The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles (OLA), in conjunction with a number of other NGOs, have recently launched a new project in Tanzania aimed at those living with HIV/AIDS.
Irish Sister Kate
Costigan said the five-year ‘Test and Treat’ project will test up to
300,000 people and treat up to 20,000 people, including an estimated
2,000 children in Tanzania.
Working at the busy clinics of Bugisi, Tanzania, Sr Kate said the
order’s approach to healthcare was “permeated with the Gospel values of
love, compassion, and an utmost respect for all, with special emphasis
for the person living with HIV/AIDS.”
“Using high quality testing services we aim to identify those with
HIV/AIDS. The next step is to effectively and quickly link those who
test positive to community based treatment, care and support,” she said.
Sr Kate has been on mission in Tanzania since 1998, working in the Catholic Diocese of Shinyanga.
The nun from Templemore, Co. Tipperary travels cross-country by
motorbike for mobile clinics in remote areas. She says that the Itwangi
area has a particularly heavy prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and that “having a
mobile clinic here means people do not have to make the long journey to
Bugisi. A central part of this new project is that it will be community
based in terms of the testing and care elements.”
Meanwhile in Bugisi the newly constructed wing of the care and
treatment centre for HIV/AIDS sufferers has opened, bringing a great
hope to the region.
Asked what motivates her mission, Sr Kate quotes a line from English
writer, John Bunyan: “You have not lived today until you have done
something for someone who can never repay you.”
“The source and strength of the OLA’s work within this project (and
all our work) is rooted in our Christian faith and in our passion and
commitment in the healing ministry of Christ,” she added.
Tanzania has a population of approximately 46 million people with up
to 1.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS, a disease that was first
clinically observed 35 years ago.
The Test and Treat project is a joint collaboration between the OLA
Sisters, Good Samaritan Foundation, Gilead Science, Shinyanga Diocese,
and Doctors with Africa – an Italian NGO.
The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles (OLA) was founded by
Fr Augustine Planque in 1876 and has had a presence in Tanzania for 25
It has communities in Mwanza, Mwamapalala and Bugisi – all
located in the north of the country.
In addition to healthcare,
education and pastoral works are key priorities of their mission.