Lanternarius Press

Isagara Project

If you do not believe in miracles, perhaps this story will convince you.

In October of 2016, I met a Catholic seminarian from Uganda. I was at a Catholic seminar in the mountains of New Hampshire where the internet service was awful.

The second day there, I received a Facebook friend request from someone I did not know, had no mutual friends with. I had no idea where he found my name nor how his message got through to me. His name is Christopher Tusiime and he was, at that time, a second year student at St. Mary’s major Seminary in Kampala, Uganda.

We began to chat daily and I soon realized that he had difficulty paying all the living and tuition bills for school. My parish priest, Father Howard Venette, of St. Bartholomew and St. Anthony parishes, permitted not only a bake sale fundraiser, but also a voluntary collection, to assist Christopher in his finances. We were able to pay his January tuition and have money left over for future concerns.

During winter break, Christopher told me much about his home village of Isagara. Several times, he would excuse himself to go to the “well”. This was a dammed up spring, available to people, monkeys and cattle. And it was a two mile walk from his house. This surprised me and we began speaking about a real well, in town.

After Christmas, I began to write to companies who service Uganda water needs. I found CEED, Christian East Africa Equatorial Development, run by people in Pittsburgh. They agreed to go to Isagara and send me an estimate.

The estimate came in at $6000; it was up to me to come up with the money. Father Venette offered to insert a flyer we had made into the bulletin in early August and then hosted a fundraising dinner, “Wishes for Wells”, on the Feast of the Assumption, immediately after evening Mass. I think we were all surprised when the entire $6000 was raised.

We immediately sent the required $2000 deposit. In addition, the population of Isagara was obligated to formally sign agreements to take responsibility for the well. Then, the construction began in earnest.

Everything takes time there. Equipment must be brought in and sometimes replaced. Several drillings took place before a suitable site was found. At one point, CEED crew members were at a loss and were afraid they could not build the well. That is when they found an old abandoned well at the primary school. They offered to try to repair that as well. It was done successfully with little problem. Meanwhile, parts for the main well needed to be shipped from overseas.

We all learned patience, waiting. The well was opened on Christmas Eve, less than a year from the first discussion. It is a great Christmas present to the people of Isagara.

Christopher tells me the people are grateful. He and I know that it was God’s work and we just assisted.

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