Group Visit During Mission 2022

With over 149 million stunted children in the world, according to UNICEF, there is little time to waste. GlobalRise works with communities that are passionate about addressing this “human affliction” – extremely poor families who desperately want to rise above generational poverty.

We are focusing on three areas: Subsaharan Africa, the only area in the world where the rate of stunting is growing; India, hosting the largest population of stunted kids on the planet (63 million); and, Guatemala, the only red stunting zone in the Americas per USAID. Building Digital Food Systems in these areas by 2030, as demonstration platforms for government, we want to provide a new vision for helping extremely poor mountainous communities.

Hearing about our work, delegates from HIMSS (Health Information Management Systems Society) and BMS (Bristol Meyers Squibb) decided to visit our site in Kasese, Uganda. For 2 weeks we hosted an amazing group, showing them the mountain jungles where we work and explaining our vision of the power of a digital food system.

Our journey began at Christalis Home, an orphanage, where we held “Digital Health Day”. All of the children’s medical records, and some staff, were reviewed. GlobalRise was already tracking child growth with anthropometrics so this activity helped to ascertain progress. Karen Salazar, RD, oversaw our work, assisted by Sylvia Klinger, DBA, a board member of GlobalRise, and other orphanage personnel. Elen Blochin, MD, provided clinical reviews of the children and this kicked off our process for data collection with personal health records, managed by Dana Castro, Executive Director of HIMSS Institute. Using a computer, she tested PocketPatientMD’s beta offline health record – yes, we were one of the first to use it! And it worked perfectly! (Thank-you Mark Wein!)

While the clinicians were busy, a family traveling within our group provided games and books to the kids. They were so excited! Groups were huddled in different areas learning new games with Alex, Maya and Ian (father, daughter, son). It was a wonderful experience for everyone to share with each other.

The following day the group met with a local peace-maker and institution builder. Dr Nathaniel Walemba founded a secondary school, the 4-story Kasese Better Living Center and the recently licensed Rwenzori International University. He explained how critical it was to have a local university versus traveling by bus for 8 hours on weekends trying to complete a degree. He also showed us an adjacent property, he is angling to purchase if funds come in, that will help the University with space and a new innovation and workforce development center. The story behind the University is truly inspiring – it is a home-grown university where funding is never guaranteed yet they press on. Their motto: together we will!

The next day started early. We had an eight-hour drive ahead of us to visit Kisoro, located near the border of southwest Uganda and DRC. Here, Alex Morozov, MD, (who was with BMS and brought his family), arranged a group meeting with Doctors for Global Health. Working in the area for 20 years, this amazing team of clinicians mentored by Dr Gerald Paccione who leads Doctors for Global Health Uganda from Montefiore Hospital in NYC, are training local doctors using a rigorous, evidence-based community program. The effort scales the impact of Kisoro District Hospital deep into the surrounding hills and is superbly executed with field teams using strong documentation. What if this program was in Kasese?

After a fun-filled weekend our group met with leaders at Kasese Hospital to do a site visit and hear about their current healthcare challenges. We also met with the new Mayor who dropped everything to take us to Kilembi Mines Hospital – a skeleton of what it should be. During the pandemic heavy rains turned to flash floods that swept large boulders into the hospital complex, destroying buildings and human life. The hospital was moved to another location where they lack beds, equipment and supplies.Next day: we took a walk up the mountains to show how Bakonzo live. Children gathered around us with no shoes and clothes that barely fit to play. Arriving at our work site, we showed how we are training the locals, our materials, our soap making program and more. The site, known locally as the Mbalhamia Healing Forest, is located on 2 acres in the Rwenzori foothills and is being prepared to host our drone platform. Here, we are currently conducting Village Trainings in nutrition, soil fertility and financial planning; it was so great to show them where we work and how we operate.

Finally, everyone took a small plane to Kampala, capital of Uganda, to visit Baylor Uganda, a project of Baylor University and BMS. We met with the lead team at Baylor and decided there was so much in common that in 2023, we intend to join hands to apply for a grant…and to potentially engage in other projects too. It was a substantive visit and we look forward to working with the dynamic team at Baylor Uganda!

