For most nurses at Southern Ohio Medical Center, caring and compassion stretches beyond the walls of the hospital, touching the hands and hearts of everyone in our community who may be in need. But Nurse Resident Kendra Lloyd recently reached out farther than most—partnering with the faith-based, non-profit organization Sweet Sleep to send a helping hand more than halfway across the world.
“Sweet Sleep works with staff, churches and businesses to provide beds and bedding to orphaned and abandoned children of Third World countries,” Lloyd, a member of the SOMC Surgical Vascular Care Unit, explained. “Earlier this year, I found out that they were sending a group to Uganda, Africa and knew I had to go.”
After raising support to cover the cost of the trip and an extra $1,000 to buy beds, Lloyd set off with her roommate and 21 other Sweet Sleep teammates to make the 30-hour journey to Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Upon arrival, the team was immediately greeted by hundreds of children who were excited to meet the Americans responsible for their new beds.
“There are over two million orphans in Uganda and most of them sleep either on the floor or on soiled mattresses,” she said. “The situation was hard to handle and very heart wrenching, which made me even more anxious to begin building the beds.”
The team spent two days at different orphanages, working to install the newly purchased metal beds. They also provided mattresses, sheets, pillows and mosquito nets.
“If nothing else, the children were ecstatic just to be receiving the wonderful gift of a safe and comfortable place to sleep at night,” she said.
After a week’s worth of physical labor, Lloyd and her team had the opportunity to explore their location, doing a bit of sight-seeing, tasting the local cuisine, and even taking on the adventurous task of white water rafting down the Nile River. The team also took the time to throw a gigantic birthday celebration for the whole orphanage.
“Most of the children don’t know their birthdays, or at least the actual day that they were born, ” she said. “We figured there was no better way to celebrate than with a huge party for everyone.”
Lloyd’s team made gift boxes for each of the children, complete with toothbrushes, mirrors, crayons and other special trinkets. Everyone also sang Happy Birthday and finished off the day with birthday cake.
“The trip was very fulfilling and I would go back in a heartbeat,” Lloyd said. “I look forward to my next trip and hope to continuing using my skills as a nurse to help others.”