Deacon Don’s Uganda Update for Mission Sunday

Posted on October 17, 2023 by Published by

It was 10 years ago as Our Lady of the Wayside parish helped send Deacon Don Grossnickle with a “heart on fire and feet on the move” to visit and help start a mission in Uganda East Africa. His work began supporting nurse midwife Teopista Nakawundu (Mother Teo) who had financially struggled for 30 years running a mostly charity maternity clinic. Running a healthcare business as a “Good Samaritan“ meant she only received payment from approximately 30% of the patients she treated. The clinic was threatened with bankruptcy as she became too generous, giving away free care to the poor. As a Uganda tourist, Deacon Don visited the clinic and witnessed six mothers connected to IV drips, being treated for complicated malaria that threatened their vital organs, He was moved into action. The challenge was daunting. What could just one American Deacon do to help? What kind of miracle would it take to support this saintly nurse midwife bent on saving the lives of moms and babies? Tucked away in dark rooms and unnoticed, thousands of miles away, these mothers urgently needed help. In response, Wayside parishioners helped with donations initially and, later, the idea to build sustainable businesses to benefit the clinic was considered.

Deacon Don returned to Uganda and took a critical look at how existing business practices were preventing the future ability to provide care for destitute mothers and babies. A systematic business rescue plan was forged by a local team of leaders. The plan took advantage of startup incubator research combined with available studies of microfinance investing. The plan was to seek US donor investors who would help launch a small pig farm on land owned by the clinic. Profits from a sustainable income stream would then create a local village charity fund that would, in turn, cover a good number of the clinic’s visits. Fortunately, $5,000 was supplied by a St. Raymond Catholic Parish Lent donation. This provided a “forgivable loan” to help launch the agribusiness. The only repayment required was periodical progress reports to the US donors.

A tour of St. Jude Clinic and Level 4 Surgical Center in, Nakafuma, Uganda. 

Soon after, another microfinance business plan was set in motion to create a diagnostic laboratory for the clinic. A $500 clinical microscope and a $7,000 high-tech ultrasound system were donated. Updated facilities boosted the attractiveness to new [paying] patients and, eventually, 50-100 came daily, seeking access to healthcare. Two dairy cows were then added to the farm enterprises and milk sales boosted the growing sources of charity fund income.

Following the success of the initial plan – from 2014 through the present – Deacon Don’s ongoing mission work continued with Mother Teo in Nakifuma Village. In 2018, Deacon Don and US friends organized a 501(c)(3) charity. In 2019 a team of volunteers raised funds to remodel the clinic and, in 2020, $25,000 in donations were raised. These funds helped equip a government-approved mini hospital surgical center.

And now there is even more good news to this story! More miracles organized by Deacon Don and friends are happening in many other Uganda clinic locations. The MAAPFoundation is proudly exporting its first clinic’s mission success to 20 other financially strapped clinics seeking help. Note: It takes $5,000 to start a small income-producing farm (pigs, poultry, fish). Each farm startup boosts the number of moms and babies whose lives can be saved.

CLICK HERE to see videos showing the impact of Mother Teo, MAAPF, and those who have generously supported the effort.

For more information please contact Deacon Don via the OLW Parish Center. To contribute, visit MicroFinance Alliance Africa Projects Foundation

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