Winter Newsletter 2016
We hope that 2016 has been a great year for all of you. Here at the Teasdale-Corti Foundation current projects are going well and new ones are in development.
Our projects are extremely varied, as demonstrated by the various chapters of the campaign, Become Part of the Story. For example, thanks to support from the Marcelle and Jean Coutu Foundation, we are currently working toward great improvements in the physical space of the Lacor Hospital pharmacy and rethinking the organization and storage of important donations of pharmaceuticals received from our partner Apotex Inc. in Canada. As well, the maternal and child health project with the International Development Research Centre of Canada successfully entered its second year. Other Foundation projects for 2016 for Lacor include: the purchase of textbooks for the Lacor School of Nursing and Midwifery thanks to a donation from the Hillman Medical Education Fund; and, the renovation of the toilets of the Lacor School of Laboratory and Anesthesia. These toilets were used by the children taking refuge in Lacor during the war and had never been updated. This project was finally possible through funding from the Groupe SP Reno Urbaine of Montreal.
Dominique Corti and her team in Italy, and the Teasdale-Corti Foundation’s team in Canada both work very hard seeking the support of as many corporate, private and public organizations and charities as possible for Lacor Hospital, but it also relies heavily on the support of the general public.
We invite you all to support this cause in whatever way you can, either by talking about it, sharing the newsletter, liking our Facebook page, creating a fundraising event, or donating.
On page 2 of this winter edition of the newsletter, we are thrilled to introduce to you Lacor’s new Administrator; on page 3 you will be able to read about research on Ugandan teenage girls. The last page is a personal letter to the readers from Lise Teasdale, Lucille’s sister.
Finally, we take the occasion to wish to every one of you a wonderful holiday season. May the end-of-the-year festive period be full of joy, laughter and sharing.
Gilles, Filippo, Valeria, Cecilia and Roberto
The Teasdale-Corti Foundation Team
I’ve been living in Gulu, Uganda a few months now. The climate is fantastic – It’s always summer! Even during the coldest period, the mercury never dips below 28°C during the day or 20°C at night. Regarding the food, I can’t complain. I enjoy Italian meals prepared by our wonderful cooks and Ugandan cuisine is good, too. However, I’m not in Gulu as a tourist; I have chosen to live here, drawn by an inner force that radically changed my life and which has enabled me to offer assistance in a concrete and significant way. I have come to the Lacor Hospital, thanks to the Corti Foundation in Italy.
Actually, my first encounter with the Foundation took place 15 years ago when the Milan hospital where I used to work was preparing to send the Lacor Hospital some containers with hospital beds. For 30 years I worked in different areas of various health institutions, from the technical end to the support of the physical structure of the clinic and tertiary services such as repairs and maintenance, not to mention purchasing medication and the hospital’s strategic investments.
Then one day, something clicked in me; I felt the need to work in a place that had a greater need for my skills. In 2010, this desire to make myself useful in a place like Uganda slowly grew. My adventure began when the Corti Foundation consulted me on improvements to be made for the Lacor Hospital’s facilities. This is how I went to Uganda for the first time and my work as a volunteer began.
I planned my decision to move to Uganda permanently about two years ago. In November 2015, I resigned from the Milan hospital and today I live in Gulu. Like in Italy, here in Lacor I take care of the administrative and technical support for the hospital’s management. I try to transfer my technical and organizational knowledge to the staff who, despite being well trained, do not have certain skills. Among the problems encountered on a daily basis is the irregular supply of electricity. The hospital’s electrical equipment is often damaged as a result of uncontrolled power surges, and our generators have to provide all electricity for long periods when there is none.
I decided to leave Italy, aware that sooner or later I would feel homesick, but the experience I am having here is so rewarding that I am content and satisfied. I have a wonderful relationship with my Ugandan colleagues and I hope this will continue to grow. I’m happy to be part of this amazing institution and even if I have only been here a few months, I’m certain I’ve made the right choice.
Gianfranco Piantelli, summer 2016
Every year, many volunteers come to Lacor Hospital. They come to provide support, especially during long vacations. They leave Lacor with their heads and hearts full of significant memories. Cristina and Frédérique’s story is an example.
This is the story of two teenage girls, both relatives of Dominique Corti from both sides of the family – the Teasdales and the Cortis. Cristina is from Milan (she is the daughter of Consuelo Corti, Piero’s niece) and Frédérique is from Montreal (she is the daughter of Gilles Rivet, President of the Canadian Foundation and Lucille’s nephew). The girls came to Uganda last summer. Their mission was to conduct a study exploring the health and safety of Ugandan adolescent girls in the northern part of the country. The objective of this study was to identify behaviours related to health, particularly medical visits, among adolescent female students in northern Uganda.
This was definitely a difficult experience for these two western 15-year olds but also extremely rewarding. They will surely remember their experiences in Lacor for the rest of their lives.
Their experience is evidence of great curiosity, passion and rigour. Just like Piero Corti and Lucille Teasdale, passion and rigour were fundamental values, and pillars on which they founded the Lacor Hospital.
We are extremely proud at the Foundation of what the girls accomplished. A tremendous amount of research is hidden behind the findings of this very interesting study, which was unprecedented in this region. Frédérique and Cristina first of all participated in developing a questionnaire containing some 40 questions. They then conducted all the interviews with 114 Ugandan girls in three different schools in the Gulu and Amuru districts.
The survey findings are very interesting: among the girls interviewed, only 9% said they had electricity at home; 70% said they had dirt floors in their homes (compared to 27% stating they had a concrete floor, and 3% tiles); one-third of the girls stated that they did not feel safe in various daily situations. On the other hand, 62% of the teens interviewed reported that they often consulted a doctor; and 92% of them ate two or three meals a day.
This survey contributes some meaningful data about a population that is rarely studied specifically in northern Uganda and is a major opportunity for further study of the social reality of the communities where the Lacor Hospital is located.
Thank you, Frédérique and Cristina for your excellent work and important contribution!
Greetings dear friends of the Teasdale-Corti Foundation,
Like you, I also read this newsletter and I closely follow what is happening at the foundation, but this time, I’m the one who is speaking to you. The Foundation’s team asked me to write a few words for the newsletter on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of death of my dear sister, Lucille Teasdale.
It’s already late 2016 and Lucille would have been 87 this year. She left us prematurely; the disease took her too soon. Do we miss her? Oh, yes, the entire family misses her a great deal. And she must certainly be missed by the patients and people of her hospital.
Lucille was always a determined person, who never gave up. Being a woman and wanting to become a doctor, not to mention a surgeon, was ambitious and difficult in our day. Moreover, it was this ambition that drove her to France so that she could specialize, as it was virtually impossible for a woman to specialize in surgery here in Canada.
My sister also demonstrated great courage and love for staying to work in Lacor although war was ravaging northern Uganda. We were so worried. It was difficult for us, her family, to understand why she insisted on staying even though her own life and those of her husband and daughter were in danger. Today, looking back, and especially seeing how important the Lacor Hospital was during the war, and still is today, I believe that we are better able to understand why she stayed. We are happy and pleasantly surprised to see that the Lacor Hospital, this hospital to which she devoted her life at Piero’s side, after everything that has happened, is not only still in operation but is an example of success to the world. I wonder if Lucille imagined it…
Finally, the holidays will soon be upon us, time for being with our loved ones. From my family to yours, I wish you every happiness and love, and especially good health. My thoughts go out as well to the people in Uganda.