Mary (not her real name) was abducted from her home by the Lord’s Resistance Army as a young teenager. She was forced to marry one of the soldiers and gave birth to three sons, one of whom passed away. After ten years of captivity, she was finally able to escape with her two sons. Deeply traumatized and possessing no skills to support herself, Mary faced seemingly insurmountable challenges to rebuilding a life for herself and her sons.
However, Mary was one of the first students admitted into Stella Matutina, a Catholic girls boarding school that was originally started to educate girls who had been abducted by the LRA. After spending four years at this high school, she was able to find a sponsor to continue her education, and she now works as a nurse at a hospital in Northern Uganda, able to support herself and her two sons. When she first arrived at the school, she felt a lot of anger and hostility towards her sons. Through many conversations and counseling by the sisters at the school, she was able to realize and accept that her sons were also innocent victims, and respond to them with motherly love and care.
|Sister Sophie with Nathan|
Sister Sophie was one of the first sisters to work at this school. Sophie is a warm and friendly woman, originally from Kenya, who responds to the girls with compassion and love. On our visit last week, we had the opportunity to talk with Sister Sophie and hear more about the vision and work at Stella Matutina.
Because there has been peace in Northern Uganda since 2006, the current students at the school are not former abductees; however, many of them were young girls during the war and they have trauma from experiencing the war and losing parents and other relatives. There are currently 218 girls, 19 teachers, and 8 sisters at the school. The school is set on ten acres in a rural area where they grow a lot of local food to feed the students and staff.
MCC Uganda has partnered with Stella for several years. MCC’s approach to education is to sponsor schools instead of individual students, so that entire communities can benefit from support instead of just individuals. At Stella, we provide scholarships for 30 of the most vulnerable students, and we also provide funding for solar energy equipment, as sporadic electricity was one of the biggest challenges that the school faced.
|The science lab at Stella was built with funds provided by MCC|
We have been busy the past few weeks as we just recently returned from a week and a half in Lusaka, Zambia, and then we head out to Masaka in southern Uganda tomorrow. I hope to post more soon about our recent travels…