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January 2018 Trip - Maria & Mackline Update

Mackline's New Chapter

Many of us remember Mackline Tumusiime. In July, 2011, the 14 year old girl came to Ohio for reconstructive surgery to correct injuries she sustained as a baby when she was mauled by a wild pig. She traveled to Ohio, accompanied by her beloved friend and tutor, Maria. They became affectionately known as M&M.

Mackline and Matt in Kabingo - a joyous reunion.

M&M spent their time in Ohio moving between Hudson and Cincinnati. In Hudson, they were embraced by a host family and many other special friends. Mackline attended school there, and with the help of dedicated teachers, she learned to read and write. (Quite an accomplishment for a frightened child with no English language!) Mackline’s life was touched by many in Hudson. She-in turn-touched their hearts. While in Cincinnati, Mackline underwent multiple facial surgeries at Shriners Hospital to restore function to her eye and mouth. She handled this like a pro. Her beloved companion, Maria, accompanied her to every surgery and provided for her every need. Maria, too, was a pro. M&M touched lives and hearts in Cincinnati as well.

Mackline celebrates her 20th birthday and receives gifts from her friends.

After her surgeries, our dear Mackline returned to Uganda. She completed Primary School at St. Bakhita. Even with her hard work and dedication, she was unable to pass the Ugandan National Exam. But her teachers noticed how she took on the role of helper for many of the preschool boarding students. This is where Mackline’s great strength shines; this is what she loves to do. So what is next for Mackline? She continues to be blessed with a wonderful sponsor in Hudson who gave her special help through Primary School; this sponsor has agreed to finance her at a Ugandan trade school where she will learn sewing and basic first-aid skills. The ultimate goal is to provide Mackline with a trade that will enable her to live at St. Bakhita as a dorm matron, assisting the preschool boarding students. She will have a safe place to live, and her young students will experience her generous love. She deserves this chance! Please keep Mackline in your prayers as she starts this next journey in her life. And special blessings on those who help make miracles happen - one child at a time.

Maria's New Team

Maria and Paul on their wedding day at the Shrine of the Martyrs.

Many of us remember our dear Maria. Maria was the first student sponsored by Hope for Kabingo in 2007. When she finished her training as a Clinical Medical Officer, she left her job to travel to the US in 2011 to accompany a friend in need - Mackline. She left behind a man she had deep feelings for, she left behind a family that was questioning her decision to leave a good government job. She gave this all up for Mackline. She became Mackline’s caretaker, friend and interpreter - both in Hudson and Cincinnati. Maria attended school daily with Mackline in Hudson; she accompanied her to Cincinnati and went to every surgery and doctor’s appointment to help Mackline understand what was happening. She cared for Mackline’s every need. They were a team.

Mackline celebrates with Maria.

In 2014, Maria returned to the US alone and lived with her Cincinnati host family while attending the University of Cincinnati. She completed her Master’s Degree in Public Health, and in 2015, she graduated with a 4.0. She returned to Uganda and is currently employed in Kampala. She is part of a clinical trial, testing the use of Hydroxyurea to treat Sickle Cell Anemia.

After her return, Maria married Paul Okimat, the “man she left behind” when she first came to America to help Mackline. Their love survived the separation! They have a beautiful baby boy, Okou Paul Okimat; he is two years old. We just know that Maria is a wonderful wife and mother!

Baby Paul plays with Maria at the water park in Kampala!

So what is next for this happy family? Maria and Paul will continue to live in Kampala and they invite us all to come for a visit. (We would be welcomed with open arms.) They continue to help their younger siblings with tuition and support so that they, too, can complete their education. Maria recently accepted a new position with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and will be traveling to REACH (Realizing Effectiveness Across Continents with Hydroxyurea ) instructional sites in Africa, teaching Transcranial Doppler (TCD) examination techniques and rationale. Paul graduates in August, 2018 with a Master of Science in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Paul and Okou are now Maria’s team.

To this day, Maria keeps Mackline under her wing. They have been through much together. They are eternally grateful for their time with their US families and friends; they cherish the things they learned from us. We pray for their well being. And we are thankful for what we have learned from them - the true meaning of friendship and love.

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