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December 2020 newsletter

 

Joanne Miya, Tanzania

Hope is alive among Uzima Centre’s Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission Group as they are working together to raise an HIV-free generation.

 

Greetings from Uzima Centre!

As this turbulent year draws to a close, it might be worth taking some time to reflect on what got us through. Words come to mind like: patience, resilience, cooperation, flexibility, prayer and hope. Many people are grieving the loss of a loved one, a job or even a roof over their head. The challenges are many, but if you are reading this, you have survived all that life has dealt you. Strategies vary, but we all find something to get us through dark days.

For many of the people served by Uzima Centre, that something is hope. Our tagline is “Uzima Centre: Where hope, health and education change lives.” There is a reason “hope” is named first, for without it all the medical care and educational opportunities will not turn lives around. When hope is lost, all is lost.

People often arrive at our office discouraged and downtrodden. We start by giving them hope. Hope means believing that things can and will get better. Before you can hope, you need to be able to envision what “better” might look like. People living with HIV come to Uzima Centre in the hope that they will regain their health.

Deo, a beacon of hope

I can’t think of hope and not think of Deo. His life is a cross between the Book of Job and a country western song. He has been close to dying many times. Family and friends gave up on him. His wife ran off, leaving him with their five kids. Deo believes that hope comes when you have someone, even if it’s only one person, who just simply doesn’t give up on you.

How important it is for us to be that source of hope for others! Deo’s advice is, “If someone reaches out their hand to help you, take it. Believe that all things are possible with God.”

As I write this, Deo just arrived with a couple who would like to register with us. Deo’s hope comes from helping others find hope. We know that viruses are highly contagious. We forget that hope is too.

Elizabeth, who is 47, shares that when you have hope, “HIV is no longer a death sentence.”

For Reuben, the support group meetings are essential. “We can encourage each other because we understand how to live with HIV without losing hope,” he says.

Mariamu and Angelo, hoping for a better future

There is hardly a better example of hope than the women in our Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission Group. They do all that they can to ensure that their children are born without HIV. They have hope that an HIV-free generation is possible. Sound medical advice enabled Mariamu to give birth to Angelo, who is HIV-negative. There is hope!

During 2020 we have witnessed many front-line workers, essential workers and random strangers risk their own lives in order to give hope to others. We all really do need each other.

Our clients are very aware of how connected we are. During the fires this past summer, several clients asked me if our donors on the West Coast were safe. They are concerned about how many Americans have died from COVID-19. They are praying for you!

When asked what he hopes for, Aron spoke from his heart, saying, “I hope our donors don’t grow weary of us, for without their help I would have been dead long ago!” I recently read, “We can only flourish together.” I think 2020 has shown that we will only survive if we come together.

For Deo, Elizabeth, Reuben, Mariamu and Aron, giving up hope simply isn’t an option. They teach us that strength and hope come through communion with others.

I think Hebrews 10:23-24 sums it up well:

Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, …
Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.

Thank you for being a source of hope for the people of Uzima Centre. I pray that they too might be a source of hope for you.

May God grant you a blessed Advent, a joyous Christmas and a new year of hope.

Peace and deep breaths,
Joanne Miya

Email: jmiya@mklm.org  /  Website: uzimactr.wordpress.com

 

Joanne Miya Joanne Miya
Joanne Miya joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 1983. She is the director of the Uzima Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania, whose mission is to provide hope, healthcare and education to adults and children living with HIV.