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Letter from Dr. Maureen McCarthy

Describing her trip to East Africa

Dr. Maureen McCarthy, Ph.D., psychologist, has a B.A. in Political Science/Psychology, Hunter College, 1964; a MS in Guidance and Counselling, Fordham U., 1965, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, University of Santo Tomas, 1970; a MA in Philosophy, 1971; a MBA in Management/Marketing, Golden Gate University, 1990.

She has worked in the Phillippines, Nigeria, St. Thomas, and several places in the United States.

When she accompanied us to the International Gathering of the Clan MacCarthy at the Irish Festival in New Brunswick last summer, she was searching for a location to utilize her skills and experience in a voluntary lay ministry where the need was great.  As this letter demonstrates, she has returned from a visit to East Africa and intends to go back in June for an extended tour of from 3 to 5 years in Uganda where she can be of most use.

For some time, she has been a Director of The Clan MacCarthy Society, Inc. of North American, and we have used her advice and counsel during that time, and additionally, enjoyed her company.

The Clan MacCarthy Society does not endorse or dispute the religious themes in the following letter by Dr. Maureen McCarthy; these views are her own and represent her individual religious faith.  Since The Clan MacCarthy Society is non-sectarian and intended to be for those of the MacCarthy Clan of whatever faith or none, we are simply providing this letter which is beautifully written with vivid description of the places visited to illustrate the voluntary effort made by one of our Directors to the well being of those who are most in need in East Africa.


 

March 2000

Dear Members,

           1999 ended with a flurry of activities before my departure for Africa, including visits to the Little Sisters of St. Francis in Williamsburg.  This group of Sisters from East Africa have chosen as their mission to offer advocacy, rehabilitation and support services to assist disabled adults, age 21 and over to transition to independent living.  Sisters Agnes, Grace, John and Elizabeth have beautiful smiles and hearty laughter.

           Colonial Williamsburg is always a must do during the Christmas Season.  Residents compete for special recognition based on their creativity and use of nature's bounty.  Wreaths were decorated with oranges, lemons, apples, dried flowers, nuts, cotton and evergreen branches.  Bon fires, hot cider and many Choral groups strolling in costumes of earlier centuries added to the nostalgia that pervades this quaint and charming town.

           The Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, which was founded in 1791 offered a fantastic Christmas Eve Concert with several Choirs, Male Ensembles, Solo performances and Organ prelude, which prepared the congregation for full participation in the beautiful Midnight Mass that followed.

           Fr. Lloyd Stephenson, Director of the New Horizons Performing Arts Group, arranged and conducted a foot tapping, hand clapping concert just after Christmas.  American Veterans, who are recovering from alcohol and substance abuse compose the membership.  Under Fr. Stephenson's coaching, the group performed seasonal tunes, spirituals, gospel and an innovation under "He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs" --- words put to the Londonderry Air, better known as Danny Boy.  It was a heart warming and graced experience.

           Right from the start, my trip to Africa was especially blessed with good weather and empathetic airline employees.  My luggages was many pounds overweight but because I was bound for the "African Missions", the Airlines overlooked additional charges.

           The first leg of my journey to Africa commenced with a 75 minute flight from Norfolk to Newark.  The 3,642 miles between Newark and Paris took six hours with arrival delayed 1 1/2 hours more, due to dense fog.  The temperature had dropped to 5 degrees and the icy winds coming from the Siene River made it feel colder on this January 10th yet, I strolled along the famous L'Avenue des Champs Elysees feasting my eyes on the myriad Christmas decorations, the giant ferris wheels meant to usher in the Millennium 2000 and the numerous Christmas trees at intersections which sparkled with icicles.  The trees which traditionally line this avenue were decorated with hundreds of white lights --- truly Paris looked magical!  Despite the cold, many Parisiens sat on benches eating sandwiches or holding hands.  Store windows featured fabulous woolen clothing, leather coats and both suits and coats made in part or whole of luscious furs.  The Virginia based PETA Organization (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) would have had a field day in Paris!  The haute couture of Valentino, Cardin, Guy La Roche, Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, Givenchy, Lanvin, Gianni Versace, Emmanuel Ungaro, Christian Lacroix, Louis Vicitton were notably evident.

