STOP PRESS – Uganda…An Update, January 2019

by Marissa Pongan

Dear Fr. Martin, St.Kevin Parishioners and Friends,

Fr. Fabius embraces you with blessings and greetings for the new year.

You may recall reading “A Ugandan Experience” last October detailing my stay with Fr. Fabius. Challenges identified was building a temporary kitchen and providing adequate food for the children of Pere Achte Pre-School and Primary School. These goals have been achieved! The temporary kitchen has been built and the children received a daytime meal of maize porridge for the 3rd Term (Sept – early Dec) 2018.

This is an amazing achievement (on your part) reflecting not only a caring community, but one that is excited about been involved and emotionally connected in making peoples’ lives better.

If you wish to donate to this worthy cause, contact the parish office. No amount is too small!

Another great achievement!

A report detailing the budget for the lunch program included payment requests for a cook and firewood. I decided to ring Fr. Fabius and said to him, “Why is there a request for monies to pay a cook?  Can one of the parents volunteer their time and cook the porridge for the children? Better still there could be a roster, so the work load is shared. Many people there have free time and might like to help.”

Fr. Fabius explained that because of tribal and cultural differences, it was difficult to follow through with this. (far too complex for us Westerners to fully understand)

There was also the cost for firewood. Once again, I gently prompted Father. The Kibale Forest covers a large expanse. It’s an ideal place to collect wood. It would be fun for the children to do. Not only occupying their time, but the parents won’t be thinking, how can we keep the kids entertained! Furthermore Father, (I continued) it shows the people here in Sydney that the Ugandans for their part are contributing. Fr Fabius listened, concluding with: “I GET YOU.”

The most cherished and precious words were spoken; some conversations just need to be over the phone!

I wasn’t finished………not yet.

Listen Father, can we put our ideas and thoughts of what we’ve spoken to the parents? Father was pondering this. I could feel my words hanging in the intermittent space of silence.

This is the challenge: Can you and Muhenda Richard (Headmaster) organize a parent/teacher meeting at the school? That is what Australian schools do when there are issues arising that requires discussion.

I persisted, perhaps pre-empting Father’s thoughts.  Don’t worry about how many people are going to attend. It’s a new concept for everyone. One just needs 2 or 3 pro-active people to come up with ideas and solutions. Also, everyone will feel included and connected.

Keep positive, results will happen. Do not be discouraged. I said encouragingly.

The weight of anticipation lifted, re-sounding with Father’s words: WE WILL DO IT

The Parent/Teacher meeting was a unanimous success. A decision was reached:

The parents would provide a cook and firewood.

It was a momentous occasion and a tremendous achievement for a people, who, through no fault of

their own, with circumstances beyond their control are often the result of political and economic setup.

Fr. Fabius looks to be overworked but very zealous to change the lives of the very innocent children and the very poor caring parents, the majority of whom are women. Those of us in Australia who have not been to Africa won’t believe how the African rural lady does more than 90% of family duties.

Afterwards Fr. Fabius and I had a long chuckle, commenting, ’We never give the Holy Spirit a rest, otherwise thinks it’s on holidays; gets lazy, then we have to work harder to bring it back!’

While we have the strength (God willing) we don’t want to be ‘armchair’ Christians.

Education is vital, but not on an empty stomach!

In photo: Temporary kitchen built. Children receiving day time meal of maize porridge