Braveheart Foundation returns to Uganda

Published 12:07 am Saturday, May 7, 2022

LAPLACE — The Braveheart Foundation is preparing to return to Uganda for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with a mission trip scheduled for July 14-21.

St. John the Baptist Parish native Erica Rogers, founder of the Braveheart Foundation, is excited to continue the mitigation efforts and sustainable projects that began with the organization’s first trip to Uganda in 2014.

Rogers started the Braveheart Foundation as a group for cancer patients, birthed out of her relationship with a patient who changed her life. After Rogers’ first visit to Uganda, Braveheart Foundation took on a worldwide scale.

Braveheart has brought nurses and healthcare providers from different parts of the world into the hard-to-reach villages in Uganda to promote health advocacy, education and awareness of resources.

“When emergencies come up, a lot times people aren’t able to get treatment because of the mileage in between. When we go, we like to connect them with doctors who often continue the mission after we leave by going into these villages and offering pop-up clinics with the same healthcare that we offer whenever we go,” Rogers said. “We get the doctors, dentists, optometrists who are already there to ally with us. It’s not about putting up a clinic and giving them medications for seven days. It’s about implementing projects based on the needs assessment that the providers and village leaders communicate to us.”

Health disparities often stem from poor economy and lack of resources, according to Rogers. In third world countries such a Uganda, the disparities are heightened by a lack of clean water systems, which allows diseases like malaria to fester.

Many people residing in the remote villages of Uganda have to access clean water from the nearest stream or river twice a week, and keeping the harvested water in their homes for an extended period of time attracts mosquitoes.

“A lot of the diseases that have been eradicated in first world countries, such as malaria, are still being fought in Uganda,” Rogers said. “We partnered with a nonprofit from the United Kingdom to bring a clean water well to Masaka, Uganda for the villagers who live in that area. We also try to make sure people’s houses are stocked with mosquito nets.”

This year’s return to Uganda will be at a smaller capacity with only 15 volunteers due to COVID-19 precautions.

Erica Rogers’ sister, Erin Rogers, works for the CDC Foundation and assisted with planning COVID-19 protocol to keep villagers and volunteers safe during the mission trip.

While international travel was restricted during the pandemic, the Braveheart Foundation engaged in local efforts. Braveheart founded the Krewe of Vaxx to educate people in marginalized communities in Louisiana on preventive lifestyles to mitigate risk of serious illness.

While Uganda is among the countries in Africa that has a high vaccination rate, Rogers said it is important to expand COVID-19 testing resources in the hard-to-reach villages.

“Bringing the resources of testing to those communities is important because malaria and COVID-19 mimic the same symptoms,” she said.

Also new for this year’s mission trip is the implementation of a collegiate global immersion experience.

Two college seniors, a nursing student at Louisiana State University and an education major at Southern University and A&M College, will research the villages Braveheart serves and conduct a needs assessment to identify disparities in healthcare and education.

“They are going to come up with a community project to be able to help with the disparity that they choose to work through,” Rogers said.

To donate to the Braveheart Foundation or support the college immersion experience, please visit mybraveheart.org.

Updates from this summer’s mission trip will be documented on Braveheart’s social media platforms.