In the course of its history, MLI’s programs have been used in 25 countries and have impacted hundreds of thousands of people. Currently, MLI is most active in the following countries.
In Uganda, we work closely with our affiliate Maternal Life Uganda. Since 2003, Maternal Life Uganda has been directed by Gonzaga and Paskazia Lubega. They are assisted by a lead training couple, Emmanuel and Sissy Kitayimbwa, numerous volunteers, and office manager Veronica Kaweesi.
We have multiple projects in Uganda:
1. Faithful House trainings and workshops are conducted throughout the country, including rural and isolated parts of the country.
2. Women and couples are provided with education and support for safe birth and healthy child spacing through the Couple Bead Method of Natural Family Planning (NFP). Training in Couple Beads builds on the work of The Faithful House and is welcomed by couples as a respectful, responsible, and shared method of family planning.
3. We are building St. Joseph Family Life Center, a national and East African regional training center for secure families and safe births. The center is located just outside of Masaka on a beautiful three acre piece of land. Our dream is that the center will be a place where we can train couples, obstetrical care providers and pastoral personnel in all of our programs: Safe Passages, The Faithful House and the Couple Bead Method of NFP. Here we can provide “training for trainers” so that these programs and models can be brought back to hospitals, health centers and communities in Uganda and the adjacent countries of Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Rwanda.
4. We are working with our Maternal Life Uganda team and volunteers to provide both on-site and distance learning for upgrading training and resource assistance in essential obstetrical care in order to reduce maternal, perinatal and newborn deaths.
We have worked with Maternal Life Haiti since 2013. Our programs are directed and administered by Mr. Jacquecius Joseph and supported by a lead training couple, Mr. and Mrs. Martial Verdieu, as well as a number of volunteer couples. Maternal Life Haiti works closely with the Archdiocese of Cap Haitien, offering outreach workshops in the 46 parishes of the Archdiocese.
In Haiti, we support the following:
1. Each month, a week long workshop is held for couples, providing marriage enrichment and reconciliation through The Faithful House program (known as La Mason Fidele’ in Kreyol) in a community or parish in Northern Haiti.
2. Couples who participate in The Faithful House program also learn about natural family planning, pre-conception care, and steps to a safe birth.
3. Couples who complete The Faithful House program form small groups which keep meeting and supporting each other in their new way of life.
4. Counseling and support to couples and families with individual challenges and problems.
5. Working with the Archdiocese of Cap Haitien and with another Montana based non-profit organization called “Wood for Haiti,” we have developed a unique and exciting project called “Secure Foundations” in which salvaged wood from Montana’s beetle killed forests can be used for constructing safe and secure homes and buildings for Haiti. (Haiti is 99% deforested and thus buildings are generally made out of poor quality cement, making them vulnerable to natural disasters). Wood for Haiti has built the first prototype house which is waiting to be shipped and assembled in Haiti. Our Haitian partners have worked to get land donated for the pilot house.
Our newest affiliate, Maternal Life Tanzania, is headed by Paschal and Melania Maziku. Their initial work involved an extensive survey of needs in Tanzania related to marriage, family life and maternal health care. The survey involved interviews with over 70 people and institutions involved in maternal and public health care, education and family life ministries and clearly demonstrated the profound need for programs like The Faithful House and Safe Passages.
Maternal Life Tanzania now implements the following programs:
1. Faithful House training in the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam as well as surrounding rural dioceses.
2. Education and support for the Couple Bead Method of NFP.
3. A weekly call in program on marriage and family life through Catholic radio.
We are also working to upgrade the Irene Kilimihewa Health Center into a model safe birth center capable of providing comprehensive obstetrical care services. The center is operated and staffed by a religious order, the Little Sisters of St. Francis of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam. The Safe Birth center will feature three interfacing components:
· SERVICE: Continuous availability of comprehensive obstetrical care including Cesarean sections, blood transfusions, ultrasound, basic fetal heart rate monitoring and infant resuscitation.
· OUTREACH: Community education and outreach to couples and families emphasizing marriage building and stability, natural family planning and care of pregnant women and infants during the first 1000 critical days of life.
· EDUCATION: On-site and distance learning for midwives, nurses and physicians
With the aid of our Uganda staff, MLI has implemented a Faithful House training for couples at Rushaki Parish in Gihengeli, and plans to continue to grow The Faithful House program in the region.
The work being done in Rwanda is a shining example of generosity and solidarity. A parishioner at Christ the King Church in Norfolk, Sylvere Ngabonziza, escaped the war and genocide in Rwanda. He and fellow parishioners began supporting the village he grew up in. Their efforts including money for sewing machines, goats and animal husbandry, and food for widows and orphans. They then discovered the work of MLI and its’ focus on couple’s and families. It inspired them to sponsor Faithful House training in Gihengli. Our lead training couple, Gonzaga and Paskazia Lubega, came from Uganda in November 2015 to facilitate training for the first group of couples and there is already benefits being realized:
“I was pleased to receive an email from Fr. Bonaventure Ngirenta, the new pastor for the Rushaki Parish. It has just been one month since the training, and many changes are happening in the village. The time of examining “what’s broken” in our house, was an opportunity for true contrition and repentance, with couples asking forgiveness for past mistakes.
