450 Ugandan Students Eat On the Ground. Please, Can You Help?

Stephen, left in blue, founded St. Philomena in 2015. The school accepts no government funding.

St. Philomena Nursery and Primary School opened four years ago, after Stephen Ssematiko took a huge leap of faith.

In this rural corner of Uganda, countless children were left orphaned in the wake of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Stephen saw the great need for education, so placing all his trust in God, he opened St. Philomena’s.

The school receives no government funding. Many families here can’t even afford a meager tuition. Yet despite all the odds stacked against it, this little school is thriving.

Last year, St. Philomena’s ranked 4th on national exams out of 120 rural schools in the district!

And the school has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, 440 students attend St. Philomena’s (out of 800 in the region). Mass is celebrated every Wednesday, and the whole surrounding village is invited to attend. This little school has become the cornerstone of an entire community.

But there’s one basic need the students have, and you can help.

The children have to eat their meals on the ground, where their food is exposed to dirt and insects.

A covered dining hall.

Today, the children eat their lunch outside, on the ground, exposed to dirt and bugs and everything else. The lucky ones are able to find big rocks to sit on. Everyone else eats in thin patches of grass or directly in the dirt. When it rains, there’s nowhere for them to go, so they’re left to eat their meals standing in the rain and the mud.

We simply can’t allow this to go on.

A health inspector recently visited the school and said they must build a covered dining hall. So Stephen got to work. Plans were drawn up and construction began. The new dining hall will be covered and enclosed. There will be a lavatory and a wash station where children can wash their hands before eating.

Stephen was able to raise $10,000 USD to begin this project. But building has stalled while Stephen and the children wait for the rest of the funding they need to keep building.

Remember, St. Philomena’s receives no government funding.

You are the children’s only hope.

So, how much will it take to finish construction on the dining hall?

St. Philomena School is thriving academically but these amazing students need your help to have a safe place to eat.


When finished, this structure will be big enough to for 500 children and is built to last at least 80-100 years. What a blessing to know that your generosity will help these little ones and future generations for decades to come!

Will you join us right now in praying for the children attending St. Philomena’s? Let’s pray in thanksgiving for this amazing school, and that the children have the chance to have better lives because of the education they’re receiving. And let’s pray together for God to provide for them, and for them to be courageous while they wait, hope, and pray for somewhere safe and clean to eat their lunch.

Once you’ve said a prayer, please click the green and blue “Give Now” button to make the most generous gift you’re able to give. Every dollar counts.

Today, all it takes to help is a quick and easy donation. When many caring friends like you come together, there’s no stopping the amount of good that can be done!

Here are some examples of what your gift can accomplish:

Children at St. Philomena need your help. Today, they eat their meals on their ground, as you can see here.
Another view of the children eating their meal on the ground.
The lucky ones are able to find a rock they can sit on to eat their meals.

Here are some examples of what your gift can accomplish:

  • $6,516 – sand
  • $3,801 – cement
  • $1,303 – gutters
  • $678 – bricks
  • $489 – electric wiring and connections
  • $122 – 1 cafeteria table and 6 chairs

Your gift matters. Together, we can do something great for these incredible children. Give right now.

Maurice 68, with 8 of her 9 orphaned grandchildren
Meet Maurice, a 68-year-old grandmother, whose 9 orphaned grandchildren attend St. Philomena’s

Maurice has nine children. Sadly, six died in adulthood, leaving behind 9 orphaned grandchildren. Maurice’s husband died in 2008, and she heroically raises her nine young grandchildren on her own. Times were tough for Maurice—with nine growing grandchildren, no income, and a crumbling house, she had no way to pay school fees for nine children.

St. Philomena’s is a godsend for Maurice and her family. The school is only a third of a mile from her home, and Stephen has worked hard to make sure families can afford the school’s fees. Maurice’s nine grandchildren are among the students who are hoping and waiting for the completion of their school’s new dining hall.

Check out more photos of the children of St. Philomena School in Uganda:

Is there anything more wonderful than a book?
St. Philomena students take a test
Older students welcome visitors to the school

To see more photos, visit our Uganda page.

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