Meet the Team

The Buseesa Team:

UCLA Undergraduate and Graduate Nursing Students

Or more accurately:

The Kaihura Team:

Alecia Hanson

Alecia started the Uganda Support Mission project last year and has since led several teams to Uganda. This is now her fourth trip, and she says she continues to come back because this is a calling for her.

Here is her story: 

“In graduate school I met Nicholas Smith, a UCLA African Studies M.A. graduate student who collaborated with the Sisters of Notre Dame in 2008 to organize and launch a micro-finance project to help ignite local businesses and the economy in the Kibaale district of Uganda. Throughout his work, he noticed the extreme economic burden that the woman in his project face when their health is compromised. The village women are responsible for farming enough food to feed their family. If they become sick and unable to take care of their garden, the entire family suffers. With the help of the Esseff Foundation, they created the Buseesa Community Development Centre, which now serves over 75 families, empowering the community by providing loans to families to facilitate farming and business in the area. 

Nick decided he wanted to bring nurses out to Busesa to work in the community. I went to Uganda for the first time with him in September of 2010 to conduct surveys and a needs assessment. We interviewed community members, women enrolled in the BCDC (Buseesa Community Development Center), local health care practitioners and nurses in order to understand critical health needs and devise and prioritize our objectives. We composed an executive health summary and outlined the needs of the community which included the following issues: fertility, family planning, maternal and child health, breastfeeding and nutrition, malaria, HIV/AIDS and STIs, orphanhood and vulnerability, women’s status and gender and mortality.

To achieve our objectives, we decided to bring nurses out to Busesa in December of that year. My friend, Alison Wagoner, and I met with the Deans of our school and classmates at UCLA and we acquired a team of nine nurses to come with us, including Nicholas, my brother, sister and Alison’s boyfriend.  We were all unlicensed nursing students.

During that trip we did a great deal of education, delivered vaccinations, conducted an HIV seminar and worked in three clinics in collaboration with the Ugandan nurses and the Priest in the village.

After seeing the compelling impact of this first trip, we decided to go again. We created an application process and conducted 35 interviews at UCLA for the September and December 2011 trips, opening it up to fourth-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing students, second year MECN students (Masters in Entry-Level Clinical Nursing) and second-year advanced practice students (Family nurse practitioner students, Acute Care students, and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner students).

We saw an overwhelming number of applicants. That’s when I decided to merge the project with Global Support Mission and Brining Hope to the Family, two organizations that we still partner with. We now have twenty team members pulled from all over California, and my goal is to focus on preventing HIV in children."

Andrea Hanson

This is Andrea’s second trip to Uganda, where she will serve a support role in leading skill development workshops with employees at Bringing Hope to the Family.

“[The Ugandans] are searching for their day-to-day needs,” she highlights, “and that just continually reminds me how lucky I am to live in the States and have all the things the Lord has blessed me with.”

Andrea, Alecia’s sister, is a career counselor at UC Davis and is involved in her church group at University Covenant Church. 

Amy Blackard

A recent graduate from P.A. (Physician’s Assistant) school at Towson University in Baltimore, Amy, a friend of Andrea, thought this was the perfect opportunity to use her skills and experience in reaching out to a community in need.

“I think getting some more cultural understanding and sensitivity helps me understand where people are coming from and how they view health.”

In January she will begin working at Woodland Heath Care in the family practice outpatient clinic, and hopes that this trip will help her build confidence in her skills as she embarks on a new career in medicine.

Scott Walker

Inspired by Alecia’s story, Scott decided to come to Uganda to help with Bringing Hope to the Family’s various construction projects. He has experience in landscape architecture, engineering, and construction, and will serve as construction manager/facilitator and collaborate with a local crew in building BHTTF’s second orphanage.

“I think the lord is stretching me,” he says, “in the sense of being willing to go for a three-week trip, which I have never done, and also just to be willing to be willing.”

Scott works as a general contractor and for his church, Hope Center, in Pleasant Hill.

Lynda Hammel

Rachel Hammel

Rachel, the creator of the Uganda Support Mission blog, is a San Francisco-based writer and editor. 

She chose to come to Uganda in support of her mom, Lynda, and to help share the unique stories of the Ugandan people with the world. 


  1. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all the stories and photos, Rachel!! You are such a blessing to this team and to the Ugandan people. Thank you! Michele

  2. Love the blog as well!! Great job Rachel!!!

  3. Love the blog and pictures...I thank God for you and the blessings that you are to others!