Something occurred to me the other day.
We’ve made it.
It seems like an eternity since Michael and I were sitting opposite each other at a restaurant in Adelaide, sharing with each other our passion for Africa and our desire to move there and try to DO something one day. It was then that Michael mentioned his idea – then in the very initial stages – of ‘Kamwenge Maranatha’. I remember sitting there excitedly listening and sharing, ideas already swimming around in my head about the possibilities, about the logistics, about how to transform this vision into reality. And then, embarrassed, I sheepishly tried to bring myself back to reality. This was our first date – I didn’t even know Michael, let alone whether I could be a part of such a vision…
So here we are. Over 4 years later. I am writing this from my dining room table in our house, which is on the Marantha Health land, in Kamwenge. I spent the day out in a remote village with a colleague, meeting families and hearing their stories to build relationships which will form the beginnings of our community development program. Two weeks ago, we opened our ward, and now see many patients, many who are from far areas of Kamwenge. Our staff are working hard!
Maranatha Health has well and truly begun.
I am a little in awe, to be honest. I think Michael and I have been so busy with our heads down working hard over the past year we have forgotten to look up and see what is growing up around us. We have so often missed the twisting and turning of our vision, the first breaths of this living thing, the grand achievements, the God-inspired moments and coincidences, and most importantly, the proud ownership of Maranatha Health Uganda by our staff.
But the other day I became intensely aware of it. Of this living, functioning organisation that is so much a part of Michael and myself but growing far beyond who we are. I am amazed. That it has all actually happened. That God has taken our humble efforts and naive youthfulness and turned it into something great.
Something that is so defined by the people within…
More than anything I am amazed by the MH staff. The kind of people we have found and the way many of them have caught the vision is rewarding. We have asked a lot of them, much more than some workplaces ask of their staff.
We ask them to have passion for what they do, and give above and beyond
We ask them to take initiative and dream big dreams with us
We ask them to show compassion to the communities we serve
We ask them to be counter cultural on issues that matter – like the treatment of women, and some traditional health practices
And most importantly we ask them to contribute and invest themselves into this vision, so that they become leaders in their community.
Last month all of us celebrated our record breaking day (50+ patients) with a soda. Everyone was included. Everyone celebrated. Everyone seemed proud of the part they had played in getting us to where we are.
Our administration staff, who at times work long hours overtime to balance the books, count money at the end of the day, and are so committed to stretching MH funds as far as they can go…
Our clinical staff, who show the kind of care and compassion for patients that is a rarity in Ugandan health services, as well as high quality practice that sets a standard for other clinics in Kamwenge…
Our first community development worker, who has joyfully and skilfully accepted the challenge of trying relationally based community development, excited by the opportunity to employ creativity and innovation in our work…
Our grounds staff, our cleaners, our cook, our askaris, who are happy to work hard for an organisation where they have the opportunity to make a difference, to input and suggest and interact and have their say in an organisation that values each staff member…
I was talking to Kiiza the other day, a groundskeepers who was one of our first staff members, and helped build the clinic before that. He has now finished his 6 month probation. Like always, Kiiza’s positive outlook and appreciation re-energised me, as he pointed out how only 6 months ago, we had almost nothing to show for ourselves. He reminded me of how far we had come, and how much of a difference we are making.
He reminded me of the LIFE that is in Maranatha Health. God-breathed life.