Humble servants - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Summer 2023 newsletter


Joanne Miya, Tanzania

Mama Mbogoma leads Capacitar exercises during an Uzima Centre training session with guardians.

Greetings from Uzima Centre. We hope and pray that all is well with you and your loved ones.

One of Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ core values is humility. Cross-cultural mission work certainly provides endless opportunities to be humbled (whether we like it or not.) We no sooner think that we are doing well in the language, when we say something totally different than what we intended, usually to the amusement of the people around us. Learning a language takes time, but learning a culture takes a lifetime.

Hoping for a better life for the next generation

I am grateful that the people of Tanzania are patient — and good-natured. One of the prayers I find myself going back to again and again is the Litany of Humility. Usually attributed to Spanish Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, it has been called “the toughest prayer.”

As someone who likes to be seen as competent and good, these lines from the litany are particularly challenging for me:

From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus ….
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

I am blessed to know many people who exemplify humility. Linda is the mother of three grown children and is currently raising three grandchildren. When her nephew, Benjamin, was abandoned, Linda took him in. Why? Because Benjamin, like Linda, is living with HIV. Linda’s only income comes from selling cassava, which she grows. Her determination is remarkable, but her humility impresses me most. She is just doing what needs to be done without any desire for praise.

Linda is one of many women who have taken in children. Uzima Centre has recently started a series of trainings for 48 guardians (45 of whom are women). An assessment conducted earlier this year showed that the guardians are dealing with significant challenges and stress, and that the children are bearing the brunt of it. The focus of Uzima Centre’s services has been the children, but to improve their lives, we realized that we had to start doing more to help their guardians.

Our first training in March focused on getting to know each other and finding commonalities. In May the focus was on stress management. The session was led by Mama Mbogoma, a local Maryknoll affiliate, and was based on Capacitar exercises, body-based practices to promote both emotional and physical healing.

In addition to the exercises, there was also time for singing and laughing. Most of the guardians shared that they don’t have anyone to share their troubles with. These trainings provide them with a safe space where they can be open. We may not be able to make all their problems go away, but we can help them to better cope with what each day brings.

James on a home visit

In my last newsletter I mentioned that we had added two volunteers to our staff. We have since hired Jumbe as a social worker. He and James are trying to conduct home visits with each one of our clients. It’s a lot of work, especially since most live in rural areas outside of town. To reach many of the families requires traveling by bus and motor-cycle taxis.

The response has been very positive. The visits not only mean a lot to the clients, but they enable Jumbe and James to gather important information regarding their living situations. Although most of our clients are honest with us, there are always a few who claim to be living alone without any help, and a home visit reveals that the situation isn’t as dire as they made it out to be.

There are others who are quite the opposite. Many of our clients cheerfully attend support group meetings. Without home visits, we would never know how hard their lives really are. So we continue to walk together, doing what we can to lighten the load.

Thank you for your prayers and support as we strive “to walk humbly” with God (Micah 6:8).

Peace, deep breaths and gratitude,
Joanne  / or  /

Please consider joining our circle of COMPANIONS IN MISSION. Companions in Mission are generous donors, like you, who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information visit  Become a Companion in MissionThank you so much for your generosity!

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.