October 28, 2010


Media contact:

Hida Jessie Piersma, President and Founder

Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc. Moves Forward

Tax Exempt Status to Benefit Contributors

New Hartford, New York, October 19, 2010 – Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc. announces its receipt of tax-exempt status as determined by the IRS.  The 501(c)(3) status qualifies Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc. to receive tax-deductible bequests, devises, transfers, or gifts.  As a public charity, those that sponsor Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc. can receive a federal tax deduction.

Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc. was founded in 2009 by Ugandan American Hida Jessie Piersma.  Piersma, of New Hartford, survived a long and bloody regime under Idi Amin and the LRA rebellion led by Joseph Kony in her homeland, as well as the murder of her father, Augustino Lanek-Atuk, after whom the organization is named.  Piersma has also authored her autobiography, “The Gnawing Thoughts,” which details her struggles overcoming obstacles in Uganda, immigrating to Italy, and eventually the United States.

In a recent interview Piersma stated, “My goal is to open a medical clinic and school in my old home in memory of my father.  To that end, I have founded Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc.  The war in northern Uganda is considered over, but after nearly 20 years of war and devastation, the Ugandan government is telling people to return to their villages, while in truth there is literally nothing to return home to; where 20 years ago a village once stood, now there is nothing but bush and rock.”

The mission of Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc. is to bring health, education, and social intellectual development to people whose lives were negatively impacted in the war zones of northern Uganda.

The primary aims of the organization are to provide and expand education and healthcare services, practicing sustainable development in these fields throughout northern Uganda.

Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc. maintains a website at

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Hida Jessie Piersma is available for interviews.

Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc.


Hida Jessie Piersma ’08 – Profile

September 3, 2010

Utica College has posted an Alumni Profile about me on their website. Please click on the link below to view it. Thank you.

Hida Jessie Piersma ’08 – Profile.

My Journey To Uganda, Gulu

July 25, 2010

      My Journey To Uganda, Gulu                                       

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, from the pictures you see at the you will begin to feel the need of the people of the Paduny Parish. In July of 2010, I visited them and my heart was broken. The Paduny people crowded around me and asked me why they had been forgotten when their need are so great. I told them that I did not forget them that is why I wrote the book “The Gnawing Thoughts”, and Founded Lanekatuk Memorial Incorporated.

Paduny has no secure water source, a parish of 4,600 people, and the natural sources of water within the parish are drying up the well in the  picture  at the web site you will see  is the very water they are drinking now. The Paduny people need health care, the most reliable source of care is The Gulu Referral Hospital 30 Km away in Gulu city, and you will see the condition of this hospital in the pictures at the website. The sick must get there by walking, bicycling, or as many do, on the back of a motorcycle over rough and unmaintained roads. The Paduny people are in need of education, but children must walk long distances to schools that are understaffed and poorly equipped. The Paduny people need a sustainable economy, prior to Idi Amin and the war with the LRA the locals made a sustainable living through agriculture and local markets, they need help in re-establishing those markets.

As you look through these pictures, please think about the people of Paduny why they are left uncared for. Please let them know they are not forgotten and help them now. Please donate money, materials, or volunteer. Please click the DONATE button now or click the CONTACT US button to request more information.

Thank you,

Hida Jessie Piersma

Founder and President Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc.

Observer-Dispatch, By Mary Nadeau June 2010

June 8, 2010

Observer-Dispatch,  Mary Nadeau,  Interview June  2010

Why did you write the book?

One day when I was a child, it rained so hard that we could not work in the fields and I had some time to spend together with my dad. Dad showed me an old note that he had written. It read, “God has given me a gift, another girl at 11:30 pm.”  I was in fourth grade that year, so I read the note and smiled at my dad.  The next thing I decided to do was to imitate my dad by writing what I felt like writing down.

                I kept on writing from that time to the present. My writing developed and has turned out to be the focus of my life. I cannot stop thinking about how I can improve my life and my writing and make them more meaningful. These gnawing thoughts about my life have inspired me to create a book for the public that lets people learn about my feelings and experiences from my childhood up until now. Maybe they will compare it to their life to see whether they have an easier or worse life than mine.

                This is the sweet and bitter taste of my life; the pursuit of happiness and the perseverance I have always shown that makes me feel as if I raise my hand up there, close to the fully ripe fruits of the mango tree that I used to pick and eat fresh during lunch time. I always wanted and still want that feeling to come back.

Are you a nurse now? What Kind? RN? Where did you go to school for nursing? In Utica?

Currently I work as a registered nurse. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Utica College of Syracuse University in 2008.

Where do you work? And what type of nursing do you do?

                I work at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City in a very fast paced medical unit. My work is very tiring, physically and mentally but I enjoy every moment of it especially when I see my patients regain their health and return home thanking me for the care I gave to them. The patients and I both know that life is worth living.

