Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University (APSU) social work sophomore Mallory Fundora founded Project Yesu – a charity that provides food and education to Ugandan children – when she was 11.
Project Yesu has grown in the years since – adding child sponsorship and feeding programs with plans to build a school – but the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had an impact on Fundora and her cause.
“This is an extremely tough time for Project Yesu as a whole right now,” Fundora said. “I was supposed to be in Uganda in just a few weeks, but obviously plans have been changed in order to keep everyone safe.
“The people in our programs are struggling, just like everyone is right now, but vastly different struggles than ours,” she added. “They are already struggling with the funds for food and other basic needs on a daily basis.”
The schools have closed, and students are home without running water or proper sanitation, Fundora said.
“Their food needs have multiplied,” she said. “Our staff is not allowed to distribute food.”
‘Being the change right now may seem difficult’
Project Yesu recently set up 15 handwashing stations around Musima in an effort to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“They are a community that has always gone through life arm and arm, now they’re being asked to stay apart,” Fundora said.
The government has locked down the country, which means residents have little access to private or public transportation.
“Being the change right now may seem difficult,” Fundora said. “It’s easier to focus on your current problems rather than what is happening to the people around us.
“I’m always fighting to be the change in Uganda, but it can be in your own community as well,” Fundora said. “It may take some creativity but changing the world can happen from your own home.”
‘It’s important that we all hang in there’
While running Project Yesu, Fundora is a full-time student at Austin Peay State University. She’s facing many of the same challenges of learning primarily online as her classmates.
“Online learning is perfect for a specific type of student, but not everyone thrives in that environment,” she said. “For me, I’m keeping up pretty well with my social work classes.”
Austin Peay State University has moved all classes through the spring and summer terms online, and most students are doing their classwork from home.
“For my last core class of my degree, I’m having a bit more trouble keeping up,” Fundora said. “Online learning is not my preferred learning method, so it’s taking quite a bit more effort to succeed in class.”
But she understands the effort.
“It may not be ideal, but it’s important that we all hang in there and wait this out,” Fundora said. “The university is keeping us safe and I could not appreciate that more.”
To learn more
- For more about Project Yesu, go to https://www.projectyesu.org/.
- To learn more about Fundora, visit APSU’s GovLife profile of her at https://apsu.edu/govlife/students/mallory-fundora.php.
- For more about Austin Peay State University’s Department of Social Work, go to https://www.apsu.edu/socialwork/.