           French cooking is supposed to have a certain flair so to combat the numbing cold.  I ordered one potage legumes.  Instead of a rich vegetable soup, I was served a bowl of non descript orange/yellow liquid.  The menu featured more unusual dishes -- how about gizzard salad, tuna in peaches, marinated anchovies and pig tatters.

           Discovered that a 32 oz. bottle of water cost only FF 2.60 in a liquor store whereas an 8 oz. bottle of water in a grocery store costs 6FF.  French TV regularly featured Queen Latifah, an American Black rap star but the BBC's analysis of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) which operates on the Ugandan-Sudan border caught my attention.  For more than a decade, the LRA has terrorized Northern Uganda by plundering villages, kidnapping mutilating and raping villagers and forcing thousands of young people into sexual slavery.

           Statistics underscore major problems including tha malaria kills three children every minute in the developing world, 1/4 of the world's infant mortality occurs in Africa; one in every four adults in Mozambique is infected with AIDS.  Africa, as a continent has lost a generation of parents, manpower, citizens and created thousands and thousands of AIDS orphans.  Political intrigue, border conflicts, and large scale battles have caused millions to be on the move, thus refugee camps dot many countries.

           On a clean, crisp January 13th, I made my way to the College des Irlandais located in the Left Bank of the Seine in the 5th ARRONDISSEMENT.  The college has a special significance for the Irish as during the English imposed Penal Days in Ireland (1700-1800) Irish priests and seminarians had to go to Paris, Rowen & Rome to follow their vocation.  The British tried to eradicate Catholicism and higher learning in Ireland.  The Testimonials on the College wall point to the exiles' character "He died for his good works than for length of days".  Another stated "He was known for acute intellect, keenest judgment and discernment, rare prudence, untiring energy and zeal in both matters temporal and spiritual for those entrusted to his care".  Still another stated "He chose exile rather than imposed peace."

           The Pantheon is a National monument surrounded by buildings with the inscription proclaiming "Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite".  While the Pantheon has undergone transition from a basilica to a national monument, inside are murals with decidedly religious themes ie King Clovis and his wife being baptized in 507 AD and uniquely French saints -- Genevieve, Germain, Louis, Joan of Arc adorn the walls as does the "Morts au Champs D'Honneor, with Irish names inscribed as Keller, Kelly, McConnel, More and Martin.

           From the Pantheon, it is just a short walk to the Sorbonne which dates from 1253 AD.  Its environs teeming with students, bookstores, small restaurants, brassiers, a McDonalds advertising hamburgers for 5 FF (less than a dollar!) and its competitor called Quick which offered donuts and coffee for 10 FF.  In this district, many houses were decorated with strands of green and white pine and white lights.  Truly a lovely sight!

           Notre Dame Cathedral was bustling with tourists and was dimly lighted by hundreds of small votive candles.  The renowned stain glass windows reflected deep shades of reds and blues and impeccable craftsmanship in the fading afternoon sun.  There was a beautiful side altar dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe; a poster within the altar referred to the "Marys of Notre Dame".  Commencing in 1449 AD, goldsmiths would offer green trees on the first of May to honor Our Lady; later poetry in chests of gold; still later paintings which now hang in the Cathedral.  Under a large painting of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) the inscription read "He taught at the University of Paris and composed the Office of the Blessed Sacrament!"

           My next stop was at the Hotel Dieu, a large facade facing the Seine.  I thought it was a famous hotel or museum.  It turned out to be a public hospital which traces its foundation to Bishop Saint-Landry in 651 AD.  A sign invites the public to come in and view its interior gardens and extensive architectural plaza, colonnades and sculptors.  It is truly a unique building.

