Holds our Monthly Feature and Monthly Feature data
MMM hosted the AMRI Daring to Hope exhibition on Saturday 27th January. There was a full house at The MMM Auditorium in Drogheda, Ireland. Sr Brigid Corrigan gave a talk on memories of Mother Mary and other pioneering Sisters. The event also honoured the anniversary of Founder Mother Mary’s death.
By Srs. Margaret Nakafu, MMM and Maria José da Silva, MMM
Sowing seeds of hope and joy, and the fruits of being empowered with practical skills for the journey…
It is with a great sense of joy and hope that the Medical Missionaries of Mary in Salvador rejoices with more than 100 women who were empowered with skills in the courses of cut and sewing, catering, hairdressing, manicure and pedicure, art craft and baking. These courses were offered during 2023 in collaboration with the Parish Pastoral Center (Casa da Juventude Anna Sironi).
MMM Salvador is working in collaboration with three women volunteers who are entrusted and committed to the daily management of Casa da Juventude Anna Sironi. In a society that tends to find more reasons to exclude those who are poor, vulnerable and different, Casa da Juventude Anna Sironi offers a space where each woman feels accepted and loved as she is. It is a place where each woman rediscovers her inner wisdom and freedom to share her life experiences, to be creative, learn new skills, make supportive friendships, grow in self-confidence and know that she is respected.
Sr. Maria Jose da Silva MMM facilitated group therapy sessions. These sessions have created sacred grounds where the women have an experience of mutual trust and support. Appreciating this environment of mutual trust and unconditional love, the women shared their fears, aspirations, their pain and search for healing. They shared their experiences of God’s healing love. Group therapy sessions were indeed circles of healing where the women felt empowered and helped increase their self-esteem. During the initial sessions, some women shared that they were suffering from depression, and they were on medication. In the group therapy sessions, these women experienced themselves as supported, listened to and respected. These positive and affirming experiences encouraged the women to become committed to their healing processes. Towards the end of the courses, most women expressed deep gratitude for having discovered their potential and having developed their sense of purpose and self-worth.
Several women who benefited from the catering course are already earning an income from the acquired skills. They prepare and sell snacks. From the cut and sewing group, many women are making dresses for themselves and family members. All these achievements bring joy and encouragement to us and to the collaborators.
In addition to offering our skills and creating circles of healing with the women, MMM Salvador also contributes with financial support to the activities of the Casa da Juventude Anna Sironi. The funds are used to buy materials for the courses and to pay course instructors. We are grateful to our donors and the prayers from our MMM family. Let us continue sharing with joy and hope what our healing charism has as one of the most creative values is the way to empower many women throughout our ministries.
The Christmas Craft Fair proceeds are going towards this project.
In Tanzania, MMM run the Faraja Centre in Singida. It deals with many aspects of health care but among its many programmes is one for counter human trafficking.
They have been innovative in how they deal with individual cases, and most importantly, how they prevent children and young people from being exploited by outreach to the schools and by radio programmes.
While they work, they learn, and they shared some of their key learnings with Healing Touch.
The first learning is: “We often think we are acting as individuals. The Team has learned, through our experiences with patients, caregivers and with each other in the Team, that what we think is a small contribution can have much greater implications than we expected.”
A second learning was that going to the root of the problem is often a sure and easier way to get rid of the problem. They do not wait for the trafficking cases to be reported but have learned to eliminate risk factors that lead up to it. This involves providing economic means to the at-risk groups so that they may engage in income-generating activities rather than be susceptible to human trafficking. Raising awareness of and solving violence against children-related cases is also another way to reduce trafficking activities in the area
The third learning was that although human trafficking does not discriminate against individuals, they have learned that children and youth are the most at-risk group for human trafficking activities. They have resolved to improve and increase children and youth-related activities in the future to create more awareness as needed. The teachers are trained in awareness of the problem and the students who are involved in school clubs, are encouraged to share if they have any clues about it going on in their village. Students often teach their parents and the elderly people in the community and are a great support to one another.
We in Healing Touch are proud of our MMM Sisters and staff who work so courageously and still have time to reflect and learn from their experiences.
In Uganda, MMM have a base in Kansiira, a remote rural area, 180 kms from the capital city, Kampala.
