$25 per month will provide the following to a child: Teachers' salaries, school uniform, scholastic materials, Water bills, transport, shoes, socks, breakfast & Lunch, a desk, medical services and sanitary pads for girls.


Having been to Uganda twice within a year, I had no plans to return. However, learning that I could be with Immaculee, Wayne Wieble and one of the associate pastors from Medugorje this changed my mind. I was going to return, and my niece, Mary would also make the third excursion with us. To put the icing on the cake, Sandra Vanraay, and Danielle Laier, both from near-by Chatham, were to join the group. To support my position with the group as a priest, father Gerard signed up also. In all, we melded together spiritually, and cordially, to make the entire thirteen days an experience that enhanced this venture to Africa.

Following our stay overnight at Amsterdam, we arrived late the next day in Uganda and were hosted by the sisters who served us royally. Our first major experience was to visit with Stephen in his village community where more than 1,000 rejoicing villagers greeted us. And, thanks to so many who sent clothing, shoes, and rosaries etc, for these folk who appreciated them. Since they receive so few amenities, our gifts were received with enthusiasm. And we had the joy of seeing their excitement. Since we were not able to fit the children individually with the colorful dresses etc., Stephen recommended that we leave it for the elders to do this. Besides, it was getting late, and we were tired. I must confess, when the ladies of our group were not looking, I fitted a few of the girls with the dresses by putting them over top of what they already had on. I have no children of my own, so I felt justified as a father, to do my own thing.

We attended the Eucharist for Healing and Deliverance with MSGR. Expedito. This lasted several hours. However, Monsignor made sure we were well fed before and after this enlightening service. Five of us were transported by John Paul Kibalama to his community about three hours from the convent. The others went to the beginning of the Nile River and came back with joyful reports, in spite of the rough journey there. Three of them were venturesome enough to bungee jump from a fearsome height head first into the Nile. Wow! John Paul made it possible to provide me with the highlight of the entire thirteen days. We went to the new home of Nandawula Margaret her name. Her husband died four years previously and she had nowhere to live. Other villagers put together some branches and covered them with pieces of wood and metal to make for her a teepee. Inside there would be no more than five feet of space. She cried night and day. For $1,100.00 we raised together with others, enough to build a one room brick home. Her wide smile when we arrived, also her huge hug instilled a joy within me that will remain forever.

We also visited three schools; each one had a building with no roofs, windows or doors, that way for nine years, making it necessary for the students to receive classes under the trees. Parents met us at all three so-called schools. The one has been completely provided with the bare necessities, and the other two are now under way to provide covering and comfort. My next hope is that the students receive suitable benches instead of simple boards to sit on. Several homes have been built for the more desperate poor. Unfortunately, we had no time to visit all of them; what we did see sufficed to make us happy, also with the resolve to share more with those who have so little.

We did not yet meet up with Immaculee. At the airport at Kigali we were greeted by her and taken in a large, comfortable bus to our next residence. It was a Diocesan residence for Priest retreats and gatherings of sorts. It was surely a home for us, with hospitality that would be second to none. Immaculee, I attended your talk at a full house gathering in Chatham about two years ago. Now I had the pleasure of being with you full time for five days in Rwanda. You, along with Wayne’s sharing, inspired all of us. Praise God! Really, I believe that all of us inspired one another. A special thanks to each of you. This third journey to Africa was a thrill I would never have dreamed possible.

In Rwanda, not all, but some of us visited the genocide museum. From there we went to the Church where five thousand gathered for safety. All five thousand Tutsis died. It is not used now as a Church; it is set aside as a remembrance of those who perished there. We saw hundreds of sculls on two shelves at the back, and three rows of coffins with the remains of fifty victims in each of them. This too is a vision I will never forget. I am thankful that we went after this to Kibeho and met with the one visionary who shared some inspiring words of the happenings there. Again, we had sumptuous housing and hospitality at Cana, a retreat complex of buildings not far from the shrine. Everywhere we stayed the accommodations left nothing to be desired.

We were so taken up with activities, meeting with hundreds of Africans wherever we went, eating too much sumptuous food, traveling for too many hours on crowded airlines – and I have long legs – when we arrived back Home most of us experienced jet lag for too many days. But it was worth every minute of this venture. At 87 I had a little taste of paradise. Thank all of you: Judith, Wayne, Immaculee, Mary, Sndra, father Gerard, Pam, Pat, Linda, Danielle, Stephen, Carol, Brenda and all you colorful African hosts. You “made my day”. You made our day.

- Fr. Martin Johnston, 10/01/2015.