Dear Friends,
On behalf of the community of St. Mary’s school I warmly greet you all.

Appreciation:

I wish to express our sincere gratitude to each and everyone of you for the support you give to our school with your prayers and with the donations you give us. We extend our special thanks to you for the two projects you have helped us to put up in the school namely the house for two teachers and the latrine as we requested. Our goal for the two projects was $4,000 but you exceeded this amount when you were able to raise $5,550! I hesitate to mention names because I know that many people participated in one way or another in raising these funds. But please allow me to mention the young man Jonathan who had the inspiration for the Apple iPod raffle. Indeed it is risky to mention additional names because I know cannot mention all the people who support this mission because we know you all support us.

Challenges Encountered:

Definitely, with such a big donation we would have wanted to put up a bigger and better house than we have done but since the beginning of this academic year in January 2011 we have experienced some tough challenges that made us make a painful decision to use some of your donations meant for the projects ($1,557) to keep the school open and functioning .
The first challenge was the abrupt departure of three of our teachers including the head teacher complaining of low salaries ($60 a month). We had to move quickly to look for new teachers and to make a small raise in the salaries so that we do not lose more teachers. The salaries of teachers is the biggest challenge we have at the moment. Thanks to Fr. Jesus who gave us $400 that has enabled us to pay our teachers for the months of February and March.
Another challenge we have met is the fall of our enrollment at the beginning of this year. At the moment we have only 101 students down from 120. This has been caused by the serious economic crisis we are experiencing in Uganda. We had a very long dry season that has affected us greatly. All our parents and indeed most Ugandans are simple farmers. They depend on their small gardens for both food and some little income. Without rain they have no food and no money. This is why many children are out of school and those that have been brought back have either paid a little bit of the tuition or have not paid at all. Because we understand the situation of our parents we just have to be patient and pray for better times. The constantly rising prices of fuel have also made things more complicated as all commodities tend to go up with the fuel prices. This is how we ended up in this kind of situation at St. Mary’s but we have hope that with the rains we have started getting, things will get better.

Good News:

Our gardens have started giving us some products. At the end of last year we harvested 50 pounds of rice and 150 pounds of corn. We sold off the rice to assist me with the transport costs since I live 50 miles away from the school ( I teach in a seminary in the city) The maize flour from the corn is helping us with the teachers’ lunch. We have not yet been able to provide lunch for our students yet it is one of the things that attract the parents to a school.
On a personal note, this year I am celebrating my SILVER JUBILEE as a priest. Please join me to thank the Lord for allowing me to serve his people as a priest for twenty five years and for the things he has enabled me to do in his vineyard. Allow me to end this message by thanking the pastor Fr. Jesus Cuadros for the support he gives to this mission. I also thank you so much every one , may God bless your generous support of St. Mary’s School!
Fr. Expedit Sserunjogi