Friday, September 14, 2012

Uzima (Read if you want to know what I'm doing)

            Maybe you have noticed that I have yet to write much about my actual work. This is because I am not sure how to begin. It is easier to write my errant thoughts and observations. However, right now I will try.
            For those of you who don’t know, I am working with two different organizations while I am here. One is called New Life Foundation and the other is called Uzima. While I am here, I will be staying with the president and vice president of New Life Foundation, Pastor Glorious Shoo and Mama Josephine Glorious (the wife takes the first name of the husband as her surname). Mama Josephine is also the chief founder of Uzima. Let me describe Uzima to you in detail:
            Uzima has yet to be launched. It is in its infancy. It is a vision that has been stirring and building for a long time and now it is coming to be a real thing. Uzima is a spiritual based healing and leadership empowerment ministry based in Moshi Tanzania. The three sectors of the organization are teaching, preaching, and healing. These three areas are separate, but they check one another, giving versatility and balance to the system. Uzima as it stands is a mobile network. It has a radio talk show and a hotline for helping people in need. It already has stretched its wings beyond Moshi as Mama Josephine receives callers in need from as many a six hours driving distance. It is truly a service for northern Tanzania.
            As it has been described to me, Tanzania is a culture of shame and honor. Honor makes the Tanzanian people kind and eager to share their culture. Shame makes them hesitant to address and even to acknowledge their personal issues. Uzima strives to purge the culture of its shame by teaching people about their personal beauty and strength. The slogan of Uzima is “healing of the wounded heart. Choosing life.”
            Uzima opens its doors to people from all walks of life.  Its crisis pregnancy center will encompass abortion counseling, reproductive health and first aid awareness, and personal aid to each of the mamas to ensure that they will land on their feet (often times this involves vocational training). The healing center will host one-on-one and group counseling Mondays through Friday of each week where people can come in to just talk about the things that burden them. It is a system that encourages openness, which is one of the first steps to acceptance of self, by which personal healing can be acquired. It also will continue to host a 24-hour hotline where callers can undergo a similar process by phone. On Saturdays, the healing center will conduct 8am-4pm trainings that run on a monthly schedule. These trainings are topical with respect to the audience. There are four intended audiences: wounded children, singles, married couples, and women. On Fridays, Uzima will send speakers to high schools in the area where they will conduct one-hour lectures to train the high schoolers in areas such as public health and leadership. Finally, Uzima will conduct festivals and mobile group counseling sessions where we will journey out to spread our mission to villages and towns in the surrounding area.
            The mission is big, but all great ones tend to be so. There are many more parts that allow these external functions to occur. For example Uzima is mapping a series of sustainability projects to avoid complete reliance upon funders for revenue. It also has plans for a network of communications that will communicate with potential donors and potential attendants. The communications and trainings are the two primary areas in which I will contribute to Uzima. I am in charge of writing and sending out the monthly newsletter, keeping the blog constantly updated, and conducting Friday and Saturday trainings alongside a team of employees.
            As a founding member, I am working with Josephine and Princely each day to continue to build the vision of Uzima. So far this week, we have taken a series of brainstormed ideas and added some flesh to it. We prioritized Uzima’s many projects to focus on just four of them over the next few months. We made a calendar for September, October, and December marking important dates and deadlines over these next few months including the opening of the clinic and the official launch of Uzima. We visited the house that will become the Uzima clinic to take pictures and get a physical sense for what the clinic and healing center will look like. We drafted an Uzima brochure. We have begun communications with local manufacturers who will help us with our sustainability projects. Everything is still building, but the key thing is just that: each day we are building. At risk of repeating myself, I want to emphasize that Uzima is a baby. I will have little to physically show for my work here for quite some time. The rumblings of the next two and a half months will be below the surface as we plan and prep and replan and reprep. Still, these months are key because they build the underground foundation to what will stand.
            For the sake of your eyes and attention, and also because I think I will be much better informed to speak of it early next week, I will save word of New Life Foundation for another post. As a preface, however, it is in an entirely different stage than Uzima. It is a teenager, so to speak: a program that has been up and running for eighteen or nineteen years.

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