Have you ever been faced with devastating news about your health or medical condition? Have you heard a shocking update from a friend or family member that they have terminal cancer or some other incurable disease? It rocks you to the core and quickly reminds us that our true home is not on this earth- and that our true hope is not in what we can see.
There is a small fishing village in the central Wakiso District of Uganda. It is home to Cherish Uganda which dreams of changing the stories of children living with HIV by offering them hope.
Though cases of HIV/AIDS in Uganda have decreased in recent years, the disease still runs rampant among fishermen, commercial sex workers and other trades. Fishermen in particular are three to four times more likely to have HIV/AIDS than the average population. The impact on children is especially hard. About one million children in Uganda have been orphaned as a result of the disease and treated as outcasts- they are unable to connect with the rest of their community.
Cherish seeks to change this social stigma. EMI has been working with Cherish to design a master plan and the first phase of the Hope Hospital. The goal is to have accessible healthcare and disease prevention education in the surrounding community so that they can provide some of the best healthcare in Uganda.
The aim is to show these children the love of Jesus in a very real and practical way. They often arrive in pretty bad shape. They need medical attention, clothes, and food – as well as schooling and a loving home. Dr. Clara Komuhangi, the Health Center physician and director, says, “The fact that they are living with HIV attracts more stigma than one could deal with in a lifetime. However, they are as full of life as any child I have ever seen.” Cherish immediately places them in a family style home with a mom, auntie and “brothers or sisters”. The medical needs of each child are assessed and they are started on ART (anti-retroviral therapy) to slow down the progression of HIV.
Cherish CEO Brent Phillips says, “When the history of Cherish is written and we talk about the key partnerships that enabled us to fulfill the vision laid out before us by God, EMI will be on that list, if not at the top.” As EMI continues this partnership, offering appropriate and sustainable design, the story of this fishing village is being changed. God is writing a new story through the efforts of Dr. Clara and the Cherish team.
Growth is Good… but not easy
Constant change seems to be the norm for me at EMI over the past 3 years. Things are never boring as I try to keep up with all the exciting improvements we are implementing as we steer the boat in a more impactful direction. We now have 11 offices around the world and to be honest it feels a little unwieldy. It reminds me a little bit of being a teenager when your body grows so fast that you become clumsy, tripping over yourself unnecessarily. Thankfully many of us on the leadership team are quick to recognize this and are taking action to adjust to these growing pains.
Not only is EMI changing but the approach of missions is ever evolving to better influence those we want to reach. Combine that with the culture of giving in the US ever being in flux and it seems like we are trying to hit a moving target. Should EMI become a for profit business? No, that seems like an overreaction.
Will I and others still be able to raise support for our positions in 5 or 10 years? We hope donors will see the impact our work does and want to continue contributing to our efforts. These are just a sample of the many factors we are taking into account as we try to steer the EMI ship.
These are exciting times because I truly believe that EMI is more effective in our mission than we have ever been. Honestly, it’s just a little stressful for us as leadership to try and keep ahead of all this good growth. We can definitely use your prayer in all of this.
I’m not sure if this is every parent’s experience but we feel the first year of a child’s life is rough. Consistent sleep is something that is tossed out the window, routine sessions of crying when you have no idea what he wants, and on and on.
But Cole is currently 20 months old and NOW we are into the good stuff! It’s like right after he turned 1 year old, he just pops with personality showing his love for being outside, wanting to show compassion to other kids when they are crying and awkwardly trying to give a hug, or just trying to keep up with his brothers. Cole does take the award for being our first son to receive stitches after he got cut on his forehead falling onto a brick fire place. Things are back to being fun (but of course always hectic) at the Reinhardt house.