For the past four years, Maggie and Peter Ole-Sabay have been extremely busy. The couple has dedicated their time, money and lives to building a hospital in Maggie’s native country of Uganda.
Peter moved to the United States from Kenya in the 1990s. He lived in Minnesota and worked for the Mayo Clinic before he and Maggie moved to Arizona in 2012. Both of them have spent over 20 years in the medical field.
“We moved to Arizona for better opportunities, but we also preferred a warmer climate compared to Minnesota, which was extremely cold,” Peter said.
Peter received his bachelor’s degree in global health from Arizona State University. Maggie is a nurse practitioner working on her Ph.D. in industrial psychology at Grand Canyon University, where she serves as chief infectious disease officer and works in the campus health and wellness clinic.
Years ago, the pair visited Uganda and noticed that many community members were having trouble finding and receiving medical attention.
“The disparity and suffering from the community touched our hearts and moved us to do something to change the situation,” Peter said. “Our inspiration came from the community’s willingness to rally behind this cause and the long-term commitment for us to establish sustainable healthcare delivery in the region.”
Construction for the Love4Bukwo Regional Hospital began in 2016. Bukwo is located right at the border of Uganda and Kenya. The hospital will serve both countries since the next health facility is more than two hours by road.
Maggie and Peter bought the land and then contacted the local government to acquire the correct permits. They hired a local construction team and reached out to the community to obtain construction supplies.
“This allowed us to create robust opportunities for the local employment; women who helped supply food and young people also actively participated in daily work,” Peter said.
Love4Bukwo will serve as a general hospital with women and children’s health as the priority. There will also be a surgery center where specialized doctors will come from all over to perform surgery that would otherwise not be available.
At first, Peter and Maggie only intended to improve existing hospitals. “When we visited Bukwo District Hospital, a government facility and the only one in the area, we found crumbling infrastructure, termites, medical instruments being reused, multiple patients per bed and rats eating corpses in the hallway,” Peter said. “There are no mortuaries in the area or even a refrigerated container for storage. We felt compelled by compassion to do something about this and have learned there is no substitute for being there.”
Maggie and Peter started working two jobs to help raise funds for the hospital. So far, the project has cost around $350,000. The pair has also received donations from family and friends that has totaled $150,000.
They hired local community members to build the medical center while using natural materials from Uganda and Kenya. The hospital is modeled after traditional homes with handmade bricks. It includes four wards (surgical, maternity, women and children, and men), an outpatient clinic, administration and support services, and a campus mission house that includes 20 rooms for patients’ family members, medical teams and other visitors to stay on-site.
Peter said the hospital will include a conference center with a kitchen and restaurant to serve patients, though food is not typically provided in Ugandan hospitals. It will become the first restaurant in the community that will also offer training in food preparation.
Construction of the hospital is 90% complete. Love4Bukwo is now on the hunt for hospital beds, personal protective equipment, ventilators and lab diagnostic medical equipment for prevention and treatment.
“We are introducing American medical expertise, education, technology and medical partnerships into one of the most remote and medically underserved communities in the world,” Peter said. “We have been asked by the people of Bukwo to bring them the modern healthcare they desperately need and we have answered that call whole-heartedly.”
Peter said that community members already feel pride and ownership in the hospital, which will also become a community learning center.
“We will train them in health, sanitation, disease prevention, and food safety and preparation,” Peter said. “Some of these topics overlap with key job skills and entrepreneurship, which will increase social and economic capital. We believe that by combining our cultural roots with our American medical and educational experience, and with the help of American partnerships, we can help transform lives for the whole region.”
For more: love4bukwo.org