Changing Lives

“Thousands of flowers bloom wherever she (Merriman)  has walked in life. She is one of those lucky ones who can say they have had a positive impact for the betterment of mankind.”- Jan Stjersward, MD, PhD, FRCP (Edin)

“Some experiences stay with you. They leave an imprint so deep and strong it never fades but becomes a companion, maybe even a lens through which to look at life differently. Such was my visit to Hospice Africa in Uganda. It became something more than a mere memory or photo album. It opened a door onto a world where the most abject of poverty meshed cruelly with the appalling physical pain of end-stage AIDS and cancer.  Into that tangle of lives lived someplace beyond despair or hope, came help and care and God help us, love. That help was and is Hospice Africa. The brainchild of Dr. Anne Merriman, in the  very best of Irish missionary tradition, a new concept of end-of life care took root in Africa. It has spread these past twenty years bringing dignity in dying and death to the most overlooked and neglected  of our human family. It offers an expert professional health-care service wrapped up in a charism of loving service to men, women and children  who were once condemned to travel alone  through their short suffering-filled lives. Now there is company of life’s journey right to the end, when pain is dulled, a hand is held, and a life ebbs to a close knowing it was valued, knowing it mattered. I am so proud of the Irish roots and heart of Hospice Africa and congratulate all those who have  worked for it  these past two decades in whatever way they made their contribution.  May the work flourish in the decades ahead bringing the balm of hospice care where it is desperately needed.” Mary McAleese, Former President of Ireland

daughter of a former patient describes what Hospice Africa Uganda and the power of the ethos meant to her, “They allow us to explain everything and they listen. We don’t even call them doctors; we call them family members. The way they treat us is like family.”[i]

“Imagine a moment where you experienced severe pain. Now multiply it by months and even years of its unrelenting and inescapable presence.  Multiply it again by abandonment because your family couldn’t deal with your cries. Now add to that, the reality that you are most likely living in grotesque conditions because you are not able to provide for yourself, let alone a family that you may have. This has been a reality for thousands upon millions. –Hospice Africa Uganda has changed this reality for thousands through its work and ethos.Yet, this work is far from finished as there are millions still in need of this comfort. I, myself was drawn to hospice because of an experience I had of intense pain. I, however, remember thinking that the pain would pass because I knew that I would be able to get medical care that would alleviate the pain and its cause. But as I was lying there I was struck by the fact that there were people in the world that didn’t have the opportunity to receive the help that I knew I would get. They would stay captive to pain’s all-consuming grip … And with a blessed life comes the responsibility to act. ” – Hospice Africa Volunteer

 


[i] Murray, Eugene. (2012) Uganda: No Country For Old Men, documentary video.