Mountain Blue Farms have partnered with World Vision to upgrade this local health centre with a new maternity ward, running water, electricity and other new facilities.
As one of the Corporate Partnership Managers at World Vision Australia working in the Church, Corporate and Community Team, I recently had the privilege of travelling to Uganda with Tim Costello and one of our major corporate donors, Mountain Blue Farms.
Mountain Blue Farms is a leading blueberry wholesale nursery supplying both domestic and international markets. Owned by an entrepreneurial family and considered experts in their field, with over 40 years of experience, they are committed to the development of the blueberry industry and have been working with World Vision Australia for two years.
Not only are Mountain Blue Farms major supporters of World Vision’s work, but they have an altruistic philosophy that runs through the core of the business. The founders and family are all passionate about supporting philanthropic causes and have been supporting local community initiatives in Lismore for 25 years. This passion for supporting communities is now being extended to Uganda.
Last year the Mountain Blue Farm Team went on a trip with Tim Costello, CEO World Vision Australia to view some of our work in a remote Northern region of Uganda. During the trip, they visited a local Health Centre and saw the lack of facilities, resources and funding within the Health System. The experience moved the Mountain Blue Farms team to commit to supporting the improvement of healthcare in that area.
The first phase of the project was to upgrade the Health Centre from grade II to III by funding a well needed maternity ward, supplying equipment and staff.
One year later, the Mountain Blue Farms Team revisited the area to see the results of their support. The transformation of the Health Centre and the impact it has had in such a short time shows the power of the partnership between Mountain Blue Farms and World Vision. A combination of passionate donors and World Vision staff working alongside the government and local community leaders ensured the community was engaged in the project.
The upgraded Health Centre services 20,000 people in the surrounding area and in one month, the effects have been seen through the increase in safe and healthy deliveries in the maternity ward. In January the number increased from three to 18 babies born. For dedicated local midwife Connie Apio, the impact of World Vision’s work is clear. Ten years earlier, she started delivering babies on the floor of a small room with no mattresses. Today, the revitalized Health Centre and Maternity ward houses 23 beds with wash rooms. There is a paediatric ward, quarters for staff, a play area for children, new toilets, running water and electricity – all thanks to the support of Mountain Blue Farms.
“When World Vision told us about the commitment Mountain Blue Farmers had made, we could not believe it at first. It was too good to believe. But one year down the road, we have all these things,” Connie said.
The passion and dedication of the Mountain Blue Farms Team to this part of Uganda was so apparent as they stepped out of the vehicles to attend the opening of the new Maternity ward at the Health Centre. Emotions ran high, as they embraced community members and leaders who they had met the year before. In 2014 they promised to support the area and return – and in 2015 they did. Trust between the community, Mountain Blue Farms and World Vision has grown and delivered a profound impact in that area.
It’s very powerful to experience and witness the strength within a community when they come together for their collective good. There is no point having everything if you don’t know what to do with it – I felt blessed to be able to spend time with a group of individuals from Mountain Blue Farms that really have managed to get that balance right. Always humble about the transformation they have initiated and manifested in this community, they are an example of how we all can be. A choice we can make any moment of the day.
Moses Mukitale, one of World Vision Uganda’s staff members, shared his joy and enthusiasm at witnessing the way Mountain Blue Farms have supported this community.
“To imagine that a farmer in a first World country could actually dig deep into his hard earned money and fly with it to a third world country for charity is almost equal to impossible for me,” he said.
Of course, there is still work to be done. While visiting the area in 2014, it became increasingly clear that there were significant needs in other areas, like the Education system. A lack of adequate housing for teachers often means that schools cannot provide a quality and consistent level of education to the children. Some teachers travel over 4 hours a day to reach their school.
So as well as instigating the transformation of the Health Centre, Mountain Blue Farms have committed to continue to work in the Aboke area with World Vision by funding the build of up to 26 teachers houses. A simple solution that will directly impact the education of young people in that area – and yet another example of what our passionate partners can achieve.