About Us

Our Mission

Our sole mission is to help children and families in the Nigerian town of Ihitte-Uboma, where there are many remote and marginalized communities with no access to electricity, running water, medicine, or passable roads. And because most people are peasant farmers, 85% of the children have little to no access to education.  

Many families grow crops, but the yield is not enough to feed the town. Consequently, many are starving. Parents and children often share one bedroom in a mud-and-wood shack, and some share even their garments.

A consequence of this severe poverty is children dropping out of school; their families cannot pay for supplies, tuition, transportation and food.  As they sell fruit and vegetables on the streets, children are exposed to dangers such as child prostitution, abuse, drugs, addiction and kidnapping. Many girls are victims of rape and sexual abuses leading to early and unwanted pregnancies.  

Medicine is sparse. People must travel many miles for medical attention at few available hospitals and clinics. Those fortunate enough to get there must provide their own bedding, mattresses, pillows and food. Consequently, people struggle with untreated health issues while others simply die from untreated diseases and underlying health complications.

Despite this ongoing suffering and poverty, the people have a strong faith in God. Maria Africa Foundation fosters that faith while providing basic humanitarian services to the children and families in greatest need.

Father Simon’s Work in Nigeria

When you support the work of Maria Africa Foundation, you help to carry on the work of Fr. Simon Osuchukwu, a Roman Catholic priest who serves in America but never forgot the village where he grew up, and where his siblings still live. Fr. Simon served in the area as a priest for many years after his ordination in 2003. He experienced the poverty, plight, and agony of the people and returns regularly to offer a helping hand.

With each visit, Fr. Simon deepens his understanding of the continued need and fosters a renewed commitment to help.  Fr. Simon works tirelessly to build a coalition of benefactors and supporters through the formation of the Maria Africa Foundation.

This foundation, along with Fr. Simon and our community of supporters, provides humanitarian and charitable assistance to the vulnerable people of Ihitte-Uboma each and every day. They strive to ensure that children’s most basic human needs are met: food, running water, shelter and education.  While the focus is academics that will help to lift children from the cycle of poverty, the children also learn discipline, values and Christian morals.


About Ihitte-Uboma

Ihitte-Uboma is locataed in the southeast region of Nigeria. The town is inhabited by over 120,000 people but has many remote and marginalized communities with no access to electricity, running water, education, healthcare, or even passable roads. The average person in Uboma is a peasant farmer, but their farms do not yield enough for people’s consumption. Consequently, many families are starved and lack basic nutrition for their sustenance. Transportation is largely by foot or bicylce.

Many families live in thatched houses built with mud and roofed with straw. They are too poor to afford school supplies, tuition and transportation. As a result, some children engage in child labor, selling fruits, vegetables and water along the roads to earn money to support their families. Unfortunately, these children are exposed to all kinds of dangers such as child prostitution, emotional and physical abuses, drugs, robbery, addiction and kidnapping. The girls are also victims of rape and other sexual abuses leading to early and unwanted pregnancies.

People travel many miles to get medical attention from a few available hospitals and clinics. The people who are fortunate enough to be admitted to the hospital must provide their own bedding, mattresses, pillows and food. Consequently, people struggle with untreated health issues while some people die from untreated diseases and underlying health complications.

Despite the ongoing suffering and poverty, the people still have strong faith in God. Fr. Simon served in the area as a priest for many years after his ordination in 2003. He continues his service with frequent visits, and through Maria Africa Foundation and supporters like you.

Our Stories

Elizabeth Lucy is smart and a brilliant girl. Seeing the unique potential of Elizabeth, the Maria Africa Foundation is paying her tuition to become a registered nurse in Nigeria. When she graduates, she would be able to provide for herself and help her siblings and other people in her village.  Miss Lucy says: “The ability to be in a school of nursing would not have been possible without the Maria Africa Foundation. I am so grateful and overjoyed”. Love from Elizabeth!

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See all of Our Stories

Board Members

The foundation’s board members are comprised of both advisors and people on the ground who monitor and implement projects, oversee expenditures, and ensure the integrity of funds so that all dollars donated go directly to schools, hospitals and humanitarian programs.  No individuals receive direct donations and all board members are volunteers.

