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DENVER: University of Colorado Graduate finds purpose in Uganda

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Posted May 19, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Charity ~ 1,877 views

     


BOULDER – Walking back on the University of Colorado campus after being gone for three years was a culture shock that 23-year-old Andrea Pauline did not anticipate. The sight of Ray-Ban sunglasses and skinny jeans actually caught her off-guard.

“Things that I haven’t cared about in the last three years are coming back. And it’s what people care about,” Pauline said.

But fashion is not the first thing on Pauline’s mind. In fact, even during graduation, her mind was thousands of miles away: in Uganda.

“I am a legal guardian to 80 kids. So, I left my kids,” she said through a smile which showed how fondly she thought of those children.

The children are all residents at the Musana Children’s Home. It is an organization that Pauline founded for orphaned children in Uganda. But she prefers not to call it an orphanage.

“We don’t like the word ‘orphanage,'” Pauline said. “We want to get away from the stigma of them being a lost cause.”

When Pauline first met the children, they likely thought of themselves as a lost cause, living in an orphanage run by a corrupt Ugandan government.

“They were sleeping on dirt floors and not being educated and the people that were taking care of them were abusing them in almost every way possible: physically, emotionally, sexually,” she said.

Pauline says orphanage workers even took food from the children. So during her first few days in Uganda, on a trip to study microfinance with her sister and a friend, she understood why an American volunteer headed home handed her $3,000 and told her to make sure the children got daily meals.

“Everyday, I’d go to the market and buy rice and beans and bring it back. I ended up having to be there and actually watch the kids eat three meals a day,” Pauline said.

When her trip came to an end, Pauline couldn’t leave. She stayed in Uganda and founded Musana in 2008. The children’s home has since grown and recently purchased 20 acres of land, which include eight homes for children to live in with surrogate mothers.

“They live in a home and they have moms that love them,” Pauline said. “So all of our kids live in homes with eight to 10 kids.”

Pauline is now in the middle of a fundraising campaign to purchase 2,000 chickens and 20 cows to live on Musana’s farm. The hope is that the animals, combined with businesses like a restaurant run by the non-profit organization, will make the children’s home sustainable. When that goal is reached, Pauline knows that it will be time for her to come home.

“I know I want to be in Uganda until the community can take over,” Pauline said. “I don’t want to leave until it’s fully sustainable.”

That goal is close to being reached. Pauline is the only American on the staff, which is made up of Ugandans. She knows that she will be leaving the organization she created in good hands.

More than that, she is eager to see change in the lives the children that she helped raise.

“The way that our kids like to be picked up and hugged and loved, they just have never had that before,” Pauline said, describing how affectionate the once-fearful children have become.

Goals for Musana Children’s Home also include building a secondary school and a community center. The organization’s current school already educates about 200 children. And Pauline would like to see even more benefit.

“They are going to be the future government leaders,” Pauline said. “And they’re going to be the future and the change.”

For more information on how to help in the mission of the Musana Children’s Home, click: www.musana.org


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

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