Is your child with you here? In school? Boy? Girl?

                I have a daughter, a stepson, and a son. My daughter was born in Uganda and eventually she moved to Italy with me and then finally to America. She graduated from New Hartford Central School and went to Utica College for three years before enlisting in the Navy, were she is continuing her school at Strayer University as she serves. My stepson lives in the Utica area and my son, born in America, is currently attending New Hartford Central School and commutes regularly with my husband between New Hartford and New York City.  We consider New York City my workplace and New Hartford our home.

How have your past experiences shaped who you are today?

                The most significant influence on my life was my parents, especially my dad. Dad struggled very hard to raise five children alone through war, draught, and poverty. My dad never gave up or abandoned us at a time when most others would have left us with relatives or strangers. While I was in Italy, my dad was walking along a roadway near our village when he was attacked and beaten by rebels and then left to die. He died alone. My dad and mom both wanted me to be a nurse. I am proud of both of them and I hope they are proud of all the work I have done and what I have accomplished in my life, with my education, my work, my family, and bearing up under so many difficulties on three separate continents. I promised myself I would not give up, and I will keep on going relentlessly. This comes from my dad’s example to me and in the end the ultimate sacrifice he made for me and my siblings. His sacrifice is one of the “Gnawing Thoughts” that pushes me ever forward.

Your advice to Americans?

There are three pieces of advice I would give to Americans. The first is, don’t give up. These are relatively difficult times that Americans are finding themselves in, but they are not impossible times. Hard work and perseverance still does pay, but we may all have to work a little harder and persevere a little longer to reach our goals. The second is, better yourself. Take a class, get in shape, eat right, whatever it is you chose to do, when you better yourself you also better your country.  The third thing is once a week turn off the TV, computer, Blackberry, or whatever your particular distraction is,  and help. There are many organizations that need volunteers, like mine, Lanekatuk Memorial, or help your neighbor, help a veteran, or within your family, help each other.  These things not only help you but they help America as well.

Are you a citizen of the U.S. now? Plan to be?

When I immigrated to Italy, I retained my Ugandan citizenship. After I married my husband we discussed about whether we should live in Italy or the United States and decided on living in the United States and that I would apply for citizenship here. It was not an easy decision for me for despite all that I had been through Uganda was and shall always be “home.” One of the wonderful things about America is that I can be an American and still retain for the most part my Ugandan heritage. It took a great deal of commitment and effort from both my husband and I but in 2004, while standing in the Oneida County Executive Chambers, I raised my hand, took the oath, and became an American citizen. One amusing anecdote was that during a particular interview  from the immigration office, they took my husband and I in separately and asked us a series of questions. One of the questions they asked was “What did you have for supper last night?” I had made stake and had over cooked it.  When it was my husband’s turn the interviewer asked him, “What did you have for dinner last night?” Being a typical American male he couldn’t remember, so the interviewer helped him along and said “So what happened at dinner?” and he said, “Oh yes, the steak got burned” and everyone had a good laugh.

Any other comments?

                I have three major goals remaining that I would like to accomplish in my life time. The first is to return home and visit my father’s grave and say my final goodbyes, to thank the people who buried him, and hopefully find a little peace in that aspect of my life. The second is to continue my schooling and become a Nurse Practitioner. The third thing is to open a medical clinic and school in my old home in the memory of my father. To that end I have founded Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc., part of the proceeds from my book will go to the organization. The war in northern Uganda is considered over, but after nearly twenty years of war and devastation the Ugandan government is telling the people to return back to their villages, while in truth is there is literally nothing to return home to. Where twenty years ago a village once stood now there is nothing but bush and rock. I would ask your readers to please help. They can go to our website at for more information.

What Keeps A person Advancing?

May 26, 2010

                              What Keeps A Person Advancing?

In my book The Gnawing Thoughts,   I said that I kept on advancing towards my goals, and I am still advancing and so are you as well. Read my book, and find some of the obstacles I have overcome. Do you think that you should shut yourself up under dire circumstances? The answer is no, you should keep on moving as long as you are doing the right thing. No one should keep you from pursuing your goal which can bring about a sustainable life, a life worth living and also contribute to the greater good of the world. I believe that each individual has unique talents and that they should not be blocked from using those talents. People who block others can be compared to a chronic disease. A chronic disease can block you from living your daily routine, and even kill you at an early age. To defeat chronic disease you take medication for as long as you live. To defeat being blocked, you look for an alternate means of achieving your goals despite the obstacle in your path.

