The Parish Learning Center in Arua, Uganda, keeps faith at the center of the peoples’ lives.
Small mission projects fund teacher training in the Nuba Mountains.
Small mission projects fund a new operating room in Kampala, Uganda.
By: Heather Kaufman
Small Mission Projects
The needs of the people we serve can seem daunting at times but even a small amount goes a long way in the missions. One way we take advantage of this opportunity is by funding Small Mission Projects. These are designed to make a big difference with modest amounts of money.
Our Small Mission Projects are managed by Comboni Missionaries, Comboni Missionary Sisters, or our partners in other religious communities and local diocesan priests. They meet a wide range of needs but generally fall into a few broad categories of evangelization, healthcare, education, water and food security, and local empowerment grants.
Our primary call is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations and all peoples. In the first half of 2022, our Small Mission Projects program funded evangelization efforts in N’Djamena, Chad; Bangui, Democratic Republic of the Congo; the Province of Malawi-Zambia; El Carmen, Ecuador; Nairobi and Lodwar in Kenya; and Arua, Gulu, Karamoja, and Nebbi in Uganda. These areas asked for support to build or maintain living accommodations for staff, to pay catechists, to secure vehicles needed for travel to outlying regions, and to sustain parish programs.
A single parish in the missions can cover as much territory as the state of Rhode Island—three times over. Lokicar parish in Turkana, Kenya, covers 1750 square miles; our Comboni priests try to visit each outstation twice a month, but it is the parish’s 24 catechists that support evangelism the rest of the time. Our funding allows priests to reach distant outstations so they can celebrate Mass together, even if only every few months. It allows our Sisters to stay with the people in Palorinya (a refugee settlement in northern Uganda), and minister to their needs there. It provides support to complete chapels like Jupangira in Nebbi and it sustains catechists in Kenya, who keep the faith alive in communities where a priest cannot always be present.
The Mother Kevin Health Center in Kamuli, Uganda, has three beds in the maternity ward. One is infantsized. When the ward has more patients, which is almost always, there is no place to put them except the floor. Sister Harriet Nakirya of the Little Sisters of St. Francis requested help to purchase more beds. Combined with the funds she was able to raise from her own community, the Small Mission Projects grant allowed for the purchase of new beds, which will benefit 62 admitted patients each day.
Small Mission Project grants have helped complete a health center in Kachumbala, Uganda; supported three “family houses” for children with HIV/AIDS in Asmara, Eritrea; provided laboratory medical equipment for the Karinga Health Center in Karamoja, Uganda; and equipped the Limone Medical Center in Kampala, Uganda, with a safe operating room for mothers who need surgical care during delivery.
In conflict-riddled South Sudan, the literacy rate for young men is 40%; for young women, it is 14%. One of our partner organizations, Solidarity with South Sudan, needed support to send two future teachers to Tangaza University in Nairobi so they could return to The Solidarity Teacher Training College (STTC) in Yambio and enhance teacher training there.
Our Small Mission Project grants have also supported teacher salaries at St. Daniel Comboni Primary School in the Nuba Mountains; computer training for young people in isolated Chama, Zambia; the purchase of a 46-seat bus for St. Comboni Secondary School in Utawala Nairobi; pastoral care for students in Hawassa, Ethiopia; and solar panels for the parish learning center in Katrini, Uganda, an area with no access to electricity.
Water and Food Security
The Sisters of the Visitation working in Dassa, Benin, have access to water only in the rainy season. The area is dry, hilly, and rocky. Those who live in the region and have money can buy water, but the Sisters and those living around the mission do not have that option. A Small Mission Project grant will help them drill a borehole, so they and families in the area have access to water in any season.
In Moroto, Uganda, Small Mission Project funds are helping Comboni Brother Bruno Kanyomozi construct chicken houses. The corn needed to feed the chickens is part of the project and will provide additional food security, while the chickens provide food and fertilizer for the community. The local youth will learn poultry farming, a valuable skill that will increase their families’ food security and decrease area unemployment.
Local Empowerment Grants
St. Catherine of Siena parish is in Karamoja, Uganda, one of the region’s poorest districts. Electricity is supplied by generators at a cost of $5,000 per year—a staggering sum for the area. A Small Mission Project grant will fund the purchase of batteries for a solar electrical system.
In Belém, Brazil, Comboni Fr. Dário Bossi is gathering participants from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil to make Care for Creation (as outlined in the papal encyclical Laudato Sí) an integral part of mission work in the Pan-Amazonian region.
Grants like these empower local communities to become self-sustaining in the future.
Heather Kaufman is director of development for the Comboni Missionaries North American Province.