Working as Field Coordinator with CARITAS For Children, I am blessed to be able to see sponsorships from both the Ugandan side of things as well as from the American perspective. Many of these relationships, over time, develop into truly beautiful and meaningful friendships. One of my favorites has been that between the students at Milton High School in Wisconsin and a secondary school [high school] girl named Grace in Nkokonjeru, Uganda.
Sr. Carolyne Balikuddembe is a new member of the CARITAS For Children team, working as our first Program Coordinator in Africa on the ground in Uganda. This week was her first week of training in Nkokonjeru, Uganda. Below is a bit of background information and reflections by Sister to help you get to know our new team member . We are so excited to work with her, and feel blessed to have her with us!
It is always a special blessing when certain CARITAS For Children relationships are taken to a new level as when it happens that sponsors are able visit their sponsored child in Uganda. This week, long-time sponsors Vicki and Terry came to visit their sponsored daughter Vanessa at school and in her home in Nkokonjeru, Uganda. For nine years, Vicki and Terry have sponsored Vanessa, providing assistance to the family. As Terry reflected on this experience, he said: "It was a tremendous opportunity to visit Vanessa's home. There is no way to express the joy and gratitude that we felt from Vanessa's family."
On Wednesday, CARITAS For Children organized a gathering at St. Anthony’s Nursery School in Nkokonjeru. Those who attended this meeting were the local guardians of children who are eligible for nursery school, but do not have the funds to support an education for their children. These guardians came with their children for interviews with CARITAS For Children. Sr. Immaculate and Sr. Lucia, who work at the local nursery school, chose these children because they saw them sitting at home or working in the fields when they should be in school. We conducted these interviews with the guardians focusing on the main question: “Why do you need assistance?”
CARITAS For Children is about relationships. The relationship that sponsors form with their Ugandan children is centered around the consistent communication that CARITAS For Children provides through their ministry work. The ways that the children are able to communicate include Skype, sending their report cards through mail, sponsor visits, and the simple writing of letters. The letters are the main source of communication.
Topics: global relationships
A unique aspect of CARITAS For Children's child sponsorship programs is that our ministry partners on the ground are always Catholic religious congregations or groups of priests. This means that the schools that we send our sponsored children to are always run, managed by, built by, or supported by these Catholic religious organizations. This makes it easy to keep our child sponsorship programs centered on God, ensuring that our CARITAS children grow up knowing who Jesus is and understanding that they are truly and deeply loved by God. And – frankly – religious orders are very efficient in managing these indigenous education systems.
CARITAS For Children provides two ways to sponsor a child’s education in Uganda. The first sponsorship option, one dollar per day, or thirty dollars per month, is called the Day School Program. The second sponsorship option, the Boarding School Program, is about three dollars per day, or $90 dollars per month.
One of the most revealing parts of working for CARITAS For Children is witnessing how children are selected for sponsorship through our Catholic charity. It is encouraging because children who are in deep need have hope of receiving assistance from a sponsor after completing this process. There is a part of me, however, that feels a bit helpless seeing the tremendous, even overwhelming, need in this region of Africa. I can’t help wondering why I was born into such different circumstances…
Topics: global relationships
It is ironic that "Butono" is the Lusoga word for small. This beautiful little girl, Veronica, has the second name "Butono," but has the strength and maturity of anything but the small, six-year-old girl that she is. When people say that "this little girl is so lucky to have you in her life" – I know deep in my heart that exactly the opposite is true. I am so humbled, so grateful to have this six-year-old Ugandan girl in my life – who knew that someone so young could teach you what it truly meant to be strong.