Last month, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross launched its spring appeal on behalf of students at its sponsored ministry in Kirinda, Uganda. We are thrilled to report that because of the loving support of more than 300 donors, Moreau Nursery and Primary School will be able to purchase its first bus to provide safe transportation for its students. We encourage you to read this short reflection from Patrick on the dangers he and other students at Moreau face arriving and departing from school each day. While we have reached our initial goal to make the bus purchase possible, we do not want to stop there. Additional funds raised beyond the goal will enable the school to meet ongoing costs for maintenance, insurance and drivers, as well as allow the school flexibility to find a bus that can transport as many children as possible.
This month we share more about the school and some of its students. Many of them have received scholarship assistance through our Ministry With the Poor Fund. Without your loving contributions, their education would not have been possible.
The Sisters of the Holy Cross first arrived in Uganda in 1967 to minister to the health care, educational and spiritual needs of the Ugandan people. In 2000 the Sisters of the Holy Cross expanded their ministry to Kirinda, Uganda, in the western part of the nation. Their initial efforts were to educate poor, day-laboring farm hands in the area through an adult education center. The sisters spread throughout the countryside to ask local villagers what they could do to better serve the community and more wisely use their resources to enhance the building of relationships and caring communities. The most consistent response from residents was to educate the young children of the area. Thus, the seed was planted and Moreau Nursery and Primary School began.
The school was named after Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, founder of the congregations of Holy Cross, in part because the planning of this small pilot project began in 2007, the year of his beatification. Opening in 2008 as a nursery school with 28 children, the school today has become a strong and vital component of the community with an enrollment of approximately 350 students, ages 3 to 15. New school buildings were constructed in 2014, and in 2018 student hostels opened, giving access to education to many families who live at a distance.
Moreau Nursery and Primary School is empowering students to build on their talents and make a difference in their communities, their country and the world. Now thanks to the Congregation’s generous friends and benefactors, the school will achieve a next major step in its development with the acquisition of its first school bus.
“I didn’t want his future to die like that.”
While Moreau Nursery and Primary School does its best to keep costs as low as possible, there are still many students who, without the generous assistance of donors, would not be able to attend due to financial hardship faced by their families. This year alone, through donations to Ministry With the Poor Fund or directly to the school, 90 students, nearly 26 percent of those enrolled, have received scholarships. “Tobin” and “Beatrice,” whose names have been changed to protect their identity, are two such students currently receiving scholarships.
Tobin is in grade seven. He is being raised by a single mother who has been working hard to ensure a bright future for her son. His mother learned of Moreau School from her neighbors whose children attended the school. She noticed the children spoke very good English and were well behaved. She committed to working hard to find a way to enroll Tobin at Moreau School. Unfortunately, after his mother had earned enough to enroll him, she fell seriously ill and had to move in with relatives for care. This left Tobin and his younger siblings on their own. Because Tobin was the firstborn, at the age of 12 he took on the role of primary caregiver and was responsible for finding food, clothing and necessities for himself and his siblings. The major responsibilities he took on at home created academic challenges for him at school. Frequently, Tobin had to miss school in order to care for his siblings and he had little time left for homework.
Tobin’s father, who had not been involved in the lives of his children for many years, heard of the suffering of his children and asked the sisters to withdraw Tobin from Moreau due to the financial costs. Sister Jacinta Katusabe, CSC, headmistress at Moreau Nursery and Primary School, refused to give up on Tobin.
“Tobin is a well-behaved boy, intelligent and very talented. I didn’t want his future to die like that,” said Sister Jacinta.
With the help of the Ministry With the Poor Fund, Sister Jacinta arranged for Tobin to stay at the newly constructed dormitories, during which time his mother had recovered sufficiently to care for his younger siblings. Sister Jacinta says that without the support of donors, Tobin would no doubt have had to withdraw due to financial and academic challenges. Today Tobin is thriving, and according to Sister Jacinta, “has gained the confidence to be outspoken and committed to improving the home situation of his family.”
Pancakes for education
Like Tobin, many Ugandans struggle with severe financial hardship. The family of 14-year-old Beatrice is among them. Beatrice’s father is disabled and her mother battles mental illness. While Beatrice’s father does the best he can to provide for their family, disability limits what he is able to earn. Before enrolling at Moreau School, Beatrice had such a deep desire to pursue an education that she enrolled herself at the age of 6 in the nearby public school. Unable to afford basic classroom supplies, she started making pancakes to sell for income when she was only 8. A few years later, Sister Jacinta crossed paths with Beatrice for the first time. During this encounter, she saw Beatrice fall, drop her pancakes in the dirt, burst into tears and cry. Sister Jacinta consoled her and listened to her story. She was amazed that Beatrice had taken the initiative to start her own pancake business in order to fund her education.
“I became very interested in her, for she was very mature for her age, very social, hardworking and creative,” said Sister Jacinta.
Sister Jacinta shared Beatrice’s story with the other sisters in her Kyarusozi community, and they all agreed to help her through the Ministry With the Poor Fund. The donor-supported fund made it possible for Beatrice to attend Moreau Nursery and Primary School. Beatrice’s father is incredibly grateful to the donors who have provided for his daughter’s education. Like Tobin, Beatrice is now optimistic about the future for herself and her family.
“I see her as a prominent woman in the future,” said Sister Jacinta.
Sister Jacinta conveyed that the donors make a Holy Cross education a reality for so many young people who, through no fault of their own, cannot access a quality education.
“Beatrice is the most grateful of all and she is determined not to let us, or her family, down,” she said.
This year, donors to Moreau Nursery and Primary School and to the Ministry With the Poor Fund helped 90 students pursue their education. The impact of 90 lives being transformed is immeasurable, according to Sister Jacinta. The sisters, staff, students and parents at Moreau School extend their deepest gratitude for your ongoing support of their educational ministry. They hope you might also continue to encourage its students as the school seeks to maintain the ongoing operational costs of its first bus as part of the Congregation’s annual spring appeal.