At this holiday season I am writing with a mixture of joy and sorrow. I thank you for all that you have done throughout the year to help the children at St. Jude Children's Home attend school and live productive lives with disabilities. Your donations have not only provided education and wheelchairs, but have also helped to provide a caring and effectively safe and nurturing environment for all the children living at St. Jude, including those children with disabilities at Consolation Home. Despite all that we do for these beautiful children, though, there are some disabilities that simply cannot be overcome. And this brings me my sadness. But knowing that you, Social Promise, and St. Jude Children's Home did so much to provide a loving and comfortable home for every child living there brings me joy and continued hope for the future. Sunday's death seems to have been truly unpreventable. As you will read, he and his brothers suffer from an unknown genetic disorder. The fact that he lived a beautiful life, full of hope, is a great blessing you helped bring to him.
Here is the abbreviated obituary for Opiyo Sunday, child of Consolation Home at St. Jude. As you read it, I trust you will notice the joy and sense of possibility that your support of this amazing Ugandan nonprofit brings to the children - and caregivers - living there.
St. Jude lost a child recently. Opiyo Sunday died at St. Mary’s Hospital from respiratory complications. Sunday was a very kind, intelligent, and sincere individual who loved music and talking with people. He was one of the creators of the Consolation Home bead-making project and he was saving his money to buy biscuits and sweets – and he dreamed of one day buying an MP3 player with the small amount of money he was able to save. The following is the story of Opiyo Sunday and his family.
Sunday arrived at St. Jude in 2008 with his mother and 7 siblings. Sunday and all four of his brothers have a rare genetic disorder that severely distorts their bodies and makes walking impossible. Sunday’s mother never understood why her five sons were born with such severe birth defects, while her two daughters are healthy. (After coming to St. Jude, Brother Elio – the Home’s Director – had blood samples analyzed in Italy, but doctors still couldn’t point to a cause.) In 2007, during the LRA rebel insurgency, Sunday’s father abandoned the family. Overwhelmed, as a single parent with five disabled children, Sunday’s mother went to St. Jude Children's Home for help. Her whole family was welcomed with open arms to Consolation Home at St. Jude Children’s Home.
At St. Jude, Opiyo Sunday learned to read and write. He delighted in the children of St. Jude, the wide variety of people he met and the books he read in his free time. He knew that he would never be able to perform physical labor and that knowledge was his path to a better life. A dedicated student, he also advised his younger brothers to study hard. He aspired to one day become an accountant or a manager.
So many children with disabilities in Gulu are abandoned by their families. So Sunday’s mother is sometimes asked why she stays with her disabled children and her answer is simple: “The child doesn’t know how they got disabled and neither does the mother or father, so we can’t mishandle the children with disabilities. Stay and give love to the child so that the child feels happy.” At St. Jude, Sunday’s mother is provided with a home in which it is possible for her to physically take care of her children. She prays that if God is going to take her children’s lives, they should die before her, so they never suffer without her. This mother is a remarkable woman who raised a remarkable son, Opiyo Sunday, whose intelligence, kindness and generous spirit will be sorely missed.
Thank you for all you do to help keep Consolation Home at St. Jude Children's Home in existence so that children such as Sunday can be properly cared for, given an education, access top rate health care, and keep their own hope for a brighter future.
With gratitude for your ongoing support of this project,