Rose Busingye, a Ugandan nurse who founded an organization for impoverished women and children with HIV/AIDS, is the recipient of the 2019 Ford Family Notre Dame Award for International Development and Solidarity.
The award is given annually by the Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity in recognition of substantial contributions to human development through research, practice, public service or philanthropy. The Ford Program is part of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Busingye is president of Meeting Point International, a Kampala, Uganda-based nongovernmental organization that provides medical care, schooling and other services that help patients increase their self-sufficiency and develop social networks. She received the award at a Sept. 12 ceremony at the Hesburgh Center that was followed by a moderated armchair discussion on “The Value of a Life: AIDS, Outcasts, and the Search for Dignity in Uganda.”
Busingye helps patients recognize their inherent dignity and worth in a society where they are often shunned because of their medical diagnosis.
“They are not defined by their sickness or by their poverty,” she said. “They are defined by their value ... it is something that originally was there, that they were created with.”
Previous Ford Family award recipients have been well-known within the field of international development, such as last year’s winner, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus.
By comparison, Busingye’s efforts have received relatively little attention.
“In giving this award to her, we’re trying to raise the awareness of important work that often goes unrecognized,” said Ford Program director Rev. Robert Dowd, C.S.C. “Some of the best work going on in the world is where it’s not being recognized, where there’s not a lot of PR for it, where it’s not being backed by millions of dollars, and we want to highlight that work.”
Today, Meeting Point International supports more than 1,000 people and provides indirect services for thousands more affected by disease, poverty and war. In addition to offering counseling, health and hygiene courses, adult literacy classes, and microcredit loans, the organization runs an orphanage and operates a bead-making enterprise that helps women earn money to support their families.
According to Dowd, Busingye embodies the Ford Program’s research and teaching focus on integral human development, a holistic model of human flourishing rooted in Catholic social thought that emphasizes the importance of being connected to others.
“Rose is doing the kind of work that promotes integral human development, and those of us seeking to do the same have much to learn from her efforts,” he said. “She accompanies women in ways that free them up and helps them to make the most of their God-given potential.”
The Ford Family Award is named in honor of University Trustee Emeritus Doug Ford ’66 and his wife, Kathy, whose generosity helped establish the Ford Program.