Posts Tagged ‘Sisters of St. Joseph’

Introducing ’60 at 60′

60 at 60

A year after her last journey to Africa, Lynne has joined several other friends and formed a new effort to build a maternity clinic in Gulu for the Acholi people.

Lynne turned 60 years young in 2011, and she started asking herself what she could do that would affect others’ lives in this time of economic and political volatility and uncertainty.  Her mind and heart roamed, as they often do, to Africa and the Acholi people there.  She did a little researching and discovered that for just $60,000, the Sisters of St. Joseph in Gulu could build a brand new maternity clinic to provide rest, care and education for expecting and current mothers as well as their children.  Lynne discussed it with her friends Susan Kohl and Frank Haase, who were also turning 60 in 2011.  Together they agreed that there was a nice ring to $60,000 at 60 years of age, and they decided to use the coming year to raise the money for the clinic.  Thus, 60 at 60 was born.

Click on over to 60 at 60 to follow their journey and join their efforts!

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#31 – A message from Jim McCoy

Jim McCoy is Lynne’s brother-in-law, and he went with her to Uganda for part of her trip.   He sent the following message, and we wanted to share it with you all here.

From Jim:

I want to thank Lynne, Sister JoAnn and Sister Marion for inviting me and allowing me an experience of a lifetime. I also want to thank my wife Iris for supporting me to take this adventure. I thank and admire all the Sisters in Uganda who work so very hard to bring a better life to the Acholi People. I appreciate the hospitality of the Camboni Sisters where I stayed.

It was an inspiration to meet the Acholi school children along the road as they would (most of the time) be coming from or going to school. They all seemed so happy and many got some laughs at our attempts to say simple greetings in Acholi. On two occasions Lynne and I were treated to recitations of the poem Uganda, My Homeland. To one group, Lynne responded with a nonsense poem that ended with “and if you don’t believe me, just ask the blind man, he saw it all.” That sent them off in a fit of giggles.

Brother Mike the builder has a great crew working on the house that the Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ) will be living in. I was very pleased with how well they accepted us. They are steady, hard workers who don’t complain about the heat and the lack of modern tools. I was pleased to find out that the wastewater from the kitchens and showers will be used to water the garden – they are going green! The house will be a great improvement to where the sisters (JoAnn, Pat and Marion) live now.

I had the opportunity to go to daily Mass during the build. Even though I couldn’t understand the language, it was moving to see the schoolchildren participate and hear them playing the drums. I also got to meet Archbishop John Baptist Odama. He was very approachable and friendly. He really liked the handmade pottery from Georgia that Lynne and I presented him as a gift. Overall I feel I grew spiritually because I have a better perception of who my neighbor is, what freedom really means, and how blessed I am in so many ways.

Before I left I tried to imagine what a ‘third world country’ would be like. But you just can’t appreciate it until you experience it. And I was there in ‘good times’. The Lord’s Resistance Army is not currently active in the area I was in. It is a time of relative peace, but people are displaced and there is some despair and poverty. People are afraid they will never get back to their villages. On the other hand, there is a resiliency in most of the people – like the ones I saw walking & bicycling 25 miles to bring their child to boarding school for the semester.

Before I left, I did not count on going on the Safari, but I am very glad it happened.

A lion creeping alongEven though both Lynne and JoAnn were a little under the weather at the end of my stay we all made the trip. It was very exciting and the whole Safari, including the trip to Murchison Falls on the Nile, will be something I will never forget.

Sister Pat, they are looking forward to you returning, and with a little luck you will be coming back to a new house. I look forward to meeting you some day.

Sincerely , Jim

Jim closeup

#30 – Meet Kakanyero Stephine

From Lynne:

Kakanyero Stephine with house in bgThis is Kakanyero Stephine, an almost-six-year-old who has wanted for most of his young life to go to school.  His home is in the background.  Daily he would report to the nursery school only to be turned away because he has no school fees.  for the rest of the day he would hang around the edges of the clinic where JoAnn works, silently watching the activity, and the next day he would try again.Kakanyero Stephine closeup

When Sister Hellen, joking with us, asked the boy in Acholi which of us he wanted to pay for his school fees so he could go to nursery school, he pointed to me.  The cost is 240,000 shillings (or $120.00 US), the cost of a splurge for dinner or a pair of nice shoes.

So today, March 11, Kakanyero started school.  He was required to bring a small straw broom and a large roll of toilet paper for his first day, which he did.

#29 – A special thanks to Lynne and Jim

From Sister JoAnn Geary, CSJ, Gulu:

What a joy it has been having Lynne and Jim with us. And let me tell you they were serious about working – and work they did. As you have probably gathered by now, to accomplish anything here is quite labor-intensive. The tools are very primitive, but they both dug in and were elbow-to-elbow with the guys. The manual labor and the intense heat brought them home exhausted but they recovered amazingly well and were ready to go again in a short time.

On the last working day they provided the food for the morning tea break. Lynne boiled 20 eggs and ordered 30 chapatis from Alice (chapatis are  a tasty flatbread). Alice has a little lean-to down the road, and rumor has it that she makes the best!

