By Kelly Lytle
| What do you get when you roll passion, compassion, intelligence and a huge heart together, and set it on top of a motorcycle? In one word: Godson.
Godson Mmary joined our Tanzanian team at Building a Caring Community (BCC), the program Mosaic supports there, in 2015. We were certainly pleased when he came onboard, knowing he was a well-educated, experienced professional who would serve children with disabilities and their families well as the coordinator of our PROMOT Health preventative healthcare program.
But as luck would have it, we got more than we bargained for. Some would even say we got a Tanzanian superhero: a dedicated family man with a heart of gold who leaps on his motorcycle (or piki piki, as they say in Tanzania) and rides out into some rough territory to ensure the job gets done, and all the children and youth in our program have what they need to lead healthy lives.
Godson would deny the superhero part. He is more likely to tell you his dedication and sheer love of those he serves is inspired by his strong faith and his own life experiences.
As a child, Godson saw firsthand the devastating impact having a disability had on people in his own community, and even his own family. His mother had a serious physical disability in one leg, making it very difficult to carry, give birth to and raise her children. Her husband, Godson’s father, left the family when he was a small child, leaving her as a single mother with a disability. Her struggle inspired Godson to become a nurse, in order to help others.
Today, Godson brings his nursing degree, certification in medical record keeping and experience working for a large international NGO in programs for vulnerable children with him to work every day. And perhaps just as important – the motorcycle.
Why is that so important?
Here’s an illustration: recently, BCC held its annual PROMOT health assessments. All 220 children and young adults in the program can receive an annual assessment as a baseline to measure their health. This includes an exam by a doctor from local St. Joseph’s hospital, where staff are familiar with our program, families and the special medical needs they present. Exams include a full panel of bloodwork to identify any areas of concern. Once data comes back, each child’s case is reviewed. If they need temporary or regular medications, they are distributed by the program. If they need follow up for procedures, further exams or other interventions, those are scheduled. Parents are counseled on how best to care for their child where needed.
The issue is that many of the children and young adults in the program cannot make it to one of our centers, or to the hospital, for the assessment. This can be due to a variety of factors: sometimes the individual is too frail to travel. Sometimes the family is too poverty stricken to afford the transportation to the center or hospital, even if that is a relatively short distance. There is no system of public transportation, and only specialized services have wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Some families live in areas where the dirt trails are unpassable for such vehicles.
This year, Godson had another plan. He convinced a team of two doctors and a lab technician from the team at St. Joseph’s hospital to join him – riding as passengers on the motorcycle. Off they went on the dirt roads and trails, out into the areas where these children and families live.
Why the motorcycle, and not a vehicle service?
“We can get a lot more done in a day with a motorcycle and a good plan,” Godson emphasizes.
With this ‘motorcycle and a good plan’, nearly all of the children and young adults in the program were able to have a full assessment this year. Needed medications were also delivered in record time, making this the most successful assessment period on record for PROMOT Health. This is what happens, of course, when a modest, experienced superhero joins your team.
Like most superheroes, Godson sees his career as a calling, and dreams big dreams for the future. “Working in this program is a ministry for me. I receive blessings from God when I do this work,” he explains.
His future dreams for the program include many things that will benefit the children and young adults at BCC. With the help of donor support, Godson would like to improve nutritional assistance for all children in the program. He is also planning to expand his professional skills by taking a course in a local hospital. That would allow the program to purchase equipment to conduct basic medical exams and lab work right in the homes and centers. This would allow more frequent assessments and quicker turnaround.
Godson is also heavily involved with the parents of children with disabilities, especially in parent training. He plans to further train the BCC outreach workers who visit children at home as well, so they can help educate parents on proper positioning for children who are not mobile, to prevent bedsores and other complications from being in one position all day.
Finally, Godson is working to expand BCC’s relationships with other organizations in the local community, to enhance medical and therapeutic services for children and young adults in the program.
A man, a motorcycle and a mission: while Godson may not fly, leap over buildings or run faster than a cheetah, his daily work is improving lives for people with disabilities and their families in his community. Most of all, he is setting an example of how reaching out to these children and their families, not shunning them, can make a positive, lasting difference. In our book, that makes him a super, valuable team member – and a hero.