"The facilities in Rwanda showed us what can be done with good intentions, good planning and good funding. After 20+ years on the Board of MaterCare, the 4 newborns in the clean and modern facilities built by the Polish Foundation and equipped by MaterCare made me cry and cry. THIS is what we work for. THIS is what we give for." Theresa Winchester, MaterCare International, Board Chair.
Uganda & Rwanda- Nov 2023 Report - Board Chair Report
My husband, Gerhard Schmidt, and I were excited by the opportunity to see maternity conditions in Uganda and Rwanda when we agreed to travel with Simon after several years of attempts thwarted by Covid and other details. [...]
The first few days were spent in Uganda, a largely impoverished country due to years of rule by dictatorship. What an experience that was! The Sisters were absolutely marvelous and the term “steel magnolias” kept coming to mind. These women accomplish so much in education and medicine with very little resources as they simply get on with the job when it’s right to do so. The facilities in which childbirth takes place were much as anticipated in a poor rural setting; undoubtedly this is a place where the donor dollars will go a very long way and benefit many in the greatest need. Most definitely, I strongly support the building and equipping of outpatient clinics – walking or even riding to the nearest maternity clinic would be unbelievably difficult for a healthy person, much less for a woman who is heavily pregnant and likely carrying another child on her back. More 4 x 4 ambulances and ultrasounds would be investments in better health for the women and children of Uganda.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Rwanda appears to be doing well financially now. The cleanliness of this country amazes the visitor, due to nation-wide "Umuganda," a community cleanup held on the last Saturday of every month in which every able citizen is required to partake. Rwanda has been a place of interest since the genocide when I was a serving member of the Canadian Forces in 1994. A colleague served as Executive Assistant to General Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda as part of the UN contingent who had their hands tied by official policy and stupidity. Dr Walley and I met the General on the day he was sworn into the Canadian Senate due to a mutual friend who was the CF Chaplain General at one time. I’ve read the books and followed developments since then. The Rwandan policy of confession and forgiveness is a model from which the entire world could learn much and has been instrumental in the country’s progress – “now, we are all Rwandans”.*
The facilities in Rwanda showed us what can be done with good intentions, good planning and good funding. After 20+ years on the Board of MaterCare, the 4 newborns in the clean and modern facilities built by the Polish Foundation and equipped by MaterCare made me cry and cry. THIS is what we work for. THIS is what we give for.
The Kibeho Apparitions and the Ugandan Martyrs were huge surprises as I consider myself to be fairly well-read and self-educated. Both have had an impact on my personal spirituality.
Let us continue to do what we are. It is truly shameful that MaterCare is not lauded from the rooftops of everyone who has ever been born.
Theresa Ernewein Winchester Schmidt
MaterCare Board Chair