The difference an ultrasound machine makes can be the difference between a mother in a crisis pregnancy keeping or aborting her baby. It is difficult to deny the humanity of a preborn baby when confronted with a tiny face, nose, heart and 10 little fingers and toes. Ultrasound machines are also invaluable in detecting prenatal problems as well as other non-pregnancy related medical issues.

A donation of $12,250 from the Knights of Columbus Wisconsin State Council and a $900 donation from Good News Adventure Vacation Bible School, comprised of 250 students and adults from Old Saint Mary, Our Lady of Divine Providence, Saints Peter and Paul, and Three Holy Women, is helping Ugandan residents receive better health care.

The two portable ultrasound machines are making a difference at the Padibe Medical Clinic in Padibe, Uganda. Padibe.org is presented by the partnership of Global Solidarity Ministries of Three Holy Women Parish in Milwaukee and Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Padibe.

Three Holy Women parishioners, Dcn. Gary Nosacek and his wife, Dr. Cindy Jones-Nosacek M.D., recently returned from a month-long mission trip to their sister parish in the Padibe community, where Gary assisted at Mass, helped at a funeral, visited schools and the homebound. Dr. Jones-Nosacek presented medical lectures and helped in the clinic.

“I helped the clinic set up protocols for postpartum hemorrhage (including a kit containing the med and IVs needed in the delivery room rather than going to another room to get the meds), sepsis, and hypertension. I also worked with the midwives to get comfortable using the ultrasound and a fetal Doppler to monitor the baby’s heart,” she said. “The ultrasound machines are very important. With it and in the limited time I was there, it diagnosed a breech baby that needed to go to the nearest hospital, 45 miles away, to be delivered. Along with a fetal Doppler, we diagnosed a baby that was not tolerating labor. I was told we saved the baby’s life.”

While the Padibe Clinic provides most of the prenatal care, the higher risk deliveries, including C-sections, need to be done in the hospital. The ultrasound machines are crucial in providing safer deliveries.

“The ultrasounds, by being able to diagnose many conditions, and not just in pregnancy, will be able to help determine who can be cared for at their facility and who needs to go to the hospital, reducing the need to send people to the hospital for care, especially since most people do not have cars and walk everywhere,” Dr. Jones- Nosacek said.

According to Dan Miller, state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin and the culture of life director for the Knights of Columbus Wisconsin State Council, the K of C received an anonymous donation of $35,000 a couple of years ago from a man who read a story in The Catholic Herald on the importance of ultrasound machines in helping women decide to have their babies.

“We have been using his donation to help provide numerous ultrasound machines to various pregnancy help centers and also used some of his funds to purchase ultrasound machines for the Padibe Clinic,” said Miller. “We are so pleased to be able to help the people of Uganda in support of life through the purchase of these two portable ultrasound machines. As Knights of Columbus, we feel it is our duty to fight abortion not only in our backyard, but wherever God calls us to go. With God’s great help and mercy, we pray these two machines are able to save many Ugandan babies from abortion and to get better prenatal care.”

Ellen Kloth, the committee chair of the global solidarity committee at Three Holy Women Parish, explained that the parish has a heart for the peace-filled residents of Padibe that were ravaged by Joseph Kony and his soldiers. Kony, who is still at large, is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerilla group that formerly operated in Uganda. A brutal warlord, he is responsible for murders, rape, destruction of property and extreme brutality to the Ugandan people.

“The people of Padibe are peace-filled people who mostly farm for a living,” said Kloth. “Our parish became involved when the people were in refugee camps about 15 years ago. A young man named Shawn Alexander went to Padibe and was moved with passion for the people. The people were trying to pick up their lives after Joseph Kony disappeared.”

In addition to sponsoring 15 to 18 Padibe students and building a sunflower press, Three Holy Women recently built a maternity ward for the clinic. The ultrasound machines will allow the clinic to send images to the hospital to assist the mother and child.

“The donation was extremely generous,” said Kloth.

For Anh Clausen, director of family ministry and religious formation for the four-parish cluster, involving the VBS students in fundraising for the ultrasound machines was an opportunity for the children to understand stewardship and relate to other children across the ocean.

“We shared a little about the community in Padibe and helped the children relate to the other kids as peers,” said Clausen. “We talked to them about when they were in their mom’s belly and she went to the doctor and got ultrasounds, and why they don’t have that technology in Uganda. It just struck a chord with the kids and the adults.”

Clausen is happy the children were excited to do jobs around their homes to raise funds for the ultrasound machines.

“It is not only helping pregnant mothers and babies, but helping in other ways, in that it can really bring them up to a modern level of healthcare,” she said. “Now these portable systems can send results to the U.S or other experts in the world to be read. It opens pathways to better health, in addition to what we usually think about ultrasounds. The machines will be saving many lives.”