Year Joined MKLM: 1976
Focus: Health, Civil and Human Rights
Project(s): Planning and Development Department, HIV/AIDS, Women’s Health
People Served: People and staff of the Musoma Diocese and Tanzania
Project Goal(s): Provide services to Tanzanians who live on the margins
Liz Mach was called to mission over 42 years ago, when she believed she would simply be fulfilling a three-year contract as a Maryknoll lay missioner. Yet Liz remains in Africa to this day, as she has chosen to immerse herself into the everyday lives of the African people who have captured her heart! In her own words, Liz describes just one of her many incredible experiences throughout her years in mission:
“Pendo is a young girl who was sold by her family into a child marriage at eight years of age. One day, she ran away because she had been raped and violated. Fortunately, another young woman who witnessed this summoned the police. Pendo somehow found enough courage to stand up and say that she had had enough. She is now at our Jipe Moyo shelter for children, while the man is in jail for the child marriage and rape. Pendo gives me tremendous hope because she was able to say “enough!” and do something about it. How could we do any less than support her in her quest to grow up in a safe environment, attend school, and dream about a future for herself?”
Liz feels blessed to be in mission accompanying girls like Pendo. She gives them strength and instills hope that Gender Based Violence against women and girls can be eradicated!
Liz serves in the Diocese of Musoma in Tanzania. Aside from her work at the Jipe Moyo shelter, which is near and dear to her heart, she is the Diocese’s Planning and Development Department Assistant Director and helps the department oversee grants, projects and reports relating to communication, education, health and social services. It allows Liz to be a servant missionary to the local church. With her expertise, she has been able to help the diocese define policies and structures, which will carry them into the future. Liz has been a very positive influence in helping the diocese address Gender Based Violence by coordinating a diocesan forum to answer these needs.
Her other ministries include Lisa’s Pride, where Liz works with HIV positive children, and WatotoWapingeUkimwi, a children’s AIDS program, where Liz volunteers. Liz, a longstanding women’s rights and health advocate, has worked for years to create awareness of and support against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
She also promotes awareness/prevention of Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF), and takes care of women with this condition. Liz has written about fistula ethics, published her research on the topic, and often does speaking engagements. Many who suffered with VVF have benefitted from Liz’s efforts to provide them with surgery and supportive services.
Liz is from Pine City, MN. She graduated from Pine City High School and then the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN (now the University of St. Catherine). In 1992, Liz returned to the University of Minnesota to attain a Master in Public Health with a focus on Maternal-Child Health. She was a member of Immaculate Conception Parish, Diocese of Duluth.
Liz has been a Maryknoll lay missioner for over 42 years. She began as a nurse in rural Tanzania and then returned to the USA to do organizational service. After that, in the 1990s, Liz worked in Southern Sudan as a nurse during the war. Liz often saw the face of God in the people there, who had suffered through so many years of trauma. It was through her own experience of trauma in an ambush that Liz really felt a oneness with the people. The experiences of war are engraved in her heart, and the compassion she shares today comes from that solidarity. Liz reflects, “When one seems to be flung off a cliff and then is pulled back by the loving hands of our God, one’s life is changed. So be it.” Liz eventually returned to Tanzania and worked at Kowak Health and Bugando Medical Centers.
Whenever Liz pays a short visit back home to the U.S., she often speaks in high schools and colleges about Gender Based Violence and the issues facing young women today. In creating awareness about these topics, Liz feels she can give back to the Tanzanians and the Sudanese some of the love that they have shared with her over the years.