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Mission to Uganda under threat

LIFE is always unpredictable when you are working deep in the heart of Africa.

For Queenslander Kerrie Iozzi, a funding crisis in the Ugandan diocese she is working in has left it short of money to support her as a lay missionary in a community with a high incidence of HIV/AIDS.

Kerrie, 32, is a volunteer community nurse and welfare worker with PALMS (Peaceful Action for a Liberating Movement to Solidarity) Australia, a global lay missionary organisation founded on the principles of Catholic social teaching and gospel values.

She left for the rural village of Maagale in the Ugandan archdiocese of Tororo in February on a two-year placement.

PALMS usually aims to raise 25 per cent of placement costs, and Tororo archdiocese had committed to pay Kerrie’s living allowance but is no longer able to meet that commitment.

Catholic Mission and PALMS are working together through CommUnity to raise funds to meet the shortfall.

Adrian Thompson, a public relations officer with Catholic Mission, said the aim was to raise the funds in Kerrie’s home state.

Tororo archdiocese also is unable to pay another volunteer – Anna Hayek of Adelaide – who is working with Kerrie in Maagale for the next two years.

Mr Thompson, who has visited Maagale in the past, said this placement of the two lay missionaries in Maagale was very important and it would be a tragedy if their time there was cut short.

St Elizabeth Hospital, where Kerrie is working from, serves a population of 200,000 and there is a high incidence of HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases.

Kerrie will provide community-based health care services, supervise home visitation and be responsible for other outreach services including immunisation programs.

PALMS says counselling and advice is regularly needed by families caring for people with chronic diseases including HIV/AIDS and those who come into contact with and are at risk of acquiring diseases.

Kerrie, who had been a Canossian Sister for nine years, until about a year ago, is a trained nurse. Her parents, Gayle and Tony Iozzi, are Caloundra parishioners.

Gayle said her daughter, from her teenage years, had a vocation to work with the poorest of the poor and had always wanted to work overseas as a lay missionary. She had particularly wanted to go to Africa.

‘She was excited to be going to Uganda,’ Gayle said.

‘We’ve had a few e-mails from her and she’s settling in well. She just loves it.’

Gayle said Kerrie had already visited villages in her role as a community nurse.

‘There are a lot of orphans and widows trying to look after orphans,’ she said. ‘It’s very challenging.’

Donations to support Kerrie’s work can be sent to ‘Kerrie Iozzi’ – CommUnity, PO Box 1061, Chatswood, NSW 2067. Donations are tax deductible.

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