Simone’s Kids

Simone Puccinelli says she grew up with a heart for kids and in a way, she now has hundreds. Since starting Simone’s Kids in 2010, the Arcadia resident has guided the non-profit to build a primary school, high school, and medical clinic in Nakaseke, Uganda, all as a means to give students hope for their futures.

“Growing up, I was always touched by children and orphans in need,” Simone said. “I would play orphans with my dolls. I knew there were kids out there in need, and it moved me.”

As she got older, her parents allowed her to go on several mission trips, including one three-week trip to Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. “I saw the extreme poverty and it just confirmed that was where I wanted to serve. Of course, there is poverty all over the world, but it was so unimaginably extreme there – kids were living on their own at 3, 4, or 5 years old.”

Simone was a sophomore in college when her ministry took shape. She received an email asking for financial support for a school in Uganda. If they couldn’t raise $500 for rent, the students would be sent away without education.

“I felt that God wanted me to do something, so I raised the money and went over there and met the kids,” Simone said. “It was as if it was tattooed on my heart. I had a vision for these kids’ lives. I knew there was something better for them. That’s where Simone’s Kids was born, and over time it evolved to a much larger organization.”

Now, Simone’s Kids owns and operates two schools with a combined enrollment of 1,000. The school is free to attend, as the non-profit seeks to relieve burdens for the children who attend, financially and otherwise.

“Every graduate leaves with a high school degree and a vocational certificate,” Simone explained. “We educate in the traditional manner, but we also provide skill sets like building houses, electrical work, cosmetology, and mechanics.” The organization has also added a university program to assist students in pursuing higher education.

While many administrative roles reside in the states, the overwhelming majority of the work is by employees local to the mission. Of the 120 on-the-ground employees, only two are not Ugandan. Looking into the future, Simone’s Kids hopes to expand enrollment and housing options so more students can be reached.

“We bought 45 acres where we hope to build new housing and a vocational school,” Simone said. “This would allow us to expand the trade options that we teach, adding baking, cooking, and possibly technical skills like coding. We will keep working to reach as many kids as possible so they can believe in a better future.”

Learn more about Simone’s Kids at or find them on Facebook or Instagram at @SimonesKids.

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