           Paris has splendid avenues, narrow cobblestone streets, charming passageways classic buildings with wrought iron balconys, the inevitable white curtained windows, attic apartments wich boast skylights and window boxes, numerous dogs and pigeons.  Young folks were sporting very tight pants, heavy jackets and people of all ages constantly smoked, even in restaurants.  Renault cars are everywhere but drivers stop instantly when a pedestrian crosses the designated walkway.  Although France has been traditionally a Catholic country, it was difficult to find a church, only one nun in traditional habit yet at Notre Dame Cathedral, confessional consultations with clergy was being offered at various times throughout the day.  Baroque architecture, walled gardens, indoor richly gilded mirrors, heavy drapes, spiral staircases, a preference for restoring and maintaining what is old rather than building in modern glass and steel helps create the Paris that is!

           The world famous LOUVRE and the addition fo I. M. Pie's audacious glass pyramid were thronged with tourists, school children and potential artists.  The LOUVRE Museum presents 30,000 works of art divided into seven main collections.  The Oriental Antiquities collection dates back to 7000 BC while the Islamic section includes 7th-19th century works of art, during which time Islamic influence spread from the Mediterrean basin to include Iraq, Iran, India and Central Asia.  Each gallery had portable cards in various languages describing in minute detail items on display, including ornamentals, architecture, ceramics, metals, glass, paintings, tapestries, rugs and sculpture.  Muslim domination of the Iberian Penisula (Spain and Portugal) in 711, resulted in a Sultan taking the title of Caliph over Cordova and Grenada and Ottoman influence spanned from the 14th to the 20th century.  On the day I was visiting the LOUVRE, representatives of the three million Muslims, who live in France were being received in an official status by the French Government.  Islam is now the second largest religious denomination in France.

           The 4,026 miles from Paris to Nairobi got off to a late start, due to the continued dense fog in Paris.  Enroute my fellow passengers were gregarious and the movie Le Fils du Francais" starring Josiane Balasko and Fanny Ardant added laughter.

           Arriving in Nairobi airport at 10:30 P.M. on January 14th, I was surprised that passangers had to de-plane on the runway under the watchful eye of dozens of soldiers with machine guns.  At first I wondered if there had been a coup but was informed that Kenya is on high security alert since the bombing of the American Embassy.  The locks on my suitcases were removed (I believe in Nairobi) but other than items being turned upside down, the chalice, many vestments, rosaries, brown scapulars, small gifts which I was carrying were all left in tact.

           On January 15th, Nairobi was a lovely 55 degrees with gentle breezes and a sweeping panorama of buildings and green hills, as I boarded an Air Kenya jet for the 50 minute flight to Entebee, Uganda.  Aboard this plane was a diversity of peoples, cultures and clothing styles--from smartly dressed Western business suits to Muslim robes, to Indian saris, to brightly patterned African print dresses.  About 30 minutes before landing in Entebee, the plane crossed the tremendous expanse of Lake Victoria, which contains 84 islands (called the SSESE Islands).

           Entebee was hot and sunny as I was greeted by Fr. Charles Beirne, a De Montfort Father, who was doing double duty by also welcoming Fr. Bernard Bicker from Yorkshire, England, whose purpose in coming to Uganda was to give a Priest's Retreat.  The nearly five hour drive from Entebee to Kampala then to Mbarara in Western Uganda, was on a main road (the Kampala Road) that cut through verdant countryside with distant mountains, lots of birds and interesting sights along the way guaranteeing that no one would fall asleep!  For example, on the back of a bicycle, one man was transporting an iron bedframe; another had several passengers on a motor scooter (locally known as boda boda).  Despite the lack of lights, helmets, seat belts, the passengers seemed content!  A small mud hut at the side of the road advertised itself as the "Hilton Hotel".  We passed the relatively new Ugandan Martyrs University and the rusting shell of a tank which used this road in the recent civil war and border clashes.  This road is the main thoroughfare to Tanzania in the Southeastern part of Africa; to RWANDA and BURUNDI in South Central Africa and to the Congo which was directly ahead if our car kept going Westward.  Places in the news were now an experienced reality yet, all I felt was joy that God had led me safely here.  Arriving late evening in Mbarara, I was greeted by Mary Moran, Director of the St. Francis Helper Project.

