Karamoja, Uganda: Young People Learn to Care

The Pontifical Missionary Childhood active in Loyoro, Karamoja, Uganda

Working with young members of the Pontifical Missionary Childhood was a great opportunity for me to experience the love of Christ through the missionary activities of children. Some of the activities of this missionary group of children were: leading prayers in Small Christian Communities, visiting and praying for the sick, the elderly, and the needy children, a  jigger campaign, leading liturgy, community outreach like sensitization of the communities about hygiene, cleaning and slashing the church surroundings.

The jigger campaign was one the activities which I carried out with the help of PMC. Here is a description of this activity, which we carried out during the course of my Missionary Experience Program in Kotido Diocese- Sacred Heart Parish Loyoro.

 Jigger campaign

Jigger is an ectoparasite, which attacks people on their feet or other parts of their body. This parasite thrives on poor hygiene and negligence by the family members. When it has entered the body, if it is not removed immediately, it can cause a lot of damage to the body. It causes deformation of the feet, it weakens the body, and can even kill someone.

It was a charity work done with the help of the PMS. The first thing which was considered whenever we were planning for this outreach, was to identify people who were affected by this parasite.  After identifying the people we could organize a day for outreach. The most suitable day for this activity was Sunday after Mass. We would start planning and preparing a week ahead because protective instruments were necessary in order to avoid transmission of diseases as well as for the removal of the parasite. These instruments included: gloves, a surgical blade, hydrogen peroxide, Benzyl Benzoate, and also some gifts for the people.

This activity had the following objectives.  First, to care for the needy especially those affected by this parasite. Secondly, to make   the young members of PMC realize that each of patients as an individual is an integral member of the Christian community to which he/she belongs. Thirdly, to help the young people to take up their responsibilities with their immediate families, since all Youth Ministry is an extension of the family ministry. Fourthly, to make the adults understand that the young people have their own contribution to make to the church and the society especially their immediate society. Finally, to deepen the understanding of their baptismal call as Christian, as followers of Christ who came to serve and not to be served. Finally, to instill in them the value of service and sacrifice.

Love was the foundation of this activity. The young people felt that helping those with this parasite was the best way through which they could show their love for those neglected by family members.

This activity of love was achieved because of the enthusiam and the zeal that was seen when the young people were going for this activity. Finally, at the end of every community outreach they often felt encouraged. Some food was prepared for them whenever we could go out for this activity.

However, I noticed that some young people were not interested whenever there was a community outreach since most of those with this parasite were not members of their family. Besides, some of the people with this parasite were afraid to come out from their homes to be helped since removing this parasite could be painful.

In supporting and accompanying them, I learned to be patient, to be committed, to be open and to sacrifice for the needy. It was always fulfilling, encouraging, and inspiring for me whenever I could go out for this activity.

Nobert Yarshikeh Theology Student with the Mill Hill Missionaries, Nairobi

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