myself assisting BeckyDid you know that our Ambassadors are always looking for new ways to change lives? Erika Gothberg, medical assistant at the Schupan & Fabri-Kal Employee Health Center, shares how being a Marathon Health Ambassador helped support her passion for volunteer work.

When I accepted my job at Marathon Health in July 2018, I knew that one of my strongest desires was to return to Uganda. I began volunteering there 10 years ago after my sister-in-law and I had a dream that we would move to Uganda and grow old, all while rocking babies to sleep. Although the time had come for me to serve in Uganda again, I assumed it wouldn’t be possible while working in a new job. Fortunately, I was blissfully wrong - not only did my new employer allow me to volunteer, but they encouraged me to go.

With the support of Marathon Health, I was able to travel with five other American women to Uganda this past July. We spent one week in the town of Jinja, volunteering with three different local nonprofit groups. The first organization we volunteered for was the Amani Baby Cottage, who take in abandoned or impoverished children, care for their needs, and work with their families on reunification. You can learn more about their work at www.amanibabycottage.org.

The second nonprofit, Heal Ministries, empowers local women to learn a craft trade to financially support their families. During one-to-three years of training, women are able to live onsite at the organization’s campus with their children and gain the expert skills to create pottery, leather work, basket weaving, or paper bead design. While at Heal Ministries, the women and their children are provided with meals and primary school education. Visit their website at www.heal-ministries.org to find out more.

The last organization we volunteered with was Sole Hope, a group that washing feetworks in Uganda to remove jiggers. Jiggers, or Chigoe fleas, are parasites that most commonly burrow into the skin of their host’s feet to lay eggs. An infestation of jiggers can easily impede a person’s ability to walk: these fleas can multiply rapidly, causing irritation, pain, and itching. Since most Ugandans don’t own cars and walk as their main mode of transportation, these fleas can be detrimental to a person’s livelihood and connection with their community.

Sole Hope uses a three-part approach to the reduction of jiggers in Uganda:

  • Education to remove the stigma of infection and decrease the number of jiggers in the home
  • Eradication through jigger removal clinics
  • Empowerment of each individual that receives care by providing them with a new pair of shoes.

You can find more information on how you can help at www.solehope.org.

Out of all the experiences I had over the course of that week, working at Sole Hope’s jigger clinic was my favorite. It was such a joy to see the children and community members come to the clinic apprehensively, only to leave happily with fewer parasites and a new pair of shoes.

As volunteers, we don’t show up looking to fix the culture - we assist local Ugandans who are already working on the ground to offer hope to an entire community. Thank you, Marathon Health, for giving me the opportunity to give hope.

Looking to join a company culture that supports you in giving back? View Marathon Health career opportunities.

Topics: health improvement, healthy community, volunteering