Early fruit from the training is witnessed when villagers see the husbands hauling the water while the wife is cooking, or the husband helping peel the bananas, in preparation for a meal. Spouses sharing household duties is something we may take for granted in our western society, but for our Rwandan friends, it is a significant paradigm shift. In fact, Fr. Bonaventure reports forty couples have already signed up for the next FH training! Praise Jesus for His grace and mercy, and give honor to His mother Mary and St. Joseph, for showing us how to be Holy Families.”
What a great and beautiful light we see shining from Virginia to Rwanda – people helping people, couples reaching out to couples, solidarity in the Body of Christ. In this light, we begin to see each other as God intends, made in His image and likeness. We see the status of women being raised, we see couples communicating and working together for the good of their family, we see the culture of life being created. This is the light the world needs! The model created within Christ the King Parish can be replicated– couples, parishes and communities stepping out in faith and love and offering a hand to their brothers and sisters in Africa.” – Dr. Mulcaire-Jones
Maternal Life International developed and implemented a Safe Passages program in Nigeria from 2003 to 2011. Our activities in Nigeria are temporarily at a standstill due to lack of resources and funding. However, our initial infrastructure has been maintained and the work of safe birth has continued through the efforts of our affiliate organization, Magnificat Maternal Health Program (MMHP), headed by Dr. Mary Davenport, an obstretrician/gynecologist in Berkeley, California. Dr. Davenport has worked with generous and talented volunteers from the Bay Area to upgrade and certify Grimard School of Midwifery in the Diocese of Idah.
· John Nitish, a computer engineer, went to Grimard and installed 25 computers and an on-line learning network for midwifery students.
· The MMHP team provides essential equipment and supplies to the school and adjacent hospital.
· Dr. Davenport travels to Grimard to provide lectures and education and introduce life-saving interventions such as an anti-shock garment for stabilization of hemorrhaging patients.
· Most recently MMHP has purchased a school bus to allow for the transport of midwifery students to rural areas to provide prenatal care.
It is tremendous to see nurse-midwives graduating from Grimard. These well-trained, compassionate and committed midwives are key to reducing maternal and newborn deaths. They are on the front lines, side by side with women during the long hours of labor and during the time when mothers and babies are most vulnerable. Good midwives translate into lives of mothers and babies saved!
In addition to working with MMHP, we work closely with a talented and dedicated Nigerian religious sister, Sister Kelechi Agugo. She is using the platform of The Faithful House and the Couple Bead Method of NFP to provide marriage formation and NFP education in Lagos, Nigeria. Her organization is called the “St. John Paul II Institute for Life and Love” and is spreading the Gospel of Life in Lagos and beyond.
With the assistance of MLI, The Faithful House program is being implemented in both the Dioceses of Mansa and Archdiocese of Lusaka. These efforts have been led by Father Arthur Phiri, Ph.D. Father Phiri has tremendous zeal for building marriage and families in Africa. Promoting marriage and supporting family life is essential to development in Africa.
Working with MLI and the support of several grants, Fr. Phiri has sponsored and led couple trainings and “trainings for trainers” workshops. He has also established offices of “Marriage and Family Life” in these dioceses as a means of prioritizing support for marriage as a vocation.
Here is an excerpt from Father Phiri that reflects the desire for these programs:
It was 11 pm and I was tired from traveling. We were at a small parish in rural Zambia. Couples were gathered at the church to register to participate in “The Faithful House” marriage renewal program. As the generators had been shut off, there was no power or light and the program director and I asked them to return in the morning. The couples refused, they had heard how the program had helped others and did not want to risk being left out. Instead they lit candles and a lantern and patiently waited their turn to register.
We continue to work with Father Phiri and other volunteers in Zambia to continue to grow our impact in the region.
Somalia is a country with a tortured past. It has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world. As it struggles to emerge from years of civil war, there is little infrastructure and tremendous needs. We have been privileged to support Suad Galow, a brave champion for addressing the challenges that exist in Somalia. She works tirelessly to bring training and resources to areas in Northern Somalia that are relatively safer. Suad’s work in Somalia include the following:
· Ultrasounds for use in emergency obstetrical care. (As very few women have prenatal care, they can present to the hospital in active labor and ultrasound allows for ready determination of multiple gestations and placental location).
· The Couple Bead Method of NFP. (Very few Somali women have knowledge of family planning and they are very interested in natural means of family planning which are compatible with their religious and cultural values.)
· Establish a working relationship with the Nuggal School of Nursing and Health. Here she is working to sponsor upgrades in the curriculum and to provide scholarships to Somalian’s who otherwise could never attend school. (The training and education of Somalian’s in health professions is essential to the future of the country).
We have found in our relationship with Suad and Somalia a common ground between Islam and Christianity: our shared belief and commitment to the sanctity of human life, beginning at conception. As Somalia becomes more politically stable, we hope to further develop life-affirming programs of safe birth and secure families that can be shared with all faiths.