They also had something for every one of the workers – they had loaded their suitcases with builder goodies. The guys just loved having them and were thrilled with their gifts. They want to know when they are coming back – me too!

More than anything, I think their presence really boosted the morale of the group. The workers felt proud to be on the job. To have Lynne and Jim from the United States come to work with them  was just the greatest. A job well done on many levels – Apwoyo matek! Many many thanks!

Before Jim left we went on safari to one of the national parks. We saw great wildlife including lions. What a thrill – generally they are very difficult to find – but there they were up close and personal.

After seeing Jim off we headed back to Gulu which only takes about 4-5 hours now instead of the 8-9 when we first came. The roads are really improving!

It has been so special to have Lynne here to experience and share in my life here in Gulu – to see the clinic, meet my co-workers, meet the sisters who have been so welcoming and all the friends we’ve made. We had a very festive African meal with Sister Hellen and the sisters at St. Mauritz where I work. They really rolled out the red carpet!

We took some great walks to town and the market which is very interesting and unique. After walking to town, which took about one and a half hours the 1st time, we took a bota-bota home.  A bota-bota is a motorcycle for taxi – my first! But not alone – Lynne squeezed on with me. The next day I graduated and went by myself!

Will wonders ever cease.

Lynne M. Cooper and Sister JoAnn Geary, CSJ in Gulu

Lynne (left) and JoAnn (right) together in Uganda

All in all I feel very blessed for and grateful to Lynne and Jim.

I hope their time here was as special and  meaningful to them as it was to me.

#28 – I’m coming home!

From Lynne:

One thing I have not motioned: we have all been sick…in some cases sicker than we had ever been.  It turns out three of us had bugs and recovered in a couple of days, but of course, JoAnn, show-off that she is, has Typhoid Fever!  So, needless to say, we are not hanging around with her anymore!  🙂  She is recovering well.  The last three days we have walked into town and taken bota-botas home.

Love to all who have read and commented here. I have not kept up with the questions, but appreciate each of them. Hopefully the additional photos will compensate. It has been a wonderful trip, and I am grateful for the opportunity and for my gracious and generous hosts, the Sisters of St. Joseph.  Thanks especially to Kyle Kratky, who is the production manager for this blog, and to the staff and board of Doorways, who told me everything was going great whenever I called.

Tomorrow I come home to the states.  I will take a jeep ride to Entebbe, where I will fly to London then Chicago and on to St. Louis, and then I’m home again.

#26 – Construction update

From Lynne:

The work around here goes smoothly, and it is interesting to see how the builders perform their craft.

builders working inside

Workers plastering ceilings with cement mixture

Walls inside and out get the same treatment, and thousands of wheelbarrows of a cement/plaster mixture are mixed by hand and carried in.

The Sisters of St. Joseph do a lot of great work, some of which includes funding, like for this clinic:

CSJ Sponsored clinic

#16 – Welcome to St. Moritz

From Lynne:

Welcome to the kitchen of the primary school at St. Moritz, and meet some of the children who study there.

St. Moritz school children

Bridget is the imp on the front left

nursery and playground at St. Moritz

The nursery school and playground at St. Moritz

The children are delighted to have their pictures taken and want to see the result on the digital screen. As school terms begin now, everyone is scrambling for school fees, and people ask us on the road to help send their children. My brother-in-law received a letter from the gateman where we stay passionately requesting help.

The schools were started by missionaries who still staff some of them. Yet control has been taken over by the government which does everything but provide funding. Teachers have not been paid for months, and understandably, some show up and some do not.  The cooks bake cupcakes and are very proud of their stove which is a charcoal fire box. They drag limbs and pieces of trees in and chop them themselves to make charcoal.

Cooks at St. MoritzThe sisters we stay with sponsor about 30 children at an average of $200 US each, often including room and board. We are well  in a district with lots of schools, so we see the children, all in bright uniforms identifying their school, everywhere. Day students go home for lunch, carrying their shoes for the journey to avoid wearing them out. Resident students wash their clothes in plastic tubs (just like we do!) and lay them across bushes  and off of small trees to dry. No books, no paper, no pens, so everything is by memorization.

Here is the scale for weighing babies and toddlers  at the entrance to JoAnn’s clinic at St Moritz:

scale for weighing babies at St. MoritzThis place has no electric and no running water. They did have lights once, but the solar panels were stolen, and they do have a bore hole (well), but the water is bad—they are not sure why. So, like everyone else, they work during the day and carry water when they need it.

Jim, Sister Helen and JoAnn at St. Moritz
Jim, Sister Helen and JoAnn smiling together at St. Moritz

Sister Helen is a midwife, and they are hoping to build a birthing center. (Frank, this may be the one!) JoAnn sees up to 50 patients a day, usually pediatrics and adult onset diabetes. Everybody, including us, eats too many carbs to fill up. And yes, JoAnn has discussed the diabetes with Sister Helen.