Honoring and continuing our 50 years of healing presence in Uganda is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.
In 1962, Medical Mission Sisters arrived in the newly independent nation of Uganda, once known as the Pearl of Africa. We began our healing mission at Virika Hospital in Fort Portal, where we opened the first nursing school in Western Uganda. Our Sisters also began to hold regular safari clinics in the remote areas.
Seeing the great need among the people in far-flung areas, in 1979 we turned over the hospital’s management and built a small dispensary in Kasanga, a remote village in western Uganda. Our Sisters at the clinic treated thousands of people with tuberculosis, cholera, malaria and other diseases, and expanded their work into ten small clinics in outlying areas. Programs for education, immunization, nutrition, and mothers and children were all part of our work.
Eight years later, with the help of local parishioners we were able to begin another small dispensary in Rubanda, Uganda. Our Primary Health Care program there now covers 45 villages and serves over 20,000 people. Patients receive outpatient, inpatient, lab, pharmacology and maternity services. Special support for adults and orphans affected by HIV/AIDS is also given.
Our Sisters are also active in Kampala, the capital of Uganda and home of Sister Therese Tindirugamu, our Sector Coordinator in Africa. Sister Janet Harbauer has been in mission for over 20 years at Rubaga Hospital. Sister Josephine Nafula works at a de-addiction center and teaches at the Kibusi Brothers University College. Sister Mary Jo Grethel conducts retreats and psycho-spiritual workshops for Uganda’s priests, religious, and lay persons. Many of them know us, and some, like Bishop Robert Muhiirwa, were delivered by one of our Sisters.
One of the great blessings of these 50 years is the number of new vocations. In 1969, Sister Speciosa Babikinamu, a midwife, became our very first Medical Mission Sister from Africa. More than 30 other women from several African nations have followed her lead.
We thank God for the opportunities and challenges of the past 50 years, and ask for continued blessings on our mission in Uganda today and in the future.
June 15, 2012