Paulette’s Miracle Bursary: a story of a recipient and her family

Paulette’s father, Francis, worked for the United Nations in his war-torn home country in Africa exposing corruption in his government and violence against civilians from rebel groups…

“There were two parties fighting against the corrupt government. But while they were fighting they were committing so many crimes – kidnapping, murdering. One day they walked into my village and started killing the people on the streets for no reason – around 275 innocent people were killed. That’s what angered me.”

He was imprisoned, beaten and tortured several times for his work.

From a hospital in a neighbouring country the United Nations began the process of fast-tracking his visa to Australia. Francis was adamant that he did not want to leave his family nor stop the work that he felt was so necessary. It was impressed upon him that returning to his own country would put his family in danger and cost him his life.

Once in Australia, Francis spent six years battling to get his family to join him in Brisbane. Finally with the help of his local parish priest in Brisbane he succeeded.

“The most important thing to me is that my family is safe. In Australia we can go anywhere now and know that we will be able to get home. We know that fighting and violence will not break out behind us wherever we are.”

Paulette, his eldest, was enrolled at the local Catholic primary school and in just two years this bright young girl managed to learn English and make friends. She read everything that she could about St Mary of the Cross MacKillop and when all her friends talked about going to high school she was desperate to go to MacKillop College with them.

“Paulette begged me to enrol her at MacKillop College. So I went to the College to speak with the principal. I didn’t know what to expect. The principal was a very lovely man. They gave me all the paperwork and I quickly realised that there was no way we could afford it. I still wanted a quality education for my child. But I said to him, sorry, my family cannot do this.”

But the school principal insisted that Francis take the forms home. His parting words to Francis were, “Just take the forms and God will provide.” Francis took the forms home, filled them in and dropped them back. The next time he heard back from the school Francis was informed that Paulette would be their school’s first recipient of the Mary MacKillop Brisbane Catholic School Access Fund bursary.

When he told his wife that this would secure Paulette’s education through to the end of year 12, she broke down in tears.

“For my wife and me it’s a privilege and an honour because we are assured that our girl will get a good Catholic education – one that we long dreamed for her.”

Paulette is now one of 17 children who are current recipients of the MacKillop bursary. Each child has a similar story of heartbreak or tragedy in their family but these bursaries have become a light in their lives.

Next month the MacKillop Selection Committee has the difficult job of reviewing the growing number of applications from children who have endured significant hardship. They are desperate for a Catholic school education but the financial barriers are too high.

We need your help! Please consider making a tax-deductible gift to connect a deserving child to a caring Catholic community.

  • Your gift of $105 helps to pay 1 week of tuition for a secondary student.
  • Your gift of $64 helps to pay 1 week of tuition for a primary student.
  • Your monthly gift of $10 helps to pay 2 weeks of tuition for a primary student.

With your help the MacKillop Fund can transform the hardship into hope for children like Paulette. While it’s always hard for me to hear about the lives of these children and the challenges that they face, I love a happy ending to a story. That’s what your gift to the MacKillop Fund provides.

All gifts over $2 are tax-deductible.


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Banner image: Francis and Paulette’s younger sister at their home, Brisbane.