|Rose Busingye - Kampala, Uganda|
“The greatest need of a human being is the need of belonging, which gives stability and certainty in all aspects of life. Meeting Point International has discovered that with a belonging you can approach others while taking into account their reality and you can be able to truly embrace him/her whichever are the differences that separate you. MPI creates simple environments where each person can find it easier to belong, and experience love.” Rose Busingye
Rose Busingye was born in Kampala (Uganda), in 1968. When rebellion broke out in 1986 in North Uganda, Rose at 18 had finished middle and high school and was living in the town of Kitgum, the center of guerrilla activity. Experiencing first hand the horrors of war, she was shocked to see how many wounded people died from the lack of basic treatment. This prompted her return to Kampala to train as nurse and midwife at Nsambya Hospital, and to pursue a scholarship at Varese Hospital in Italy to complete two years of specialization courses in infectious diseases, heart surgery and maternity care. In 1992, she returned to her native Uganda and immediately set to volunteering to help patients with HIV/AIDS, also attending a course on counseling those who are terminally ill held by the TASO organization.
Shortly after her return, Rose met some new faces which determined the course of the mission which now formed her life: first, upon understanding that many patients disappeared after 3 or 4 months of visits and accompaniment, she went out to look for one of them. She found the woman alone in a tin shack, resigned to death by HIV/AIDS. This meeting coincided with her discovery of a group of women facing the scourge of HIV/AIDS not by scattering in their shame and suffering, but rather by gathering regularly for mutual support. With these women, Rose founded Meeting Point Kampala, a place where hundreds of women and children affected by illness who had been rejected by even the closest relatives and friends, could be welcomed, be loved and told “you have a value infinitely greater than your disease.” Meeting Point Kampala was the starting point for Rose’s collaboration with AVSI Foundation, an international non-profit with 40 years of history, which has been working in Uganda since 1985. The partnerships led to the founding in 2003 of Meeting Point International (MPI), a local NGO operating in poor areas of Kampala (principally in Naguru, Kireka, and Acholi Quarters).
The driving factor in the spread of MPI is the starting gaze of love which prompts in the person who receives it a new awareness of themselves and of their dignity. Looking at the fruits of Meeting Point, it seems that this loving gaze is ‘contagious’, as testified in the 2005 example when these Ugandan women spent weeks of labor breaking stones in order to raise almost $1,000 USD to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. When asked to explain their initiative, Rose and the women responded, “The heart of man is international. These people belong to us, and we know what it is to suffer.” Meeting Point International continues to grow, now supporting over 1,000 people with HIV/AIDS through clinical care and other support, community-building, cultural, and income-generating activities. The center helps over 2,200 orphans and otherwise vulnerable children to be able to attend school, and the initiative of the parents has lead to the construction of two schools: an elementary school as well as Luigi Giussani High School inaugurated at the beginning of 2012, which was constructed mostly with funds from the sale of 32,000 necklaces made by the women of MPI to serve 600 youth in Kireka.
Rose’s outlook on belonging, rooted in her personal belonging within the Catholic Church, is the basis of her capacity to welcome, as well as go out to look for, anyone in need of the services and shared life at MPI. It is this that has resulted in the 2008 award-winning documentary featuring her, as well as many international honors including the Servant of Peace award given in New York City in 2003 by the "Path to Peace" Foundation presided by the Permanent Delegation of the Holy See at the United Nations.
-The Eye Magazine, Uganda: http://www.theeye.co.ug/meeting_point_international.php
-New York Women’s Foundation Vision Award: acceptance video of women from Meeting Point International: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9BYowNaF1A
- Documentary “Greater – Defeating AIDS”, winner of 2008 Babelgum award: http://www.babelgum.com/113782/greater-defeating-aids.html