Paula always felt that God had 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 Spirit reminding her of her purpose. She got involved in volunteer work which led her to meet Sr. Mary Francis Harrington who was engaged with the Lost Boys of Sudan project. It was through Sister Mary Francis’ involvement with the Sudan’s Isaac Water Well project that Paula first met Father Donald Dunson, the founder of the Saint Kizito Foundation.
What began as a planned trip to the Sudan to check on the Water Well project ended up, due to civil unrest in the Sudan, in a trip to Uganda. Fr. Don put Paula in touch with the St. Kizito Foundation representative in Africa who met her at Entebbe airport along with some Good Samaritan sisters who she ended up staying with for over a month in Uganda.
Sister Mary Peter, a Good Samaritan sister, runs Kyasira Home of Hope orphanage in Uganda. A few of the 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 3 to 20 years old. Paula conveyed that she was greeted like an important dignitary.
Paula set to work teaching math, writing, language as well as some “home skills” to the students. School supplies like paper, pencils, charts etc. are not plentiful. Math classes are conducted using rocks. Home skills like washing clothing, bedding etc. were also demonstrated. Clothing is washed by hand in buckets with water drawn from nearby Lake Victoria. Clothing is then hung out to dry.
Paula observed that all members of this community had chores. The Home is on about 30 plus acres which are used to grow crops – vegetables and fruit which are used to feed the residence. Fish is a special treat sometimes provided by fisherman. There are farm animals – such as chickens – which provide eggs that are sold to provide income. Brickmaking is also done on the property and provides income as well. 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 Sister Mary Peter as well as with three college students who she adopted into her family. She continues to spread the word among family and friends about the children and their challenges. Through her generosity she has shined a light on this community and it has resulted in a number of positive outcomes and blessings both for the children as well as the givers. Through Paula’s efforts a number of 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!