Okumait Daniel KIR-1783 is a 20-year-old boy whom, with support from AVSI Foundation, has been sponsored by Meeting Point International (MPI) since senior one at Luigi Giussani High School. He is currently in senior five offering Physic, Economic, Mathematics and Computer Science.
In 2019, Daniel received a Ugx.206,000/= gift from his sponsor Cremonesi Paolo. When Aunt Rose called him to the MPI headquarters and asked him what he wanted to buy, he excitedly said pigs and explained that he wanted to start a piggery project. His gift managed to accord him two piglets, a female and male. After a while, the female gave birth to eight piglets the first time and nine piglets the second time.
When schools closed during the Covid-19 lockdown, he sold the first set of piglets that were 6 months old at the time and bought a smart phone that he needed in order to do academic research and receive school assignments online. Some of the money also helped the family buy food during the economically tough lockdown period. Daniel then decided to use the remaining proceeds of the sale to start a rabbit rearing (cuniculture) project and bought two rabbits, a male and female. As the piggery project expanded, space became insufficient so he made his second sale and opened up a bank account in order to safely keep and save his money for future use.
Luigi Giussani High School, all students attend community school where students are educated about their value among other important life skills in adherence to the social teachings of the Catholic Church. It is through these dialogues and how he is handled by his teachers that Daniel says he understood his value and the way he looked at things changed. Daniel was very happy with his project so he went ahead and gifted Rose Busingye, the MPI Director, with a pig. This humbled us as MPI staff and Rose was extremely happy to see that such a young person was so moved by his gift he thought about gifting her as well.
Due to insufficient space where he is doing the piggery and cuniculture at the moment, Daniel plans to switch to cattle rearing. He has also been advised that cattle may also be a little easier to manage and require less attention because God willing, he will be a candidate in 2023 and will need more time to concentrate on his studies. He plans to relocate the project to the village where the space is big enough to hold more cattle since he is working towards expanding the project.
The gift money he received from his sponsor encouraged him to develop good ideas and further contributed to his awareness about who he is and his potential. Daniel says the gift to Aunt Rose was his way of showing gratitude for what his sponsor, Rose, and MPI in general has done for him since he joined the MPI community.
During the Easter Vigil of 2022, 15 widows of Meeting Point International (MPI) were received into the catholic church again after several years of cohabiting with their late husbands. We were able to have a dialogue with them and they disclosed to us why they had this desire to go back to the church.
Story by, Adoch Mary Clare
Kampala, July 6, 2022.
ACCOMPANYING EACH OTHER TO THE FINAL DESTINATION
A war that killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 1.6 million people in northern Ugandan united very many women despite its horrendous consequences. Among the people displaced are some of the women of Rose (MPI director) who are united in a Kampala slum known as Acholi Quarters and others in Naguru. 15 of these women were welcomed back into the catholic church after renewing their baptism vows, the sacraments of penance and holy Eucharist. Some of them were not receiving the body of Christ before because they were cohabiting with their husbands. However, because their partners passed on and most of these women are above the age of 50 years of age, they decided they want to be closer to God by respecting Him and actively practising their catholic faith and this was the first step to achieve that.
They wanted to do this together in each other’s company because they believe through this relationship with God, they will be able to set an example for both young and old within the community. They believe that if you are close to Him, you attract people who will hopefully trust you enough to approach you in whatever situation they are facing, be it good or bad. Through this, they wanted to show love to themselves first, then to those around them and the community at large.
Many of these women met through Meeting Point International and became even closer through actively participating in MPI activities where a bond was created. However, they share some characteristics like being widows, victims of war and agemates that brought them even closer enough to encourage each other to get this baptism. Another reason for the baptism was; during of the war, most of them lost their documents like baptism cards and birth certificates in the chaos yet these are documents essential in one’s life because in most of the offices that provide essential services, these documents are a requirement. They celebrated their return to the church with their fellow women of MPI and Rose who provided them with a cake that was inscribed with “we are now free”.
We were moved by these women, in their simplicity, to ask for baptism and the sacraments! “This achievement by these women was worth celebrating because we didn’t ask them to go back for the sacraments and this shows a kind of awareness within themselves which is a success for MPI. They are living in a natural way. MPI didn’t impose this on then and it implies that even when MPI ceases to exist, they will be able to do things on their own. They will be able to eat a balanced meal, cook well, take their drugs, clean their house because they have an awareness of their own.” said Rose on why we celebrated their achievement.