           Mbarara is the major town in Western Uganda.  There are gentle rolling hills, cool nights (a sweater/blanket is needed) clusters of roses, calla lilies, geraniums, bougainvillea, fine trees, flowering trees and shrubs and beautiful though sometimes NOISY birds.  There are several hills in Mbarara so the Church of Uganda has built a Cathedral, medical, dental and eye clinics on one hill.  The Catholic hill is known as NYAMITGNA and is home to the Cathedral, Archbishop Paul Kakyenga's compound, and houses for specific religious communities ie the Poor Clare Nuns, Sisters of Good Counsel, Daughters of Mary and Joseph, the Missionaries of Africa (formerly known as "The White Fathers", the DeMontfort Fathers, Radio Maria, a huge Diocesan farm, a printing press, several boarding schools and the St. Francis Help Project.  My first Sunday Mass in Uganda was at the Monastery of the Holy Church where the Poor Clare Nuns and the congregation performed "rounds" of hymns with drums, other local instruments and hand clapping in exquisite harmony.  The sermon evolved around the theme of the Lord's call and joyfully I answered "Here I am Lord".  After Mass, Mother Annunciata invited several of us into the monastery for tea, coffee, and cookies.

           The most endearing and enduring memories are the genuine friendship offered by the missionary priests, sisters and of course local Ugandans.  Fr. Danny Keenan (DeMonfort) permitted me to make two programs for Radio Maria;  Fr. Olivier Maire (DeMonfort) dialogued with me about religious formation; Fr. Thomas Msusa (DeMonfort) shared his Christian/Muslim background and his hopes as he prepares to leave for MALAWI; Fr. Charlie (DeMonfort) could be a relative as his family name is BEIRNE, same as my late grandmother.  Being a Third Order Franciscan since 1960, I was elated to pray daily with the Poor Clare Nuns and to make the aquaintance of great Franciscan Friars, who underscore the diversity of God's call.  Frs. Jvica, Tomo and Vieslav hail from Bosnia; Fr. Urlik from Germany; Fr. Mario calls Australia home; India nurtured Fr. Fabian and Fr. Gianfrancesco is a warmhearted Italian.

           The Daughters of Mary and Joseph extended warmth and hospitality through the efforts of Sisters Mona, Agnes and Anna Mary and hosted a farewell dinner.

           Sr. Cecilia NIBYOBYONKA, a Good Counsel Sister, welcomed my expertise in the mental health and counseling fields and urged me to return to Africa.

           The faces of Ugandan children always radiate a smile!  Returning from 7:00 A.M. Mass, I would meet the little ones, mostly barefooted, in crisp uniforms, and in chorus they would ask "how are you?"  As I replied "fine and how are you?" there would be giggles and more smiles.  Class sizes are taxing for all teachers as 150 pupils per classroom is "normal" in Uganda.  School fees are high and public transportation is poor so those who can afford to do so become borders.  A child as young as age 5 may become a border with the expectation that he or she will wash and iron his/her own clothes, dishes and perform exceptionally well.  The parents are informed that they may visit only once in every three months.  Education is highly prized and every man, woman and child whom I met was looking for a sponsor (someone to pay school fees).  Many, many children are without sponsors because they come from a poor family or are now orphans due to the AIDS epidemic.  Yet I was surprised at the clear diction of the students, their knowledge of American geography and their respect for the teacher.  Ugandan children even knew the name of the U.S. President's daughter.

           After giving a seminar to graduate students from 9 to 5 on two consecutive days, an Ugandan Brother rose to speak on behalf of the class and offer thanks for my "teaching patience and dedication".  He was so earnest in his praise that all the class joined in a hand clap.  Finally Brother ended by saying "I hope when you died you go right to Heaven".  The class went into howls of laughter, yet the thought was beautiful!

