NAME: Michele M. Otte
YEAR JOINED MKLM: 2008
FOCUS: Education, Healthcare
MINISTRY NAME: Uzima Center Teacher, Assistant for administrative tasks
PEOPLE SERVED: 300 HIV+ adults; 30 HIV+ children; 144 orphans
GOAL: To educate and emotionally support AIDS-affected children so that they have the opportunity to become self-sustaining adults.
Michele Otte and her husband George were members of MKLM’s Class of 2008. She was an active parishioner of St. Raymond of the San Francisco Archdiocese, Michele was also employed as a Catechetical Leader and Teacher by the Menlo Park, California parish.
A devoted volunteer of Christian and human-based service, Michele has served for more than 25 years with the Worldwide Marriage Encounter, as a catechist and choir member with her parish, and as leader of her scripture study group. In 1991, Michele augmented her bachelor’s degree from University of California, Berkeley with a California Teaching Credential from the University of Notre Dame de Namur at Belmont.
Michele feels that the experience and skills she has gained as a parent and a teacher (particularly in Scripture and catechetical studies), as well as her knowledge of computer-based record keeping and word processing, helped her to serve in overseas mission.
Upon her arrival in Tanzania, Michele joined fellow MKLM missioner Joanne Miya in her work at the Uzima Center. Located on the grounds of Sacred Heart Parish in the Ilemela district of the Archdiocese of Mwanza, Uzima (Kiswahili for “Wellness”) Center provides emotional, nutritional, educational, and some financial support to adults and children diagnosed with the HIV/AIDS virus. It also provides educational and emotional support to children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.
Michele served as a teacher for Uzima. She tutored students in math, geography, writing, reading, and grammar (English and Kiswahili). On Saturday mornings, she did life-skills training through group activities. She provided workshops with information on living with HIV/AIDS, the need to take ARV medications and their effects, and living responsibly.
She made regular visits to the homes of children enrolled in Uzima Center in an effort to ensure that the home environment is positive and that the emotional and physical needs of the children were met. In addition to teaching and providing assistance for Uzima programs, Michele assisted other staff members with record keeping and newsletter writing.
Today Michele and George are retired.