The women were baptised from their usual meeting place in Kireka where meetings with them are held. This place also acts as a church on Sundays with permission from Rose; the mass is usually held in a language they understand which is Acholi. Rose commented on the reason as to why she allowed the mass to be held from MPI saying; “Allowing the women to have mass from there is the same as allowing God to happen there. God is happening in our place where we sit, where we cry, where we are happy, where we are a mess, so the same way we can’t refuse that God is there is how we can’t refuse the priest to make Him happen in our place. Mass, a sacrament for us Catholics, represents the fact that God died, rose again and became flesh of our flesh through the holy Eucharist. The value is God that is happening in us, when you talk about God, the father of fathers, our heart is vibrating, when we celebrate Him, its beyond something beautiful.”
“…knowledge acquired from the MPI dialogues and my conversations with Rose reminded me of my value and taught me that I needed to start being the protagonist in my life by…”
by Kisuki Simon Nimrod, DSP Social Worker.
Life often has hard corners to maneuver but can be simple depending on one’s perspective. This is how Anyiri Sarah, a mother of 3, guardian to 5, summarizes her experiences and responsibilities today. Even without an education, she was the only child among her siblings with considerable success at a young age being the one that held her family together financially. Once she got married and a few years later, her husband impregnated a maid Sarah had employed for the sole purpose of giving said maid an opportunity to sustain her family.
Once she found out about the pregnancy, she separated from her husband and left with their 3 children in the guise of visiting an aunt. Sarah describes leaving her husband as the most heartbreaking and painful experience she has ever been through not to mention the hardest choice she has ever had to make. Sarah’s Aunt allowed her to stay for as long as she needed. However, due to depression over the end of her marriage, betrayal, worry for her children, and the fear that she may be HIV positive, Sarah looked and felt sick, so much so she could neither stand nor sit on her own. This is when she was rushed to Reach Out for testing and later Mulago for treatment for different infections. Luckily she was HIV-negative.
This is the period during which she was introduced to the Meeting Point International (MPI) Executive Director, Rose Busingye having heard about how big an impact she was making in the lives of many of the women that resided around the Kireka-Acholi quarters. She says at first she thought her husband would come and take them back home, but due to his emphatic refusal to go for HIV testing with her till date, she couldn’t trust him enough to take him back.
Sarah had some little money left after her treatment that she used for rent and started a small retail shop that grew over time. She later joined a savings group where she saved consistently using whatever she could spare from her shop’s profits. However, she was unfortunately robbed and she didn’t get a single coin when it was time to share the money which led to all her plans like restocking her shop and buying out her landlord being cancelled which depressingly meant starting from scratch again.
Life became so hard to the extent that Sarah could not afford any underwear for herself and some days she couldn’t afford a meal for her family. By this time, she had started attending MPI dialogues but was still timid about confiding her problems to Rose. One day she followed Jacky, an MPI social worker at the time, and asked her for some money. Jacky gave her ugx.5000 and advised her to find a source of income because requesting for money isn’t sustainable. This encounter happened after Rose advised them to feel free to go to her with their problems. She gathered her courage and went to meet Rose who she says gladly offered her much needed advice and help. Sarah was at the time also suffering from a terrible skin infection and Rose gave her medicine to apply to her body and kept inquiring about how she was fairing, not to mention surprising her with underwear at a later date!
“Jacky and Rose’s eagerness to help, knowledge acquired from the MPI dialogues and my conversations with Rose reminded me of my value and taught me that I needed to recognize that one way of the ways I can be the protagonist in my life is by using my capabilities to survive in my reality rather than feel sorry for myself.”recalls Sarah.She then used the ugx.5000/= as capital to start up a cassava frying business which is still running very successfully to date. She is very proud of it because the returns have enabled her to sustain her family, made it a little easier to take care of 5 more children in need and contribute for their school requirements since MPI caters for their school fees.
From these lessons, Sarah now testifies and advises fellow MPI women during the community dialogues on how they can be more proactive in their lives. She encourages the mothers to be companions in their children’s lives the same way MPI offers companionship to them. She urges them to take responsibility of finding out if for example the school fees paid by MPI was cleared at the school, how their children are performing in school, make sure they do their homework, etc…and not leave the full responsibility of the child to MPI even if MPI already takes such responsibility.
“Rose’s words to the women are a very strong instrument that will always drive you to something great when fully understood” says Sarah.In one of the personal dialogues she had with Rose, she was advised to always write down her daily expenditure and then see how to narrow it down given the other demands she always has at hand. This taught her to be in control of what’s hers, to leave within her means at whatever financial position she finds herself because that is the only way she will not fail to fulfil her responsibilities.