           The AIDS epidemic forged the creation of Hospice Uganda in 1993 under the umbrella of Hospice Africa.  Since 1997, families are asked to pay 5,000 shillings per week in Uganda (less than $4.00)  Hospice is supported by Rotary Clubs in the US and UK.  Statistics indicate a rising number of people using the services ie
                    Category19991998
Referral535386
Deaths249229
Average length of time in program200 days115 days
Cases lost to follow up8642
           Between April 1998 and March 1999, there were 3,322 HIV and 1473 visits at Hospice Office for a total of 4795.  Patients under 19 years of age and those over 70 utilized Hospice with the highest ratio, those patients between 30-39.  By sex, the number of patients 1998-1999 were 207 males and 328 females suffering from HIV without cancer, cancer only or cancer/AIDS.  Males had the highest diagnosis of KAPOS IS sarcoma, liver and prostate cancer.  Females had the highes incidence of cancer of the cervix, followed by breast, liver and ovarian.  In Uganda, 20,000 new cases of cancer is diagnosed per year, with 640,000 AIDS cases, 25% of which suffer pain.  Hospice in Uganda defines its mission as pain control, symptom control, teaching communication skills, coping with death, dying and bereavement, offering ethical help, spirituality and survival skills.

           Mbarara, where I have been volunteering, is a town 300 KM from Kampala (the capitol) in the SW of Uganda.  It has a residential community of 200,000 which increases up to 400,000 during the day because of business.  It is situated in the Mbarara District which is about 480,000 Kms with a population of one million and the density is about 88 per sq.km.  It is a beautiful, fertile area where the main source of income is agriculture.  Like the rest of Uganda, the District is suffering from an increase in AIDS and AIDS related and other cancers.  Most rural people are poor existing only on subsistence farming.

           The University of Mbarara, School of Science and Technology, offer programs in medicine, nursing an newlycounseling outreach--hence the opportunity for me to teach graduate students, perform Hospic rounds and Mental Health care staffings.  On site is a Outpatient Mental Health Center, and inpatient ward for female patients and another for male patients and three seclusion blocks for difficult patients.  These latter are a throw back to earlier centuries as the patient is put into a 6x6 cell with no windows, lighting, only a dirt floor and hear the roof area a stream of light is permitted in through a very narrow slot (approximately 2"x6").  The entrance door to each block is solid with a small hole to slide food through to the patient.  I was absolutely stunned that in the year 2000 patients still had to endure such treatment.

           To better acquaint me with my surrounding the Franciscan Friars and the Daughters of Divine Charity (Sr. Ancilla from Germany, Angelika from Poland and Vedranna from Bosnia) hosted a visit to the city of Kabale and the beautiful BUNYONY/Lake District.  While Uganda hass been dubbed "The Pearl of Africa" this area is known as the "Switzerland of Africa".  As far as the eye could see, there were green mountains and valleys, shimmering lakes and here and there a small village.  It is an area rich in crops--carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, corn, "Irish Potatoes", yams, bananas, pineapple, mangoes, melon, yet few of the material trappings.  In fact, at a Mission outstation, there were at least 600 villagers at Mass, who were summoned there by the beating of drums.  Some 45 minutes after the drums were sounded the Mass began.  The offeratory collection consisted of a few small coins, two uncooked eggs, about 1 pound of rice and 1 pound of beans.  Yet the parishioners sang, clapped and danced with gusto as they participated in the Liturgy.

           Before the service formally concluded, Frank, a member of the congregation, who spoke both English and the local dialect stepped forward to welcome me and asked me to say a few words to the congregation.  Frank then said "The congregation warmly welcomes you and have fully accepted you."  At that point, an old man put up his hand and asked "from what state are you?"  Then another man, wanted to know if I was a Nun!  After Mass, the entire congregation posed for pictures.

