What does it take to reach out and step across the divide that separates those who have and those who have not? To extend a hand, to offer compassion, to say, “I see you,” and “May I help you?”
One thing, and that is love.
When a flood washed away the barely-there shacks of people living in abject poverty in the Rwenzori Mountains of western Uganda, groups of women—near and far—reached out with love.
In Notre Dame, Indiana, the Sisters of the Holy Cross had established a fund in 2020 to help Congregation members act quickly to address the urgent needs of those who are poor. When the rains demolished hovels and huts, Sister Semerita Mbambu, CSC, appealed to the Congregation’s St. Andre Bessette Emergency Relief Fund, part of the Ministry With the Poor Fund.
“Can you imagine, someone you don’t know thinking about you like this. I now believe that God uses his people to reach out to others in this world. How I wish we all did the same.”
—Grace K., whose home was swept away by the flooding
Big hearts, capable hands
Today, through the big hearts and capable hands of Holy Cross Sisters Semerita and Agnes Atugonza, postulants Masika Flavia, Nagasha Moreen and GraceMary Ayambala, along with community leaders, and local women, five families in Karangura sub-county now have dwellings more solid than those that were destroyed. In addition, the fund allowed for the purchase of 50 blankets, cooking oil, cassava and maize flour, and rice to help the families recover from the devastation.
To people who enjoy the privileges that money and modern life can bring, it is near impossible to imagine the squalor of living endured by others, the dull glaze of eyes in a body far too young to feel such pangs of hunger, the despair that grips and does not let go, the abuse that so often hijacks hope.
Though it can be hard to imagine, it isn’t hard to participate in the solution. That’s where St. Andre Bessette Emergency Relief funds come in. Through your gifts to Ministry With the Poor, these funds allow the Sisters of the Holy Cross to be the body of Christ as they minister to the poor, as they strive to bring justice to numerous injustices around the world, as they live by example the words of Jesus, “Whatsoever you do for the least of these, you do for me.”
Elements of joy
For a total project cost of just $5,000, donors enabled Sister Semerita to purchase metal sheets for roofing, nails, poles, bamboo reeds, windows, doors and timber.
In a matter of days, the bamboo reeds were laid between the corners of each of the five houses, then packed with mud “bricks.” Windows and doors were installed, and each structure was topped by the metal sheets to protect the inhabitants from the elements.
Much of the work was performed by area women, who willingly came forward to help people they did not know. As they laid the bamboo poles, formed the bricks, handed them off to one another, and packed them into the walls, they sang, bringing another element of joy to the work.
Not a person involved in the project was left untouched by the gratitude of those whose lives were made better. Speaking on behalf of the local leaders of Karangura sub-county, one leader commented, “I would like to thank God for the Sisters of the Holy Cross… You have really challenged us by your love for (these) people.”
And one of the beneficiaries said simply, “You can’t imagine the joy you have brought to our families.”
Your donations to the Ministry With the Poor Fund allow the Sisters of the Holy Cross to respond to the urgent needs of those who have so few resources. We thank you deeply for your contributions, for we could not do this work without the support—financial and prayerful—of people like you.
Every month, Fruits of Holy Cross shares the good news of the ministries of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Our “fruits” are nourished not just by the sisters’ labors or the seed of faith planted by our founder Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, they are watered by our many prayer partners, donors and benefactors—by you.