Empowering VIPs around the World: iHi International in Uganda
iHi International volunteers spent ten days in Uganda in January of 2018, supporting hundreds of children and adults. During the trip, Dr. of Physical Therapy Heather Hirst, Licensed Nurse Practitioner Cyndie Burke, and human resource / business development experts, Steven Colestock and Jessica Stelma, traveled to the east African country of Uganda alongside iHi President and CEO Chris Tabakin. The team worked around the clock to empower Vulnerable International People, or VIPs, through a series of medical and therapy clinics, business and entrepreneurship trainings, and support materials distributions.
Months before the empowerment trip, iHi advisory board members and volunteers coordinated a series of fundraising efforts to support the volunteers’ work. From an event held in Old City, Philadelphia to a donation drive on social media, as well as iHi’s holiday drive, during which donors purchased items from an Amazon Wish List, volunteers gathered needed supplies to make the greatest impact possible during this trip.
Throughout their travels, the volunteers held free medical and therapy focused clinics, in which they evaluated and treated sometimes close to one hundred children and adults in a single day. The volunteers provided nutritional supplements to malnourished children, supplied canes, crutches and other mobility supports to children and adults with mobility challenges, taught patients exercises to strengthen injured or weak muscles and joints, among other life-changing supports many of us have easy access to in the U.S.
The administrative and human resource expert on the trip led trainings to help impoverished but eager to work men and women learn new ways and skills to support their families and community through entrepreneurship training. The team also visited already established programs, orphanages, and schools to offer advice and tools to help them continue to advance their skills, accountability and growth. Each member of the iHi team focused their efforts on building sustainable skills to ensure long-term growth and success in the region in collaborative partnership with the local Ugandan nongovernmental organization, Kyosiga Community Christian Association for Development (KACCAD). iHi International also partnered again with Connecticut based nonprofit, Let There Be Light International, to provide solar lights to the VIPs who were identified during the clinics in some of the most remote areas of Uganda. Through coordinated collaborative partnerships, the impact is maximized, and is why the tagline for iHi is “bringing the world together to support VIPs.