Fr. Robert’s Story
Hello. I am Rev. Fr. Robert S. Aliunzi, AJ, a Ugandan native but naturalized as an American citizen. I am also a missionary priest belonging to the Apostles of Jesus Religious Order. Currently, I am the Pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle in Chandler, Arizona and previously served for eight years as the Dean of the Northwest Deanery and eight years in the Presbyteral Council and College of Consultors in the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona.
I’m so excited to have the opportunity to introduce you to E3 Africa, an organization committed to educating the orphaned, impoverished and often forgotten of God’s children in Uganda.
In a country that has a history of poverty and rural devastation, I am excited that hundreds of Ugandan children are now finding their lives transformed through education provided by the loving sponsors of E3 Africa. There was a time when these students would never have dared to dream of a life beyond subsistence, but through the educational opportunities provided to them by their sponsors, they now plan productive futures and ways in which to contribute toward the economic and social transformation of their own communities and their own lives.
E3 Africa was conceived and born out of my personal life experiences. Born into a family of ten children, we lost our father when I was five years old and my mother a year later. My oldest teenage brother became head of the family and eventually found a way to send me on to school. However, the most productive and sensitive stages of my youth were marred by hunger, sickness, fear, threats to my life, expulsion from school and extreme isolation. These experiences created a profound sense of loss that haunted me for many years.
Reflecting, I came to realize that these experiences were blessings from God that had taught me about compassion, love, and understanding. Had it not been for the intervention of many kind people along the way, I would never have been able to finish my seminary training or go into the priesthood. My childhood experiences shaped my adult world and created a passion for helping other orphans. They helped to define my priesthood in no small way and “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that, you do unto me” (Matthew 25:40), became my inspiration.
In gratitude, I began paying the school fees and living expenses of other Ugandan orphans who were so like me. In 2004, I was assigned by my religious order to the United States. I began my training at Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Avondale, Arizona and then went on to St. James Roman Catholic parish in Glendale as pastor. Rosalie Weller, a parishioner of St. James, and I established EENU (Efforts to Educate the Needy children of Uganda) with the support of the parishioners of St. James. EENU became an official outreach ministry of the St. James parish and a registered NGO in Uganda in 2005. A year later, under the advice of Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, the organization became a registered (501c3) non-profit organization called EENU-USA, Inc. In 2013, we renamed our organization E3 Africa to reflect our mission of Educating, Enriching and Empowering our students in Uganda.
From its inception, the goal of E3 Africa has been to provide educational opportunities for secondary students through funding and sponsorship. Today we have hundreds of children’s education being sponsored by some amazing people, with more children on the priority care waiting list for this same incredible opportunity.
E3 Africa also has a Board of Directors in Kampala, Uganda. Joseph Ambayo, our Ugandan Executive Director, manages the ground operations after years of volunteering his time to E3 Africa. As a former secondary school teacher and school administrator, Joseph has a solid understanding of the Ugandan educational system, teen psychology, and behavioral attitudes.
Joseph has developed a mutually beneficial relationship with the staff of the schools that E3 Africa students attend. He has developed career guidance and counseling seminars for the students and their guardians. He monitors the progress and behavior of each student through personal visits to their respective schools. The focus of E3 Africa is to develop educated, psychologically healthy young adults, capable of becoming productive citizens and leaders of Uganda. By bringing the students together, they are learning to deal with their differences. They are learning to appreciate that they are all one people who can live peacefully together through Joseph’s promotion of the E3 Africa family. This vision is particularly crucial because most of these students are orphans who are the product of years of conflict arising from tribal, ethnic and religious issues.
Having experienced the loss of parents, siblings and other family members, these students often experience issues of abandonment. By building an E3 Africa family, we help our students to develop an identity, self-awareness, and self-confidence; they now belong. This attitude is much appreciated by the educators of the students as being a uniquely E3 Africa outlook and is credited with helping our students achieve a 100% success rate in being promoted to the next educational level.
Donations are vital in supporting our operational expenses and are critical to our continued success. Student sponsorship is crucial to our ability to educate impoverished, rural Ugandan youth. We are always interested in joining up with persons with interest in education or business and international affairs to work with us on our Board of Directors and Sponsorship, School Construction, Fundraising, Finance, Communications, Social Marketing, and Board Development committees. I share our successes, hopes and dreams with you in anticipation that you will be inspired to join us in the warm glow of satisfaction that one receives from helping those so much less fortunate. We encourage you to learn more about us by exploring our website.