A Ugandan mother holds her newborn baby wrapped in a blue blanket She sits next to a new maternity bed recently donated to Matany hospital

A young monther holds her newborn child next to some new maternity beds. These beds were purchased for Matany Hospital in Uganda in 2019. These are the same types of beds Agiermach Health Center so desperately needs.

HEATHER KAUFMAN is director of development for the Comboni Missionaries, North American Province.

By: Heather Kaufman
This story first appeared in Comboni Missions Magazine winter 2021-22.

I want you to take a moment and think about the joy of having a child—especially here in the United States. Often when preparing for the birth of a child the mother and child are monitored closely by a doctor where the mother receives nutritional information, up-to-date tests, and ultrasounds to ensure everyone is as healthy as possible. When it is time for the bundle to arrive many Americans choose to have the child in a hospital where entire teams of doctors and nurses are there to provide state-of-the-art medical care. When I was preparing for the birth of my children I did not have to give much thought as to whether or not there would be a bed available or a clean safe space for me to have my child. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of the Agiermach Health Center in Uganda.

Agiermach Health Center III is in the Nebbi Diocese and is run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Currently, the health center has very few beds and only two maternity beds available. Of the beds in use, all are antiquated. In fact, most patients are treated on the floor of the center using mats the patients brought themselves. Most patients of the facility are subsistence farmers with an annual income of $90. Can you even imagine being in labor, traveling by foot to a health center carrying a mat, because you don’t know if one of the maternity beds—or any bed—will be available, just so you are able to give birth in a medical facility? Not having something as basic as a solid bed to receive medical care is mind-blowing to me—yet it is a reality for most in this rural part of Uganda.

After learning this story I immediately wanted to help. The idea of a clean, safe bed while receiving medical care seems like a reasonable request and something everyone should be afforded. But what can I do when the center needs $10,000 USD in order to provide the proper beds? I don’t have that sort of money in my budget to provide such a sum. But then I thought about a very important group of friends to the Comboni Missionaries…our monthly faith promise partners. Each month, these donors contribute to our organization. Some friends give $10 a month while others give $1000 monthly. They do what they can, and it adds up! No, I could not personally write a check for $10,000 to help the center out, but I can give $50 a month which adds up to $600 a year. If sixteen friends do the same—in a year Agiermach has new beds.

You know the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” That is exactly how our monthly faith promise partners do it. They give what they can and together as a whole they make a huge difference. If one partner chooses to give $25 a month, by the end of the year they have contributed enough to purchase four water filters, which provides over four million gallons of clean water. That $25 may not seem like much, but to the families who now have access to clean water, it is everything.

As we welcome a new year, I encourage you to think about becoming a monthly faith promise partner at www.ComboniMissionaries.org/give. You truly can make a huge difference—even if it is one bite at a time.

For more information, please feel free to contact me at kaufman@combonimissionaries.org or 513-474-4997.

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