Uganda is a country placed on the Equator line without any access to sea. It is a beautiful Country called by English „The Pearl of Africa”.

The Government of Uganda is quite stable if you do not count the
high rate of corruption going on, which is the daily bread in Uganda, a Country with 20 years of democratic presidency. One of the biggest problems overturning that idyllic picture is the civil war in the North of the Country, lasting for 20 years already. Kony rebels who are in the forests of Northern Uganda have done a great deal of destruction and killing of people. Thousands of people had to leave their homes and find asylum in the camps, where suffering, hunger, lack of education and violence continue. Fortunately, this situation has not a big influence in our area. In spite of these state, we live in an atmosphere of awareness that tomorrow morning we can find rebels with automatic guns in front of our house.

Economically, Uganda is a part of the East African Community and still is trying to develop. It is in fact in African pace, which means without hurry and with miserable fruits, especially for the poorest people.

Kabale District is the furthest one in the South West corner of Uganda; this area is covered with hills and mountains which in fact foretells the kind of agriculture and lifestyle of the people in the region. Two main tribes, Banyankore and Bakiga, cultivate the slopes of the hills preparing shelves (looking from far the plantations look like shelves) with very primitive tools. On these shelves they grow potatoes, maize, cassava, coffee, millet, and different kinds of vegetables. More lucky villages have the valleys with more flat areas where the banana plants can be cultivated. It is true that for the Banyankore an especial type of bananas, appropriate for cooking called Matoke, is the basic food. There is even a local saying no matoke, no life. In some parts of our District there are also tribes kipping cattle; they are the Bahimas.

The biggest problems of Kabale District are: overpopulation, difficulties to cultivate the land because of the landscape shape, HIV/AIDS, very expensive transport, which is beyond the range of the average villager, unemployment, and high cost of education, namely school fees.

               What we do?

We, as Franciscan Missionaries, are working in a small village called Rushooka, 40 km far from Kabale and 120 km from Mbarara where the headquarters of our Diocese are. We are working here for 12 years. The Parish was started by the White Fathers about
40 years ago and then almost abandoned. Our work in the Parish is concentrated on:

1.Pastoral work



1. Pastoral work.

Considering the location, our Parish is the last or more distant in our Diocese, just at the border of Kabale Diocese. Our Parish has 6 centers and 21 hikas. Hika is a small Village, very often hidden in the hills where we have a small Church where the people meet to strengthen their faith and to carry out their community life. Hikas are organized in centers which are bigger and with better means of communication, for example access roads. In each center we celebrate once a month Mass. To visit and minister in the hikas we are able to go twice a year.

One of the big challenges is distance. From Rushooka to Kashenye (one of our centers) it is 40 km. From Rushooka to Kasana (another center) it is 37 km, but in the opposite direction. The number of Christians is around 12,000. Daily pastoral work on the ground is done by catechists, who are not always well trained because of lack of financial support, and suitable candidates. Also their work is not paid for this same reason – lack of money. In some hikas Christians, who are still not strong in faith, leave for other belief denominations.

2. Education

Since the beginning, education was a big concern for the Franciscan Friars working in Rushooka. In all the centers and in many hikas, Primary Schools were built next to the Churches. In Rushooka itself, was constructed
a big Primary School for 1,200 children, and a Secondary School for 600 students. Of course, for both schools there is a lot of room for improvement. In the Primary School the project for the water tanks and in the Secondary the new library, are ongoing projects. Slowly, we can see some improvement in the quality of life in our Village, which we attribute to the growing level of education and general formation of the people.

Eight years ago, Sisters of the Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Charity arrived in Rushooka starting with a Health Center where they lead programs in health education, HIV prevention, patient’s consultation, home visiting, women rights and development. A Center for young women was built; there every year 20 girls are able to learn the basic household skills like: sowing, cooking, needle work, and other handcrafts. They are also introduced in the basics of the English Language, health orientation, and divinity.

3. Development

We try to develop this area with our material help, as well. That part is, in fact, the most difficult. Many projects have been launched, unfortunately, most of
them collapsed in the moment when those projects were given to local people to care for the administration of them. It comes basically from the lack of education, and lack of skills for planning and organizing work and how to invest the money. Our people still do not have understanding of the common good. They are not able to accept that by paying small amounts of money as members of the community, they can acquire something bigger, which they can use, as community, like: water, electricity and so on. It surely will take a long time, and a big effort to get people to understand their role in the participation in these social topics, which will benefit the life of the people in the community.

Problems we face

One of the biggest problems is alcoholism. In our opinion, more than 50% of the men are addicted to alcohol. They drink every day tonto, a local beer made from bananas, and waragi, the local vodka. Lack of work and cultural influence that the women are the ones supposed to work on the fields are the main cause for this problem. Many of the men start the day with tonto and finish it with tonto. We also can see that many women are drinking as well.

Alcohol increases the problems with violence; the daily bread in many families
is violence against women and children. Drank men bit their wives and children, urging them to have ready food, clean clothes, and water at home, which they bring from a distant spring on their heads. In most of the cases the families are numerous, seven to ten or even eleven children; what we know, listening especially to the women, is that alcohol is also connected with sexual abuses against women and children. Lack of education and simple stile of life causes many unwanted pregnancies even at the age of 14. Another big problem that is daily increasing is the high number of people with HIV/AIDS with all its side consequences.