We also visited Kyabirwa Surgical Center that is located in an inconspicuous setting near Jinja – making it a bit hard to find! This actually is done on purpose – the facility is intended to blend in with the fabric of daily life in this jungle location. It appears to be the brain child of Dr Michael Marin, who is head of the surgical department at Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC. The center is located in an internet-enabled location, (they dug a trench to a main internet trunk running through the area). Donning surgical scrubs, our group learned how advanced technology is being used to treat patients; for example, doctors in Uganda can show doctors in NYC what they are doing in real time with a HoloLens supported by Microsoft. Local doctors instantly gain valuable and life-saving expertise during surgery. The building is environmental-friendly, uses solar panels for electricity and made with local materials. Personnel are local including the surgeons

In conclusion, the torrent of activity we experienced in two weeks was simply amazing – our eyes were opened to new resources in the area evenas we opened the group’s eyes to the plight of the poorest! Learning about the work in Kisoro and Jinja invigorated our team and truly amplified our mission.

Check out the hospital in a rural area near Jinja here:

University Inauguration

First of its kind among the Bakonzo of western Uganda

Ugandan Ministers of ICT and Chief of Defense Forces attended the inauguration of the first licensed university in Kasese District – Rwenzori International University. This is a milestone for the community! GlobalRise is on the university’s board of trustees.

Kasese District is situated in the southwestern area of Uganda and is close to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s known for safaris at Queen Elizabeth National Park and other nearby parks, as well as for the Rwenzori Mountains where trekking is offered to visit Africa’s only glaciers. It’s steep, hilly terrain makes development hard and thus the area suffers from extreme poverty with farmers making less than $1.90/day.

“Until this time, our people had to go all the way into Kampala to get a university degree,” Dr. Nathaniel Walemba said during opening remarks. Founder of Rwenzori International University, he was recently installed as its Vice Chancellor. “That has now changed,” he added.

“Research, research, research is what this university must produce,” said the Honorable Geoffrey Kabbyanga, Minister of ICT. “Research and innovation are key for this area, to help its development.” He challenged the new University to bring forward ideas and to develop an innovation center of excellence.

As part of the Digital Food System, GlobalRise seeks to build a Center for knowledge transfer and workforce training at the University. This will ensure that local people are trained to manage the food system. Spearheading a university-government-NGO alliance at the Center, GlobalRise hopes to bring ideas that the government of Uganda urgently needs today in food and health improvement and digital equity.

Today, the University is already helping to fulfill the community co-created vision to “Kick Stunting Out of Kasese!” by deploying a “Digital Food System.” GlobalRise is sending one of its trainers for ICT training at the new University. Read more about the University at its new website:

Meet Emmanuel and Michael!

Ever since 1998, Emmanuel has been working for the betterment of his community. He is a champion for saving indigenous knowledge, skill development of smallholder farmers, building a farmer coop with a micro-financing component and so much more.

When we met Emmanuel, he had already built a mountain center on 2 acres of land that had a coffee pilot with plant starts, a jackfruit drying program and a tree farm with a variety of medicinal and other plants. We spoke to him about our Vision and together, we began planning almost automatically…it was like magic!

Mbalhamia Healing Forest

Striving to help the local people, Emmanuel pulled together the people and resources that we needed to implement our survey and CNP. As part of our broader vision to build the areas first Digital Food System, his mountain center will become the site of our first prototype for Village Training, drone crop transport, implementing personal health records that will monitor progress with stunting and more.

Emmanuel, and his younger colleague Michael, were the first to be trained in our CNP and are continuing to roll out the new program.

Welcome on board, Emmanuel and Michael! We are so grateful and honored to be working with an educated field team that are offering unyielding commitment and support to the people of Kasese.