It is an area that includes ten villages, with mud houses and thatched roofs. The people are poor, with subsistence farming, cattle rearing and fishing in nearby Lake Kyoga as the main sources of income. Most people have one or two meals a day, but the main problem is the lack of clean, safe, drinking water and electricity.
There is no piped water; sources are primarily Lake Kyoga & hand dug holes (dams) serving people & animals. Neither are safe for drinking. Previously small boats allowed people to go 1km inside the lake to fetch cleaner water, but in 2019, these boats were destroyed by the military. People were provided with big boats which are too heavy for women and children. There are only five functional hand pumps in the area. Women and children suffer as fetching water is their responsibility and involves long journeys.
MMM has always had the care of mothers and children as one of their principal concerns. In Kansiira, the maternal mortality rate is 368 per 100,00 live births (in UK & Ireland it is about 5 or 6 per 100,00). The infant mortality is 43 per 1000 live births ( in UK, under 4 per 1000). The need is great! The nearest government facility is 11 kms away, with no maternity or inpatient services and limited/no drug supply. There is also a very high rate of malaria among the population. After listening to the local people MMM has decided to work on two main fronts, clean water and maternal health.
They are working to provide for a bore hole to provide clean, safe water. This can also be used in activities of the health centre, with patients, caregivers and staff, promoting better hygiene and guarding against cross infection and disease.
The facility will provide preventive/curative health care services, community development programmes (IGA’s and women/youth empowerment), currently ongoing in temporary settings. Including out/inpatient (19 bed) services, Maternity & child welfare, diagnostic services (lab, HIV etc). Solar will be the main energy source, a renewable choice. This will enable access during emergencies, childbirth, and safe drug storage.
For the last few years, the MMM community in Brazil has been researching a new place of Mission. In February, 2023, like the disciples ‘we were sent’ – missioned to Alto Boa Vista, Mato Grosso! Full of excitement and enthusiasm, after a two-day journey, we arrived…the ‘seed’ was planted!
The next step was the nurturing of the ‘seed’ so as to give this new mission the best possible chance of flourishing. We began by committing ourselves to building our small international community. This is an ongoing process…coming from three different nationalities with different languages, cultures and ages. We are committed to keeping our hearts and minds open as we listen to the Spirit. We believe in the importance of letting events and experiences, encounters and people influence our way of being, our relationships and our faith. As our Constitutions rightly say, “Listen to the Spirit in the quietness of your heart, in scripture, the liturgy, persons and events”.
The gestation period continued with “Hearts on fire, feet on the move” (we have no car) as we mingled with the people – doing home visits, alternative therapies, youth ministry, catechesis, etc and began considering our ministry focus which is being refined and maturing.
Like every gestation, we have had moments of great joy and a belief that this is where God wants MMM to be at this time. We also have had the ‘morning sickness’, the unwelcome ‘cramps’, the unexpected ‘contraction’ and then the consolation that the ‘infant in utero’ is still ‘kicking’… there is movement. Where there is movement there is life and life is God’s Spirit. We are confident that God’s Spirit is with us guiding us to bring this mission to birth.
MMM Community Alto Boa Vista
By Sr. Otibhor Uwagbale, MMM
The MMM Mukuru Health Program is situated in Mukuru Kwa Njenga, a slum in Nairobi. We offer a wide range of services and almost all our clients/patients are residents from the slum where there is abject poverty and deplorable living conditions. Irrespective of our location, we have committed ourselves to guaranteeing the best quality service we can afford at our level. This means ensuring that our services are efficient, effective and up to date with government regulations. To this end, over the years, we have worked hard to ensure that the different recommended policies were put in place and regularly updated. We installed an Electronic Patient Management System to ensure that we have efficiency in the delivery of our services and safety of clients’ data. This also means that the waiting time of clients was cut by half. Of course, despite all these, we couldn’t have achieved this feat, without the dedication of our highly qualified and passionate staff who continuously challenge themselves to live daily the MMM core values in their relationships with each other and the clients.
In recognition of our efforts, the Kenyan Ministry of Health in 2017, selected MMM-Mukuru Health Program, as one of the facilities for training on the Kenyan Quality Model for Health (KQMH) in Nairobi County. This model is a conceptual framework for an Integrated Approach to improved quality of health care. It holistically and systematically addresses a range of organisational quality issues with the main aim of delivering positive health impacts.
