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Throughout the past year, as the pandemic affected those in nearly every corner of the world, I have continued to receive letters from missionaries sharing with me the need for support of projects that — while totally unrelated to the pandemic — could still be saving countless lives. One of the letters was from Fr. Norbert Nkingwa — a Missionary of Africa priest who is working in Serenje, Zambia, in southern Africa. There, Fr. Norbert is in charge of the HIV/AIDS Home Care Project that is working to stop the spread of the deadly virus — particularly among women and young children.
“Give and it will be given to you -- a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing .... For the measure you use will be measured out to you.”
As I write this letter to you, life in many places is beginning to show some hope of returning to normal. However cautionary and guarded, there is light at the end of the tunnel! While we are certainly not completely through the COVID-19 crisis yet, I want to let you know how instrumental you have been in ensuring that our work among the poor and those in need has continued without interruption. Because of you, our missionaries have been able to continue providing food, clothing, medical care, shelter, pastoral care, education and so much more to men, women and children in communities throughout Africa. Your kindness is overwhelming!
“Children have been severely affected by the HIV epidemic in Zambia,” Fr. Norbert explains. “At one point as many as 72,000 children were living with HIV, and another 250,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS. It is estimated that more than 1,200,000 million people are currently living with HIV in Zambia. Those numbers are much lower than they were a few years ago. We are making progress, but there is much more to be done if we are going to continue saving lives.”“The work of our HIV/AIDS Home Care Project is to reduce the number of new infections. We also provide care for HIV patients and survivors as well as offer support for those who have been widowed or orphaned due to the death of a family member. We do this by training caregivers and setting up outreach sites throughout the district.”
“Sixty-percent of the population of this district are reported to be infected,” Fr. Norbert continues. “To make matters worse, the infection and mortality rates are on the rise here. This is due mainly to a lack of knowledge about how the disease is spread and because of the remoteness of the communities — making it difficult for those who are infected to receive treatment. I am hoping that you can help us in some way.”Fr. Norbert’s letter reminds us that even though the COVID-19 pandemic is subsiding, the need to help those with other health issues still exists! You might consider lending a hand in your own community by offering to drive chronically ill neighbors to a scheduled medical treatment — such as for chemotherapy. You could also reach out to a friend, neighbor or family member who has been affected by COVID-19 and let them know they are not alone. Even small things can help lighten the burden of illness.
I am also hoping that you will send a donation to assist the HIV/AIDS Home Care Project in Fr. Norbert’s mission as they work to care for those who are sick or who have lost a loved one. While our goal is to raise at least $30,000 for this and other health-related programs, please know that any donation you send will be used to help those in need. Thank you again for all that you do for the missions.
Your Missionary Friend,
Denis P. Pringle
Director of Development