THIS KIND OF GAZE SAVES EVERYTHING FOR ME!

My name is Lugamba Vicent, a child of Meeting Point International (MPI). I stay in Naguru, one of the cultural centers of MPI. I stay with 2 brothers Jimmy Torach and Francis Munvaneza, and another adult Emmanuel Kintu, our guardian. We are not specifically of the same tribe or lineage but we’re brothers linked together by a heartfelt relationship which was born from an encounter with Meeting Point International (MPI) and we’re a happy family.

I joined MPI in 2013, it found me hopeless especially about my studies due to the fact that my mother, a single parent, could not manage to pay for me in a secondary school. My father had run away from his responsibilities ever since 2005 up to now, because of alcoholism which had created a lot of violence at home. Therefore, it was our mother toiling and moiling to put food on the table. It was not easy but she always did her best. When I finished primary school in 2012, it seemed impossible to join high school and I was left in front of the face of uncertainty. During that moment of uncertainty about my future, God surprises me with a gift of Aunt Rose who offered to take me to school and I was taken to a very beautiful school, Luigi Giussani high school, in 2013. Here I experienced a lot of beauty and a different kind of education that embraced the whole of me. It was not only an education to get a good job in the future but one that introduced me to the totality of life. I spent 6 years in high school and finished in 2018. In this new family, I always feel loved, important and hopeful. The way she gazed at me at first sight was different yet very attractive, she embraced me as her own like she had known me for years! There is a kind of freedom I have attained in being a son to this family. I am now pursuing a degree in dental surgery at Makerere University. Ever since 2013, it has been a continual journey of discovering myself and the truth about reality. This is helping me to live life responsibly. I now have many mothers, that is, the women of meeting point international, who are embracing me always as their biological son and are educating me a lot through their simplicity and openness in their hearts.

let me share with you one of the things that struck me and educated me at the same time during the period of COVID-19 total lockdown of the country. In that period, almost everyone was hit down financially and it was only survival for the fittest especially for the low-income earners. Everyone was struggling to get something to provide for their families, and whatever little thing they managed to get, it was theirs and could not share with anyone because it was little. This seemed cogent to me, but here comes a very different experience that reawakened me and proposed an attractive way of living, a different mentality and a new knowledge.
At a certain point during the lockdown, the government decided to distribute some food to sustain people in different areas. However, it was a struggle to get this offer due to a lot of corruption among the trusted food distributors, this also affected us and we did not receive the offer despite the fact that we had been registered for it. A few days after that event, about four women of MPI came on different days to visit us and shared with us the little food they had received from the government. They did not know that we had missed but they still thought about us! This was a great provocation to me and left me naïve because, in the first place, I knew that it is by having much that we can give. Instead, for the mothers, it is very clear that no man has nothing to offer. It is not about being rich or poor, having much or little, but it is about the heart and a relationship with another (you are our children) and living and offering yourself for the one you love. This experience educated me a lot and arose in me an urgent admiration for their eye in front of reality because this kind of eye saves every moment and everything. I am thankful to God who embraces me every instant through this family of Meeting Point International, I do not take for granted this gift of belonging. Indeed, we are one heart and we are international. I know there are a thousand “thank you’s” from the so many lives you have touched in many ways. Thank you Aunt Rose for embracing me always as a son.

( In the photo is Jimmy to the left, Francis in the middle and Vicent to the right)

“I thank God that He gave me you” – Aron

Aron dances with his sister Priscilla

Ciao Aunt Rose,

Hope you are well, I write this to tell you that I am very happy and thankful for everything that is now happening in my life, first of all for my new contract 2020, secondly for the love and care that you have shown me, thirdly for loving my family and lastly for not being only a Director but friend. Every day I ask myself where I would be if I didn’t meet Meeting point international, where would I be if I didn’t meet Aunt Rose <maybe I would even have become nobody, maybe drunkard, maybe a thief or even a drug user but Meeting Point international gave me a new life, a starting point for me and my family and a new chance to live again with a reason and a meaning. A lot of challenges and bad things has been happening in my life and in the life of my siblings in the past years, for example, the loss of both my parents that broke us down completely to zero, we became hustlers that we could do any job just to survive and to pay for home bills which weren’t the case before. I was lost, broken and hopeless. All my relatives run away from us thinking that we are just a burden. But now see, we are still here pushing on with life and we can still afford to live tomorrow, I thank God the He gave me you and you gave me life and were to start from and you introduced me to a group of people who even don’t know who I am but love more and more. For sure working with Meeting Point International has made me somebody today, the education that I have received and still receiving from you, Alberto and the movement is very beautiful. The new friends that I have met in the movement and in the office have changed my life and have given me joy. Now my family has met a new family that loves them. Finally, we have found a place to belong.

Thank you, Aunt Rose.

Aron Wokorach.

ANYWAR RICHARD’S STORY

ANYWAR RICHARD’S STORY

It was on 22/01/2020 when Anywar Richard one of the children once under the DSP support came with his mother Angwech Mary to MPI main office in Kitintale. His mother told Aunt Rose the director of MPI that her son takes too much alcohol that has made him fall sick. He was really badly off with his hands wounded and he was so weak. Angwech had no money to treat him but when she approached Aunt Rose she was advised to take Richard to Butabika hospital.

