Sometimes, in the midst of very focused program implementation work, where you’re logging each minute and driving the team to be unusually productive, you run into something very special. Notable, even. Something unexpected that brings the flurry of activity to a halt and serves a reminder of how people, purpose and mission are connected.
Julius Ananura, the Executive Director of Reach the Un-Reached Ministries and a RainCatcher partner, has devoted his ministry to helping marginalized groups and vulnerable populations in Western Uganda.
Homer and Julius Ananura
Though Julius is has moved on to the capital city of Kampala, with a lovely wife, an adorable daughter, a modern home and a vehicle of his own, he is a man with much of his heart still in the villages surrounding Mbarara.
In Kampala, Julius runs an orphanage with a little more than a dozen children, but when duty calls, he will jump on a bus to travel four hours to make sure the schools, churches and clinics he’s made commitments to will be fairly and swiftly evaluated by RainCatcher.
The day of our visit to Kabwohe Health Center was, in fact, the third RainCatcher-requested tour of these 10 sites that Julius had made possible. Without him, we would never have been able to find them all, as scattered as they are in remote villages, down winding red-clay paths and hidden in banana groves.
Though all of his project sites are using RainCatcher’s portable clean-water systems, filtering water and making it safe to drink, each site has also waited patiently for this, the construction phase of the projects that promise to make access to water reliable and on-site. They’ve anticipated the day when the need for long walks to haul heavy cans of water can be reduced or eliminated.
As we arrived at the clinic, the sun was beating down and the team was a little giddy with the idea that it was only 1 pm and we only had one more site visit for the day. There were high fives all around and bragging rights when we got back home.
As we measured the clinic and Dave and Dennis ran the numbers and recorded installation instructions for the system, we were quite aware of the dozens of people laying around the grounds for their long waits for a possible opportunity to be seen by medical personnel.
There were sick kids, laying by their moms on mats under trees. There was even a snack hut with a brisk business selling unrefrigerated sodas, bananas, corn and nuts. Made sense: according to Julius some of these people would wait on the lawn all day and not be seen by anyone. Snacks would be required.
The biggest concern, according to the head nurse, Sister Beatrice, was the mothers and babies. The maternity ward was in crisis. The placement of this tank was crucial, because the mothers or their families needed to help provide water; there wasn’t enough of a supply to support both the surgical unit AND the maternity ward. Many mothers and babies die there for a variety of reasons, but the lack of clean water was one deadly factor was one that we could help alleviate.
It was then that Julius turned to Sister Beatrice and their conversation led to a revelation: Julius had been born in that very maternity ward almost 40 years ago – same building and apparently same dire situation. And Sister Beatrice had started working at the hospital as a young woman not long after Julius had made his debut there.
The whole group looked over. Standing there was this nun who had dedicated her life to responding to a never-ending sea of people seeking medical attention in an under-staffed, woefully equipped medical facility and a man whose journey of generous service to the most under-served people in his home community had started on that very site.
It was a moment that reminded us of the big job ahead and who really deserved the high fives and bragging rights. And a gift of awareness of the wonderful ways paths can be intertwined and that we’re all just one small part of bigger efforts and mere contributors to larger solutions.