November is a month of celebrations. This month, we celebrate National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and we celebrate Thanksgiving. These two celebrations are linked for me in an important way.
One of the reasons I am thankful to have worked for Gilchrist Hospice Care for these past 16 years is because of our commitment to serving patients not only in the Central Maryland, but in the world at large.
Since 2009, Gilchrist has been in partnership with the Nkoaranga Lutheran Hospital’s Palliative Care and Hospice Program in Arusha, Tanzania, and I have had the privilege of being the partnership coordinator.
We’ve accomplished many things in this partnership.
We have had the joy of getting to know our colleagues in Africa, both at the hospital, at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, and at the Diocese of Meru. We have witnessed first-hand their compassion for the dying in the mountainous villages of northern Tanzania when we have sent four teams of Gilchrist travelers for educational exchanges. In 2013 we brought three of their team members to Baltimore, including Dr. Bartholomew Bakari, Sarah Swai, and Jeremiah Saruni Kaaya. This year we were delighted to have Dr. Samuel Kiwesa and Dr. Julius Mollel visit us, both surgeons at Nkoaranga.
Through grassroots efforts, we have been able to raise over $400,000 to support Nkoaranga in its mission. We have developed new meaningful relationships with local organizations, foundations and churches as they have shared our passion for this partnership. Together we have purchased an ambulance, provided school scholarships, paid for symptom management in the hospital, funded staff salaries, provided stipends to volunteers, paid for emergency housing repairs and so much more.
What most warms the heart of our Gilchrist family is seeing the faces of the people we have helped. In our September 2015 trip, we saw Esther, who we met as an infant in 2010. Esther’s mother died ten days after her cesarean section, leaving Esther to be raised at the orphanage on the grounds of the hospital. Esther
is now a beautiful five year old child who is thriving and learning to write her name.
We also saw Goodluck, a boy we met at age 5 whose parents died of HIV/AIDS, and who himself is HIV positive. Seven years later, Goodluck’s health is stable and he is attending school on a scholarship we provide.
Dr. Samuel Kiwesa writes “On behalf of the management and the community that receive support from Gilchrist may I take this opportunity to send a word of appreciation to all of you for your tireless efforts for this enormous support we get from generous people of USA. May I take this opportunity to say you are most welcome to your second home.”
I am thankful for the blessing of being part of meaningful work that Gilchrist and Nkoaranga are accomplishing together.
Support the partnership by attending our fundraising events. Dine at Tino’s Italian Bistro in Columbia on Tuesday December 1and 10% of the proceeds go to Nkoaranga. And join us Breakfast with Santa on Saturday December 19 from 8:00 to 10 a.m. at Applebee’s restaurant on LaSalle Road in Towson, MD.