Drum Beats Buseesa, Uganda Volume 12 Issue 4 November 2006
Pr ofe s sio n Of Vows For The Fi r st Ug an dan Sister s O f Notre Da me
The first profession of vows of our two Ugandan sisters, Sister Mary Amony and Sister Mary Immaculate took place on October 7 at our St. Julie Mission in Buseesa, Uganda. Bishop Deogratias, who first invited the Sisters of Notre Dame to begin an educational mission in his Hoima, Uganda diocese, was the main celebrant at the Eucharistic Liturgy.
Bishop and guests had many words of praise for what the Sisters of Notre Dame are accomplishing in Uganda. The rite of religious profession was truly inspiring and the beginning of a new chapter in the life of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Uganda. Mass began at 10:00 am and concluded at 1:00 pm and then the entertainment which included singing and
Priests from throughout the diocese and beyond joined us for Mass and the 10-year anniversary of St. Julie Mission. Our school children, their parents, people from the parish and surrounding village were also in attendance and our multi-purpose room was filled to capacity with 800 people. The
dancing by the children interspersed with speeches by religious and civic officials continued until 3:00 pm. A meal was then served to all. It was a great day in Buseesa for our two new sisters and their families, for the people of Uganda and the Sisters of Notre Dame.
Photos - Top: Sister Marla (left) and Sister Mary Kristen (right) California Provincial join with Bishop Deogratias in celebrating the first profession of vows with Sister Mary Immaculate and Sister Mary Amony. Center: Sister Mary Amony (left) and Sister Mary Immaculate (right) and their parents. Bottom: St. Julie students dancing a native Ugandan dance at the celebration.
An Interview with Sr. Mary Bernarde Derichsweiler Sr. Mary Bernarde is a volunteer teacher from Germany. In the early years of the mission she joined with the Sisters of Notre Dame of Covington, Kentucky and Thousand Oaks, California to help staff the mission in Buseesa, Uganda. What was your ministry before coming to Uganda? Before my retirement in 2000 I was head teacher of the St. Joseph Gymnasium (Secondary School) in Rheinbach, Germany, an all girls’ school with about 1000 students. What has Buseesa?
Some positive surprises are the openness and hospitality of the people, their friendly smiles and their gratitude for little things like “sweeties” or pens for the children. In this area of Uganda there are mostly poor farmers supplying themselves by hard work in the gardens and fields. But they seem to be satisfied with what they have. Most are deeply religious and cherish church and prayer life.
What is the greatest need for the people in Uganda? To me a good education is the greatest challenge in Uganda. Half of the population is under the age of 15. There are plenty of schools but they lack good facilities, books and other equipment. Most of all there is a need for welltrained teachers. But I often think if we had more sisters in Uganda we could open a teachers’ training college. The education of girls is very important. In this culture girls are seen as “child bearers.” We can learn much from the people like simple life style, unimportance of some Western conveniences, gratitude and appreciation of water and light, etc. What do you do back in Germany in order to raise money for the mission? When I go home to Germany I give slide presentations in schools and parishes and give talks on Buseesa. Many parishes, schools and others donate money. Friends collect monetary gifts at weddings, birthdays, funerals and other celebrations to support the mission. I am very grateful for so much generosity.
What are your responsibilities at the mission? Since the beginning in 2001 I have been the teacher of P 7 and prepare the students for their PLE (Primary Leaving Examination). I teach religion, reading, language arts and spelling. I train a choir in so-called “Western Song,” that is, songs in Western European style and I prepare the Primary for the yearly music competition in singing, dancing and drama. On the weekends I work with students who are on tuition assistance cleaning the different parts of the building like the parlor, chapel, dining room etc. I am also responsible for the boarders, the cooks, the school kitchen and the storerooms.
What is the background for your province’s great interest in missions around the world? My province, Maria Regina, has always supported the missions. In 1960 we founded the Korean mission. Now since my province has a sister here at the mission of Buseesa, it has supported us spiritually and materially. My general letters are sent to all the houses and are on the internet. I am very grateful for so much support. It is for the benefit of the whole mission.
