You and I can change the world one child at a time.
Recently, Father Francis Mbuvi, OFM and I visited St. Mary Nursery and Primary School in Shagasha, a village in Rushooka Parish, Uganda. We finally arrived at the school after dodging rocks, ruts and goats during a 40-minute, brain-rattling ride on a road carved out of the red clay. The campus consisted of four buildings, one up the hill and three buildings slightly down the hill.
The first building I toured was for the younger students. It was a brick structure with no wooden doors or glass windows. The openings in the wall were covered with a web of branches to keep animals out. There was a dirt floor and no desks for the students. There were wooden benches that served as both chairs and a writing platform for their work. The blackboard was so worn that previous writings could not be fully erased. The children huddled in small groups to share the few books and pencils that were available.
The other two classroom buildings were in even worse shape. In one, the teacher used an upside-down bucket as a chair and the building looked like a place to hold a cow or goat! The last building was a pit latrine for the students that boys and girls had to share. It was a building with six holes in the ground and a piece of plywood covering each one. There was also an outdoor kitchen, where a young cook was preparing a lunch of rice and beans for the students.
These three buildings, the parish church and the catechist’s house are the campus for 249 students! On school days, 92 nursery school students and 157 primary school students fill every available space. Fr. Francis noted that this was one of the better schools in the area, and he maintained that, “the transformation of the African society will have to start with educating young children.” So, he has plans to expand and improve the school!
There is another three classroom building and a separate latrine building for girls under initial construction! But the work halted because Fr. Francis ran out of funds. And so, I am turning to you, pleading for your support. We can help Fr. Francis finish the new classrooms and the new latrine and provide a much better learning environment for these children. Fr. Francis also wants to buy new textbooks for the entire school so the children do not have to share one book among eight students.
Here is a wonderful opportunity to change the lives of children born into poverty, but also born into vibrant faith and courageous hope. You can see this on their smiling faces. If you could talk to the little ones, you too would be inspired by their love of life and their hope for their futures. Together with Fr. Francis and our other Franciscan missionaries, you can provide these little children with a valuable head start in their earliest years. If only we can finish these new classrooms and the girls’ latrine to give them a better learning environment for their best start in life.
Will you help us complete this project at St. Mary School for the children of Rushooka Parish? The total cost to finish the new classrooms is only $4,000 and cost to build the girl’s latrine is $2,500. The new textbooks will cost $5,500. These are not overly large sums of money by our American standards, but the amounts are beyond the dreams and abilities of families from Uganda or the local Church to provide.
Will you join us in achieving this wonderful goal by helping Fr. Francis complete these new school buildings and buy new textbooks for the children? You can help change the world, one child at a time, through your generous support of our Franciscan missions.
Please walk with us as we bring the Gospel to the world’s poor, especially nurturing the faith and promise of children. I thank you for your continued prayers and generosity for the poor in the missions. You make known God’s goodness in our world by ministering alongside our Franciscan missionaries. God bless you for sharing in our Gospel mission.
With a grateful heart,
Brother Andrew Brophy, OFM
P.S. I realize that you have many other requests placed before you because of your generous heart. I ask you, in Christ’s name, to please consider the urgency and value of being part of a ministry that will form the minds and hearts of little children in Uganda. Please give from your loving heart and change the world!