All this combined with how loved Sarah has felt since the day she was welcomed into Meeting Point International (MPI), has moved her into being responsible for those she encounters. Not only her children but her relatives, MPI members, people in her community or any human being for that matter. She says that Rose’s constant encouragement to remind ourselves to not only be mindful about ourselves and what is ours, but for others as well, is what provoked her heart.
“I do not regret the day I decided to settle here because it has given me the opportunity to keep discovering who I really am.”Sarah added.
Today, with the support from donors like AVSI Foundation and Support International, among others, MPI is supporting all her 8 children and this gives her some leeway to take care of their other needs. One cannot imagine that the story behind this woman’s life is hers because of how happy she is, and how she conducts herself despite her circumstances. This tells us that we all need to be loved and welcomed without putting anything but humanity under consideration.
“Ndi muntu, sili kabila”, meaning “I am not my tribe, I am a human being”, is how Acen Karamela Kasule, one of the oldest members of Meeting Point International responded when asked why she was the first person to contribute to the Ukraine cause once the idea to collect funds to support the war victims was suggested. The beauty in this statement is that many a time, we are more inclined to help people with whom we have personal relationships or similarities like ethnicity, religion, etc…, yet we ought to be moved by the compassion that should ideally come from recognizing that a fellow human being’s infinitely great value is in jeopardy.
“Who are we not to help or contribute something however small to those who are suffering, to offer them the companionship we have been shown by MPI and donors we may never meet. Watching the news about Ukraine makes me cry because those too are my children, they belong with me and the memories it brings up reminds me very vividly of how painful what those people are going through must be .We need to unite with the people in the war through prayer because we cannot live as if we are different and should love one another as human beings. There’s nothing like this one is black or white, we are all one. And this is why we are sending our support. It may not be able to feed them but it is a sign of our tears to show that we are with them in these trying times. If Ukraine or Russia was like in Mbarara (a Ugandan district), we would ask Rose to take us so that we can help however we can but we can’t due to the distance.” said Karamela.
Karamela Kasule, like many of the Meeting Point International (MPI) women were victims of the LRA guerrilla war in Northern Uganda when they experienced first-hand the horrors that come with war and it is how they ended up relocating to the slums of Kampala. Watching/ listening to news of the Ukraine war brings back very painful memories for many of them.
“Sometimes we watched as the rebels raped mothers in front of their children, cut off people’s body parts, buried people alive, among other inhumane acts that would make us so traumatised we lost hope and started doubting God’s existence.” said Akello Florence, a 50-year-old member of MPI.
“Today, I have learnt so much from MPI and from community school and I have the awareness that what we have contributed is nothing, but we want to help the victims with more than words of prayer and hope that this small token may remind even one person that God still exists. The money, above all, represents our voices and the cries of our hearts from the pain of what’s happening to humanity. I am requesting those who are fuelling the war to ask themselves “what is a human being?” because it should be only God that makes the decision to take away one’s life. We are praying that they recognise that what has already happened is bad enough and that God created us all with his love, not human love and they are eliminating this love forcefully. I call upon all of us and not just the war victims to prepare ourselves and our hearts, to ask ourselves, how I can clean my heart and make my life better? Am I worthy of God’s love? So that our hearts are filled with God’s love and when death comes, we are not scared because we know that we have a value and are filled with God’s love.” continued Akello Florence.
“It is very painful what is happening in Ukraine because those people are our brothers and sisters but also because it reminds us of the horrors of war we experienced and pray that God saves them like he did us. My heart is with MPI because I am grateful for the education on how to live with people and now am learning that when another human gets a problem, it is also my problem as well. We have to come together, unity is Golden, giving advice to someone is golden. In the past, different countries came together to help us during the war because their hearts moved for us, right now, they are also in our hearts and in my house hold, we include them in our prayers. May God bless and multiply the little we have given so that it can make a difference.” said Anek Florence.
“The people responsible for the war should remember the value of a human being. Covid-19 killed us in very large and we don’t need any more deaths. This money we have collected could take care of our struggling families because I personally take care of 4 orphans, however I understand the terror war can bring to people and I pray that this small contribution helps them so that they don’t lose faith in humanity and God.” said Atimango Josephine, a 56-year-old mother.
