"How blessed we are!" We have heard this statement several times over the days, months and years of teaching at St. Mary's School. When Father Fred, a missionary priest from Uganda came to speak to several classes, those words hit home.
Fr. Fred became a priest in 1992 and teaches at the Katigondo National Seminary in Uganda. During the summer months he visits Nebraska often staying with our school secretary, Linda Maiefski and her husband.
During a power point presentation, Fr. Fred spoke to students about "how blessed we are" at St. Mary's when compared to students in Ugandan villages. Children there walk barefoot for two hours to go to school and if they're late, they're punished! At school, sixty students sit on a dirt floor in a thatch-roofed hut as one teacher teaches all sixty students from 8:30 am - 4pm. They are happy to go to school. They've been told if they want to brighten their future, they must attend school and study hard!
Many people in the villages are very poor. Schools do not provide breakfast nor do their parents. Their breakfast consists of water pumped from a nearby river. Students eat only one meal a day, around 3pm. Imagine our students having only one meal a day and waiting 24 hours between meals! Common foods that are grown and eaten are: bananas, corn, beans, oranges, eggplant, melons, yams and passion fruit. These humble villagers use their fingers to eat.
They celebrate religious holidays like Christmas and Easter, like us. Parents weave baskets and other trinkets and sell them. The money they earn, and save, goes toward buying beef, a holiday gift. Their cattle are ten years old when slaughtered. The beef is tough, not juicy and tender like our local steaks; but still a real treat for everyone in their family.
"How blessed we are" for food, transportation and electricity that runs the luxuries we've become accustomed to like air conditioners, ovens, TV's, computers, and more. We have clean running water to bathe in, wash our laundry and drink, many, many others do not.
As students learned about September 11th two days prior to Fr. Fred's visit, many felt the somber mood of the day as we all reflected back to the horror 12 years ago. We thanked God for our safety and His many blessings bestowed upon us each and every day. On Friday the 13th, we once again felt blessed to be here - safe, satisfied and comfortable. When the school bells ring at 3:20 our backpacks might be loaded with homework and we're reminded to study hard as we run out of the classroom to waiting cars and parents. But we thank God for these opportunities, our hardships, and because we are loved. We are truly blessed. We never forget "How blessed we are." For more photos, including one with Mrs. Maiefski click here.