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Lent 2021 newsletter

 

Joanne Miya, Tanzania

Left: Deodatha, our medical services coordinator, always smiling. Right: Gaudensia, dreaming of a better future.

With the challenges of 2020 behind us, we now face the challenges of 2021!

In the past few months, Tanzania has seen a surge in cases that appear to be COVID-19. We are noticing more clients with coughs, but due to the lack of testing, it is impossible to confirm the cause.

Since none of our clients have medical insurance, one of the services we provide is assistance with the cost of medical care. Although we have funding to pay for the medical care of our HIV-positive children, we rely on donations through my Maryknoll Ministry Account to cover the cost of medical care for HIV-positive adults. Unfortunately this expense is growing faster than our donations, causing us to make some tough decisions about the continuation of this service.

Medical bills are a burden for people the world over, but if you are blessed with good health or good coverage, and would like to help, know that your donation will make a big difference in the lives of the people served by Uzima Centre.

Although Uzima Centre has policies that stipulate the assistance we are able to provide, every year there are people whose lives are so difficult that exceptions need to be made.

Gaudensia is a bright 18-year-old who has two more years to go before she completes her secondary education. There are 10 people in her family, which is headed by her stepfather. By Tanzanian law, Gaudensia is old enough to marry, unless she is still in school. If she is unable to continue her education, her stepfather will arrange for her to marry a man from his home village. Since the groom must pay the bride’s family a “dowry,” her stepfather is anxious for the money.

What is best for Gaudensia does not seem to factor into the equation. A small vegetable stall provides Gaudensia’s mother with a minimal income, which limits her ability to help her daughter financially.

Since public schools do not have buses, every student is on their own to find a way to and from school. To walk takes Guadensia two and a half hours. To arrive at school on time, she must leave home while it is still dark out, which is not safe. Trusting in the generosity of our donors, we have decided to provide Gaudensia with a small monthly allowance so that she can take public transportation.

Upon graduating, she plans to join the army, which would enable her to support herself and to get away from her stepfather. Please keep her in your prayers.

We are very excited to share that Neema is now in her second year of university, majoring in law. We hear from her regularly, and she never fails to thank us for providing a way for her to pursue her dream.

Our five university students were all counting on government loans, which none of them received. Uzima Centre is trying to fill that gap, but the fees still owed for this year come to approx. $1,500 per student. Again, we are relying on the generosity of our donors and the grace of God.

We firmly believe that education is essential to lift this next generation out of poverty. So often when we ask a student what their goal is, they reply, “To get an education so I can help my family.”

If any of you would like to help with this expense, it would be a beautiful way to give these young people a brighter future.

I’d like to close with a quote by the late Brazilian Archbishop Dom Hélder Câmara:

When we are dreaming alone, it is only a dream.
When we are dreaming with others, it is the beginning of reality.

Thank you for believing in our dreams! I was touched when a friend donated her $600 stimulus check to Uzima Centre. Another donor sends $10 a month. Both are turning dreams into reality. Let us continue to hold one another in prayer, trusting that God will make a way.

On behalf of Gaudensia, Neema and everyone at Uzima Centre, may God bless you and watch over you.

Peace and gratitude,
Joanne Miya

Email: jmiya@mklm.org or uzimactr@gmail.com
Uzima 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.