Rockford residents help Beauvais Centre break ground in Uganda

Updated: Dec. 25, 2022 at 10:15 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Rockford residents raised half a million dollars back in June to fund the construction of a retreat center in Uganda. Now the building inches one step closer to completion.

More than a decade ago, Father David Beauvais and Dick Kunnert traveled to Uganda from Rockford to lead a seminar. They met a man by the name of Javis Mugagga who was so inspired he wanted to do something more. After two years of fundraising for the Beauvais Centre in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, Javis is thrilled to see his dream come to life.

“Our hearts are full. Full of a lot of gratefulness that we have an army of supporters from the Rockford area,” says Javis.

Thanks to the generous donations from Rockford residents, workers in Kampala, Uganda broke ground on the Beauvais Retreat Centre: a spiritual facility for its residents to learn to lead like Jesus.

“This is a vision that we’ve been praying for close to seven years so seeing it come to reality. It brings Goosebumps,” says Javis.

While Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world, 40% of its population is Catholic. Javis says half a million dollars doesn’t seem like much but the impact of these donations from the people of Rockford is priceless and will provide dozens of jobs and economic opportunities.

“It’s not just a handout it’s a hand up and that’s the approach that we’re taking with us as we build it,” says Javis.

“We are very pleased that the people of Rockford have gotten into their pockets, it’s something that they’re doing that is not only helping a few people but many people,” says Javis’ wife Gladys.

Completion of the building will take another 18 months but those back home in Rockford say it’s a gift they won’t regret.

“It’s been a real blessing to the people to see them responding in face so well, that it just keeps energizing us and we keep wanting to keep moving them forward,” says Father David Beauvais.

“We take it for granted that we have like retreat centers and special places. These things are unique in that part of the world. We really are so grateful, you know to their commitment and what they have done,” says Dick Kunnert.

Father Beauvais and Kunnert co-chaired the St. Kizito Leadership Fund, which raised enough money for the facility to break ground.

Javis and his family are overwhelmed with the support from the Rockford community to help them out during this difficult time.

“I always tell my wife that Rockford is like a second home for me because of the love that those folks have for our country,” says Javis.

The Rockford community also raised an additional 100 thousand dollars to furnish the building. Dozens of people are working and sleeping at the site to complete the project. The bricks of the building are also made locally.

Javis says donors want to come to Uganda and see the progress they’ve made and the value of their donations.