Farm-to-Plate Protocol

farm to plate protocol

In 2016 an idea sprouted at a strategy meeting in India…orphanages struggle with professional nutrition examination of their children. This is because of multiple competing priorities coupled with how incredibly hard it is to develop sustainable giving programs…clothes, shoes, shelter, food, healthcare, education and the list goes on. With so little in annual income, how is it even possible to bring in a nutritionist?

We asked a number of orphanage owners and found the need is great. Orphanages usually start with a person’s heart connection for helping kids. Friends and family funding kicks off the new program but it can only go so far. The founder may not have formal training or may have expertise in some but not all of the areas that underly orphanage management. The venture takes root and then what follows is an annual struggle for funds.

farm to plate protocol orphanage

Thus in 2017, GlobalRise was started with the idea that we can help.

Farm-to-Plate Protocol was developed for orphanage management to bring good nutrition into their residential homes or orphanages. It takes a broad, community perspective including local infrastructure, sanitation, food availability via local farming and much more – and then boils that down to how to create a nutrient-rich food systems environment at the orphanage level.

Materials were created with the orphan and orphanage needs in mind. For example, a graphically-oriented hand washing poster was created that can help keep the importance of this activity in mind. A skills assessment program for kitchen staff was created that can be used to help in hiring chefs that can help kids eat better…and much more.

The program was first implemented at Christalis Home in Kasese, Uganda, by a professional nutritionist and an agronomist/public health expert. Their existing food system was evaluated including food preparation and storage, the kitchen, washing of utensils and more. As you can see from the photos we took time to remove smoke from the kitchen. As soon as we walked in we were crying! This involved an infrastructure project developed by a local engineer.

We also took a hard look at the food budget. We wanted to make sure that the nutrient requirements of the orphanage population were being met with food purchases. Of course this also included a thorough review of food preparations and diet preferences. As we reviewed the food budget it became necessary to visit the farmer’s market, document and track food prices, food types during different seasons and so forth. All of this, the work of the nutritionist, is required to finally build a nutritious weekly menu. The menu drives food purchases, preparations and services for the children.

farm to plate protocol kasese

Farming is also part of this analysis. If the orphanage has land, raising crops can help to reduce operating costs attributable to food. Our agronomist went to work on this part of the equation, reviewing the existing farm, its capacity (both in terms of arable land, local and reliable talent that could be hired, build out costs and more). In the final analysis at Christalis Home, we opted for changing the food budget versus supporting the cost to build a new farm. Some items are sourced from the farm even today from this effort but because the Kasese farmer’s market is so robust and active, we found that food availability and costs were quite favorable.

Today, we visit the orphanage once a year to maintain our farm-to-plate protocol. Much of the initial changes are now operationalized. We offer help with the nutritional aspect of baby onboarding (initial assessment), reviewing baby formulas and, with the help of a pediatrician on our advisory board, providing clinical observations. Use of digital health records provided by PocketPatientMD helps with continuity of care for the precious kids.

Finally, whenever we want to implement a change we create what we call “funded recommendations” for orphanage management and/or board-level review. Approval of the recommendations by management then leads to implementation to transform the orphanage food system. Our donors fund the recommendations thus removing this burden.

farm to plate protocol Rwenzori

Unfortunately GlobalRise is not able to help every orphanage that reaches out to us. We have an overriding vision – Digital Food Systems – that drives the location of our work. This is because we believe that we can help the greatest number of kids by implementing digital food systems. Our work at the orphanage level is symbiotic and helps us to leap frog learnings of the local food system dynamics. This helps us to understand how to position our technology and expertise to raise the level of nutrition in areas of high stunting.

Today we are targeting Subsaharan Africa, India and Guatemala. This is because these areas have high stunting zones. Subsaharan Africa is the only region in the world where the stunting rate is increasing. India hosts the most stunted children on the planet. And Guatemala – its western highlands like Heuhuetenango – has one of the highest rates of stunting with 70% being recorded by USAID.

Our journey is just beginning…but we need your help!

Consider becoming a nutri-ambassador with GlobalRise and joining us as we build A World of Healthy Kids!

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