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Team heading to Uganda for dedication of medicine site

The Rev. Ronald P. Sajdak returned from a mission trip in Africa in 2009 hoping to provide area Catholics a close-up look at the faraway continent through video.

Sajdak relied on Sudanese volunteers to film about 25 hours of video during his foray into South Sudan for the groundbreaking of a new medical clinic funded by ROTA: Reaching Out 2 Africa, a ministry of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Buffalo.

But when Sajdak went to edit the footage, he discovered less than four minutes of it actually could be used.

"That didn't work out very well at all," Sajdak, founder of ROTA and pastor of St. Martin de Porres, said with a chuckle.

Sajdak returns to Africa this week for the dedication of a medicine depot in Kitovu, Uganda, also funded by ROTA.

This time, a trained communications specialist is part of the ROTA mission team -- and he's prepared to make people in the Buffalo Diocese aware of exactly what's happening during the trip.

Gregg D. Prince, the diocese's assistant director for radio ministry and a media specialist, brought along a variety of high-tech devices -- an iPad, iPhone, camcorder, USB microphones and SD cards, to name a few.

Sajdak and Prince hope to show donors in Western New York the impact their financial contributions make in a land most of them will never see.

"Here's our chance to show them, 'Yep, it is going to good work,' " noted Prince, who expects to post video and audio clips online via Facebook and the "Western New York Catholic" website.

Prince also hopes to livestream video of the dedication of the Kitovu Medicine Depot on Friday.

ROTA has a mailing list of more than 1,000 supporters, most in Western New York.

"It's so important to let them engage in what we're doing and see the benefit of what we're doing," said Sajdak, who started the ministry while he was an assistant pastor at St. Bernadette Church in Orchard Park in the late 1990s.

The medical clinic in Koiyom Village, South Sudan, is being named in honor of Sister Karen Klimczak, a Buffalo nun who was killed in 2006, and the Rev. Gary Bagley, a Buffalo priest who died the same year. The clinic is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

The recently completed medicine depot allows the Catholic health system in the Diocese of Masaka to purchase medicine and health supplies in bulk -- saving huge amounts of money -- and then redistribute the supplies to 29 clinics and two hospitals in the diocese.

Sajdak and Prince are being joined on the trip by Joan M. Ersing, executive director of ROTA, and Deacon Matthew A. Hens of St. Joseph Church in Fredonia.

The project also was funded in part by Pontifical Mission Societies of the Buffalo diocese.

The four-person team left Buffalo on Sunday and is scheduled to return May 24. In Uganda, it will meet with Fidele Diing Dhan, ROTA project supervisor.

Diing Dhan is a former Sudanese refugee who settled in Buffalo and now has returned to Africa to help spur economic development in areas challenged by third-world conditions.