"He who saves one from the House of Israel is as if they have saved the whole nation." From George Mulcaire-Jones, M.D. Maternal Life International

People of Uganda.jpg

From Dr. George Mulcaire-Jones, Maternal Life International

I am reminded of the Jewish words, "He who saves one from the House of Israel  is as if they have saved the whole nation." After the workshop, I met the two mothers of the nursing/midwifery students MLI had sponsored. They were so profoundly grateful (the students were in school in different towns). One mother is single, her husband died of HIV and she is on antiretrovirals. There is no way she could pay for her son's education - Gonzaga and Paskazia knew her from Church. She cleans it and prays all of the time, and her prayer was that someone would help with her son's education.  She said today when I met her, that she will die happy if her two children can be educated.  The other mother is a peasant farmer with 9 children.  Two of her children are deaf mutes and one is apparently severely disabled. Her oldest daughter did very well in school and qualified to be accepted into nurse/midwifery school - but could not afford to go until we sponsored her.

The training went very well. The need and demand for these programs is so overwhelming.
We also met with the architect of St. Joseph Family Life Center. He went over all of the architecture plans and pictures with the MLU team and myself. (I have copies).  There is a lot of little miracles happening to make the land possible - turns out they are putting a tarmacked road to an Anglican Cathedral further up the road and with the paved road the price of the land has went way up. We bought it at the right time and it really is in an ideal location.  I have lots of video.

The spirituality of the people is amazing. God is such a part and parcel of their lives.  Faith is not an abstraction, but a living breathing reality for them. We gave out the rosaries today and thanks to everyone's generosity in having so many of them, there were no major riots.  The priest who concluded the ceremony also blessed them - so they have been doubly blessed.

Yes, we are a Church of the poor. I see that more clearly.  Perhaps Mary  was more literal than we thought when she said, "He has raised up the lowly." I can't say enough about the work that has been done by Maternal Life Uganda. Their ministry to marriage and the family has improved so many lives. The relationship we have had with them is truly one of solidarity in the Body of Christ.
Thanks to all who have made this work possible.  We can be at once proud and humble at what has happened through the good will and hard work of MLI.
Peace.

A Welcomed Arrival to Masaka, Uganda

A very quick blog as we have lost electricity. We arrived safely and traveled from Entebbe to Masaka. We unpackaged everything and the rosaries and sacramentals were joyously received – more pictures later. Liam is already a great ambassador- you can see the picture with kids. There is also a shot of Gonzaga and the land for St Joseph Center – it really is a great site. All is well – beautiful people and will write when there is more electricity.
Peace,
George

Traveling to Uganda

Butte to Uganda post 2: 200 lbs and 6 cylinders

Liam and are in the Salt Lake City Airport.  This young man is an enthusiastic traveler. He woke up with all 6 cylinders on full bore. He was disappointed he only could get up at 5 am instead of 4 am.  Yikes. I tried to talk the flight attendant into telling Liam talking was not allowed on the plane.  She didn’t go for it.  

A few things I thought about on the flight:

  1. We have 200 plus pounds of luggage – four 50 pound bags right on the limit.  They are carrying nearly a 1000 sets of beads for natural family planning instruction and probably close to that number of rosaries and other sacramental items. Thanks to everyone who made this possible. It was an honor and privilege to sort through the rosaries and medals that people donated – some of them were probably 50 years old. And the same with the holy cards. I felt the sacred ground: people who had used the rosaries in their prayers and mediation and in getting through life’s struggles.  I sensed a different language, the words and images of by-gone era were shaped by the sacred and not by social media or video games.  A philosopher once said, “we become what we are near to.”  Yes, we must become near to the sacred in our daily lives. To all those who gave their rosaries and medals: know they will have another life in Uganda and Tanzania as they are held, prayed with and treasured.

  2. Last night I had a delivery at about 9:20 pm – not too late!  The baby had passed meconium (a fetal bowel movement during labor) which can cause fetal asphyxia (compromised oxygen delivery) in occasional circumstances.  We were easily able to manage this in a modern obstetrical environment. We suction the baby’s nose and mouth with a simple bulb syringe and then if the baby is not breathing, then the upper airway and vocal cords are suctioned with a tube.  I did the simple maneuvers in delivery and the pediatrician nicely managed the airway.  The baby did fine.  Yet, in many places in Africa there could have been a different outcome: There would be no fetal monitor to assess how the baby tolerated labor, there may be no simple bulb syringe and there will be no resuscitation equipment. The baby well could have been severely compromised.  These kinds of simple things are what are needed to save the lives of mothers and babies in Africa.

We have a very practical way to share our pro-life ethos: To save the lives of mothers and babies through the training and equipment and support of basic obstetrical and newborn care.  We are grateful to those who make it possible.

Please know how much we appreciate your support. 

Preparing for Uganda

FROM BUTTE TO UGANDA

Welcome to Liam and I’s Uganda Blog.  Liam is my 14 year old son and self-appointed ambassador to Uganda.  Our trip officially began today with a blessing from Father Patrick Beretta and the congregation of Immaculate Conception Church in Butte, Montana. With this blessing, we surely have had the best start possible!

