was also a dream of her sister before she died of cancer.

"I remember my sister talking about how, if she could do anything, she would bring education to the village," she said.

She said her sister wanted the village to be educated so that its members could better understand and fight the infectious diseases.

"The thing is, it's not one disease. It's poverty, poverty, diseases," Kazibwe said. "You can't consider one thing without the other, so the poverty made it, drove the diseases to be there."

Kazibwe said the medical center has come a long way from the plot of land she originally had allotted for it.

"You would not believe it. You would not believe it if you had seen what was done and now they have … medicine arranged in the drawers. We have an ambulance, we have doctors," she said. "It's crazy, but it's real."

One of the doctors who volunteers his free time is Dieckhaus. He recently returned from eight days at the center. Dieckhaus said he doesn't get paid for his work and he uses his vacation time to go.

Kazibwe said she still has bigger dreams for the center.

"Every morning there are numerous people just sitting outside waiting for the nurses to show up -- just a crowd of people waiting to be seen every morning," she said. "We need money to expand, we need to expand."

Kazibwe's brother, Pius, told Eyewitness News where any donated money would go.

"Now it is outpatient. We need to have some wards, inpatient so women who come to deliver. We should have a ward -- women, men, children, maternity and housing units for medical staff, because right now, the nurses who are working there commute home -- 4 kilometers walking home."

For information about helping the medical center's cause, visit its Web site.