           A day's excursion to the Queen Elizabeth Game Park was fantastic.  Monkeys climbed all over our vehicle.  On the main trail, a herd of elephants crossed and fields of hippos, water buck, wart hogs and other animals could be seen.  The Miveya Safari Lodge which sits in the middle of the Game Park is truly an oasis of comfort.

           Before leaving Uganda, I made a quick trip to Kampala.  Here I met Brother Fred Mercy, SJ who does great work with alcoholics.  Fr. Jack Morris, SJ a Montana native, had such a rich treasure trove of "mission tales" and is a wonderful communicator.

           Through the hospitality of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa (an Irish Group), I got a lift to the town of Jinja which is the source of the Nile River, the mighty MURCHISON FALLS and the BUJAGALI FALLS.  Jinja is a modest town, with clean swept sidewalks rimmed by flowering trees.  Its concentrated Muslim population is summoned to prayer daily by the Hadji's 5 a.m. call from the Mosque.  While in Jinja, the Little Sisters of St. Francis hosted my stay, assigning me to the "Bishop's Suite" and Sr. Rachael became my personal walking tour guide.  The Mill Hill, Holy Cross, White Fathers are among those joining forces to have their members educated at the Queen of Apostles Philosphy Center.  Before returning to Kampala, I visited the serene Ugandan Martyrs Shrine situated in the town of NAMUGONGO.  June 3rd is set aside as a National Holiday to commemorate their courage.

           February 25th found me in NAIROBI and under the guidance of TIM Redmond, a St. Patrick's Father or KILTEGAN Father, visited the Franciscan TANGAZA College, Catholic University of East Africa, the Amani counseling center, toured Karen Blixen's Estate (made famous in the movie "Out of Africa" Spring Valley, the Catholic Cathedral, whose foundation stone was laid in 1960 by Archbishop J. J. McCarthy, and had an outdoor lunch in a great restaurant called "The Rusty Nail".  Spent more time seeing Nairobi on foot, attending a Charismatic meeting, and made an extended visit to the National Museum of Kenya which offered lots of data on historical personages, the Indian community from India, wildlife exhibits, sociological and anthropological displays and was well worth the visit.  For instance, a major presentation of Joy Adamson was in progress.  She was born FREIDERIKE Victoria Gessner in Austria in 1910.  She arrived in Kenya in 1937 and began collecting indigenous flowers and recording them in water color.  She eventually produced five books illustrating the flowers and shrubs of Kenya.  Between 1945-1955, she produced 600 portraits of ethnographic information on the various tribes and individual roles within the tribes eg warrior, bride, circumsisor, musician, etc.  Adamson is best known for raising wild animals in Kenya as recorded in her books, "Born Free", "Living Free" and Lioness Elsa.

           The Women's Clubs of Kenya have created equisite tapestries, each focusing on a specific region of Kenya.  The intricate detail and artistry was wonderful.  A plaque applauded the accomplishments of the expatriate women in Kenya ....... "They made it their home not by conquests of war, but by the arts of peace."

           Another very prominent display which drew many Indians focused on the Asian-Africans, that is the presence of peoples from the Indian sub-continent in Kenya.  Their presence goes back 3,000 years and with the fifth generation, there is now much self-examination and self-definition as to their identity.  As early as 1593, approximately 40,000 Indians were brought to Mombasa to construct Fort Jesus lending their skills as workers, artisans, craftsmen, masons ans stone dressers.

           Fr. Im Redmond hosted a wonderful day trip to a superb restaurant with an interesting history, namely The Lord Errol.  Also joining the outing was Sr. Patricia Kane, SSJ from Holyoke, MA and Fr. John HEINHOLD, whose Mother is a McCarthy from the little village of Cross-Haven, Co Cork ... the same village my grandfather, John McCarthy hailed from long ago.