What is our mission?  It is the same as yours – “Peace.”  We want to share with our brothers and sisters in Uganda the peace that is the “necessary corollary of love,” gifted to us in Jesus Christ.  Liam will remind me that peace is not a string of words or conjectures.  Rather peace is an act of our body:  a smile, a hug, a look of compassion and concern, a leap, a dance, a hand bent over to lift up another. 

Our peace for this trip began in Butte, Montana.  We have a non-profit organization called Maternal Life International that has been working hard and doing its best to provide education in safe birth, HIV prevention and marriage and family life renewal since 1997.  One of the programs we developed is called “The Faithful House.” We initially developed “The Faithful House” in 2005 in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services. The program has now reached over 100,000 couples in many different African countries and Haiti.  We have three affiliates: Maternal Life Haiti, Maternal Life Tanzania and Maternal Life Uganda which provide grassroots, parish and community based training in the Faithful House and affiliated programs.

Our Ugandan team consists of five staff led by Gonzaga and Paskazia Lubega.  We have worked with the Lubega’s since 2003 and they have been the lead trainers for MLI and CRS in 12 different African countries. When you meet them, you are meeting Africa’s experts in marriage and family life,


As well as doing training, we are going to visit the future site of St. Joseph Family Life Center, a regional training center we are building in Masaka, Uganda.  We have purchased the land and are now working with the architect.  Here is a picture of the land being cleared.  

In our work with Gonzaga and Paskazia, we have seen that the key to authentic development for Africa is building healthy marriages and families.  We have seen with our own eyes the amazing things that happen when a couple comes together and renews and strengthens their marriage: they are faithful to each other and do not get AIDS, they are less vulnerable to food insecurity, they emerge out of poverty, they become better parents, alcoholism and domestic violence are reduced, couples become models of peace.  The message spreads: neighbors wonder out loud at the transformation that takes place after a couple goes through Faithful House training.  We inevitably here stories of neighbors coming to our trainers to ask what “potion has been given” when they see the husband helping his wife cook and clean, when they see the couple which previously was fighting  walking together and smiling, when they see both father and mother helping each other with the children.

Karen Brower.jpg

Here is Karen Brower: an artist, a designer, an overall amazing person. Karen is the artistic genius behind the new bead design and engineering.  She did this all coming off major shoulder surgery.

I could go on and on: Mike Hamblock who provided photography for our training manuals, Ray Rogers who provides all kinds of assistance and guidance to MLI, my brother John Jones who formatted the manuals, the many people who support our work financially, those who pray for us.  And most of all thanks to my wife Mary who is my best friend and teacher in peace.

I will leave you with an assignment. Order a book called “Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of the Heart” by Father Jacques Philippe. Read and reread it – it may change your life.

Liam says “get R’done” and “Go Butte, Montana.” We will keep you posted!

MLI Volunteers1.jpg


From the platform of The Faithful House, we have developed other programs that further peace.  We have developed couple and community education for safe birth practices – attending prenatal care,  delivering at a health care facility, good maternal nutrition, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV and exclusive breast feeding. All of these practices are enhanced if a husband is supportive of his wife and they work together. In the “journey of pregnancy” we don’t want women to travel alone!

Another program we have developed is to promote women and couple’s health through natural family planning.  We have found couples who go through the Faithful House program have a great desire to plan their families and space their children through natural means consistent with their cultural and religious traditions.  Did you know that one of the most common methods of family planning, Depo-provera, increases doubles the risk of HIV transmission!  This is frightening!  Rather than injecting women with hormones which have so many side effects, our healthy choice for couples is called “The Seven Day Bead Method of Natural Family Planning.” It teaches couples when in the cycle a woman is fertile and infertile. The couple tracks their fertility by placing a bead on each day of the cycle.  Here is a sample of the beads.  They can be used by women and couples of all educational levels.

In our mission of peace, we are going to “train the trainers” of the Faithful House and Seven Day Bead Method. We will have over 50 people including couples, midwifery instructors, doctors, pastoral care leaders, religious sisters and catechists who will be trained and take the program back to their communities coming.  Seven are coming from our affiliate in Tanzania and the rest from throughout Uganda.

Back to Butte.   What a wonderful community! What a gift of peace they have offered in helping us get ready for this trip. 

Here is Meg Bradshaw, MLI’s executive director (on the far right) and the team of volunteers she assembled who have spent so much time putting together our beads.  Without Meg, her husband Bryan and her two children, Jim and Joe, we would have never got off first base.  What a great, generous team – thank-you!

  Here is Father Thomas Haffey at St. Ann’s Parish, blessing rosaries and sacramentals that have been donated by so many people. Liam and I are going to share these with all of the members of the training.                    

 

Here is Father Thomas Haffey at St. Ann’s Parish, blessing rosaries and sacramentals that have been donated by so many people. Liam and I are going to share these with all of the members of the training.