Soul of My Footprint hoping to expand medical footprint in Ugandan village
A solo trip to Africa in 2000 to give away shoes and clothing provided the foundation for a Columbus business owner’s ongoing efforts to build a medical clinic in a small Ugandan village.
Alfie Jelks, founder of The Soul of My Footprint, is leading the effort to build a 3,000-square-foot medical and dental clinic in the village of Namiyagi, Uganda about eight kilometers from the city of Jinja. He is the owner of Alfie’s African Treasures in Columbus and a chaplain in the United States Army Reserve.
“We got the land, we cleared the land. We did the foundation. We’ve got the walls up,” said Jelks, “so now we have evidence that we’re not talking about it, but we’re doing it.”
Jelks said they were gifted two acres of land in Namiyagi in early 2017, breaking ground a few month later. Jelks said workers are now building the roof and estimates he’s currently halfway to his fundraising goal of $60,000.
The building will serve as a medical and dental clinic, providing a site for free preventive care, immediate care and long-term care for what he estimates are just over 400 people there and in surrounding villages.
He said it will initially operate as an outpatient clinic open five days a week, and be staffed by nurses and doctors already there. He hopes to expand the hours and medical help as more funds and volunteers are available.
“My vision is to get a number of doctors and nurses going throughout the year so that they’ll be able to go our clinic and provide services while they’re there,” Jelks said.
Jelks founded The Soul of My Footprint in 2000 and established it as a nonprofit corporation in 2012. The group’s objective is to provide primary medical supplies , clothing and basic care items for the children of Jinja.
“About twenty years ago, God simply spoke to me. He said go to Africa and help my children, that’s it, and I did just that,” Jelks said.
Jelks said he made his first trip to Jinja in 2000, traveling alone and carrying with him shoes, clothing, personal-care items and over-the-counter medications to give away. In subsequent trips, Jelks said he focused on taking shoes and eventually had other volunteers take the trip with him.
“From day one, I always wanted to take a medical team, but my vision was way ahead of my reality,” Jelks said.
Jelks said he deployed his first medical team in 2017, seeing about 200 patients in a few days. He said he was amazed at the number of people that had never seen a doctor or been to a hospital. That trip led Jelks to an epiphany.
“I said to my team what we did was amazing, what we did was good, and there’s very few people in this world that could say that we was on a medical mission in Africa,” Jelks said,” but then I said this: What are the benefits of going to Africa every year when the people are sick every day.”
Jelks said he’s excited about growing interest around the clinic. He said most financial contributions come in small amounts, often $50 or $100 at a time.
“We’re doing all of this with people who don’t have a lot of money and they want to be a part of this, which is simply amazing,” Jelks said.
The Soul of My Footprint is having a meet and greet fundraiser June 1 at the Liberty Theatre Cultural Center, 813 8th Ave, in Columbus, with all proceeds going to the the construction project in Namiyagi. Jelks said Majid Batambuze, the mayor of Jinja, is the special guest for the event.
Learn more about the group and clinic project at www.tsomf.org.