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An American mom helps build a school in Uganda

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Courtesy of Mary Gispert

(Read caption) Mary Gispert stands alongside the foundation of the St. Catherine’s Nursery School in Gulu, Uganda. Gispert founded the nonprofit Give It Up for Gulu to raise funds to build the pre-school.

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“We just met at church.”

She didn’t know it at the time, but when Mary Gispert met Father James Okello of the Archdiocese of Gulu, Uganda, during his visit to her home parish in 2012, her life was going to change.

While she had met and spoken with several missionary priests who had visited her parish in the past, something about Father Okello’s message resonated with her.

“The way he presented the story just triggered a soft spot in my heart for the people there,” Ms. Gispert says.


Father Okello shared the story of his parishioners, the people of Gulu, Uganda – who are slowly recovering from a more than 20-year war with the Lord’s Resistance Army. In spite of the overwhelming issues facing his congregation, Father Okello was determined to achieve his goal – the building of a new pre-school for children in Gulu.

The stay-at-home mother soon wound up adopting that as her goal as well.

Give it up for Gulu” began as a simple fundraiser she launched with the Roman Catholic school attached to her home parish, a project during Lent that encouraged students to donate the change they might otherwise spend on snacks or other things to the cause of building a school for their counterparts in Uganda.


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