Opening Eyes and Changing Lives
Sister Schools began after founder Terry McGill traveled with a Sports Outreach soccer team to Uganda in 1988 following decades of dictatorship and civil war. While there, he witnessed the incredible selflessness and generosity of Ugandan teachers and children. At Naguru Reception Center, a transitional orphanage housing 40 children, he observed a young boy receive a new pair of shorts and immediately gift them to another child. He gave away the only gift he had ever received because there was someone who needed it more. Terry thought to himself,
“This boy has just done more for another person in this moment than I have done in my entire life. If I really am the person I want to be, what should I do?”
When Terry returned to Seattle and shared his experiences, two friends, teachers at Cascade View and Newport Heights Elementary Schools, felt their students could benefit from his stories and asked him to present to their classes.
The results were astounding! Local students felt called to take action – they asked Terry if he was returning to Uganda and if they could send supplies with him. Students felt so compelled, they filled his entire pickup truck, much more than he and his wife Melissa could carry with them! They had to pick-and-choose which items would be the most useful to the schools and orphanages in Uganda. Among these gifts was a doll named Karen.
Karen had been donated by Kirsten, a kindergartener at Cascade View Elementary School. According to the note, “she has been a favorite bed-time friend of Kirsten’s for about 3 years. Kirsten wants Karen to be enjoyed by a little girl who has never had her own doll. She’s full of love.” Armed with this precious gift, Terry and Melissa found a recipient that spring – another young girl at Naguru Reception Center. When the couple returned to Seattle, Terry wanted to be sure that local students knew what a tremendous impact they had made in Uganda and asked if he could make a second presentation to the students.
Kirsten was a member of the morning kindergarten section and was so excited about seeing the little girl who received her favorite doll, that she refused to leave school until her mother had seen the afternoon presentation. The dual-impact nature of generosity – the joy that Kirsten experienced and the hope gifted to a Ugandan orphan – is what inspired Terry McGill to found Sister Schools.
Sister Schools’ unique program not only provides the critical supplies to keep Ugandan children in school, it is also an investment in the next generation. Local participants are changing their own lives and learning that they can always make a difference. This lesson follows them throughout their lives, as they become a generation that is involved, empowered, and generous beyond compare.