is to bring hope to the people of Northern Uganda through
faith, education, health, & sustainability.

Our Story

Changed lives marked the beginning of Hope for Uganda. When the Bishop of Gulu sent a young priest, Fr. Matthew Odong, on a mission to Minnesota in 1990 little did Fr. Matthew know his story would capture the hearts of Dan and Bobbi Vaughan. Captivated by Fr. Matthew’s charisma and intelligence, the Vaughans invited him into their lives. They gave him his first ice cream, and listened as the young priest told them of life in his beloved, but war-torn, homeland.

Fr. Matthew had recently been appointed Rector of Sacred Heart Seminary, a minor seminary in Gulu. His task was to re-open the school in spite of continued violence by rebels against their own people, displacement camps, and abject poverty throughout Northern Uganda. In these horrific circumstances, he found it very difficult to raise funds to keep the seminary operating. His passion, even then, was to bring hope to his people through faith and education.

The Vaughans were moved by this passion, and were convinced that supporting the seminary could make a difference in the lives of the seminarians and ultimately the people they would serve. They sent Fr. Matthew home with a modest personal donation, but as they continued to send money to Uganda they began to encourage friends and family to help rebuild the seminary. Over time buildings were repaired and life at the seminary was being restored.

In 1996 Pete and Dottie Truax met Fr. Matthew and joined the effort to raise funds. They also raised awareness in the United States of the war between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan Government. Pete and Fr. Matthew travelled extensively throughout the U.S. meeting with government and Church officials and other advocacy groups in an effort to raise awareness about what was happening in Northern Uganda. The apostolate had taken root.

During the next twenty years, in addition to meeting the needs of Sacred Heart Seminary, benefactors responded to the evolving needs in Northern Uganda due to war and devastation. In part because of their generosity, food and security were provided for the thousands of displaced refugees living outside the school walls. 40 wells were drilled for clean water supply. When people began returning to their farms and villages a tractor was purchased to help get them started again. As the war wound down, support was provided to major seminarians within the diocese. Newly ordained priests were given motor cycles and Mass kits to assist with their arduous and often dangerous service to the people. Additional funds funds were also raised to support orphans of war and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

When the war ended in 2006, most of the secondary schools in Northern Uganda had been destroyed. The seminary had survived and grown from the generosity of donors through the war years, but the need for secondary education for all children had become a desperate situation. Now Msgr. Matthew approached his loyal benefactors, pleading for help to build a new school to give his poor and suffering people hope for the future.

In 2009 his dream became a reality when Archbishop Flynn Secondary School opened its doors for boys and girls in Pader District. Today both schools are thriving. The seminary houses and provides a high quality education for 176 young men who dream of becoming priests. Archbishop Flynn Secondary School provides housing, food, and an outstanding education for nearly 500 very fortunate boys and girls in a safe, nurturing, and faith-filled environment.

Hope for Uganda’s generous benefactors, its board of directors, Msgr. Matthew and the Ugandan partners collectively believe that education is the key to eliminating poverty and giving hope for a better tomorrow. Meeting the needs of the two schools remains paramount. To support that mission efforts are now underway to generate sustainability for the schools and their surrounding communities by introducing and teaching modern farming methods to students, parents and farm laborers. Land has been purchased, crops planted, and the fruits of their labor will help feed students and provide income for the schools.

Most recently, efforts also include support for a medical clinic built by a former board member in a very rural area in Northern Uganda, where no medical care existed previously. The David Fagerlee Medical Clinic opened its doors a year ago, giving hope to its patients for a life beyond simple survival. The clinic serves as a wonderful illustration for students and their families of what education can do to encourage surviving and thriving in everyday life.

What began as a simple act of courage and love remains an act of courage and love, powered by the strength of conviction. Msgr. Matthew Odong continues to share vision and his dreams for his beloved country, while Bobbi Vaughan still walks the walk as she honors her departed husband’s legacy. By joining forces with Hope for Uganda, you will touch and be touched by the love of strangers, give hope where there is none, and experience the joy of being the hands and feet of Christ.

God bless you!

Our Team

Working in collaboration with our Executive Director, the Board of Directors is responsible for fundraising, leadership and direction of Hope for Uganda, review of financial information sent from the two schools, review of grant requests from the schools, approval of all funds sent to the Archdiocese for the use of the schools, and general promotion of Sacred Heart Seminary and Archbishop Flynn Secondary School in the Archdiocese of Gulu, Uganda.
The board is chaired by William Kottemann and assisted by Joseph Ditsch (Secretary), Corrina Conley (Treasurer), Brenda Arndt (Director), Steve Holm (Director), Peter Westerhaus (Director, Advancement Committee Chair), Mark Whims (Director, Projects Committee Chair)