“Watching the news about Ukraine reminds me of my difficult childhood and watching children go without food bring tears to my eyes. My father passed away when my twin and I were 7 months old and after a few months, my father’s family chased my mother out of their clan. My mother, having no stable source of income suffered terribly with us trying to find food for us and we would sometimes go a day without any meals. I feel so much pain because I know what it is like to be a hungry child but now that I have children of my own, I can only imagine the pain the mothers must be going through helplessly watching their kids starve all because of a war brought about by fellow human beings. When we started to contribute, I gave whatever I had in my pocket and keep praying to God that the people can unite so that the war can stop.” contributed Nyangoma Mackline.
One after another, over 300 women of Meeting Point moved by the pain being experienced by the people in Ukraine and Russia managed to contribute Ugx. 3,000,000/=, approximately EUR.833/= which was forwarded through his excellence the Papal Nuncio, Luigi Bianco who was welcomed with music and dance by the MPI women on May 12th, 2022. He was thankful to the women and commended them on their solidarity for human kind.
MPI women have however expressed this solidarity before after hearing of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in the U.S. The women of Meeting Point International like now were moved to action. For weeks, they crushed truck-loads of stones in the nearby Kireka quarry and contributed about $1,000. “It may only be a drop in the ocean, but our donation proves that the human heart is international, and without our unity the human race would become withered like a plant without nourishment” said Rose Busingye, MPI Director.
My name is Achan Priscilla, a 22-year-old teacher at Luigi Giussani Pre-primary and Primary school (LGPPS). I live with my two siblings Abraham, a 19-year-old, and Rovia, a 12-year-old in Acholi quarters. I just finished my degree at Kyambogo university this year where I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree of arts in education. I managed to get a first-class degree and am very happy about it. This would not have been possible without the support of my donors and Meeting Point International (MPI).
Having lost my father in 2003, a lot about my life became uncertain especially completing school. My mother struggled to raise us and got some relief when she discovered MPI and I was enrolled for support in 2008 when I was in primary five. Unfortunately, when I was in senior four, my mother succumbed to cancer and passed away. I now had a family to take care of and provide for yet I was a candidate that very year and I still had to sit national examinations amidst the grief and new responsibilities. I, however, managed to work hard and earn myself a first grade.
Overwhelmed with my new responsibilities, I requested Aunt Rose to allow me skip the Advanced level of secondary school and opt for a shorter course of one year and gain hands-on skills so that I could be in a position to support my family. She assured me that MPI would support my family financially and provide any help we needed. This gave me strength because I realized I was not alone. I attended Luigi Giussani High School (LGHS), a school whose focus is to help students discover themselves every day. The teachers helped me embrace the reality of my situation and I began looking at my mother’s death with positivity which paved way for growth and maturity. I completed my senior six in 2016 and emerged as the best student in my school.
I also wanted to attest to all the girls and orphans that it is possible to find success amidst the hardships we go through. I am very fortunate to have encountered MPI because they have continued to accompany me in my daily life even now by catering to my family’s education, health, and other needs. I was given a job at LGPPS, a school founded by MPI and I began volunteering there as a teacher. The same beauty I encountered at LGHS is what I found at my workplace which prompted more personal growth.
I decided to become a teacher because of the inspiration of my teachers at the LGHS. The teachers not only taught in a way that made me understand the subject but also addressed the needs of my heart. Their hearts were open to what was happening with each student. Mr. Wandera Joseph my History teacher inspired me with the way he presented himself and spoke in public. He had this self-esteem that I admired and wanted to imitate or even better.
My journey at the university wasn’t easy because I would go to work in the morning, go to study at the university in the afternoon, and later get home late in the evening and care for my siblings who would be back from school too. However, I had a lot of support from my colleagues at work, the LGPPS administration that allowed me to reschedule my timetable to study in case they clashed, my lecturers and course mates always helped me catch up through discussions because they were moved by my situation. This degree that I have achieved is not just for me but for everyone who stood with me.
“I want to thank MPI and all my sponsors especially Familie Zöpfl and Support International that accompanied me through my school journey. I wish that they could feel my love, excitement, and gratitude for them.”
They have accompanied me even in times when I had lost all hope. I don’t take for granted the fact that they decided to love me this way, that they decided to prefer me this way. In the absence of my parents, MPI and my donors have been the parents for it is usually only parents who would do what they do for me. They love me for who I am and their biggest desire was to see me happy. I am happy and grateful and I will always strive to make them proud. I am going to study and get a master’s degree in linguistics and P.H.D dedicated to them. I recognize the value in everything that they have done and I want what I have encountered to be able to help whoever I encounter so that the people out there also understand the value of life and its meaning.
Story written by Adoch Mary Clare
Below are link to story of Priscilla’s brother Aron’s story for more insight of her journey and that of her family.