(left to right) Br. Mwansa Rodgers, Fr. Drani Felix, Sr. Linah Siabana, Fr. Konseimbo Karim. In front, Sr. Magdalena Orczykowska and Sr. Julienne Bouda – wearing the jackets of the Ukusijoni Refugee Team.
Our new community in the North of Uganda makes us directly participate in bringing into reality our congregational dream and desire of opening new missions, going towards the peripheries and collaborating with the Missionaries of Africa.
As a thanksgiving act for 150 years of our existence, united as sons and daughters of Cardinal Lavigerie, we initiated a new common project at the service of the refugees thus directly implementing one of our apostolic orientations: Migration, refugees, and internally displaced persons.
Due to prolonged insecurity in South Sudan, DRC and Ethiopia, Uganda is a host country to over 1 million refugees thus becoming the country with the biggest number of refugees in Africa. Listening to the voice of the Spirit, M.Afr. and MSOLA took courage to go to the peripheries and start a new mission in the place where few risks to go. Arua diocese to which we belong, covers a considerable part of Northern Uganda where almost 50% of the population are refugees in different settlements. At the same time the pastoral agents are few, not enough to cater for the pastoral needs of the people.
It is for us a privilege and a challenge at the same time to follow in the footsteps of the sisters who preceded us in the mission, who with the same courage were opening new mission posts in different parts of the world.
Through our simple beginnings we learn from our sisters’ simplicity, their listening attitude and their openness to the people they were sent to. During our needs-assessment, we had an opportunity to come close to the people. We saw their suffering, we listened to them, we heard their cry for help. Many times, we can hear that our approach is different from other organizations because we sit, we listen and plan to accompany and stay longer with them not only for one or two years. For this sake, people are able to share with us openly about their joys and challenges. Our simple coming and presence makes them thank God because it brings them hope for change however small it may be.
The vision statement of our last General Chapter-2017, invited us to open our doors to the communities that are dynamic, prophetic and open. We recognize that the community we form in all its diversity is for us a blessing. In a particularly challenging reality, our life-giving community is an asset for the mission, we feel welcomed, understood and supported. United, helping one another, sharing the responsibilities we become witnesses of possible unity in diversity.
Our interculturality and the way of living and working together is a testimony and a sign of hope for the people to whom we are sent who often are affected by tribal conflicts and misunderstandings. One of the important elements of our mission in Ukusijoni is close collaboration with our brothers the Missionaries of Africa.
We are sent together to this mission and we carry on the mission together with: frequent meetings, planning, common activities, visits to the refugee settlements, contacts with different authorities and organizations, Eucharistic celebrations and Lavigerie family’s feasts.
Often, we realize that we are called to be there for one another and to care for each other especially in times of sickness and other difficulties. We, as sisters, receive a lot of support from our brothers when it comes to going to the hospital or to the market during the rainy season. They are always ready to help us with their car. In their turn, they can count on us when they wish to take a meal in our place.
They come and we share what we have together. Indeed, we can say that some of the recommendations of our last General Chapter became reality in our lives and mission: we are bearers of hope who, listening to the voice of the Spirit, moving forward together towards the peripheries.
Ukusijoni Community, Uganda