Fr. Simon Osuchukwu (President)

Fr. Simon attended the Seat of Wisdom Seminary, in Owerri, Nigeria, where he earned both a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and bachelor’s degree in theology. After earning a third degree in religious studies from Imo State University, he became an ordained priest for the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe, Nigeria, in 2003. He served as pastor in different parishes and as a school principal at several Nigerian schools, always volunteering in the area of humanitarian services. In 2015, Fr. Simon relocated to the United States where he obtained a Master’s of Science degree from Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska. Fr. Simon currently serves in the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona. He founded Maria Africa Foundation to continue to provide support to the less fortunate in Nigeria where he has a brother, sister and many nieces and nephews.

Thomas Shellander

Tom serves as Vice President of Maria Africa Foundation. He is an attorney and accountant and manages all legal matters and taxes for Maria Africa Foundation. He is also president of Road to Life, a humanitarian inititative based in Tanzania.







Paul Lipari

Paul is the Secretary and the Treasurer of Maria Africa Foundation as well as the Chairman of CCT Research, a Phoenix based clinical research company conducting Phase II and III clinical trials for a variety of therapeutic areas. CCT Research is on the forefront of many of the Covid vaccine trials as well as some of the RSV trials. Paul is also the co-founder of Hudson Capital Advisors, a merchant bank focused on debt and equity private placements, mergers and acquisitions, and sourcing principal investing opportunities. Before starting Hudson Capital, Paul worked in the Leveraged Finance group at CIBC World Markets and Salomon Brothers in NY.

Paul received his M.B.A. from The Amos Tuck Business School at Dartmouth and his B.A. from Yale University. Paul currently resides in Scottsdale with his wife and daughter and attends St. Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, where his daughter is an excellent altar server.

Jan Gusich

Jan founded and managed a marketing and public relations company with 30 employees and over $4 million in sales for more than 25 years.  Partially retired, Jan now lends her marketing expertise to several non-profit organizations including Maria Africa Foundation, Building Hope in the City (a Cleveland-Ohio based non-profit), Hudson Community Foundation and North Coast Community Hopes (an organization that provides safe housing in Northeast Ohio for persons with developmental disabilities).  She also serves on the Executive Committee for the International Public Relations Network.  Jan holds a BA degree in Marketing from Baldwin-Wallace College.

Robert (Bob) Gomez

Robert J. Gomez served more than 20 years in the technology industry, working for major corporations such as Xerox, Polaroid, Cisco Systems and Adobe. Throughout his management career, Bob has been investing in real estate and is a licensed Real Estate Agent in the State of Arizona.

Over the years, Bob has been actively involved with non-profit organizations, serving from volunteer to board member with organizations that include the Knights of Columbus, CAAS affiliated Behavioral health services, Maggie’s Place, St Vincent de Paul, St Mary’s Food Bank, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, Hemophilia Society of Arizona, Andre House and others.

Bob currently serves as President of the Parish council for St. Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church in Scottsdale, Arizona.  He also serves on the building committee for the Parish and has had several roles in the Parish over the past 20+ years.

Bob holds a B.S. degree in business and marketing from Arizona State University.  He lives in Scottsdale, AZ, where he actively runs his real estate business and enjoys being a father to four adult children and grandfather to one.

Peg Ghering

Peg is a retired Technology Services Executive who improved client business outcomes through technology and process transformation. While at Accenture, DXC and Cognizant, she worked with Fortune 200 companies running $100M portfolios with up to 700+ team members.

Peg has previously served as Parish Council President, Education Lead for an Illinois Community Organization, and as a Religious Education teacher.

Peg is currently Vice President of her St. Vincent de Paul conference and works directly with the poor.

Peg received her Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Illinois in Business Administration (cum laude) and completed an Executive Certificate in Global Finance from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

How Your Generous Donation helps

Areas of Greatest Need

Food for
the starving
Shelter, running water and electricity
Educational scholarships and tuition, supplies, new schools
Supporting vulnerable children
Medical care for children, pregnant women; building hospitals and clinics
MAF is a 501c3 non-profit. What makes us unique is that we have people working directly on the ground to monitor our projects and oversee the distribution of funds so that all donations go directly to schools, hospitals and humanitarian programs. All board members are volunteers.

© 2022 Maria Africa Foundation
7033 E Greenway Parkway, Suite 155 Scottsdale, AZ 85254

(480) 658-9280