Eileen Pearce is used to serving others. After helping out at her local church St Lukes in Bayswater for over 50 years as part of their church committee, she never expected to serve across the globe.
While at church one day, she met and got to know a priest from Uganda, Richard Sabiti, who was over on a sabbatical, learning about how New Zealand Catholic churches operate.
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“The parish priest, who oversaw three local churches on the North Shore, brought him in one day to meet us all. I was really struck by his heart for helping other people.
“After he went back to Uganda we kept in touch via email, and I started to ask him questions about his life and what life was like in Uganda. I didn’t know much about the country and wanted to hear more about people’s lives there.
“After a prolonged period of communication, Father Sabiti started telling me about his dream to help others in his community. He worked with the elderly and the poor in Fort Portal and had bought a piece of land there in hopes of one day building a care home there.”
Before she knew it, Eileen was on board.
“I said to him, I’ll help you raise some money to build it!
“I actually hated fundraising and asking people for money, but really wanted to help him and help others in his community.
“I was on the waiting list to move into William Sanders in Devonport, a beautiful retirement village, and couldn’t go about living my fortunate life without stopping to help others in a less fortunate position.
“When I’m sick I go to the doctor, and when I want to buy food, I hop in my little car and go to the grocery store. Life is so far from that in Uganda. Poor elderly people have limited access to food, medicine, and transportation. There is no superannuation.”
So, Eileen set up a committee in New Zealand to fundraise to build the home and partnered with international Catholic charity Caritas to ensure the money was used for its intended purposes.
Raising money through donations from friends, selling items at craft markets, and holding her own market day at William Sanders, Eileen raised over $50,000 to help start the build.
“Twenty-two months later we opened St Joseph’s home, a six-bedroom care home, and two elderly ladies moved in on the opening date.
“They have a full-time housekeeper and a person to manage the running of the house.”
Unfortunately, Father Sabiti passed away from cancer shortly after the opening of the home in 2020, but Eileen and the committee continue to fundraise for the running costs of the house every month.
“I’ll be at the next craft market in Devonport in the ferry terminal building on September 3rd.”
If you would like to get in touch with Eileen, her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org