After this training, we identified a Quality Improvement (QI) focal person and QI coach to lead. We formed departmental Work Improvement Teams (WIT) depending on service areas and Quality Improvement Team (QIT) to spearhead. We use the 6S model of Sort, Set, Shine, Standardise, Sustain, and Safety, during our WIT meetings to identify gaps and find ways to improve. The WIT and QIT meetings are held monthly.
MMM Mukuru’s journey into Quality Improvement Awards
After the training in 2017, MMM- Mukuru was selected to participate in the Health Service Delivery Award in the whole of Nairobi County in 2018. Some of the parameters for this competition includes: Leadership, Human Resources, Policies and Guidelines, Facility Infrastructure, Supplies management, Equipment management, Transport management, Referral System, Records & HMIS, Financial Management, Outpatient services, IPC (infection prevention and control), Laboratory, Pharmacy.
We competed with other facilities of Level 2 Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) in Nairobi County. We won 3rd position.
In 2019, we were also selected to participate in the same competition and we won 2nd position. Due to COVID19, the competition was not held in 2020 and 2021.
In 2022, our facility did not participate because we were still recovering from the effects of the demolitions that had happened to us.
This year, 2023, despite our challenges, we chose to participate in this year’s award and by the grace of God we emerged the WINNER – level 2 Faith Based Organization in Nairobi (1st position). We were awarded a Trophy and certificates.
We feel very fulfilled that our efforts to continue to provide quality healthcare to the people of Mukuru, through the provision of quality Health services guided by our MMM core values have been recognised by not just the people we serve, but also by the government of Nairobi County, Kenya.
We are forever grateful to God for bringing us this far. The journey was not easy but with determination and focus, we made it and we believe that this will only inspire us to do more.
Torugbene is in the Catholic diocese of Bomadi in Delta State of Nigeria. It is a village in the creeks of the Niger Delta. Fishing is a great occupation here. The people do bits of farming wherever they can find a piece of land.
During the rainy season, the roads are quite challenging with potholes filled with water that one stops to think of where to put the tires of the vehicle so as not to get stuck on the road, or where to put one’s foot on plywood or jumping from one steppingstone to another used to navigate the muddy and slippery road or footpaths. Although the road (not tarmacked) from Bomadi to Torugbene is completed, you can only drive to a primary school field and park your vehicle before trekking the rest of the way to your house. One essential commodity here is gumboots! The stranger needs a walking stick (or the hand of a resident) for support to navigate the roads.
There is one major road that runs through the market. Others are pathways to homes, private schools and churches in Torugbene which are not suitable for cars. The people use tricycles and motorbikes where it is possible to do so. Otherwise, they trek. The Sisters have a boat funded by a donor agency and it is used for the outreach programme to villages in the creeks. There is no electricity in Torugbene except a few scattered solar panels mounted by the government at some strategic points. The people who can afford them have small generators. The Sister’s house and clinic are surrounded by water with fish, tall grass, croaking frogs especially at night, two churches and mosquitoes! Living and ministering here is a great adventure in faith.
A section of the land on which the MMM house is built has been sand-filled and this enabled them to build what is known as a ‘Monkey Bridge’ with plywood starting from the beginning of our house to the clinic. The Sisters, staff, and the sick use this bridge to reach the clinic. I understand from one of the sisters that the monkey is skillful in its movement and hardly falls off from any height so, humans have to be careful walking on it irrespective of how narrow it is. However, the bridge is wider these days because of visitors for whom it might be their first time to walk on such a creation.
The front of the clinic facing the major road from Bomadi to Torugbene is water-logged with tall grass as you will see in the picture below. This will be another important route to the clinic for clients from neighbouring villages but it has to be sand-filled, a culvert built and two pavements constructed for use by pedestrians, motorbike, tri-cycle and vehicles to access the clinic by neighbouring villages. On one occasion, a very sick patient was brought in by canoe and they made their way through the water covered by grass.
