This morning, St. Edward High School presented the St. Kizito Foundation with the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Award. Fr. Don Dunson, founder of the St. Kizito Foundation, accepted the award on behalf of the organization, accompanied by a number of board members and friends of the foundation.
In 2002, Fr. Don established the St. Kizito Fund after he visited Gulu, Uganda for the first time. During this visit, Fr. Don observed and learned firsthand of the inhuman conditions in which hundreds of thousands of adults and children live. The scholarship fund expanded into a Foundation with a mission to restore hope, dignity, solidarity, and education in a country devastated by prolonged civil strife, internal terrorism, and extreme poverty.
The foundation is named in honor of St. Kizito, a 14 year old boy from Uganda who war martyred in the 1880s for his commitment to his Christian faith. St. Kizito is the patron of children of primary schools. Today, St. Kizito operates Students’ Centers in Kampala city, Gulu and Nebbi districts. These Centers provide a place for students to assemble in community for various activities and instructional sessions. Here, they learn about responsibility and accountability, and also are supported to learn after school skills such as handcraft making and speaking engagements to uplift their leadership skills. In total, the foundation supports over 300 students in their education and life, and their primary focus is to provide the participants in the program with sufficient and appropriate education so that they may earn a living and have a successful life.
In the Holy Cross Constitutions, we find these words: “The mission is not simple, for the impoverishments we would relieve are not simple. There are networks of privilege, prejudice and power so commonplace that often neither oppressors nor victims are aware of them….. For the kingdom to come in this world, disciples must have the competence to see and the courage to act.” The actions of the St. Kizito Foundation are a brilliant example of the competence and courage required to make that mission a reality.
The work of Fr. Don, and the work of the St. Kizito Foundation to eliminate that division is truly remarkable, and we are honored to present them with this year’s St. Edward High School Martin Luther King Jr. Award.