Online rosary

The couple’s hopes are high | The Catholic weekly

Reading time: 6 minutes

Morris Mukasa and Teddy Nakalembe at home. The couple, who fled Uganda in 2017 and are parishioners at Our Lady of the Rosary in Kingsgrove, have launched a fundraising campaign in the hope of bringing in the children they were forced to leave behind them in Australia. PHOTOS: ALPHONSE FOK

Parents forced to flee Uganda for their lives in 2017 ask for help to find their children

It’s been more than five years since Morris Mukasa and Teddy Nakalembe hugged their children, sang with them, dried their tears or put them to bed at night.

At the time, their family and their work together in prison ministry and post-prison support in their native Uganda kept them busy.

Morris also ran an extensive prison chaplaincy program for the Catholic Archdiocese of Kampala, the capital.

But in early 2017, amid a series of mysterious execution-style murders in the city, including of a close co-worker, Morris faced the threat of danger himself.

The couple fled Uganda, crossed the border into Kenya, and from there flew to Australia where they applied for asylum.

They arrived in Sydney in April 2017, leaving their five children under 10 in the care of their Catholic community.

It’s so exciting… Teddy and Morris are doing so much good and have made so many friends, there are a thousand ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’ waiting to welcome their children.

Here, where they were tempted to let grief and trauma engulf them, the deeply faith-filled couple joined Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Kingsgrove, got jobs and spent every spare moment helping others. refugees to settle in Australia.

They were thrilled to receive permanent residency visas in July.

With their future now secure, it paves the way for them to ask for their children to come and rebuild their lives together in Sydney.

“The way God has revealed himself in our lives is wonderful and this is just one example, the same month we received the news that we would finally be safe to stay here, we received status on time full in our work,” says Morris.

Although the couple work hard, they are still far from having the means to cover the expenses of lawyers, visas, plane tickets and other expenses to find their children and welcome them here.

They launched an online appeal to help raise a $60,000 goal to bring the children to their new home.

Morris reported growing tensions between the government and the Church in his advocacy for people in prison and for rehabilitation programs when he was responsible for the diocese’s major prison ministry program and president of Prison Chaplains International. Association.

He told Others magazine he also believed that someone in a position of authority did not want to see Ugandans raise their standard of living. He said politicians who also spoke out against the murder mystery have been beaten.

Morris and Teddy Nakalembe on their wedding day. PHOTO: ALPHONSE FOK

On the day of their departure from Kampala, Morris had called a press conference following the death of his close colleague. Right at the end, Morris was warned by a reporter that after the criticism he had made, armed men would come for him that night.

He went straight to a hotel and called his wife. He knew they both had travel visas for Australia and asked her to bring them along with their passports and other documents.

There, in the hotel lobby, unable to return to his office or home, they assessed their situation. If he went alone, Teddy and the kids wouldn’t be safe. They chose to flee together and leave the children with people they trusted.

Teddy was still nursing the baby and crying every day for the first year of separation.
Morris says it was the hardest decision of his life and prayed daily for God to protect his children and reunite his family.

“There are very mixed feelings right now, excitement but also challenges, but when they are here with us it will be the fulfillment of all my happiness,” says Teddy.

Every day they are in contact with their children, who enjoy learning about Australian culture and have sent their parents a video of them singing the national anthem. “When I see my children in the flesh for the first time, it will be the happiest day of my life, definitely the happiest thing that has happened to me since 2017,” Teddy said.

“A lot of good things have happened here in Australia and we are very grateful for that, but I feel like I lost something of myself in this process.

“I can’t wait to find myself as a mother and a person and make them feel like they have their mother with them to protect and guide them.”

Kylie Cullen of the Catholic Immigration Office for the Archdiocese of Sydney supported Morris and Teddy in their efforts to reunite with their children. “It’s so exciting for them to finally have permanent residence visas,” she said.

Archdiocesan staff member Kylie Cullen, who helped the couple on their quest to find the children they were forced to leave behind when they fled their native Uganda. PHOTO: GIOVANNI PORTELLI

“It will be difficult for the children to leave their homes and they will need support. But the wonderful thing is that because Teddy and Morris do so much good here and have made so many friends, there are a thousand ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’ waiting to welcome them.

The couple say they deeply appreciate the care of the Archdiocese of Sydney, including the parish which is their second ‘home’, Bishop Terry Brady, Fr Roland Maurer EV and Ms Cullen.

They spend every minute of their free time helping other refugees and asylum seekers, drawing on their own experience of helping families in crisis in Uganda.

Morris has developed mobile workshops in an African therapeutic model as part of his Kwetu project which integrates music, dance and theater to overcome the effects of trauma.

“’Kwetu’ means a sense of belonging, people belonging to the same culture and sharing all the practices they have in common, for Catholics for example, it means living and behaving like Catholics,” he said. he told The Catholic Weekly, adding that prayer is a powerful healing tool.
Having supportive employers, the first events company Moreton Hire and now Officeworks, has also been important.

Helping new migrants and refugees comes naturally to them. The dynamic duo do this in a variety of ways, through local partnerships and networks.

Recently, Morris organized the distribution of 100 mattresses donated to people in need which were donated by a major hotel chain.

“We are called to love others and do charitable works,” Teddy said.

“Even if someone calls us and really needs someone to talk to about what they’re going through, even if we’re going through a lot ourselves, but after work we schedule time to be available for it.

“It’s part of the grieving process, helping people is helping both of us,” Morris adds.
“If we stay here at home, we will both feel even more hopeless when we think of our children, when I think of the positions of responsibility I have held, and sometimes you miss your home in Uganda.
“But community work helps us. We are happy to partner closely with the community here and do what we can to help.

Morris says his faith has never let him down and he is confident he is placing his family in God’s hands. “Everything I asked God to bless me, he gave to me,” he said.

“We are grateful to be able to add value to the Australian community through the skills we had learned before coming here, and we are very proud of our children who we know will also give back to the church and the community. school.”

CAN YOU HELP?
The call : www.mycause.com.au/p/290330/reunion-with-children

Related:

Thank you, Sydney, for helping Afghan refugees