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A Second Family

Do you know the exact number of miles it takes to get home?

For Manuela Rwamushaija, it takes 20+ hours on a plane, two flights, and two travel days; her home is a world away on the continent of Africa, in Tanzania. A total of over 10,000 miles. But for a self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl,” it feels like millions of miles.

Manuela was named after her father, Emmanuel. “My father really wanted me to be a boy, so they had already decided on the name Emmanuel,” Manuela said. “But once I was born and they realized I was a girl, they changed it to the feminine form.”

Despite having Tanzanian parents, Manuela and her sister grew up in the nearby country of Mozambique. Her mother worked for the United Nations, while her father worked as an obstetrician.

In 2006, Manuela graduated from Wesleyan College in the United States with a bachelor’s degree in General Psychology. A few years later, she married her current husband of eight years, Ben, and had a son.

But in August 2013, everything changed: Manuela’s father was diagnosed with cancer.

Not only did he have cancer, but there were no viable treatment centers for him in Africa. They flew to the closest place that her father could go for treatment, India. There, he underwent radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and almost every measure possible over the last few years.

“There is no such thing as ‘Outreach’ where my parents live,” Manuela said. “I became my father’s caregiver, essentially, since my mother needed my support and help at home. I wasn’t even sure if I would come back to America after I saw him like that.”

These past few years of experience as her father’s caregiver have given her a different perspective on what Outreach caregivers go through on a daily basis. The stress, anxiety, hope, and faith as a caregiver required her to become a stronger woman.

In the midst of her father’s cancer battle, she started working at Outreach in the customer service department.

Since Manuela started working at Outreach in 2015, she has been back and forth from Africa three times; a total of 63,000+ miles flying over the last five years. Each time she travels, she’s under constant prayers from her coworkers.

“My coworkers are my family; that’s why I’ve stayed in my department,” Manuela said. “They have kept me sane throughout this entire process and make my transition back to America so much easier.”

Every single morning around 6:30 AM, Manuela calls her family in Tanzania. Due to an eight-hour time difference between them, it’s only early afternoon for her parents.

Manuela is also studying for her master’s degree in Human Resources Management while volunteering regularly for the local community and being an active participant in the Tanzanian community of Dallas, Texas.

Currently, her father still lives in Tanzania and is undergoing further treatments. But the one constant that Manuela can count on in this uncertain period is that her Outreach family supports her and prays for her father’s recovery daily.

Outreach Health is proud to have such a caring, hardworking woman as a colleague.