In the song “Stones in the River,” singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer ponders that “most of us will never know where our best intentions go.” Donors to the Ministry With the Poor Fund do so with excellent intentions, but they often don’t see how their generosity ripples into a continually growing circle of love and action.
Consider the Kyembogo Holy Cross Health Centre in Kirinda, Uganda. With funds from Ministry With the Poor, this small hospital and clinic opened in a house in 1998, providing health services to a region that had none. Over the next three years, the center’s patient population quadrupled. The sisters built a larger structure (now comprising 30 beds) to meet the needs of the community. Later funding brought vital equipment like an X-ray machine and an incubator for newborns.
Then one day a few years back, an applicant walked in for a midwife position. Certified in her skills, she had been volunteering elsewhere for the past year while her job search went unfulfilled. But her fortunes changed that day when she entered the door of the Kyembogo Holy Cross Health Centre.
A midwife’s love and kindness
Now three years into her role as a midwife, Ritah Komuhendo has delivered well over 700 babies and loves her job. With a good and steady income, Ritah helps pay for her younger siblings’ school fees so they can continue their education. As the firstborn, she takes her senior role seriously, encouraging her brothers and sisters, as well as neighbor children, to study hard. In fact, she herself will need to soon take her own advice as she pursues the level of Registered Midwife with Diploma.
Ritah’s kind hands and loving heart flow into the lives of many women in ways that are typically not a midwife’s responsibility. When a new mother was stranded at the center without transportation, Ritah came through. When another mother had no home to return to, Ritah gave shelter until more permanent arrangements were found. When an inpatient mother had no family at her side, Ritah brewed tea and made meals to keep her nourished.
“Ritah is an inspiration to other young women,” says Sister Angelica Birungi, CSC, former director of the center. “She has touched the lives of many mothers and has encouraged fathers to participate with their wives in building their families.”
Even when her job poses risks, Ritah does not waver. There was a fearful moment when she accidentally pricked herself with a needle from an HIV/AIDs-infected patient. But no harm came to her, and she continues to help prevent HIV transmission from mother to child by conducting screenings.
Through it all, Ritah is there to assist women along the messy, painful, exhilarating process that is birth. She has held hands, wiped brows, and let them know she cares, particularly when a baby is stillborn or dies soon after birth from complications.
It is not an easy job, but it is a tremendously fulfilling one. As she says, “I am cooperating with God to bring new life to the world.”
In science, it is called the butterfly effect—the idea that a very small occurrence can eventually trigger a much larger result. With just a few funds in their pockets two decades ago, Holy Cross sisters in Uganda began offering health services to a community that was desperately in need. Today, they are providing employment that in turn pays for children’s educations—an opportunity that will ultimately return to further benefit the community. This is what your donations do. They build upon each other. They make the world better … and closer. Thank you.
If you’d like to support this ministry or others, please visit our Support Us page to learn the many options available for giving.
Fruits of Holy Cross
Every month, Fruits of Holy Cross shares the good news of the ministries of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Our “fruits” are nourished not just by the sisters’ labors or the seed of faith planted by our founder Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, they are watered by our many prayer partners, donors and benefactors—by you.