The Sisters do antenatal care, outpatients, and outreach. The six prevalent diseases in the area are Malaria; Typhoid; Diarrhoea; Malnutrition; Measles and Skin infections. There is a great need to do an aggressive campaign about immunisation because they have lost people in the community to Tuberculosis and other contagious but preventable diseases.
The difficulties and challenges:
• It is quite a distance from Torugbene to towns for businesses such as banking, purchasing of drugs, and going to their nearest community which is in Benin City. They need a vehicle e.g. Hilux because of the bad roads.
• Teenage pregnancies and school dropouts are challenges among the youth.
• It is difficult to get professional health personnel and staff to work in the creeks.
• The economic situation of the country is affecting the people badly and they cannot afford their bills even though it isn’t much.
• The clinic is surrounded by water, and it is difficult for the patients to access the clinic.
• We cannot store vaccines at the clinic due to a lack of electricity and insufficient sunlight to charge the solar batteries. The batteries are also in need of replacement. Proposals were written for Solar batteries and activities like outreach etc. One Funding Agency has given USD25,000. Another proposal has been submitted for Euro 45,000. Still awaiting a response. There will still be a shortfall as the total cost is Euro 103,625. It is costing more because of the terrain.
• The front of the clinic needs to be sand-filled to create easy access to more people and a proper estimate for the work will be done during the dry season.
The Christmas Craft Fair proceeds are going towards this project.
From St. Mary’s Hospital, Eleta, Nigeria
The trouble with having our clinics and hospitals in remote areas is the difficulty of recruiting staff to work in areas difficult to access with little or no public transport. This was the dilemma faced by St. Mary’s Hospital in Eleta, Nigeria. Without staff how can you run a busy general hospital?
With the generous support of donations from Irish donors, a new staff building is underway. We MMMs could tell you the difference it will make, but what better than hearing the words coming from the staff themselves?
Christiana Elewe: I especially want to thank MMM Sisters and the donors from Ireland for their support towards this staff Building. Having accommodation within the hospital grounds will help reduce the high salary demand from the staff to cover the high cost of transportation from the long distance to work.
Nwaiwu Maureen: Thank you, Medical Missionaries of Mary, and the donors for supporting a staff residential building in our hospital. Until now, staff, especially doctors, who wish to work with us in our hospital could not because the environment is not conducive to stay, and they could not live there. With this building they can now stay, no need to travel a long distance before getting to work. We are so grateful.
Oginni Francis: With this building, our doctors will be able to offer quality and timely services, especially during emergencies in the night, and we will be able to keep top talents and experienced medical personnel who could not work in the hospital due to lack of accommodation. Thank you, Medical Missionaries of Mary Ireland and your donors, for making our dreams come to pass!
Tinuoye Christiana: Living in the staff quarters will help prevent staff having an accident on their way to work and give them peace of mind at work. They will now work with full concentration without any fear of the unknown on the road. Thanks to MMM Ireland.
Nzemeka Tonymartins: The staff will be more committed and focused now because MMM has helped us to take away one of our greatest challenges. We really appreciate your support. Thank you.
By Sr. Prisca Ovat, MMM
Coming to the end of my mission in Kenya, global warming was my last topic with the group of high school students I mentored. I asked them each to write a letter to future generations. What would they like to say? It is quite fascinating to read their thoughts on this global menace. I found them emotional and worth sharing as we are drawing to the close of another year.
“We are sorry for your suffering. It is not that we do not know but the world tends to assume everything told until it comes upon us. Maybe in time to come, you are not going to have a place to live, or a life to enjoy due to the mess that we did. Please take care of the environment. Planting trees may be seen as an outdated thing but very important in human life. Please be generous to the environment.”
“Hey there future, I would like to talk to you about many several things, but first, our world is in danger right now. May you find peace and may God grant you good health.”
“I am writing this letter to inform you, our future people, about what is coming. There will be an unusual earth, but I would like you to take care.”
“I wish the world can change the way it behaves now to avoid global warming. I really don’t want to see you suffer because of our deeds.”
“My dear future generation, there are a lot of things happening right now in our world. The world is changing, and we are the cause of it. It may somehow feel like we are ignorant of it, but it is due to our lack of consciousness. We do not know who or what you might turn out to be, but don’t worry, it’s all going to be okay.”
“Take care of yourself and the future for a better tomorrow.”
