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Missionary travels thousands of miles to get vaccinated in Columbus

Lorraine Charinda didn’t have access to the COVID-19 vaccine until now.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Imagine having a hard time accessing a COVID-19 vaccine or even a test. For one missionary in the Democratic Republic of Congo, that was her reality, until now.

"It was really scary I do not want to lie, at one point my mother caught COVID,” said Lorraine Charinda. "We didn't know if she was going to make it or not."

When Charinda's mom got sick, she turned to her faith.

“Each day we'd have prayers,” she explained.

And it worked. Her mom recovered.

Knowing what this virus can do and wanting to ensure her own health, Charinda sought the vaccine. But where she lives and works in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the supply is very limited.

She works as a missionary on a farm, where she shares her agricultural knowledge to help develop communities and create food security with local groups including an orphanage.

And it was her faith that would help her again.

That's where the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church comes in.

Aware of her work, they wanted to keep her safe and healthy. They created a fundraiser and worked with OhioHealth to bring her from the Congo to Columbus to get the shot.

"It really feels like a miracle,” she said.

She traveled seven thousand miles for two Pfizer doses.

“When you hear that there are others who don't want to take the vaccines but they have the vaccines available, it's really something else," she said.

Her effort is providing inspiration to the providers.

"It's just amazing, there are no words for it,” said Molly McClure, clinical supervisor for COVID vaccine administration at OhioHealth.

"It's something that I'm very honored and humbled to be a part of,” said Dr. Joe Gastaldo, the medical director for infectious diseases at OhioHealth.

“I really thank God every day that I'm able to come here and get the vaccine,” Charinda said.

To date, OhioHealth has administered nearly 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Perhaps this one, the most memorable.

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