To “make a difference,” a life and death difference in the lives of children is the highest value of human service. Listening to Sister Nyirumbe, I immediately understand a truth — there is no other experience that empowers or allows such fierce fearlessness and emanating joy as the joy one owns who connects to the divine through service.
Like her, a smile burst forth larger than life — vivid life. Talking to her, one might not perceive that she encounters the near-dead every day. Here is a woman who allows and listens to the stories of thousands of children who were made to kill a sibling, tortured, sexually abused, and all at ages incomprehensible to the human spirit. Forest Whitaker narrates the story of this woman’s fight to reclaim the sanctity of human life and restore hope in Uganda.
Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe opens her spiritual wings, her home, her heart, her mind, to those hundreds of children escaping from human trafficking — daily, nightly. She gives time, space, food, and work to these very frozen and shattered children, restoring hope and dignity that has been stripped through the most depraved experiences of life. She is pure nonviolence, pure unconditional love as an oasis in the midst of the most horrific violence found in Uganda. It is apparent that she is a divine channel that protects herself and protects her children, some the age of 20 with four children of their own — a product of rape and worse. Be aware, these same horrific forces that she kept away have wanted to come and claim those children again, following their escape and refuge with Sister.
Credit: Napa Valley Film Festival
Sister was in town for the Sarasota Film Festival, which was premiering a documentary of her work with the children. Sewing Hope, her narrative of this life she lives — her work — is a book and a film. An introduction to the book explains why Sewing Hope:
What an unusual thing, she thought, this unlikely blend of silver pop tabs sewn together with jet black thread and a label that read ‘Handmade by St. Monica’s Girls School, Gulu, Uganda.’ Considered by most to be mere trash, of no value and ready for the trash heap, pop tables now offered a lifeline for many in her community and a significant source of income for here schools, much-needed food and clean water.
To purchase the book or schedule a book signing in your local book store, head to: Sewing Hope.
About the film:
For 25 years, Joseph Kony and his infamous Lord’s Resistance Army terrorized Northern Uganda. Children were stolen from their families and brainwashed to be soldiers in his army. Young girls were additionally degraded by serving as sex slaves for Kony and his officers in the field. The gunfire has ceased, but one battle still remains — restoring dignity and a future to the children of Uganda. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe leads a vocational school in Gulu, Uganda, where she uses practical skills to restore dignity, independence, and hope to formerly abducted women. She is an inspiration in the face of tyranny and desperation.
Derek Watson’s provocative film mixes first person narration, edgy animation and compelling stories of hope. Forest Whitaker narrates this compelling story of one woman’s fight to bring hope back to her troubled nation.
Currently, the film is not available for individual purchase. Please check back once we complete the film festival circuit.
Check out this interview with Sister Rosemary for even more: Helping women and girls recover from the brutality of war.
In addition to Sister Rosemary, I chatted with Reggie Whitten, co-founder of two philanthropic organizations, Pros For Africa and FATE. Reggie Whitten works closely with Sister Nyirumbe in the states and Africa. He helped to make the Sewing Hope documentary manifest and continues to bring the film to public attention. Reggie Whitten has worked with Sister Nyirumbe’s in Uganda overcoming fear of harm in a challenging circumstance.
The issues Sister Rosemary emphasized are not particular to Uganda even though this is an extreme example. Sister Rosemary mentioned how she sometimes meets the lost boys in the United States, and that young girls who have been tortured and violated have completely disappeared. Her work focuses on rehabilitation of the girls she is able to help.
Speaking to Reggie Whitten of the problems women and children face in our own country, I mentioned the confusion and misinformation present, even in the judicial system (many times producing backwards outcomes), regarding issues of rehabilitation for women and children from violent events. As I questioned Reggie about problems in the United States regarding women and children in recovery from violent circumstances, he mentioned Jimmy Carter’s latest works, which you can find on a website called Women and Children First. Jimmy Carter’s present work points to the need for more focus reversing the war on the struggling, poverty-stricken mothers and children that has been taking place in our country for decades.