Father Gerald doesn’t sleep- because he’s got a BIG job to do and a big heart.
He cares for the vulnerable; a trait that reminds me of my own father. His love is so special.
If I had to give him a job title, it would be “Regional Social-worker Aids Rescue-research-education-stigma distinguishing, Assistant parish priest (Mulajji Village, Uganda)”.
Let me break it all down for you real quick. When father “Jerry” isn’t helping negotiate prices for a cow (with us Mzungus-white people), he runs the ENTIRE AIDS project for 3 districts in the country of Uganda (and writes all the grants to fund it). He personally meets with over 120 HIV patients every Tuesday to help them move forward in their lives, find support and medicine, cope, and know they are loved. He cares so deeply, especially for the HIV positive children. Father dreads the day around age 14/15 that he must tell them the news and help them cope and live their lives. They always ask him, “why me?”, and it breaks his heart to not have an answer.
He has SUCH A BIG HEART, that he adopted a little girl he found on the side of the road with HIV years ago that made national news. This young woman has been on medication for years and is now enrolled in college thanks to Father Jerry-she would have otherwise been left on the dusty road just as her grants (grandparents) ‘rid’ themselves of her.
Father eats dinner at 10pm, sometimes later and many days without time for breakfast or lunch. One night at dinner, his pearly whites were hidden beneath a tired face which was not the norm. We found out that he had missed a grant deadline because it was changed without notification and he was extremely frustrated and saddened. This grant was his only hope to get more funding for his then current HIV outreach. Without electricty and “normal” communication channels, these mishaps occur leaving him exhausted, trying not to feel any sense failure or helplessness.
He is the assistant parish priest for St. Bonneventure/ St. Charles and that means filling in and leading where and when he is needed. Father helps the children and teachers understand the importance of education, music, and being a global family. He shares his love consoling people during sad times, leading them through thick and thin, gives people hope-the community and the children absolutely LOVE him.
This man never stops, comes home tired, sweaty, hungry, and sometimes disturbed by what he had seen during the day. He fights the good fight-for thousands of people and doesn’t get paid a dime.
He has a soul made of gold.
Father Jerry gives good hugs-they are as genuine as his smile. He asked us to tell you, “We love your friends and family back home. Thank them for sharing with us and for loving us. We love them so much.”
I am looking forward to the day (in January 2012) we can help make one small piece of his school/parish better by bringing acess to safe water. It’s the least we can share back.
See this photo and more at: flikr.com/photos/dldt Photo by|Laura Watilo Blake
Photo Reflection Blog by| Erin Huber, Director of Drink Local. Drink Tap