Dr. Samuel Yoo, who graduated from the Univ. of Kyoungbook Medical School, left for Uganda at the age of 32 in 1992 as a medical missionary. When Dr. Yoo entered medical school, he was in deep nihilism. He didn't even know what it meant for him to become a medical doctor. He vaguely longed for the life of Dr. Albert Schweitzer who had sacrificed his whole life to serve African people. After meeting Christ Jesus during his medical school years, he made a decision to be a medical missionary for Africa. He graduated from medical school in 1984 and acquired professional qualifications in1988. And after serving in the military as a surgeon in 1991, he volunteered with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) as a medical doctor.
He recalled the time when he was sent saying, "I could have chosen to go to any African country since there were many countries in Africa that wanted to invite Korean doctors. Then I asked where the most populated country was. I was told that it was Uganda. So I left for Uganda and rooted my mission in Uganda.”
The Republic of Uganda is located to the east of Central Africa and is one of the 50 poorest countries in the world according to UN designations in 2006. Though there are about 23 beds for patients in 98 hospitals, it is still too small a number for a population of 32 million in Uganda. There are about 200 medical students who graduate from 5 medical schools every year in Uganda, but the total number of medical doctors in Uganda now is only about 1500. For this reason, some people who live in the back regions of Uganda never get a chance to see a doctor in their lifetime.
“In Uganda, my family and I had to go through a lot of difficulties. In the first year in 1992 when I was sent to Uganda, I was always nervous about the threat of robbery since policing was too unstable in the country. Though I began my service at the National Medical Center, there were no thermometers, blood pressure meters, or even basic fluids. More than 70% of the patients were suffering from AIDS and were waiting for help. But in the medical ward, I could do nothing for them though they were dying in front of me because there was no medicine in the hospital.”
“Eight months after arriving in Uganda, my wife, who was expecting a child, came to stay with me along with my two daughters. My family members had to undergo many hardships. My eldest daughter almost died because she was infected by viral meningitis, and I also had to receive HIV testing multiple times after being pricked by needles which were used to on HIV patients.”
“I couldn't feel that I was doing something worthwhile, but felt frustration because of the desperate situation. I thought about fleeing from this country many times, but I couldn’t do it when I saw how the patients were healed from their fatal diseases and were discharged from the hospital. Seeing this, I could feel my life was worthwhile. I was also so happy and proud of my life of mission when my medical students became physicians and expressed gratitude and respect for me.”