December 2021 newsletter
Joanne Miya, Tanzania
Greetings from Uzima Centre.
We hope that you are doing well. As 2021 comes to an end, I know it was your prayers and generosity, and the grace of God that got us through! We are also grateful for some amazing local people. I’d like to introduce you to two of them.
When Gaudensia lost her oldest daughter to AIDS, she and her husband, Peter, took on the responsibility of raising their granddaughter, Maria. Only 4% of Tanzanians receive a pension, forcing them to depend on their children in their old age. The AIDS pandemic changed all that. The loss of an adult child is hard enough, but here it can also mean poverty for the elderly parents.
Fortunately for Gaudensia and Peter, their youngest daughter is helping them. In 2017, when Maria was 4 years old, she tested positive for HIV. She registered with Uzima Centre the following year, but it is the love of her grandparents that has made all the difference.
Some children are not so fortunate. In 2019 a 3-year-old girl was abandoned. She was found with a clinic card, which indicated that her name was Tabu (which means “Trouble”), she was HIV-positive and had been receiving antiretroviral therapy since she was a year old. She was placed in an orphanage in our neighborhood. Rosamistika, a staff member there, brought her to Uzima Centre. Tabu insisted that she be called “Agnes,” which we happily agreed to.
Now 5 years old, she is doing well. Rosamistika adores this little girl and makes sure that she attends her monthly appointment at the hospital, takes her medication daily and visits Uzima Centre once a month. We pay for Agnes’ medical care and provide other assistance, but it is Rosamistika’s tender loving care that has enabled Agnes to thrive.
Currently 82 children and teens — all born HIV-positive — are part of Uzima Centre. Their success is largely dependent on the quality of care they receive at home. We are forever grateful for people like Gaudensia and Rosamistika.
We recently completed an evaluation of our services. As a result, we will be modifying our program for our 40 orphans and vulnerable teens. Fortunata and Agness have created a series of interactive lessons on topics such as critical thinking, non-violent conflict resolution, gender equality, reproductive health and stress management. We hope to start in January, but it will cost $175/teen to run this 12-month program. If you would like to contribute to this, I know it will make a big difference in the lives of these teens. Please remember our teens in your prayers. Their challenges are many.
As we celebrate the season of Advent in preparation for Christmas, I’d like to share a quote by St. Teresa of Calcutta:
Let us be one heart full of love, full of joy, full of peace.
Let us radiate that love, that joy and that peace
by growing more and more in the likeness of Christ.
May our loving God bless you and your family with love, joy, and peace.
As the director of Uzima Centre, I am responsible for ensuring that we have the funding we need to provide quality services and cover our administrative costs. I also participate in the fundraising efforts of Maryknoll Lay Missioners, which supports me. Currently there is a special campaign underway called “Walk With Us” to raise money specifically for the recruitment, training and ongoing support of our lay missioners serving in Africa, Asia and the Americas.
I can only “walk with” the people of Uzima Centre because you are “walking with” me. Wouldn’t it be nice if for every $20 you had, someone gave you another $10? A group of donors has pledged to do just that. Our missioners and staff are working hard to raise $2 million, which will be matched with an additional $1 million.
This is a wonderful opportunity to ensure that Maryknoll Lay Missioners will be able to continue to send and to support missioners in the coming years. Please pray for the success of this campaign and if you would like to donate to it, click the button below.