I thought I’d start an irregular series of posts called “My Kinda Christian.” These posts will probably consist of folks and groups that I think represent the best tradition of the Church. Who knows who might show up?
I was prompted in this direction by an email update I got recently from my first-grade teacher – not “a” first- grade teacher, but MY first-grade teacher. Sr. Linda Fuselier, SNJM, taught me first grade at St. Ignatius School in Sacramento in 1969 (or there abouts).
For the last 20 or so years Sr. Linda has been very involved in HIV/AIDS work. She worked in Washington, D.C., for a little while with crack-addicted babies who were also HIV positive. She was a member of the Catholic Network on HIV/AIDS Awareness. She worked on this issue at the United Nations. She worked in the rural South with men with AIDS who were not getting healthcare because the stigma was too great.
Now, Sr. Linda is in southwest Uganda. Through the Volunteer Missionary Movement, she is working with a school and an orphanage where many babies are infected with HIV. She’s living at the Yesu Ahuriire Community – a Catholic charismatic renewal community in Kamara, outside of Mbarara.
Below is an excerpt from one of Sr. Linda’s letters. (I’ll run more excerpts in the future.) For now, let me just say, Sr. Linda Fuselier is MY KINDA CHRISTIAN.
On May 10 I moved to my new home in Karama. It is about 8 miles into the country from where I lived last year! It is a charismatic renewal center. On the grounds there is a community of about 30+ members who are mostly in their 20’s with a few 30 or 40 year olds and 3 children aged 2 and under! This community takes care of hospitality, maintenance and daily prayers! Maintenance includes gardening and caring for the banana plantations. I think we also have 15 cows and 30+ goats as well as 300 hens laying eggs!!! I think there are hired workers for the animals.
On the farm is a second community of 4 Koreans from The Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus of Kottengnae who do marvelous ministry in Korea as well as around the world. At our place they have 24 HIV orphans. In time I hope to be working with them.
Also, we have a school called Ahuriire: Ugandan School for All whether they are of any race, sex, creed, tribe etc. Here I am helping to create a resource room and counseling room of which I will be engaged in. There are about 80 students in the school. Some of our students are boarders in a girls’ dormitory and a boys’ dormitory. Others walk from the nearby villages. We are in our second term as of May 23rd when the children began returning to school. Registration takes about a week before all return with their supplies, mattresses and uniforms as well as tuition.
Last week I was engaged in posters that need to be displayed for school officials and parents as well as visitors. Basically, the posters tell of class assignments, credentials, heads of departments, prefects, extracurricular responsibilities of teachers, class timetables etc. I thanked God each moment in knowing how to print!
There is no computer, copy machine, pencil sharpeners (razors are in sight everwhere). I also spent time making learning materials. My favorite project was the slide film for the television box made with cardboard and branches of a tree that role with “film,” handmade pictures created of ball, book, girl, boy, etc, at least 50 identifiable objects for the children to name in English. All students are expected to speak English. The baby class are children of a pre-school level ranging from 3-7 years old. They still are transitioning from local language!
There are no texts, or teachers manuals, crayons or paper. All students copy examples and exercises from black board to copy books. There is a copy book for each of the subjects. In the baby class, all work for the student is drawn in by the teacher! In the other classes all copy from the board. There is a lot of rote memory work.
There are no learning centers in the classroom as there are no stores for teachers to buy learning materials. In the capital city there is a book store on par of Barnes and Noble or Borders. The cost of materials and books seem to be higher than what I would pay in the States.
I bought a suitcase and filled it with learning materials and books for the resource room that I am creating for the school. The resources are both for the teachers and the children. It is a place where I am helping the children who fall behind or just need extra help and encouragement.
My latest purchase was a “floor bear” that holds 3 children to s it and read. I am in the process of getting supplies for my sand tray and art therapy counseling room. It is exciting to createnew opportunities for the children and teachers.