After nearly two years of planning and hard work, both here in Uganda and around the globe, the Shanti Maternity and Learning Centre has finally opened. The Opening Ceremony was a great success thanks to everyone involved.
On the afternoon prior to the opening, the staff gathered to make final preparations for the party. Before leaving for the evening, the entire staff gathered together in a blessing circle to share their hopes and wishes for the future of the centre. Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and those without religious affiliation all shared their blessings and hopes for the centre.
The next morning, just after sunrise, the Women's Group came to the site to begin the task of cooking for nearly one hundred guests. We had large pans set atop firewood cooking matoke, rice, beans, greens and beef – all local foods. There was a great energy at the Centre before the party began. Everyone was busy, working cooperatively on the many tasks of the morning.
Guests began arriving to the site just after 11 am. Upon arrival most wanted to see the grounds, and were given tours of the facilities. Our lab technician, Emma, was the M.C. for the event. We began the ceremony with the National Anthem of Uganda and an opening prayer from Annet, one of our midwives. She was also our main translator during the event. Many members of the community as well as local leaders attended to show their support, and a number of those gave speeches to commemorate the opening.
A common theme that was expressed in the speeches was the desire for Shanti to become a model centre for not only the community and Uganda, but also for the world. Many people shared their appreciation for the work that Shanti is doing, as well as expressing hopes for the bright future of the centre. The Women's Group prepared two songs for the event, one welcoming the guests and thanking Shanti, the other written in Luganda telling more about Shanti. Our teen girls group also performed a variety of song and dance routines for the guests. The food was enjoyed by all, and shared cake and music that was donated by Connect Africa. Our head midwife Sarah, and the Women's Representative Member of Parliament Rebecca Lukwago shared the honour of cutting the ribbon to officially open the Centre.