Therefore, Aunt Rose requested me to accompany Richard to the hospital. When we reached Butabika, we managed to see the doctor who asked him questions. She asked him how much quantity of waragi (alcohol) he took per day, the good thing he was open and told her everything. He said he could not count how much since he begins drinking very early in the morning until midnight and begins every day. The doctor asked him whether he smokes and he said he smokes mjanji a Tobacco for Indians. The doctor also asked him where he gets money for buying it because it’s expensive, but he didn’t give an answer. Then the doctor decided to admit him in the Alcohol and Drug unit and he accepted. When I went back to check on him after five days, there was a big change. The wounds had dried up, he was very happy and he promised me that he will never drink alcohol or smoke again. He told me that doctors counseled him well. I also got a chance to talk to the doctor and he told me that they gave him good counseling and they were very happy about his response. He was on medication and he looked very okay. The doctors were also very happy because he was helping them to carry patients who disturbed them. I Left the hospital and promised to pick him on 3/02/2020 the day the doctor suggested that he would be discharged.

Anywar poses for a photo

On 3rd 02, 2020 I went back to pick Richard from the hospital. I went with some clothes and shoes that Aunt Rose gave me to take to him. In fact, they were of great help because the clothes and shoes that he went with had been torn by the other patients (the mad people). He was dressed in the uniform of patients. When I reached there they had changed him to another ward of the patients who be waiting to be discharged. One patient took me there and when Richard saw me from a distance, he came out with a big smile and welcomed me well and showed me his hands that had completely healed. The wounds had dried completely and his body was ok. He told me he wants to go out of the hospital and appreciate Aunt Rose for what she has done for him and promise her that he will never take alcohol again. Then on that very day, he was discharged from the hospital and went to his home in Kireka, Banda B1. Therefore on the next day 4/02/2020 on a Tuesday, We had a women’s meeting in Kireka where he also joined us, knelt down before Aunt Rose and appreciated her and promised her that he will never drink alcohol or to smoke Mjanji anymore.  He said he has been working in a club but he will never go back because he may be tempted to drink again. He is looking for a job in order to take care of his family. Richard has a wife and two children.  He is not renting since he stays in the house of his father.

I would like to thank Aunt Rose for her efforts towards helping Richard though the rest of the society had abandoned him for his character. With Aunt Rose, he was not reduced to that and this helped him to at least understand value of his life as he even promised to stop drinking Alcohol. We hope that this awareness will stay with him forever in order for him to live a better life. However, for continued checkups, the doctors advised that I take back Richard on 3rd March so they can review him farther. I also appreciate the doctors of Butabika for the care they gave to Richard.

From Kabanyana Jackline, a social worker of MPI.

REINTRODUCING DIGNITY BACK INTO THE TEACHING PROFESSION IN UGANDA

Mauro Giacomazzi vividly remembers a time when he was observing an English class for the senior 1 students at the Luigi Giussani High School in Kampala, Uganda.

Gladys, a form 6 student at Luigi Giussani High School in Kampala, says the teaching methodologies of Luigi Giussani Institute of Higher Education changed her life

The students were struggling to understand the difference between common nouns and proper nouns for weeks, and so the teacher made the executive decision to take them outside and use nature as a teaching tool.

When they were all gathered outside, the teacher asked the students to identify common nouns that they could see.

“Their answers were ‘blackboard,’ ‘pen,’ ‘desk,’ paper’,” Giacomazzi said. But when asked again to identify these common nouns in nature, they could not do it.

For Giacomozzi, this is a prime example of how the Ugandan education system can fail students.

“They did not understand the concept. They just knew that if there were common nouns, this was the list of things to say,” he said. “And this has a number of implications on teaching…because primary school teachers are teaching to the exam.”

This problem of teachers teaching to the exam, rather than actually educating students, is found throughout Uganda. And Giacomozzi and his team at the Luigi Giussani Institute of Higher Education (LGIHE), are trying to address crucial educational deficiencies of quality, school management, accountability and teaching efficiency within Uganda’s context. Through their work with local schools, and their own Luigi Giussani High School, LGIHE had been working to create innovative pedagogies that advance how teachers in Uganda actually teach their students.

“In Uganda, the teachers have lost the dignity of their profession. When you talk to them, they tell you ‘I am not working, I am just teaching’,” Giacomazzi said. “This is because teaching in Uganda has become mere…transcription of information from the notebook of the teacher’s notebook to the blackboard, and from the blackboard to the notebook of the students. So if you reduce education to this, it is not a fulfilling job.”

By understanding that the teachers in Uganda need to rediscover the meaning of education and their role in it, LGIHE created the Reclaiming National Exams to Widen Achievements in Learning (RENEWAL) in Ugandan Secondary Schools.

This [Partnership-funded] project aims to change the Ugandan national education system because “we believe that with a different kind of examination, teachers will be compelled to introduce a deeper understanding. and higher thinking pedagogical process for the students to pass.”

