Good Shepherd Launches “Reach Rwanda” Project During Lent

Mother and SonThis Lenten season, Good Shepherd is helping new mothers with essentials for themselves and their babies. In connection with Partners in Health and Good Shepherd member Julie Jensen, the congregation is collecting money to buy clothes, shoes, and other necessities for the mother as well as clothing, blankets, washbasins, and bottles for the baby. Cost for each mother/child package is about $50 and will be purchased locally in Rwanda, creating an economic impact there.

RwandaPartners in Health, co-founded in 1987 primarily by Paul Farmer and Tom White, began in Haiti. In the 25 years since its founding, the organization has expanded into nations around the world including Rwanda. The mission of Partners in Health, according to their website, is to provide health options by working with sister organizations in countries where there is extensive poverty. Partners In Health strives to achieve two overarching goals: to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need of them and to serve as an antidote to despair. They consider their mission to be both both medical and moral.

Rwanda was one of the world’s poorest countries even before the 1994 genocide devastated the nation and its fragile health care system. In 2005, as part of its rebuilding, the Rwandan government asked Partners In Health to help strengthen its public health system. In Rwanda, PIH is working in three rural districts, serving 800,000 people through three hospitals and 41 health centers.

Julie JensenGood Shepherd member Julie Jensen has been in Rwanda since August 2012 working as the associate director of health information systems (HIS) for PIH’s Rwanda team. In collaboration with colleagues from the Rwanda Ministry of Health (MOH), the PIH HIS team in Rwanda contributes to the development and customization of the electronic medical record (EMR) system the MOH has implemented at public health facilities in Rwanda. Julie’s team also assists with technical support of the implementation and operation of the EMR system at facilities in the 3 districts where PIH works in Rwanda.

Sunday School children will design blankets to represent one package collected—or $50. They will add blankets to a clothesline as the project moves forward, providing a visual of the progress made. The goal is to have 20 blankets displayed by the end of the Lenten Season. All members of the congregation are invited to participate in the project.