Paula always felt that God blessed her with the knowledge, passion, and desire to help the less fortunate as her life’s purpose. Her pathway to fulfilling her purpose was right on schedule. She married, raised a family of four, and taught in the urban city of Cleveland. After retiring, Paula continued to bear witness to the movement of the Holy Spirit, reminding her of her purpose.
She got involved in volunteer work, which led her to meet Sr. Mary Francis Harrington, who worked with the Lost Boys of Sudan project. Through Sister Mary Francis’ involvement with Sudan’s Isaac Water Well project, Paula first met Fr. Donald Dunson, the founder of the St. Kizito Foundation.
Initially planning to travel to Sudan to check on the Water Well project, Paula traveled to Uganda instead due to Sudan’s civil unrest. Fr. Don put Paula in touch with the St. Kizito Foundation representative in Africa. Our representative met her at Entebbe airport with some Good Samaritan sisters, whom she stayed with for over a month.
Sr. Mary Peter, a Good Samaritan Sister, runs Kyasira Home of Hope orphanage in Uganda. A few children assisted by the St. Kizito Foundation are part of this community. The poverty is overwhelming, but so is the genuine hospitality and joy of the residents of this community ranging in ages three to 20 years old. Paula conveyed that the residents greeted her like she was an important dignitary.
Paula got to work teaching math, writing, language, and some “home skills” (washing clothing, bedding, etc.) to the students. School supplies like paper, pencils, and charts are not plentiful; for example, teachers conduct math classes using rocks. Residents wash clothes by hand in buckets with water drawn from nearby Lake Victoria.
Paula observed that all members of this community had chores. The home is on about 30+ acres used to grow crops (vegetables and fruit) to feed the residence. Fish is a special treat sometimes provided by fishermen. There are chickens, which provide eggs to sell to provide income. They also perform brickmaking on the property as another source of income. The Sisters who run this orphanage and school, along with the children, take pride in what they have and work hard to be self-sufficient.
Paula left Uganda after spending over a month there, forever changed. She plans to return in the fall. In the meantime, she stays in contact with Sr. Mary Peter and three college students that she adopted into her family. She continues to spread the word among family and friends about the children and their challenges, shining a light on this community. This has resulted in several positive outcomes and blessings for the children and givers. For example, many children now have a pen pal in the USA. The pen pal offers social and emotional support through letter writing. Pen pals will sometimes offer financial assistance with their tuition.
Paula believes in the power of education to empower these young people to have hope and to have a brighter future – one which offers life-affirming choices. We salute Paula for her generous heart, hope-filled spirit, and untiring hard work – and we appreciate her being a voice for the most vulnerable!