Uganda Kitchen Project fundraiser at Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School exceeds goal


A project to build a new kitchen for a large Catholic boarding school in Uganda will move forward, with money to spare.

Unwavering support from students, staff, families and Our Lady of Lourdes parishioners allowed Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School (OLLIS) in Columbia not only to meet but exceed its Uganda Kitchen Project fundraising goal.

The project addresses the urgent need to build a modern, energy-saving, eco-friendly kitchen at St. Donozio Ssebugwawo Mixed Day and Boarding Primary School in Kisubi, Uganda.

Father Simon Jude Kanyike, associate pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, is a missionary priest from Uganda. His home parish in the Archdiocese of Kampala will benefit immensely from this project.

St. Donozio Ssebugwawo School has been providing education to pupils since 1909.

But its outdated kitchen infrastructure has been hindering the delivery of quality services, which is essential for better nutrition and health of its 1,145 students (660 in the boarding school, 485 in the day section), ultimately affecting their ability to learn.

“God brought Fr. Simon to us, and we believe it was for a very good a reason,” said Alice Klice, an eighth-grade class representative at OLLIS. “Since Father has brought so much to our parish, we want to give back in a way that also is like God shining through us to the people of his home parish.”

OLLIS students took the lead in organizing fundraising activities such as fun days and middle school social events.

Parents, faculty, staff and  parishioners also played a generous role by donating to the cause.

By December 2023, the OLLIS community raised $63,801 toward the project, surpassing the initial target of $52,740.

The surplus funds will help pay for furnishings for the new kitchen, ensuring a functional and welcoming space.

Gifts of gratitude

Members of the OLLIS Student Council spoke adamantly about helping others, even those who are a great distance away.

“It’s super-important because we’re really blessed at this school and we have a nice kitchen staff and they make us all food, and they don’t have that,” said Mary Rege, an eighth-grade student council representative.

“Since we can help them, it’s good to help them,” she said.

“Kindness is the best thing you can do,” stated Gabrielle Whorley, student council vice president.

“If we were the ones in their situation, we’d want someone to help us,” said student council president Elleri Elsenraat.

She added that Fr. Kanyike has been great for Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and everyone likes him.

Alice agreed.

“He’s done so much in our community that we wanted to give back to his community and do something important to help his community,” she said.

The students said they recognize God at work in this project.

“I believe God told us to help others, so we should do all we can to help them,” said Gabrielle.

“God has blessed us and we have all these resources we can use and they don’t have those resources,” said Mary. “So by doing this, we can help them have a better education so they can learn more about their faith.”

Elleri said the Bible is filled with examples of God urging people to help others in need.

“He gave his whole self to us, and we want to strive to be like him,” she noted. “So, it’s always great for us to try to be like him and do what we can.”

They said helping financially isn’t enough they need to keep praying for the children in Fr. Kanyike’s home diocese.

“We should pray that they have good, nourishing meals to be able to learn and grow up to be able to do whatever they want to do,” said Elleri.

“We can pray that they have good nutrition so that they have energy to learn more about what they want to do and about their faith, and for their health and wellbeing,” said Mary.

Elleri pointed out that having regular access to good meals will be an important part of having that prayer answered.

“They don’t hesitate!”

OLLIS Principal Elaine Hassemer emphasized that the students took the lead on this project.

“They did it!” she said. “God bless this parish. I mean, they raised a lot of money in two months. A lot of money! They don’t hesitate to give. That’s for sure!”

She said that as the students and parishioners celebrate this achievement, they’ll keep praying for the students and staff of the school in Uganda.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to each person who contributed to this noble cause,” she said. “May God bless you abundantly as we make a positive impact on education and well-being across continents.”


Jennifer Calkins is Director of Communications for Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School, both in Columbia.