The long-term project works with teachers and school leadership in about 15 schools, including their own High School, to build student-teacher relationships, to understand the development and maturity of students, and to create student-focused and student-led teaching methodologies.

Gladys, a senior 6 student at Luigi Giussani High School, says that these teaching methodologies have been life-changing for her. She joined the school six years ago, after attending a government school for her primary education.

“Initially, I had no goal in life. Now I want to be a teacher,” she said, having been inspired by her own teachers here at the brightly colored school. The place was built by over 2000 mothers from the Acholi Quarter in Kampala who did not believe the local schools were providing an adequate education for their children.

“In my previous school, the teachers looked at you like an animal or a commercial asset because you have to pay them,” she continued. “The moment you made a mistake, you were beaten. They didn’t take the initiative to correct you.”

It was the simplest things that affected Gladys, like her new teachers knowing her name or even asking her how she was doing. She said that these things made the biggest difference in helping her see her value in this world.

“Teaching is not only about what a teacher writes on the blackboard, but about wanting their students to understand the meaning of life,” she said. “This way the student can face the realities before them with an open heart and a curious mind.”

Helping Hearts Heal: Ugandan Nurse to Receive Ford Family Award

Author: Ashley Rowland

Rose Busingye during her meetings with the women

A Ugandan nurse who founded an organization for impoverished women and children with HIV/AIDS will receive the 2019 Ford Family Notre Dame Award for International Development and Solidarity this month at the University of Notre Dame.

Rose Busingye is president of Meeting Point International, a Kampala-based nongovernmental organization that provides medical care, schooling, and other services that help patients increase their self-sufficiency and develop social networks.

MPI’s mission emphasizes emotional as well as physical healing. In particular, Busingye focuses on helping patients recognize their inherent dignity and worth in a society where they are often shunned because of their medical diagnosis.

“Rose recognizes that she needs to treat the inside as well as the outside of the person,” said Rev. Robert Dowd, CSC, director of the Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity. “She’s not a heart surgeon, but she helps heal hearts.”

Busingye will receive the award from the Ford Program, part of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, on Sept. 12 at the Hesburgh Center auditorium. The ceremony will be followed by an armchair discussion with Busingye on “The Value of a Life: AIDS, Outcasts, and the Search for Dignity in Uganda,” hosted by Faculty Fellow Clemens Sedmak, a professor of social ethics at the Keough School of Global Affairs.

Rose, he said, “makes it a point to see a person as someone with something to give to the world. She makes sure that everybody understands that these women are amazing people and so much more than patients suffering from a chronic condition.”

The Ford Family award is given annually in recognition of substantial contributions to human development through research, practice, public service, or philanthropy.

According to Dowd, Busingye embodies the Ford Program’s research and teaching focus on integral human development, a holistic model of human flourishing rooted in Catholic social thought that emphasizes the importance of being connected to others.

“Rose is doing the kind of work that promotes integral human development and those of us seeking to do the same have much to learn from her efforts,” he added. “She accompanies women in ways that free them up and helps them to make the most of their God-given potential.”

Busingye, who is also a midwife, started in MPI in 1993 after meeting HIV-positive women in the slums of Kampala who refused to take antiretroviral medications that could slow the progress of their disease. They believed their lives were meaningless; Busingye sought to convince them otherwise by telling the women they were loved and by creating a de facto family for them within MPI.

She explained on MPI’s website the philosophy behind her work: “The greatest need of a human being is the need of belonging….MPI creates simple environments where each person can find it easier to belong and experience love.”

Today, MPI serves approximately 2,000 women and more than 1,000 children, offering services including counseling, health and hygiene courses, adult literacy classes, and microcredit loans. It also runs an orphanage and operates a bead-making enterprise that helps women earn money to support their families.

Dowd noted that many of the women assisted by MPI have experienced emotional or physical abuse, including rape. Some are from northern Uganda and were brutalized by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerilla movement that terrorized the region for more than 20 years starting in the mid-1980s.

Many of those women are ostracized not only because they are HIV positive because they are from the north and were forced by the LRA to serve as soldiers or sex slaves, he said.

Many of the women are angry, resentful, and lonely. One of Busingye’s strategies for helping them deal with their emotions is by simply listening to them: “By listening to them, she helps them to recognize that they are valued and that they have value,” he said.

Previous Ford Family award recipients have been well-known within the field of international development, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, Acumen CEO Jacqueline Novogratz; and Partners in Health.

By comparison, Busingye’s efforts have received relatively little attention.

“In giving this award to her, we’re trying to raise the awareness of important work that often goes unrecognized,” Dowd said. “Some of the best work going on in the world is where it’s not being recognized, where there’s not a lot of PR for it, where it’s not being backed by millions of dollars, and we want to highlight that work.”

In addition to helping people reflect on the importance of listening, Dowd added that the Ford Program hopes giving the award to Busingye will spark new questions for future research within the Keough School and its constituent units.

The Ford Family award is named in honor of University Trustee Emeritus Doug Ford ’66 and his wife Kathy, whose generosity helped establish the Ford Program.

The award presentation will be held at 5 p.m. in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium. The event is open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

Source: Kellog Institute