By Chris Cook, Duke Sports Information
When Duke rower Caroline Kiritsy finally left Uganda last summer as part of the DukeEngage program, the village of Kaihura didn't look much different. She didn't help construct a medical center, plant crops or dig a well. She came armed with little more than markers and paper, but during a two-month span made a lasting impact on the lives of nearly 80 orphans who have seen more hardships in their short lifespans than most people can imagine.
"We didn't really have a tangible goal," Kiritsy said. "We weren't building a bridge or constructing a well or anything like that, which at first I found a little challenging because I'm also an engineer and I'm very results-oriented. I like to see the effects of what I'm doing, so that was challenging at first because I didn't feel like I was having a huge impact."
Even now, months removed from her time in Uganda, Kiritsy still can't quantify the impact that she and 14 other Duke students made in the HIV-stricken community of Kaihura, which is about 45 minutes from the city of Fort Portal but worlds away from the electricity and running water that those in the city enjoy. But even though Kiritsy has no numbers to back it up, she has no doubt that she made an impact on the residents of that small village in Kaihura, Uganda.
"I was working with about 30 orphans, many of which have HIV," Kiritsy said. "They don't have a lot to smile about or to be happy about. Just to play with them and see them smile, that was very rewarding in the end."