Stories of hope - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Summer 2021 newsletter


Joanne Miya, Tanzania

As a little girl, Irene loved doing puzzles.

Greetings from Uzima Centre,

I hope and pray that you are doing well. What an interesting year this has been. The COVID pandemic remains a challenge in Tanzania, where there is no vaccination program, testing is not readily available and we now have a new “Tanzanian Variant” of the virus. Please pray for us.

At Uzima Centre we continue to focus on providing three things: hope, healthcare and education. Although the hardest to measure, hope is certainly the most important. Every day we see people beat the odds and achieve more than previously thought possible. Members of our support groups encourage one another, offering hope to the newer clients.

Your prayers and support mean the world to those living with HIV, as well as our orphans and vulnerable children. They know that you are making it possible for them to have a brighter future.

Irene, dreaming big dreams today

Because of you, Irene, who was born HIV-positive, has finished secondary school. She did very well on her exams, qualifying her for another two years of schooling. Irene’s mother, who is also HIV-positive, knew that life would not be easy for her daughter. Often missing school due to illness, Irene persisted, many times finishing in the top 5 percent of her class. With a goal of becoming a doctor, she still has a long way to go. Irene and her mother both know that they can count on Uzima Centre for help.

One of my favorite photos is the one above of little Irene, shortly after she was registered with us, working on a puzzle. It’s hard to believe that she is now a teenager, dreaming big dreams. You have been part of her journey every step of the way. Our program is made up of hundreds of cases like Irene. Each person has a story, and each story started with hope.

To make all of this possible means that I need to fulfill my responsibilities as the director to ensure that we have the funding and staff to deliver services that will make a difference. I started in this role in 2006 and since that time, in order to keep costs low, I have also served as the accountant. As the program grew over the years so did the amount of time I spent on accounting.

I am happy to share that as of March 1, we have a full-time professional accountant, Wilbard Golita. With over 10 years of experience working with Catholic charities, Wilbard brings a wealth of experience. He has updated our accounting system, improved our stock keeping, and has actually helped us cut costs. I can now devote more of my time to program management and visioning for Uzima Centre’s future.

We have been pleased with Wilbard’s interest in attending support group meetings and getting to know our program and our people. Thanks to Wilbard’s IT skills, we are now conducting assessments of two groups: the HIV-positive mothers, and the teens in our program for vulnerable children. These assessments will help us to evaluate the services we provide and to look for ways that we can better address the needs of those we serve.

Wilbard Golita

Many of you have been contacted regarding Uzima Centre’s Matching Grant Campaign, currently under way. A foundation that has been supporting Uzima Centre offered to match (double) all donations made before July 31, up to $15,000.

Someone who is aware of my small donor base told me, “I really don’t think you’ll be able to raise that much.” But I’ve learned never to underestimate how God can move the hearts of those who are open. The response has been phenomenal. I fully believe that in the weeks remaining, we will reach our goal. I know that many of the donations received represent real sacrifices. Our sincerest thanks to all of you who have participated or plan to participate in this special fund raising effort.

I’m reminded of the quote by Robert H. Schuller, “Today’s accomplishments were yesterday’s impossibilities.” This is as true for Irene as it is for Uzima Centre, Maryknoll Lay Missioners and all who daily join hands and hearts to make the impossible, possible. God is good.

Thank you and God bless.

Peace and gratitude,
Joanne Miya
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Uzima website:

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.