AN ANSWER TO A PLEA FOR HELP
As one approaches St. Julie Convent coming down the hill of Buseesa Road, he or she will notice to the right a roofless building overgrown in grass and weeds. This is St. Peter’s Secondary School – or at least will be in the future. At present, the four brick walls and cement floor are all that physically comprise the school. In lieu of a completed school building, St. Peter’s functions by sharing space with nearby Buseesa Primary School. Fr. Francis, the pastor of Buseesa church, began St. Peter’s several years ago. His was the hope that this secondary school could meet the needs of poor students in the area who could not afford to pay significant school fees. St. Peter’s now has 6 students enrolled in S3, 24 in S2 and 31 in S1. During the third term of the present school year, the school fell on hard times. The majority of its teachers left the school. The head teacher as well as Buseesa’s new pastor, Fr. Paul, petitioned us Sisters of Notre Dame in Buseesa to take
over some of the vacant positions. After discernment, several sisters decided to share their skills until the end of the academic year as a gesture of good will and service to the broader community. Several lay teachers from NDA also expressed the desire to supplement their salaries by
teaching part-time at St. Peter’s. So, a month or so ago, the students of St. Peter’s, who had been without teachers for weeks, welcomed as volunteers Sisters Mary Judith, Anita Marie, Mary Bernarde, and Mary Rita as chemistry, physics and math, and English teachers. (pictured, left to right, opposite.) Teaching at St. Peter’s (alias Buseesa Primary) is a unique experience. The classrooms are completely bare except for a few roughly built student desks and a blackboard. There is no teacher desk or chair, no chalk, no surface on which to put any supplies. The secondary students are quite eager to learn. Despite their extremely poor background, they want education. Every teaching device, be it only a stapler or ruler or jar of sugar, is a curiosity and gets attention (sometimes too much) immediately. The students cover a broad age range with some of the S3s looking like they may be in their twenties. It is very challenging to try to teach at St. Peter’s. The odds are certainly against success. But we sisters continue to trust that God will bring something out of our efforts on behalf of these, his very needy daughters and sons.
Notre Dame Academy SSS P.O. Box 314 Mubende, Uganda East Africa 3rd October, 2006 Dear Sponsor, How are you? I am fine and enjoying Notre Dame Academy. Thank you very much for sponsoring me so that I may have a good education. Without you, I would not have been what I am right now because I’ve learned many things at NDA. I really do appreciate everything and may the Lord bless you abundantly. As a student, I like science subjects more than art subjects. My goal is to become a doctor or any medical person, so I can treat the people of God. As of now, we don’t have enough doctors in Uganda and people are suffering. So, if my goal becomes true, I will increase their number. Stay with the angels all the time. Thank you for your kind generosity. Bye-bye and cherio, Sincerely, Kobusinge Emma S2
Sisters of Notre Dame Mission Office 1601 Dixie Highway Covington, KY 41011
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Please help our mission in Uganda! Included with this issue of Drum Beats is an envelope for our Annual Appeal. We are grateful for all the support you have given to the mission in the past years and we ask for your continued help. May you be blessed for your participation in partnering with the Sisters of Notre Dame to support the mission in Buseesa, Africa.
Leaving Exams In Uganda – A Harrowing Experience The Universal Certificate of Education (UCE) examinations for Secondary O levels and the Primary Leaving Exam (PLE for P7) are a unique experience to say the least. These are the tests on which the students’ entire education is focused for eleven years. On them rests the individual’s opportunity for further study and the overall success and reputation of the school. The entire month-long nationwide testing schedule extended from October 13 to November 15.
Every student is required to take ten tests. English Language, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Agriculture are required; the other four are electives. The results of these tests are expected to come by the end of January or early February.
To celebrate the ending of these examinations for both schools, Father Paul celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at 5:00 pm on Friday, the last day of testing. It was truly a joyous event preS4 girls striding for the Leaving Exams. pared by the S3 class. All the children outdid themselves in joining in the celebration. The testing room is set up according to precise specifica- Now the continuum of Notre Dame education in Buseesa, tions: there must be 1.2 meters between each desk; there Uganda is complete as originally envisioned: the program may be no written materials in sight; seats must be assigned extends from Primary 1 to Secondary 4. At this moment we and a card with the name and student UCE number must rejoice in all that has been accomplished, thanks to the love, be attached to the desk; the room must be locked when not support and generosity of our many friends and benefactors in use for testing. back home.
1st Ugandan Sisters Profess Vows Interview with Sr. Mary Bernarde Derichsweiler