Helping Mothers and Children in Uganda

December 23, 2013 • Uganda
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An Infant Care Project in Lira, Uganda, is making a difference in the lives of women who often struggle to provide for their families.

Cindy Uttley is based out of Boone, N.C., where she values the opportunities she has to see firsthand what Samaritan’s Purse is doing around the world in the area of maternal child health. Having worked as a nurse-midwife in Haiti, Kenya, and briefly in South Sudan, she never tires of the personal stories of the women she meets.

I find it difficult to imagine living in a once war-ravaged community. It would be discouraging to care for my younger adolescent brothers without any money for their school fees. I would be overwhelmed if my husband left me to raise our 4-year-old and 1-year-old by myself. Raising children is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I have a loving husband; I cannot imagine facing the task alone.

Help Protect Vulnerable WomenIn Lira, Uganda, this was Doreen’s story. Then she heard about Samaritan’s Purse Infant Care Project. An action group from a local church has been trained by Samaritan’s Purse to train mothers about infant and child care. These women meet weekly in the same field that was once a camp for Ugandans displaced as a result of the warring parties just north of here.

Samaritan's Purse Gift CatalogI had the opportunity to visit this group of women and met Doreen in the process. Ugandans are well known for their demonstrative welcomes, and today I was not disappointed. As we arrived in our four-wheel drive vehicle, the women began dancing, singing, and waving branches in greeting. After the usual introductions and opening prayer, three trainers taught more than 40 women who had gathered with their small children about how to recognize and prevent malaria, characteristics of diarrhea, and the importance of breastfeeding.

After the teaching, the women broke up into their “savings groups.” Using their voucher books to keep track of their funds, the women made modest payments against their micro-loans or initiated a subsequent loan.

Then I met Doreen. She relayed her story to me. Becoming a part of this group of women was transformational for her. Many things have improved for Doreen since joining the group a year ago. The health of her children has greatly improved since she now recognizes the value of a balanced diet. She has a small business, selling seeds, beans, and porridge, which not only lets her to feed her children well but also allows her to pay her brother’s school fees.

I smiled when I realized she was even selling porridge at today’s gathering; she has courage, confidence, and resourcefulness, which humble me. Seeing her brothers productively occupied in school has reduced the daily tension in her household. And it makes her happy to teach other women all that she has learned. Through the teaching, prayers, and examples of the action group leaders and Samaritan’s Purse staff, she was slowly and steadily wooed by the love of God.

The best part of Doreen’s moving story is that she has a palpable joy and peace that comes from her new commitment to Jesus Christ. The joy and love of Christ will carry her through her entire life, long after her children are grown. What a difference!