“There will be direct sunlight due to the destruction of the ozone layer leading to drought and famine. People would develop skin cancer from direct UV rays.”
“Rapid growth of industries has led to excess emission of CO2 which destroys the ozone layer leading to global warming. The scientists should look for a better way apart from the use of industries to produce goods else everything on the beautiful earth will be destroyed, and where will the next generation live?”
“Hey, I would just wish that we live exemplary lives because the world keeps changing and we don’t know what may happen next. Remember that challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”
“My concern is that I don’t know if we will continue to live for long because of the things we do. We continue to ruin our world with earthly things, and I do not know what the future will be like. If I get to have children in the future, I would like to encourage them not to destroy our world because they will not have a place to stay. Let us continue protecting our world.”
“Take care of yourselves because the world might be ending very soon.”
“The world is changing rapidly. How will you survive this chaos and drama?”
“Let us use our today to change our tomorrow. Every deed has its consequences. The desired change starts with you. Nothing changes when nothing changes. The world is a dangerous place to live in because of those who do nothing about the evil committed against it.”
From the Form 4’s
As the world concentrated recently on the prevention and elimination of Covid-19 other diseases can be forgotten. Malaria is one of these. Recent good news from WHO (October 2021) on a malaria vaccine for children can bring great improvement to the global picture. However, disruption in services due to the Covid- 19 pandemic threatens the progress made in the last two decades.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO):
· In 2021, there were an estimated 247 million cases of malaria worldwide. This is an increase on the 2019 figure, 229 million cases.
· The estimated number of malarial deaths stood at 619, 000 in 2021.
· Children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group; in 2021 they accounted for 80% of all malaria deaths in Africa.
Sister Nkeiruka Edochie works in Lagos, Nigeria, in a poor urban area called Amukoko. She explains the situation in her district. “Malaria is a major disease burden in the area. Children and pregnant women are the most vulnerable. Plasmodium falciparum is the dominant malaria species. The densely populated slum area where we are is a high-risk area for malaria.” One case Sister Nkeiruka relates is of a three-year-old child brought to the clinic by his mother. The child had fever, coughing, and catarrh, as well as feeling cold for a week. The child looked weak and dull. The mother had tried to medicate the child herself but with no result. The clinic immediately took steps to reduce the child´s temperature and diagnosed malaria with a blood test. The child received treatment with anti-malarial drugs. She also started an antibiotic for an accompanying respiratory infection. The mother came back a week later with the child for review. She was cheerful and grateful to God and to the Clinic for the child’s full recovery. The temperature was normal, and the child looked healthy and was playful with smiles.
Prevention of malaria is the key factor in the control of the disease. In Amukoko, there is health education both within and outside the clinic on how to prevent the breeding spaces of mosquitoes. This helps the elimination or reduction of the transmission. Environmental cleanliness is very important to prevent the growth and development of mosquitoes. In a slum area, the disposal of waste and basic sanitation are huge problems. The clinic staff encourages the use of insect repellent and treated mosquito nets. Potholes on the roads are filled and cans and buckets are not left uncovered. Bushes are cut and grasses are trimmed to prevent breeding grounds. People are advised to seek medical advice if they notice malaria symptoms like fever and chills, headache, weakness, bitter taste, body aches etc.
In Mile Four Hospital, Abakaliki, Nigeria, Sister Chiagoziem Onwuzuruike is a medical doctor. Set in a rural area, patients coming to Mile Four are at a higher risk than urban dwellers. The children she sees on a daily basis are also from low-income families. These are more at risk than children from wealthier families. Sister Chiagoziem also talks about prevention. Health education happens at outpatient and antenatal clinics. There is early treatment and prophylaxis of pregnant women. The Government provides the treated mosquito nets, and the hospital distributes them.
In Tanzania, East Africa, Sister Maria Borda worked as a doctor in Makiungu Hospital for many years. Currently, she is working in Nangwa. She explains the situation in Tanzania and the government schemes for prevention. Malaria infection during pregnancy is a major public health problem in Tanzania. Pregnancy reduces women’s immunity. Thus, they are more susceptible to diseases, including malaria infection. Maternal malaria increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, maternal anaemia, premature delivery, intrauterine growth retardation, severe disease and death.