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A passion for music and medicine

October 09, 2013 - Corrinne Sanger spends a lot of time in the slums of Uganda.

At 23, Sanger traveled to Uganda, a country located in East Africa bordering Kenya and South Sudan.

In the poor country the citizens are poverty stricken, uneducated and often afflicted with diseases like HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

Sanger first visited Uganda through and organization called Safe Mothers, Safe Babies but now she is there thanks to the support of her father.

After working in rural villages for a quite some time, Sanger said she saw a need to track an often overlooked problem killing babies and mothers, so she decided to go on her own to conduct the research.

Sanger was working in villages where woman are very young, poor and uneducated when she noticed many of the women were coming into the health centers to give birth.

She said usually women over there will give birth at home or with a birth attendant present, which can be quite dangerous.

Health centers and governing bodies had been working to encourage women to seek medical treatment to give birth because of a growing problem of complications.

However many women traveling to the health centers, were being turned away and sent to large hospitals because the nurses at the small rural health centers didn't know how to handle some situations.

"Most of these women can't afford the transport, or fear the hospital because it is so big. They don't speak English, and the doctors and nurses are very rude," said Sanger.

After witnessing the women being turned away, Sanger wondered what happened to those mothers and babies once they left the health center. That's when she decided to do an independent study.

"I decided to start following them to see the outcomes and have something to present to government and non-government organizations," she said.

"Some of the women go home and die because they didn't get to the hospital. Others arrive hours late and it's too late to save the baby," she said.

Her research project tracks obstetric referrals from the rural health centers to district hospitals. She discovered the need for better transportation, medical personnel, training, and accountability.

Sanger said she spends mornings writing reports, imputing and analyzing data.

Still she added she has a lot of free time in between entering information and analyzing data, so she spends it volunteering. She uses music skills to teach kids music and dance while volunteering at a music and dance center in the slums Kampala called Sosolya.

"I do research input in the mornings. In the afternoon head to the center to work with the kids on their homework, teaching singing and music lessons, making sure they are all healthy, and act as a big sister or mother to many of them.

"It gives me something to be happy for when I spend so much time working on sad things like women dying while giving birth," she said.

Sanger honed her music skills playing in the symphony orchestra. She studied and graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy. She also attended music school in Boston and serves as the vice president of the Wayne State Detroit Medical Orchestra.

"I play the double bass professionally, and I use the ukulele to teach and sing songs to all of the children," said Sanger.

Most women lack role models who will teach them good values.

Sanger said the women and kids she works with find her quite a curiosity because she is not married and has no children at age 23, and does not seem to do anything besides whip up smores treats.

"I have a fun time telling them about all the other great ways to be a woman," she said. "Like staying in school, finding a passion like dance or music, helping others, and respecting my body and my mind so that it will be respected by others."

Sanger said the best thing to do would be to help the people of Africa learn to take care of themselves. "They want to," she said. "I see it in them every day."

In addition to music, studying medicine is also a passion she is working for.

Sanger is studying medical anthology at Wayne State University and is planning on obtaining a masters degree in public health and also plans to attend medical school.

How to help

Visit thewebsite Igg.me/at/GLEEUganda to learn more of Corrinne's story and current fundraiser.

Sanger said she created a fundraiser because she likes to know donations are being handled in the best way possible.

"I work with orphans and young children from bad families everyday who need money to help them stay in school, eat decent meals, and protect their young lives," she said.

At last check Sanger had raised $2570 of a $5,000 goal she hopes to raise by Oct. 29.

On the fundraising website those who donate get a special thank you from Sanger and the kids she helps.

Staff writer
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