Clare Syeunda is a vibrant recent graduate of the Development Studies program of Uganda Martyrs University who wants to use what she has learned to help desperately impoverished ill, orphaned, and disabled members of her community survive during the pandemic.
I have known Clare since 2016, when a mutual friend--the sister of a Ugandan-born Chicago priest--put us in touch. At the time, I was about to graduate the University of St. Mary of the Lake as the first woman in the school's history to receive a doctorate in sacred theology. Since I'd received so much, my hope was to pay it forward by funding the university education of a woman in Uganda.
Clare has become a true spiritual daughter to me, and I am overjoyed to witness her desire to help the poorest of the poor.
Below is Clare's description of what she intends to accomplish through her nonprofit, Help the Needy Neighbor. I invite you to support her mission. If she accomplishes it--and I have no doubt that she will, given the funds--it will help her gain experience that can enable her to qualify for her next goal: a scholarship to the master's program in Sustainable Development at Notre Dame's Keough School of Global Affairs.
So, your gift will accomplish two purposes. In the short term, it will feed the hungry and let them know they are loved. And in the long term, it will bring a dynamic and faith-filled young woman the graduate education she needs so that she may dedicate the rest of her life to making the world a better place.
Help the Needy Neighbor is an initiative to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance to severely impoverished people in Bumulimba village in Bulumbi Sub-County, Busia District, Uganda.
Through the survey that I carried out in 2019 during my field research for the attainment of my bachelor's degree in Development Studies at Uganda Martyrs University, I learned that Bumulimba village, which is within my home district, has been gravely harmed by recent natural disasters.
Bumulimba and its surrounding region suffered greatly in 2018, when it experienced a long dry season and many farms and gardens were lost due to the drought. During the great floods of 2019, many locals in the region lost their homes and crops, and some even lost their lives. More recently, in early May of 2020, heavy rains caused significant flooding in Busia district. Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate their homes, particularly around Lake Victoria and along the Malaba River. The Busia-Tororo Road was also partially cut off by the flood waters. Such natural disasters have a disproportionate impact upon society's most vulnerable--the poor, the elderly, children, orphans, and the disabled.
Conditions grew especially dire for the vulnerable people in Bumulimba village on March 26, 2020, when, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Uganda began its lockdowns. Villagers are now not allowed to leave their homes for any work other than going to the farms or gardens. This situation is most desperate for the elderly, for orphans, and for the disabled, who used to receive support from relatives and neighbors who could work as shopkeepers or as laborers in government or private sectors. Those who supported that vulnerable population are no longer working and they need to reserve their funds for supporting their own families
To address this pressing need, I am founding HELP THE NEEDY NEIGHBOR, a Non-Governmental Organization, with the target of giving vulnerable groups support during this pandemic, since we are not yet sure when COVID-19 will end. This support will be in the form of a food bank where free food, salt, soap, and sugar will be distributed to the elderly, orphans, and the disabled in Bumulimba village--sixteen people in all.
Your donations will feed these sixteen desperately needy people and provide soap to them for seven months--keeping them alive and cared-for until the pandemic restrictions are over and more assistance is available for them.
- Lauren Simms
- Melissa Hyatt
- Julia Fogassy
- Sean McCormick