Hey, gals. As I mentioned in the introduction article Hope For Women In Crisis : : The Silent Yet Deadly Reality for Uganda’s Mothers, every Sunday in July will be dedicated to unfolding the story behind the extraordinary outreach and maternity center located in Jinja, Uganda called Hope For Women In Crisis. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read that article, be sure to check it out before reading my interview with Lyzette below. We will pick up at the start of Lyzette’s story, where she tragically lost her third son, in Jinja’s community hospital. This painful event was the catalyst for creating the maternity home, but there’s a unique turn of events that transformed Lyzette’s idea of creating the maternity home from fantasy to reality.
Lyzette Kasigwa, founder of Hope For Women in Crisis, is a native Ugandan. She is the mother of two young boys, Dave (8 years old) and Levi (6 years old). She and her husband Jeff have been married for 9 years.
AM: Please share about your experience in the community hospital.
LK: We were having our 3rd child; and knowing that in the government hospitals care is so limited; my husband and I opted for a private doctor due to the fact that I give birth by caesarean. This doctor had a private clinic but was also a consultant at the government hospital. So when I was developing complications, he admitted me in a private wing in the government hospital where he was a consultant. But my condition worsened; yet the doctor wasn’t coming to check on me. My nurse was very kind and she was always trying to get the doctor to see me, but he was not responding to her. This one night I begun bleeding so bad; the nurse called the doctor but he wasn’t showing up; so my husband begged her to send us to the general ward to get help with the available doctor . Less did I know that God was sending us there so I could see what He wanted me to do. My experience in the general ward was so bad. We lost our beautiful baby boy; baby Hunter lived only for 90 minutes and went back home. But his death wasn’t a loss; because today ,so many babies are being touched, reached out to, loved and saved through our tragedy. After the loss of my baby; I was lost and broken; devastated; all I wanted was to die and go to my baby. I never saw him, never held him. I meditated on suicide. But I knew I had two little angels waiting home for mammy and a broken husband right there with me. My baby sister was with me, and she was scared too. There was a team of missionaries who were not only our friends but also our family from Oklahoma who stood with us all the way; and this big family God placed right there with us at that moment; helped me know and feel what any woman going through child loss grief needed ; and yet around me the other women didn’t have it. During my stay at the hospital; I saw other women who had lost their babies too; unlike me; they had no family; no medication; no food; no drinking water and no beddings, no gloves or syringes while I had extra because my family was there for me.
Note: In Jinja’s community/government hospital, all supplies and medications must be provided by the patient and brought with them at the time of treatment. Payment is also required upfront and in cash. If the patient does not bring gloves, they are not touched or treated. Once a woman gives birth at the community hospital, a friend or family member must be there to wash and assist her or she will remain covered in bodily fluids and uncared for. The nursing staff does not perform the duties many of us are familiar with in U.S. hospitals. It’s very common for a single nurse to cater to an entire ward by herself. Also, patients aren’t provided any food or drink during their stay. Meals must be brought in for the patient.
AM: What happened once you went home? –how were you feeling, what were you thinking?
LK: Once I was home; I went into total depression. For months all I did was cry; never left my bedroom; and while I cried for my baby so much; my heart went out for Ajambo; I cried so hard for Ajambo. This was one of the women I met during my stay at the hospital; she was one of those that had had their baby by caesarean birth and lost their baby; but Ajambo’s family abandoned her after the death of her baby. Since she had no antibiotics or any medication; she developed sepsis; she was starving; she had had no food for days, her bed was bare, no bedding: one night she fell off the bed and that’s how I noticed her and the nurse asked us to help her; we got her food and medication. I helped Ajambo for the time I was there but then I was discharged; so I cried asking God how someone could go through all that; and I wondered if someone else got Ajambo food or medicine. And this burden wore me down.
AM: What brought you out of your depression?
