Monday, July 13, 2020

My spiritual daughter Clare is feeding the poor in Uganda during the pandemic--and you can help!

Meet Clare Syeunda.

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.

After she graduated last year from Uganda Martyrs University with a bachelor's degree in development studies, Clare was interning for an aid organization and preparing to take her GRE exam for entrance into an M.A. program, when the pandemic hit.

As Uganda shut down, Clare decided that now was the time to use what she learned in college. She started an NGO, Help the Needy Neighbor, to help desperately impoverished ill, orphaned, and disabled members of her community survive during the pandemic.

In May, Clare approached local authorities to ask them who most needed assistance. They introduced her to sixteen people who were at risk of starvation if they did not receive help. These included widows, orphans, and other poor individuals who had previously received support from friends and family but were no longer receiving such assistance due to the pandemic restrictions.

I started a GoFundMe for Help the Needy Neighbor in June. Thanks to the generosity of donors, on July 4, Clare and her volunteers were able to begin making twice-monthly food distributions to the needy. Here is a video taken just yesterday, during the second distribution; you can hear Clare narrate as her volunteers deliver rice, posho (maize), and other necessities to a family that includes a delighted little boy.

I can't describe what it means to me to see Clare doing such amazing work in her community, bringing love and sustenance at time when the people of her country, like so much of the world, face great stress.

Below are photos of Clare and other volunteers for Help the Needy Neighbor making their first distribution of food, salt, and soap during the July 4 weekend. They want to keep feeding their clients through January of next year. But to do that, they need your help. Right now, they only have enough funds to last through next month's distributions. If you would like to join me in supporting Help the Needy Neighbor's mission, please visit their GoFundMe page. And whether or not you are able to support their work monetarily, I know that Clare and her volunteers would be grateful for your prayers for them and their clients. Thank you so much and God bless you.

Here you see Clare with volunteers as they make their deliveries to Help the Needy Neighbor's clients.

I love seeing how radiant Clare looks as she distributes donations to Help the Needy Neighbor's clients. She sits with them and brings them the love of Christ.