TIME TIME 100

This Nun’s Incredible Speech Wowed a Roomful of VIPs

TIME 100 honoree Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe teaches abused "lost girls" to work through their pain and live with dignity.

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Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe of St. Monica’s Girls Tailoring School in northern Uganda has a simple mission. She takes in girls who were captured by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and gives them the skills—and the hope—to keep living. Many of the girls have children born to the men who were their captors and many of them are deeply troubled by what they had to do while in the LRA. When they return to their communities with their children, they are shunned.

Sister Rosemary has built a school for these young women, where they learn to sew and cook and love their kids. There’s also a childcare center and a school for the children. Some of the children are actually the children of Joseph Kony, so Sister Rosemary has made sure that local kids also come to the school, so that all the children from the area grow up together and are integrated.

To fund all this Sister Rosemary gets the girls to make bags out of pop tabs, which she sells all over the world. Because of the thousands of otherwise forgotten girls she has helped, she was named to this year’s TIME 100 and it is at the gala that she made this amazing speech. Afterward, her table was flocked by dignitaries and celebrities wanting to meet her, including David Koch, Amy Adams and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Sister Rosemary is also the subject of a new documentary and a book, Sewing Hope.

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