Reflecting on the Notre Dame Ugandan Initiative
Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, January 17, 2007
The Notre Dame Millennium Development Initiative (NDMDI) truly is an unprecedented opportunity for the entire Notre Dame community to be involved in an amazing undertaking of such responsibility to “turn its talents in the classroom towards a cause that calls for real world, global applications” as stated in the Dec. 6 Observer article “Ugandan initiative to provide aid, research.” This bold Notre Dame initiative provides the unique potential to work “with” local institutions and villagers to address concrete “problems that are essentially the result of ignorance, indifference and injustice” according to NDMDI director Fr. Robert Dowd. The NDMDI has the potential to “contribute to human development,” to serve as a wonderful model for other universities, and Notre Dame has the “real ability to help.” Even more importantly, the NDMDI has the unprecedented potential of radically transforming and changing us at Notre Dame.
I pray that as the planning, mobilization, and implementation of the NDMDI in Uganda continues to focus on specific and “various opportunities to help Africa,” that we will continue to faithfully reflect and remain open to Africa helping us. An authentic relationship of solidarity and cooperation has the profound ability to challenge our relationships and understanding of the world, our education, our very selves, our faith, and even God.
I pray that the Notre Dame Initiative devotes equal energy, time, talent, theological reflection, and prayer to genuinely allowing the Ugandans to help and change us. Ugandans have the real ability to transform us as well. With openness and mutual respect, I pray that the Notre Dame community will come to cherish the God given talents of the Ugandans, share in their world-view, celebrate in their deep sense of family and community, experience African generosity and hospitality, and rejoice in the East African spirit of prayer and worship to a loving God whose reign breaks forth in the world today. The NDMDI truly is a “first time” opportunity for an American university and a Catholic institution to be truly “Universal” in its approach to global problems in which Africa might really help us