Uzima is Swahili for “life.” The word, however, signifies more than mere living. More accurately, Uzima implies vitality: the essence of life.
Uzima Africa is an organization recently founded by Pastors Josephine Shoo and Glorious Shoo, Alyssa Domino, and Princely Glorious. Currently it is in its infancy. It began as a vision born of the need for spiritual, psychological, and emotional healing not only here in the Kilimanjaro area (its place of birth) but all over the Africa (its aspiring home).
Uzima accomplishes its ultimate goal of healing through its three sectors: teaching, preaching, and healing. These three areas are separate, but they check one another, giving versatility and balance to the system. The Uzima Healing Center will be home to most of our activities. Teaching will be conducted through topical trainings on and offsite. The preaching will be recorded at the center’s studio and aired biweekly on public radio. We also will conduct outdoor festivals to spread the word of Uzima and provide an opportunity for outreach preaching. Finally, healing will occur through the 24-hour Uzima hotline, one-on-one and group on site counseling, and private counseling expeditions.
As it has been described to me, Tanzania is a culture that emphasizes 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 encompasses abortion counseling, reproductive health awareness, 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 one-on-one and group counseling sessions are scheduled on a need-basis Mondays through Friday of each week. In this community, the opportunity for people to come and simply talk about their burdens is life changing. It is a system that encourages openness; openness is one of the first steps to self-acceptance by which personal healing can be acquired. Uzima 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 fields 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 internal workings 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 engage in correspondence with potential donors and attendees. The communications and trainings are the two primary areas from where I will contribute to Uzima. I write and publish the monthly newsletter, keep the blog and website updated, and conducting Friday and Saturday trainings alongside a team of educators.
As a founding member, I also am involved in administrative decisions here at Uzima. The organization is in its prelaunch stage, therefore a large part of the day-to-day work is collaborative crafting – turning ideas into actions.