“One Good Thing” That Keeps Getting Better

by Sue MacIntosh

Exciting things are happening in Kayoro Village, Uganda!

St. John’s Kayoro Health Center II (SJKCHII) provides care and outreach to thousands of patients from all throughout the Tororo Region of Uganda. But back in 2008, it started as an idea — a call from the Holy Spirit — and a commitment from St. John’s to build a clinic in Kayoro Village in eastern Uganda.

The Rev. Barbara Mraz took on the task of determining how a congregation here in St. Paul could make a difference in a remote, rural community that has very little. The fundraising campaign for the clinic was named “One Good Thing” to remind us that even in the toughest of economic times—in the fall of 2008, the United States was experiencing the strongest recession in decades—we could come together as a group and think of others. We could do this “One Good Thing.” We partnered with an organization called Give Us Wings (GUW) to make that happen. Construction for the original clinic was completed in 2011, which then expanded into a health care compound with staff quarters and a maternity ward, all connected to the national power grid in late 2020.

And now the clinic is growing even more with the building of a new laboratory! As the clinic acquired more medical equipment and served a larger population, the existing laboratory became extremely overcrowded and inadequate. This new laboratory was primarily funded through St. John’s, with additional funds brought by Give Us Wings. The laboratory was dedicated last month, when our very own Shirley Sailors traveled on a GUW trip to Uganda.

SJKCHII is thriving under the leadership of Health Program Manager Anthony Munene. Anthony grew up in Uganda and says, “I always wanted to be a firefighter, because they are always saving people’s lives. As I grew older, I had a passion to serve.” He got a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management from Islamic University in Uganda, and a Certificate in Project Planning and Management from the Uganda Management Institute. “I realized I was in the best position to help very many people in the communities who are vulnerable.” Anthony helps the clinic respond to the medical, societal, and cultural challenges within the community it serves, such as malaria and sickle-cell anemia, high rates of domestic violence, and reliance on traditional practices like witchcraft instead of conventional medicine.

Anthony Munene offers a tour of the health-care compound in 2023.

Over the time of Anthony’s excellent leadership, the clinic has increased its status and reputation within the surrounding communities! A number of partnerships are in place: TASO (an Uganda NGO), an AIDS support organization, has identified the clinic as an HIV testing place. This means that SJKHCII will widen its testing abilities and will also gain some Ugandan government funding! No doubt it will also bring more attention and clients to the clinic, continuing to raise up the reputation of the clinic. A couple other partnerships, Health Partners and US-AID, are expecting to improve and perhaps expand the health insurance program at SJKCHII. Health Partners is offering training, while US-AID is assisting with marketing and information campaigns to educate the value of health insurance.

Anthony will be visiting the USA for the very first time and will participate in the GUW 25th Anniversary Celebration on April 25. ). 

And here at St. John’s, we are very excited to be hosting Anthony on Sunday, April 28! Anthony and Peter Carlson (Executive Director of GUW) will attend both services and coffee hour, where they will be available along with the Kayoro Clinic Committee members for conversation, questions and loads of information. Join us at Coffee hour, hosted by the Kayoro Clinic Committee and then stay and have lunch with us in the gym!

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