Suburban charity calls on churches this Lenten season to help fund clinic farms in Uganda

About 10 years ago, Our Lady of the Wayside parish in Arlington Heights sent Deacon Don Grossnickle on a mission to Uganda.

Grossnickle’s fundraising to establish a farm that would support a surgery clinic in the East African nation received generous community support. Today, his MicroFinance Alliance Africa Projects Foundation has established 15 clinic farms, which are operated with the goal of funding medical needs of the indigent.

Grossnickle and the foundation are now calling on suburban churches to help raise enough money this Lenten season to open 10 more clinic farms in 2024.

“We hope to have 26 clinic farms,” said Grossnickle, founder, president and board chairman of the foundation.

During Lent, which will begin Feb. 14 and run through March 28, Christians are urged to focus more intently on almsgiving, which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity.

“Christians are obligated and challenged to do almsgiving during Lent,” said Grossnickle, who hopes suburban congregations will consider the foundation’s clinic farms a worthy cause this year.

The surgical team shows appreciation at the grand opening of the $25,000 clinical surgical center in Uganda, which was 100% financed by local contributions. Courtesy of Don Grossnickle

The deaths of a young pregnant woman from Kyotera and her unborn baby last month became the impetus for Grossnickle’s latest campaign. Justine bled to death while riding on a motorcycle to a hospital five miles away for a complicated delivery.

“Our growing 20 village outreach network increasingly is mobilizing to help this village and others like it be better prepared to save moms like Justine,” his appeal letter reads.

“We are reaching out this year to individuals and church communities asking them to adopt a project helping the MAAP Foundation give emergency and urgent care to impoverished moms and babies in rural areas.”

In 2017-18, St. Raymond de Penafort Catholic Church in Mount Prospect’s Lent stewardship committee donated $6,000 and $7,000 to the then-nascent foundation’s first fundraising campaign for Uganda. The $6,000 donation helped start a pig farm whose profits pay clinic bills for the poor in Nakifuma. The $7,000 gift from St. Raymond kick-started a project to build a $25,000 surgery center providing necessary Cesarean sections to indigent mothers.

“It was a very significant kickoff because it started what has now been on the way to 20 projects like that,” Grossnickle said. “I'm reviving it now because of the death of Justine.”

With new donations, one farm would be located in Justine’s village, dedicated to her memory.

“We have applications of more than 10 Ugandan financially struggling clinics asking for $6,000 to start a farm project. This 2024 collection could help fund one or more,” Grossnickle writes in his appeal.

Deacon Don Grossnickle visits the pig farm staff who care for livestock to be sold for medicine for poor mothers and babies at a clinic in Kyarumba, Uganda. Courtesy of Don Grossnickle
Deacon Don Grossnickle poses with one of 18 families that received a $1,000 dairy cow to help raise funds for the local Bikira Maternity Clinic caring for moms and babies. Courtesy of Don Grossnickle
One of the MAAP Foundation poultry farm attendants in Soroti village in Eastern Uganda prepares the birds for sale in the market. Proceeds purchase clinic visits for moms and babies. Courtesy of Don Grossnickle
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