Noted Humanitarian Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe to Attend East Central University's Fall Graduation on Saturday

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe poses with ECU President John Hargrave and Ugandan ECU students Richard Kirabira (left) and Charles Mugabi (right) in this 2010 photo. It was Sister Rosemary’s first visit to ECU. Sister Rosemary is expected to attend Saturday’s fall commencement ceremony as Kirabira and Mugabi will be honored with achieving their master’s degrees.

When graduates of East Central University receive their diplomas on Saturday, Dec. 15, a special visitor will be in attendance. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, a nun and noted humanitarian, will be in the audience in support of two Ugandan men – Richard Kirabira and Charles Mugabi - who are receiving their master’s degrees. Sister Rosemary is also a guest of ECU President John Hargrave and Reggie Whitten, founder of Pros for Africa. The commencement ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. at ECU’s Kerr Activities Center in Ada. Sister Rosemary is director of the St. Monica’s Girls Tailoring Centre in Uganda where she works with displaced women who have lost their childhood, dignity and families as a result of being kidnapped by child soldiers, used as sex slaves by Ugandan rebels and becoming mothers at an early age. Some of the young girls also were child soldiers, ordered to kill their relatives and friends. “Sister Rosemary is a great lady with high character and has the drive to help others,” said Kirabira, who worked for Cornerstone Development/Africa, prior to coming to the United States. St. Monica’s Girls Tailoring School has worked with Cornerstone as a trusted partner, according to Kirabira. By achieving his master’s degree in business accounting, Kirabira plans to go back to Uganda and continue his work as a business developer. The linking of Sister Rosemary with Reggie Whitten and Hargrave occurred in March of 2010 as Hargrave traveled to Uganda with Whitten and several NFL football players with Pros for Africa, an Oklahoma City-based organization that aids disadvantaged African children, to drill water wells, provide doctors and medical care and teach life skills. Mugabi, who is getting his master’s in business/human resources, and Kirabira hooked up with Hargrave in 2010 after Hargrave’s luggage was lost while traveling to Uganda with Pros for Africa. Mugabi and Kirabira waited three days for the luggage to finally arrive at the airport and delivered it to Hargrave by driving five hours through a dangerous civil war-torn area. Hargrave offered the pair money for compensation, but they refused. “The principle we live by is helping others without expecting a reward,” Mugabi said. But Hargraves’ gratefulness for the massive deed didn’t go void as the pair was invited to the United States to attend ECU and receive their master’s degrees, thanks to funding from Whitten and the Pros for Africa organization. “Sister Rosemary has made such an impact on the lives of young women. Her unconditional willingness to serve others has helped women, with a troubled past, have a normal life,” said Hargrave. This will actually be Sister Rosemary’s second visit to Oklahoma and Ada, after coming here in the fall of 2010. During her first visit, then Governor Brad Henry made a proclamation as Sept. 28, 2010 as Sister Rosemary Day in Oklahoma. Sister Rosemary’s revolutionary initiative to bring hope and healing to hundreds of young women and their babies earned her the 2007 CNN Community Crusader Hero Award from the cable news broadcaster. Since 2002, her St. Monica’s Girls Tailoring Centre has offered hundreds of displaced women and children a safe place to learn necessary life skills and such trades as cooking, sewing and secretarial work. The nuns at the school, members of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, also teach them to love the babies they were forced to have. The so-called ‘child mothers’ could not return to their former communities either because they would be rejected by their families, they were orphans or were too embarrassed about what they were forced to do while kidnapped.

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Contact: Brian Johnson Amy Ford East Central University Communications and Marketing 580-559-5650 or 405-812-1428 (cell)