LK: I asked God to provide for me to be able to go help the women in the hospital; because the burden was too heavy on my heart. I had no job; I was volunteering somewhere. My heart had so much pain, my baby; the poor and needy women in crisis at the hospital. I had no idea how I would come out of it. But when I started helping at the hospital; my attention moved from me to the women in crisis. This kind of helped me come out of my depression. And after reading THE BOOK ‘ HEAVEN IS FOR REAL’ which was sent to me a lady named Melissa; I understood the fact that one day I will see my baby and he will know me. I began living with that. This ministry was born through pain, but HOPE overshadowed it all. And so we are here to bring the HOPE found in CHRIST to the broken and hopeless woman and her baby.
Once someone receives hope; it’s easy to equip them to become and to do better.
AM: How did you begin helping the women?
LK: I began helping at the local government hospital. Since I had no money I would simply cook food at my house and pack to take to the women at the hospital. I would spend time praying with and encouraging the mothers who had lost their babies. Since I was able to relate to their grief and pain I could let them know they were not alone.
AM: Tell about receiving the first bit of money and what you did with it.
LK: The first money I ever received was from a lady who heard about my situation and how I was doing all I could to minister in the hospital. She handed me 30 dollars and that is when the ministry (Hope For Women In Crisis) officially began. I used that money to help an 18 year old girl named Jane. She had lost her baby at birth and her husband had no money to transport and bury the baby. They had been sitting in the hospital just waiting silently pretending as if the baby was alive. If the nurses or staff find out your baby died they will just take it from you and kick you out of the hospital in order to make space for another mother. Hope For Women In Crisis (HFWIC) heard of the situation and assisted.
AM: Please tell about receiving the second amount of money and what you did with it. How did you feel?
LK: At this time Jeff was working with another organization in town. One evening before going back to the States they kept telling Jeff that they wanted to meet his wife. They came over for a visit and after seeing and hearing about all I was doing they announced that a lady by the name of Melissa (she was from Oklahoma too) who had also lost her 21 year old son, had sent a donation to be sown into any ministry and they thought she would be pleased to know that HOFWIC received that donation to help me continue the work in the hospital. I was overjoyed. After the first 30 dollars came and went this was the encouragement I needed from the Lord to keep going.
AM: Please share about Hannah joining your team and what she does.
LK: Hannah first reached out to me after hearing about what I was doing through a young man (Steven) who she connected with on Social Media. Steven had been volunteering with HFWIC as well as teaching at my husband’s music school for the summer. Hannah emailed me and spoke of her plans to move to Uganda in the summer of 2015. She shared her vision for ministry and what she felt the Lord was calling her to do. We made plans and she came to visit the ministry and hear my story once she arrived in Africa. A few months later Hannah joined the team of HFWIC and began working directly alongside me as our Project Manager. She manages fundraising, social media presence, website operations, budgets, volunteer teams and outreach projects.
Ladies, how profound is Lyzette’s story so far?! Aren’t you just blown away by the reality for the women in Jinja? I can’t imagine being left without food or attendance after giving birth. How about Lyzette’s bravery and courage to continue to go back to the place where she experienced her greatest tragedy? I’m in awe of her faith in Christ.
I will pick up next week with Hannah’s story. She’ll share from her perspective how she originally landed in Uganda, how her heart for the people was captured during that first trip, and what led her to returning to Jinja indefinitely. The thing that I find most extraordinary about Hannah is that she is just like you and me. She used the little she had, along with BIG faith, and leapt. She didn’t let anything stop her from going forth in the direction she felt called.
Ladies, as I mentioned in my introduction post. I want the story of HFWIC to be heard around the world. Take the time right now and pin a photo from this story (click the little red Pin button) and share a link to this article on your Facebook page. If you have Instagram, screen shot the featured photo, share it with your followers, and tag me @motheringnaturally. Once you’ve done it, let me know in the comments below.
We are ALL world changers, let’s do our part and bring even more hope to the women of Jinja, Uganda by exposing the atrocities their facing.