Operation Paper Fireplaces: A Hope North Uganda Service and Study Trip

July 13-29, 2018

This service and study trip was developed by a committee of faculty and students in the Thanatology program. In April, 2017, Okello Kelo Sam was a keynote presenter at a conference and most of the committee members were in attendance. His presentation focused on the school he established in 1997 for youth who survived abduction by the Lord’s Resistance Army and for other war-affected youth. Since 2006 the school has also served children coming from a situation of abject poverty. The school combines technical education with social support services and arts education. His presentation was so engaging that a small group of people began meeting to plan a study and service trip to Hope North Uganda, in conjunction with Okello Kelo Sam.

Why Operation Paper Fireplaces? In Acholi culture, and in sub-Saharan African cultures generally, the fireplace or campfire is where stories are told and culture & life skills & wisdom are passed down from elders to young people. The fireplace is where young people would learn how to navigate grief and loss.

Books represent a sort of “paper fireplace” and libraries are the ultimate paper fireplace! Okello has a dream: to have libraries in village communities across Northern Uganda, to help all individuals begin to expand horizons and dream bigger dreams! Our three service days will be focused on moving this goal forward!

The “study” part of the trip and course will be to focus on cultural experiences and expressions of dying, death, loss and grief in Ugandan culture, specifically among the Acholi and the Baganda peoples.

The “service” part of the trip and course will be to rejuvenate and improve three community libraries in Kitende, Bweyale and Gulu.

(ground package only)



  • All hotels beginning 13 July and through 28 July.
  • Most meals (excludes lunch in Kampala and lunch/breakfast in Gulu 22-24 July)
  • Transfers from and to the airport in Entebbe
  • Lake Victoria and Mabamba Swamp Tour
  • Entrance to Murchison Falls National Park
  • Vehicle rental and fuel
  • Game drives in Murchison Falls National Park

Not included:

  • Round trip airfare to Entebbe, Uganda
  • Single entry visa to Uganda (US$50)
  • Immunizations (Yellow Fever is required for entry) and anti-malarial prophylaxis
  • Optional excursions at Murchison Falls National Park
  • Alcoholic beverages, tips, souvenirs and other extras
  • Trip insurance (STRONGLY RECOMMENDED)

Who can come?

Anyone over the age of 18.


For an extra fee, anyone going on the trip may register for THA404/604: Special Topics: Death, Conflict and Healing in Uganda, but doing so is not required. The course will be an advanced seminar focusing on the history of Uganda and the LRA conflict, effects of war on youth (including formerly abducted youth), resilience, grief and traumatic loss in Uganda, Acholi culture, economic situations, recovery and the rebuilding of Northern Uganda post-conflict.

This course, which starts in May with pre-departure reading and ends in August with the submission of a seminar paper, provides 3 elective credits at the undergraduate or graduate level.  Permission of instructor required.

Deadline for application:

May 5, 2018, deposit of $1,500 due at registration. Payment information included in the documents provided.

Deadline for payment of balance:

May 15, 2018

Required documents:

If you have questions or you require printed copies of any of the listed documents, please contact:

Janet McCord, PhD, FT
Chair: Edwin S. Shneidman Department of Thanatology
Marian University
45 S. National Avenue
Fond du Lac, WI 54935