           Before leaving Kenya, I went to Nairobi National Park at dawn to watch the giraffe, zebras, monkeys, ostrich, eland, bush buck and hartebeeste in their native habitat.  The areas of savannahs and rolling hils made perfect background for photos.

           Before closing, some tid bits to share, TONDO, a home brewed beer is used at all social ceremonies in Uganda, second hand clothing shops are extremely popular in Uganda; women wear more traditional African dress prints in Uganda than in Kenya, tree branches across the road signal an accident ahead; 90% of the heavy work of farming, carrying water or stacks of firewood is done by women; children often carry pails of water home just before sunset.  Meat preference in Uganda goes first to chicken, then goat, cow, pig.  Ugandans will not eat lamb.  Women are not supposed to eat cow (beef is reserved of men); pumpkin is not considered proper food for a man to eat.  In Uganda, the wife and children catch grasshoppers fried and serve to the woman's husband.  Before eating, all Ugandans are offered clean water for their hands.  After someone has washed their hands, you NEVER shake hands as the right hand is used to eat food.  After eating a fresh bowl of water is served with soap for each person to wash their hands, then tea and coffee is served.  In many countries of Africa, a man may have many wives legally but must provide each with a house and a plot of land.  Muslims be religion and Ugandan law can have four wives.  Christians often have 2-3 wives as the result of adultery/divorce.

           After 40 years of teaching, a retired head master told me his pension was 30,000 shillings a month or approximately $20 US dollars.  When one enters a hospital, you must pay just to have a bed.  The patient must bring his/her own sheets and food and have a family member stay 24 hours a day to care for him/her.  Matoobe, a kind of cooked banana is a staple in every Ugandan farm and main meal.  Oranges are actually a green color in Uganda.  If an Ugandan likes the way you dress, he or she will say "that is a smart looking outfit."  Ugandans express a natural empathy when something does not go right by saying "SORRY".  The Parking Police give little yellow tickets even if one slows down to find a parking place in Mbarara.  The ticket must be paid that day and they are 100 shillings (approximately 5 cents).  If you call someone their immediate reply is "yes please".  Oprah is a big star in Africa and Afro World Pop is aired on most stations.  Very poor people are buried in mats in their own plot of land or farm.  The coffin maker is a relatively new concept and would be affordable only by the upper classes.  The Maribou Stork is a bird that stands 3-4 feet tall, has a huge wing span and is generaly found eating where garbage is piled up.  The issue of safety is very much evident throughout Africa as iron bars cover every window and door, high walls surround many, many homes and security guards are a norm for hotels, businesses and large compounds.  The music of the St. Louis Jesuits, Dara, the Irish singer and the writings of famous Jesuits (Lonergan, Tom Green, De Charden) Nourwen and others were on book shelves in both Uganda and Kenya.  In Nairobi was surprised to find the churches crowded at Noon Mass, with many men of all ages participating unlike in Uganda where the only males in church seem to be the very young and a few olders citizens.  The Pioneer Total Abstinence Society, which was founded many years ago by Dubliner, Matt Talbot is flourishing in Mairobi.  Leaving Nairobi, my plane flew over Sudan, Libya, Italy and Switzerland before arrival 8 1/2 hours later in Paris.  The flight from Paris to Newark headed South of England then turned and flew directly over Clifden Co Galway, Ireland.  Family and cousins were very much "present" to me at that moment.

           What did I really learn from this trip?  There are millions of people with real needs and grateful hearts.  One should journey in life to places where one's expertise can make a difference.  Look ahead to possibilities; walk in faith, hope and love and eventually new friendships are forged which are conducive to sustaining one's vitality and mission.  God will lead, the Holy Ghost will enliven and Jesus will bless-anything done in God's name.  Finally TECLA MERLO wrote "give wings and feet to the Gospel that it may travel far and wide."  God willing, I do intend to return to Africa and remain there for a few years.  A separate announcement about my future address will be sent out as soon as all arrangements are finalized.

           God bless.           All the best.                     Dr. Maureen McCarthy

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