It wasn't quite the delivery they are used to, but for Sister Mary Goretti and her small staff at St Luke Health Centre in Bujuni, it is one that will save hundreds of lives.
The maternal health centre, located three hours from Kampala, can finally celebrate the arrival of its long-awaited ambulance, which supporters in Melbourne helped to fund during last year's Catholic Mission Church Appeal.
Sister Mary Goretti and parish community members rejoice at Bujuni’s new ambulance
Locals may recall meeting Sister Mary Goretti, who runs the centre, last June when she visited the archdiocese to speak with schools, parishes and supporters about the state of maternal health in her home in rural Uganda.
Catholic Mission’s supporters together raised nearly $2 million for the appeal, which contributed towards critical staffing, infrastructure, and equipment upgrades for St Luke's, including the much-needed ambulance.
Kevin Meese, Catholic Mission's Diocesan Director for Melbourne, says it is welcome news. ‘Having had the privilege of hosting Sister Mary last year, and hearing her story personally, it's particularly pleasing to hear that the ambulance which her community so desperately needed has arrived,' he said.
'Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, and the tireless work of Sister Mary and her staff, mothers and their babies in the Bujuni community are now much safer.’
Sister Mary inspects the maternity hospital’s new ambulance
Due to the remoteness and economic situation of the small village in the central-west of the country, access to the health centre can be restricted and often dangerous. The Church Appeal last year told the story of local woman Evas, who lost her baby after riding for hours on the back of a motorbike while in labour.
‘I think if we get a vehicle it will really help us to save the life of the mother and the baby,’ Sister Mary said at the time.
After a short customs delay, that vehicle has now arrived, much to the relief of Sister Mary and her staff. ‘Finally, the ambulance has reached St Luke Health Centre,’ she said. ‘Thank you very much for your effort, and may God bless you abundantly.’
Along with the ambulance, St Luke’s received an ultrasound machine and a humidicrib, while key structural improvements are ongoing, including the expansion of the maternity ward.
In 2018, Catholic Mission’s Church Appeal focuses on Myanmar, and carries the theme ‘Healing a nation through education’. It tells the story of an “education revolution” in the country; part of the Myanmar Catholic Church’s push for peace in a land which has been gripped by internal conflict and political struggles for decades.
For more on that appeal and for updates on Catholic Mission’s work with communities around the world, visit catholicmission.org.au
or contact Kevin Meese on (03) 9412 8410.