With an unprecedented pandemic unfolding and the need to embed staff in programs with those that are medically fragile, Vinfen’s courageous frontline staff rose to the occasion by placing the health and safety of the people we serve as their utmost priority. Staff like Francis Kiyingi, without hesitation, jumped in to care for those that were sick and who had become like family. His compassion and resiliency make him a true frontline hero, all of which he believes is a part of his responsibility to help others.
Francis learned from a young age that helping people was incredibly meaningful. His childhood was full of hardship: he experienced war, lost loved ones, and did not have enough to eat. By the age of five, and with a lack of any source of consistent nourishment, Francis’ future was uncertain. He soon would experience a life-changing moment that would stay with him forever and help guide his purpose in the world. An elderly woman, who did not have much herself, chose to feed Francis what she could to keep him alive. This experience served as his first look into the power of caring for others, which has since blossomed into Francis’ mission to improve lives. “I still remember the good deeds of that lady,” he revealed. Francis was destined to spread the love he had received – a love that saved him.
In adulthood, Francis continues to do work that transforms lives. He joined Vinfen three years ago as relief staff and then quickly transitioned to be a residential counselor. Francis feels that in order to really make a difference in the lives of the people Vinfen serves, one must have compassion, respect, and patience. “I believe in doing good to others and giving dignity and respect,” he expressed. Whether this means cooking meals together, providing encouragement, or teaching new skills, Francis is there to help. He believes that by showing people you genuinely care about their well-being as well as taking the time to really understand and appreciate someone for who they are, you can then make well-informed decisions and cultivate meaningful relationships that stand the test of time. Francis thinks everyone deserves to live a fruitful life full of happiness and found success. “I see in society we have people that are part of our families and part of our communities and they really need to enjoy what we enjoy.”
This quality level of care did not stop for Francis once the pandemic hit. When asked by Senior Program Director Casey MacGilvary if he would be willing to embed in a program of people who tested positive for the virus in order to provide essential care, Francis knew he needed to help. “I told him [Casey] I’m going to be there and support them 100 percent,” he voiced. Francis did not feel fear; he understood the possibility of contracting the virus but knew he would be protected by having faith and taking all the necessary precautions. His priority was doing everything he could to help nurse people back to health. This meant covering himself in personal protective equipment (PPE) from head to toe, monitoring fevers, ensuring hydration and nutrition, explaining everything to promote a sense of security, and providing a continuous source of positivity. Francis constantly assured people that feeling better was on their horizon and he would be there for them every step of the way. “I didn’t feel any stress because my drive was to get this person better,” he explained.
While embedded, Francis commended his open access to PPE at any given time of the day and feeling fully supported by Vinfen and his fellow colleagues. Casey has such gratitude toward Francis and applauds his bravery for always going above and beyond for the people Vinfen serves. “Francis is the first one I call when there is a challenge in a program, whether it’s medical or behavioral, and he is always up for the challenge. He is a true frontline hero, and the people we serve on the North Shore supported by Vinfen are so lucky to have him,” he shared.
Francis has always believed in the power of bringing laughter and a positive light to people’s lives. The smiles of the people Vinfen serves bring him such joy – a joy that fills his quiet moments of reflection when he thinks about his life’s work. The work that the health and human services sector does is incredibly essential for so many people, and without staff like Francis, not nearly as many lives would be transformed nor people felt sincerely cared for. Francis’ hope for the world is to be a united community of love and respect for one another. He believes that by helping people, you demonstrate your courage to lift each other up, which ultimately builds positivity throughout the world. Francis’ work is a great reminder that no matter what people go through in life, the ultimate gift you can give to others is to be kind and bring about joy. Think about all those smiles you will begin to see; these smiles yield a meaningful life of purpose.
If you are interested in collaborating with inspirational staff like Francis all while making a real difference in people’s lives, join the Vinfen family today. We cannot wait to meet you.