We say no to diseases by treating ourselves with medication, because if we do not the disease could kill us. It is the same as if being blocked by someone who does not want you to succeed. We remain in compliance with our medical regiment that we have been instructed to follow, but when we are taking the medication and we find that the medication we are taking is hurting us other than helping us, we discuss it with our doctor and consider trying alternate medication or methods. It is in this manner that we keep on moving with our life, without being stopped by the disease. So, if you find yourself blocked, you probably have to find a better means of unblocking yourself without causing conflict with the blocker, and you keep living side by side with your blocker, just as surviving a chronic disease. For this reason, please do not give up to evil people who may want to stop you from your goal. Other than causing conflict, you may be better off being away from the person who blocks you.

Please, if we do not like someone or what they stand for, would it not be good to leave that person alone and have nothing to do with them rather than building that inner yearning of wanting to tear that person down or looking forward to  seeing that person’s breakdown or even ending his or hers’ life? We equally deserve to live because we were equally created by God or whatever means anyone wants to believe he or she was created. Still, the ability of creative thought was instilled by miracle. Sometimes what you see around the world, or what happens to your next door neighbor takes your breath away and makes you feel like vomiting to see a person taking another’s life or world away, as if they created that life or own their world and feel they have the right to end it or take it away. Despite this, we continue to pray that the world will become a better place for everyone to live in and we continue to move on regardless of the obstacles people place in our path.

Thank you for reading my blog. Best wishes to all.

Please visit our website at:

Unseen Reality

May 10, 2010

                                         Unseen Reality

When I was finishing high school, I applied to a nursing school and after graduation, I was admitted, however, I was unable to attend because I had to nurse my baby, and there was war. When I came to America, the thoughts about nursing and making a difference in people’s lives kept on “Gnawing” at me and this contributed to my book “The Gnawing Thoughts.” I decided to begin taking classes to become a nurse, and I went back to school. I learned a lot about patient care in school and in the hospital working as a nurse assistant. By the time I graduated, I believed I was well prepared for my profession.

When I began working as a nurse, I would wonder why some patients complained that they were not satisfied with the care they were given. I soon noticed that when I walked in and introduced myself to my patients and said that I would be taking care of them for  the next twelve hours, some of my patients would tell me that they had not been seen  by anyone or given food for the whole day.

But the unseen reality is that all what is done by  healthcare personnel is focused on patient care from  registration to discharge, on a typical patient stay in the hospital about fifty people are involved in one patient’s care, and the one who spent the longest time and  advocated for the patient is the nurse. Maybe a patient is in pain, then the nurse will have to assess the patient, take the patient’s vital signs, review the chart, and if there is no scheduled medication to be given, call the doctor and relate the situation to the doctor who then will order the pain medication. Again the nurse will have to call the pharmacist, who then will have to prepare the medication, and send a pharmacy technician with the medication or if the technician is not available, then  the nurse will have to leave other patients, who may also be complaining about pain or other issues, to get the medicine.

The other unseen reality is that well meaning visitors who come to visit patients may be interfering with patient’s care. They may bring food from outside of the hospital, which may interfere with the patient’s medication the result of which of this is that the expected outcome for the patient’s care is not met, and the patient remains unsatisfied with the care, not knowing that it was due to a lack cooperation between the patient and the care givers involved around him or her. For example, a diabetic patient was sneaking candy in to the unit, and the nurses and doctors wondering why the patient’s blood sugar is not being controlled even with the coverage given.

Patients with chronic diseases need to maintain their diet and compliance to the medicine, to keep their condition under control. A common non compliance issue is with patients on antibiotics. Patients need to finish their course of antibiotic in order to shade the bacteria, but some patients when they start feeling better, they stop taking  the medication, and  when the disease reoccurs they remain unsatisfied with the patient education and care they were given.

To bring about excellence in care to the patients, the single most important thing is “listening” both the patients and the caregivers involves must listen to one another, when a patient says he or she is in pain, that patient is in pain, and when a nurse or a doctor teaches a patient about his or her confirmed diagnosis, a patient must listen and comply with the patients teaching on how to keep the disease under control. Unfortunately, some patients after leaving the hospital revert to their previous lifestyle.

As the mission statement of Lanekatuk Memorial Incorporated states, our focus is to educate, and eradicate ignorance. Most of the deaths faced in Uganda are due to ignorance and lack of resources. Anybody who is willing to donate or volunteer can contact us at:


                                               Thank you and may God bless you all.

The Gnawing Thoughts Book Signings

May 4, 2010

The Gnawing Thoughts Book signings:
June 19, 2010: Dunham Public Library
76 Main Street Whitesboro 13492
Tel. 315 -736-9734.
June 26, 2010: New Hartford Public Library
2 Library Lane
New Hartford, NY 13413
Tel 7315-733-1535

Common Ground

May 4, 2010

                                                                Common Ground

Why should you read my book “The Gnawing Thoughts,” What would you learn from this book, how would it help you? The reason you should read The Gnawing Thoughts   is because it brings together the common experiences of immigrants and people exposed to unfamiliar cultures. Although this book was written by an immigrant from Africa, any immigrant or foreign visitors to America might have gone through the same experience adapting to American Culture and custom. From an Anthropological perspective The Gnawing Thoughts highlights the importance of understanding the diversity of cultures and the importance of respecting each culture even if they do not agree with all the cultural activities. Immigrants and foreign visitors should utilize the freedoms they have been given to practice their cultures and customs, however, they should be open to the great diversity that America has to offer.

