At our meeting on June 1st, we had the honor of the presence of our guest speaker Sister Mary Cecilia Draru, PhD of Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Gulu – Uganda. There are so many words that can be used to describe the feelings and emotions felt by all as Sister shared with us her first-hand experiences on what life was like as a refugee in Uganda.
Separated from her parents, as their family fled (in nothing but their underwear), Sister later was able to find some of her siblings at a nearby displaced peoples (IDP) camp. At a young age (when we say young, think age 12 and under), she became the head of household for her and her siblings living in the camp.  Sister assembled a structure for them to live in and cared for herself and her siblings.  Two years later, after traveling from camp to camp in search of their family, her parents finally found them.

Heartbreakingly enough, many children arrive to the camps on their own, orphaned, separated, and unaccompanied by anyone.  It is also quite common for the children to become head of households.  The young girls are most vulnerable as they are exposed to sexual violence through forced marriage in exchange for animals and money to support the other family members. Here-in lies the “Child Mother Mission” founded by the Little Sisters of Mary immaculate of Gulu (LSMIG).

COVID-19 has affected their mission and has created some setback.  As their isolation increased, this forced a cut-off of support and supplies for the girls in the refugee and IDP camps. Recent statistics show an increase of 38% in teenage pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa, followed by an increase in maternal and infant mortality rates among young girls in Uganda.
The LSMIG has a focus on community sensitization.  They want to break the cycle of child motherhood by encouraging community leaders and families to be engaged in the fight against sexual violence and to protect children from vulnerable adults. The most at-risk schoolgirls are taken in by the Sisters. Together they engage in activities to rebuild the confidence in the girls allowing them to feel worthy and loved.

Their hope and belief is that access to education is a sustainable solution to breaking the cycle of child motherhood within the refugee camps. The Sisters are currently developing the Angelo Negri Education Center (ANEC) at an elementary school level to grant access to education for the child mothers. The ANEC is unique because it gives the child mothers a chance at an education they otherwise would never have.  They are on the same campus as their babies with a daycare available to them. There are also elementary and kindergarten sections available for the children of the child mothers who are old enough to begin to learn themselves.  To put this into perspective, a child mother would have her child in daycare or kindergarten while she attended elementary school or vocational studies.

The school is nearly complete, and the LSMIG need help to do so.  Currently, they are in need of scholastic materials, but are also in need of the financial resources to complete the classroom block of the school.  For scholastic resources, $20 can provide material for home-based learning for 3 months per child. For the completion of the school, there are currently 8 classrooms in the top-level that need finishing.  They anticipate the cost to be approximately $10,000 and this will include the cost of windows, doors, balcony rails, interior & exterior plaster, and painting.  This will help create more space for social-distance learning when in-person learning begins again (anticipated August 2021).

The Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Gulu is a 501(c)3, tax exempt Non-Profit incorporated in the USA in December of 2019. The main office of the congregation is in Gulu, Northern Uganda.  The LSMIG are an indigenous order of religious women whose missionary services are dedicated to the underprivileged, the neglected, and the vulnerable. Among them are the child mothers (and child fathers), young women, and vulnerable adults of more than 75 years.

If their mission speaks to you (like it spoke to so many of us)- they are forever thankful for monetary support in their mission to end the cycle of child mothers/fathers and to finish their school to provide a safe space for these children to learn and get an education they otherwise would never have.

Checks may be made to: Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Gulu. Please include “Child Mothers” in the memo.
Donations may be mailed to 1029 Woodlawn St Scranton, PA  18509 or PO Box 492 Dunmore, PA 18512. 
Please include on your envelope “Attention: Sister Draru Mary Cecilia, LSMIG”.

For more information or to contact the Sisters to discuss their mission, please call 570-817-0642 or email at