When disease and illness spread, it is people living in poverty who are hit the hardest. When you cannot pay for treatment, or the nearest clinic is miles away, your options are severely limited. But what if there was another way?
Timoteo is a pharmacist who lives in Angola with his wife, Avelina, and their ten children. A Christian, he was baptised and regularly attended church for more than 25 years, but he never saw how his faith could impact his work, or the lives of others.
But through his church he began to see things in a new light.
Umoja means ‘togetherness’ in Swahili. It’s one of the names we have given to the work we do alongside local churches and communities. Umoja works by equipping people to determine their own future, with their own resources, so that they can lift themselves out of poverty.
Timoteo’s church is a Tearfund local partner and through its Umoja initiative it was teaching a Bible studies course. Timoteo was intrigued by what his pastor had shared about it and signed up right away.
The Bible studies taught him to see life in a new way, and then everything began to change for Timoteo. ‘My family look at me as a different person: I’m transformed,’ he shares.
A hospital with a difference
‘To love is to share the things you have with others. Many come to my hospital without the money to be treated,’ Timoteo says. ‘So I learned from Umoja, and I do [things] my own way as the owner of the health clinic.’
Before Timoteo joined Umoja, he owned a small pharmacy selling medicine. He is now the Director of Nursing at his private hospital and is studying for a master’s degree in public health.
Timoteo encourages people who come to his hospital for treatment, but who can’t pay, to instead continue to share what they have with others. ‘Whatever you have, no matter how small, can help your neighbour,’ shares Timoteo.
He is also planning on building a bigger hospital, which will have 100 beds, so he can treat even more patients.
Ten per cent of the people Timoteo sees every day have Malaria. It is one of the biggest problems in Angola, responsible for more than one third of deaths in children . And it hits people living in poverty the hardest.
But this new way of running a hospital could help to turn things around.
Through his church, Timoteo also organises teams to check up on the most marginalised in the community – particularly those who they haven’t seen for a long time. If they find people who are sick, the teams will make sure they have the money and know where they can go to get treatment. No one is left behind.
‘I would say Umoja is a blessing which God has given to us,’ says Timoteo. ‘I admire very much all of you who have given to support this work. Please keep supporting us and praying for us.’
This is Timoteo’s hope for his community: ‘If someone disappears for two days, my home will be full of my community members, [saying] “what's happened, and how I can help?”’
Please join us in prayer – that this kind of response will not only happen in Timoteo’s community, but in more churches and communities around the world; that we will be stirred to seek out the lost and make sure no one is forgotten or left behind.