One also learns that The Gnawing Thoughts is about three different continents, Africa, Europe, and North America; one is also exposed to Swahilis, Italian, and English languages. In most American cities, one can find newspapers written in many different languages such as, Russian, Bosnian, and Vietnamese just to name a few. At the work place, one finds that procedures are conducted in American style, however, managed by people from many different cultures and back grounds. One may not understand that adjusting to a different culture and custom is a reciprocal experience, for example, while the foreigners are trying to adjust to American cultures and customs, the Americans are also trying to adjust to the foreigner’s cultures and customs as well. We learn that it is necessary that we all find common ground in order for the world to be a better place to live in. That common ground is the willingness to be open to different cultures and customs, and the willingness to learn new things.

For inspirational purposes, The Gnawing Thoughts can helps students who might wants to give up because of the difficulties in school. I am from the African “bush.” I had to push my way to go to school. When I immigrated to Italy I had to learn a new language, new culture, and custom, even so I continued to educate myself. Finally, when I immigrated to America, I once again had to learn a new culture and custom, and I still managed to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. From Chasing cattle in the African bush to working in a major Medical Center in New York City, anything is truly possible with hard work and determination.

I hope we can each find common ground in our daily activities. I believe that will make the world an easier place for each of us to live in. Until my next blog. May God bless you all.

           Please visit      

I Had A Wonderful March 31st

April 25, 2010

I had a wonderful day March 31 at the women TIES luncheon. My computer spammed the grateful welcome message, which was sent to me by the women TIES president Ms. Tracey Higginbotham the following day, so it took me almost a month to respond to her. Dear readers do not make the same mistake I did; you should set your computer to add your contacts to safe list before receiving e-mails from them. Additionally, she is offering me an opportunity to speak about my experiences, which she believes many people will find inspiring.

I also got an e-mail from Mr. Kovacs the Director of Alumni and Parents at Utica College of Syracuse University stating that the College will be doing a mini profile about me in the Pioneer magazine and on the Pioneer station site in the month of May. I met Devorne, an intern of Mr. Kovacs, who showed great interest in my book, and said he will read the book with his parents, because his parents have similar backgrounds to mine.

On Thursday, as I was getting ready to go to work, I received a phone call from Ms. Molinawski of the New Hartford Public Library. She told me that she had just finished reading my book “The Gnawing Thoughts” She told me, “I normally read only things to do with research, but boy when I started  reading  your book it became the gnawing thoughts to me just like the title. I could not put the book down. You are amazing and such an inspiration.”

 On Saturday June 26, 2010 at 2pm to 4pm, I will be doing a book signing for my memoir “The Gnawing Thoughts” at the New Hartford Public Library. I hope we have a great day that day!

Please visit.

Best wishes to all and stay tuned for my next blog.

A Night For Coffee

April 17, 2010

A Night For Coffee

So I began my week as usual, busy, and busy. On Tuesday night, I reported at work and it was a very heavy night as usual. In the morning after giving report around 9am I had to go to the Nursing Education to renew my Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation Certification, I thought I would not take long, I soon became so sleepy in the middle of the test, as I struggled with the test, my husband also called me on my cell phone asking where I was because he could not reach me on the land phone, I told him I could not talk because I was taking a test. I was a bit happy that he woke my sleepy head up. I actually did not know how I was doing.

I left at 1pm took a cab to rush to my apartment so that I could get some sleep and come back to work of which I did. I was still sleepy when I returned, and unfortunately, we were short of staff so we were very busy. Normally I do not drink coffee because it keeps me awake for at least twelve hours, that night was a perfect night for coffee.

In the morning, I could not leave as usual because I had a lot to document; the coffee had begun fading away as I got myself ready to leave. I decided to swing by the bookstore in the Guggenheim Pavilion at 1468 Madison Avenue to see if they can sell my book “The Gnawing Thoughts” I was welcomed by the cashier as she looked at my badge and said oh you are a registered nurse here look at all the books we sell here, they are written by the personnel of The Mount Sinai Medical Center of which you are now one of them, give me your contact and the manager will call you as soon as he gets here. I left a copy of my book, I went home washed myself and went to sleep because I was  sleep deprived, I thought I was dreaming when my phone rang and the bookstore manager was on phone telling me that it was ok to sell my book, I was grateful to hear that, but it felt just like a dream. I hope everyone hand a good week and I wish everyone a good weekend, Till next week.