It all started when...
Molly MacCready (nee Heineman) studied abroad in Uganda during the fall of 2006 through the School for International Training. Part of her program was to complete an internship and she fulfilled that requirement by working with C.R.O.- Child Restoration Outreach. C.R.O. is a non-governmental organization in Uganda that invites children off the streets and gives them the tools necessary to reintegrate into society. C.R.O. provides the children with food, counseling, access to medical care, finds housing for them and supports them to attend school. During her internship with C.R.O., Molly gained a better understanding of the underlying issues that caused these children to be on the streets. The more Molly learned, the more she admired the dedication of the staff and found herself in awe of the children’s resilience.
At the end of the internship, Molly interviewed many of the street children and staff to find out more about their lives and their experiences with C.R.O. She heard many affirmations of the wonderful services that C.R.O. provides, but also learned about some of C.R.O.’s limitations. When C.R.O. started in the early 1990’s, the children they worked with were all in primary school. As time progressed, their students graduated and moved on to secondary school. In 2006, their students were facing a new challenge: post-secondary education. C.R.O. students were getting accepted to universities and technical schools, but there were not funds to support them. Many of the foundations that support C.R.O. were only interested in sponsoring primary and secondary school students.
When Molly was interviewing George, one of the oldest boys, she asked what his hopes and dreams were for the future. He replied, "I don't know." Assuming it was a language barrier, she rephrased the question, but George responded that he had understood the initial question. He went on to explain that he had been accepted to university, but had already missed one semester because there wasn't funding available. How could George tell Molly his hopes and dreams for the future if he didn't even know if he could attend the school that had admitted him?
Molly shared stories about her activities in Uganda with her community in the greater Chicago area and received feedback that people wanted to get involved. That’s when the idea of CROSO was developed. CROSO connects the resources and generosity of donors in the U.S. with the needs of C.R.O.’s secondary school graduates in Uganda. With positive feedback from C.R.O. staff, Molly moved forward with recruiting an amazing group of talented people in the Chicago area who agreed to form the Board of Directors and CROSO was created in 2007!
Molly then returned to Uganda during the summer of 2007 after receiving the International Learn Lead Serve grant from the University of Dayton (where Molly was an undergraduate student at the time). During this visit, Molly co-facilitated a small group of secondary school graduates to gather more information and to continue building stronger relationships with the C.R.O. community.
Over the years, CROSO has grown far beyond just Molly's dream. The CROSO Board of Directors, volunteers, and donors have taken hold of this mission and helped shape it in strong and powerful ways. CROSO continues to partner with C.R.O. (Child Restoration Outreach), which has allowed us to effectively grow our scholarship program. Without any personnel from CROSO on the ground in Uganda, it is vital to our organization that we maintain such a positive relationship with C.R.O. staff. C.R.O. has four sites around the country of Uganda and CROSO has partnered with their Mbale project since our founding in 2007.