Fall 2023 newsletter
Joanne Miya, Tanzania
Greetings from Uzima Centre! We pray that you are doing well. These days there is increased concern about the future of our planet and our limited resources. I love that one of Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ core values is “simple living.”
Years ago, my sister, Carol, introduced me to a quote that is often attributed to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, “Live simply so that others may simply live.” It still resonates with me because my choice to live simply is not for personal reasons alone. I believe it has wider ramifications. God has provided enough for everyone, but only if we share.
During my college days, I was attracted to the idea of living simply. I went without many things as I worked my way through school. Turned out, that suited me. When I discovered that mission offered a way to combine service, my faith and simple living, I knew this was for me.
Most Tanzanians are living at a level of simplicity that would be hard to match. In reality, it’s not simple living; it’s poverty. Doing without basic needs, like a roof over your head or proper sanitation is not simple living. It is a result of the world’s resources not being distributed evenly.
One thing that I have experienced during my time here is that when you do without something (either by choice or by necessity), it gains a heightened sense of value. When water is scarce, you cherish each drop.
I’ve also known the freedom that comes from not “needing” so much. When you decide that what you have is enough, the desire for more evaporates. Living simply has inspired me to look for ways to repurpose or upcycle all kinds of things: Old car parts are transformed into flowerpots. My stack of scratch paper becomes beautiful paper beads. Organic waste becomes compost. I love the way this lifestyle gets my creative juices flowing.
I am always inspired when our students put their own personal desires aside to assist others. Many choose service careers such as teaching or medical professions.
In my June 2018 newsletter I shared the story of Adam. He was in seventh grade when his mother passed away, leaving him in the care of his grandmother. Always highly motivated, he would sign his name “The future Doctor Adam Sostenes.” His high school had no physics teacher, so we bought him a textbook and he taught himself physics.
We found out that while Adam was still in school, he was using part of his monthly allowance to help pay for his younger brother’s education. I know that Adam gave from his need, not from his excess. Because Adam lived simply, George finished school. Adam and George are both doctors now!
I recently met up with Samwel Chacha, whom I have mentioned in previous newsletters. Samwel was registered with Uzima Centre when he was in third grade. As an orphan being raised by an aunt, his life was not easy. We helped him to complete a two-year nurse-midwife course.
I remember telling him, “Get a job, save your money, and go back to school.” Well, Samwel did just that. Currently, he is working nights to put himself through medical school. He is on his way to becoming an anesthesiologist.
I continue to be inspired by the dedication of our students. Much of what they have achieved has been made possible by the donations and prayerful support of people like you. Our lives have been intertwined in a beautiful, mysterious way. And, with God’s grace, nothing is impossible.
Maryknoll Lay Missioners believes that “by living simply, we participate in equitable access to the fullness of life for all.” How fitting that the name “Uzima” means “fullness of life!”
Please consider what more you can do. If Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is your thing, try skipping that once a week and at the end of the month donate the $20 you have saved. Here, $20 would buy a Physics book and start the next “Doctor” on their way. Never think that a small donation doesn’t really make a difference. Adam and Samwel are proof that it does.
May your choices be blessed.
Please consider supporting my mission work at the Uzima Centre with a donation through the link below.
I invite you to walk with me as a “COMPANION IN MISSION.” Companions in Mission are friends and generous donors who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information, visit Become a Companion in Mission. Thank you so much for your generosity!