Year Joined MKLM: 1983
Ministry: Uzima Centre Ilemela
Ministry Area: Healthcare and health promotion — HIV/AIDS ministry
Goal of ministry: “That people living with HIV and vulnerable children will have life to the fullest” (Uzima Centre vision statement).
Prevention. Part of our program involves training the youth and their guardians in managing their emotions, dealing with stress, nonviolent methods of discipline, communication skills and ways to improve the quality of their living situations. With each choice to respond nonviolently, the individual, family and community move one step closer to creating a healthy environment in which all are respected and can thrive.
Tanzania is still feeling the results of the AIDS pandemic that started in the 1980s. Poverty and gender inequality are limiting development. Over 96% of the children registered at Uzima Centre are from female-headed households which are limited by a single, often unreliable, income. Corporal punishment is practiced in all public schools, and 75% of our children report that their guardians use corporal punishment on them at least once a week.
Adults infected with HIV at the onset of the AIDS pandemic are now elderly, and many are dealing with other chronic geriatric medical conditions. The challenges are many as are the stresses of merely surviving. We strive to help each client to achieve their God-given potential.
At Uzima Centre we focus on providing hope, healthcare and education. We offer support groups for children, adolescents and adults living with HIV, as well as children and adolescents who are coming from difficult family situations. Support group meetings provide a time for sharing, learning and having fun.
Students are given assistance with the cost of their education. Adults learn how to manage their challenges and to make healthy choices. The adolescents are provided with classes in topics such as reproductive health, communication, gender-based violence and other life skills. All are assisted with the cost of medical care. This year, five of our students are attending college. Education is vitally important if this next generation is to break the cycle of poverty and illness.
When I graduated for college in 1981 I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the education I had received. I was looking for a way to make a difference in the lives of others who had not had the opportunities I had.
My Catholic faith had always been an important part of my life. Marykoll Lay Missioners provided a means by which I could live a life of simplicity, and service, in the context of a Catholic community. Since arriving in Tanzania in 1984, I have been involved in a wide variety of ministries, all of them rewarding. My current ministry enables me to use my medical training and cultural experience to journey with others, as together we strive to live life to the fullest.
Joanne is married to Martin Miya. Together they raised five children.