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Nun from Uganda visits state to gather supplies for soda-tab projects

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, a Catholic nun, is the director of St. Monica's Girls' Tailoring Center in Gulu and Atiak, Uganda, and Torit, South Sudan. Nyirumbe works closely with Oklahoma City-based nonprofit Pros for Africa and its for-profit affiliate, Sisters United.
by Silas Allen Modified: August 24, 2012 at 10:05 pm •  Published: August 25, 2012

When Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe walked into Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City on Friday, 10 suitcases went with her.

Inside those suitcases were skeins of yarn and hundreds upon hundreds of aluminum soda tabs.

Nyirumbe, a Catholic nun, is the director of St. Monica's Girls' Tailoring Center in Gulu and Atiak, Uganda, and Torit, South Sudan. The school is a refuge for girls who were kidnapped and used as sex slaves by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army.

Nyirumbe works closely with Oklahoma City-based nonprofit Pros for Africa and its for-profit affiliate, Sisters United. Sisters United collects soda tabs and sends them to St. Monica's, where the women at the school crochet purses, handbags and other accessories using the tabs.

Volunteers with Pros for Africa then carry the handbags back to the United States, where they're sold. Money from the sale of the bags then goes back to the women at St. Monica's.

Nyirumbe was in Oklahoma this week to attend the debut of a short documentary about her work at St. Monica's. While here, she spoke at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City University and Oklahoma State University's Tulsa-based Center for Health Sciences.

Effort started in May

Sisters United officially launched in May. Since then, Nyirumbe said, she's been working with Sisters United to gather the materials the women need to make the purses.

That effort was aided by a donation of tabs from the Anheuser-Busch metal container facility in Oklahoma City.

Once those materials are collected, she said, work can begin.

“Our real problem is not the labor,” she said. “Our real problem is getting the buyers.”

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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