As part of documenting the journey of our members, today we share with you a humble story of ROM.
The story of Reach Out Mbuya Community Health Initiative (ROM) starts in 2000/2001 with the then parish priest of Our Lady of Africa Catholic Church Mbuya – Kampala Archdiocese. As we all know, the main duty of priests is to preach the gospel to God’s people and this can be done in or outside the church.
Now, as this priest went about his divine calling, vulnerable people kept flocking the church crying for food and medicine among others. On many occasions, this priest would be called upon to pray for the sick people most of whom later died especially due to failure to access medicine. It was discovered that most of them suffered from HIV/AIDS.
The priest realized, prayer without action wasn’t working and its at this moment that he thought of providing medicine(ARVs) and then back it up with prayer however there was no money to buy medicine. He then REACHED OUT to one of the medical doctors that was on a visit to Uganda, looking at the burden at hand, this medical doctor was touched and pledged to offer her technical support and not money because she never had it.
The only hope was to REACH OUT to the community, they thus mobilized volunteers around Mbuya, gave them baskets to collect any amount of money around Mbuya i.e petrol stations, supermarkets, roadsides, churches, etc. It’s this money(coins) that the priest and doctor used to procure ARVs from pharmacy and guess what in May 2001, they started attending to 14 citizens with a help of only 4 volunteers and this was done in the church hall. Interestingly, the doctor was using the church drum as a table to prescribe the drugs. The organization later managed to attract development partners like PEPFAR that supported their interventions and the rest is history. ROM has since grown from 4 volunteers to 108 staff and from serving 14 clients to 7,700 clients in care; established 4 other sites to serve people i.e. Mbuya, Kinawataka, Banda, Kasaala. The organization continues to reach out to the community (churches, banks, individuals, donors) to provide support towards their programs.
I pick 3 lessons from this journey; (a) Reach out to the community for your NGO to grow, (b) do not despise little contribution from anyone, coins consistently given out can save a soul somewhere, and (c) you cannot fail to give out something, if you can’t provide coins, then provide your expertise but at least make a contribution.
ROM’s story continues to challenge us that NO ONE CAN HELP EVERYONE BUT EVERYONE CAN HELP SOMEONE.
Thanks to the Priest (Fr. Joseph Achertti) and Medical Doctor (Dr. Margrethe Juncker) for laying a firm foundation for Reach out Mbuya Community Health Initiative (ROM) – www.reachoutmbuya.org