Our Story and Mission

When our founder and president, Simone Puccinelli, was a sophomore in college, she received a God-appointed email. The email detailed the serious financial issues faced by a school in Nakaseke, Uganda. If the school could not raise $500 for rent on their school +building, the students would be sent away without an education.

Simone decided that she could try to raise the money, and through the help of family and friends was able to do so. She also had a desire to visit Uganda to see where the money was being sent.

When she got to Uganda and met the man behind the email, Godfrey, and all of the students, she realized that this was a divine connection—something that she couldn’t just leave. Her life was going to be devoted to helping those children and the heart of Simone’s Kids was born. Simone’s Kids exists so that the children in Nakaseke can strive for a successful future through quality education in a nurturing environment


God’s Hope Primary School was the starting point of Simone’s Kids. Our Founder, Simone Puccinelli, was contacted in 2010 by Mr. Kayiire Godfrey requesting help to save a small school for orphans and impoverished children in the community. The school initially held classes under a mango tree. It was then moved to a rental building, and finally, on February 14, 2014, officially opened the new school campus on Simone’s Kids property.

Origin: Story of Godfrey and Hope

Godfrey Kayiire and his wife, Hope, are the current administrators of God’s Hope Primary School. The couple started with only a dream to be able to help the poor and orphaned children in their community. Godfrey and Hope are passionate about the cause because they were both orphaned at a very young age as well and have a personal empathy toward the children they serve. In fact, Hope is unable to celebrate her birthday because both of her parents died before she was old enough to remember. Godfrey and Hope were both sponsored by an organization that supported them through school. They both attest that, without the outside help, neither would have been able to complete their education. Godfrey was so grateful for the help that he received growing up that, after graduation, he volunteered for two years at the school where he received his primary education.

In 2008, Godfrey and Hope took the little money that they had and established a primary school in Uganda. This was not an easy task for the couple, as their funds were quite limited. During the first term that the school was open, they had forty-six students and eight teachers. The students that attended were not able to afford payment for tuition, and our school remains that way to this day. In 2010, Simone began communicating with Godfrey, questioning him about the needs of the school. During that year Simone was only able to provide the rent for the school buildings. However, that was enough to keep the school open for the children.

Godfrey remembers, “I didn’t believe that she was going to send the money until I received it in my account. Glory be to our God who is always faithful even if people may not be!”. In 2011, Simone’s Kids was able to raise enough funding to provide complete financial support for the entire school.

Rebuilding God’s Hope Schools

After founding Simone’s Kids in 2010, Simone Puccinelli determined the biggest need in the Nakaseke community was a place for orphans and vulnerable children to receive a quality education. In 2010, God’s Hope Primary School was being run out of dilapidated war-torn buildings. It was not a safe or effective learning environment. In 2011, Simone’s Kids kicked off their “Building a School” project. Over the next three years, Simone’s Kids was able to purchase land, acquire legal status with the Ugandan government, and construct a new facility. The new God’s Hope Primary School boasted ten classrooms, a large office, bathrooms, and a kitchen.


Simone Puccinelli

Simone Puccinelli

Founder + President, Started in 2010

Simone Puccinelli started Simone’s Kids during her sophomore year of college, with a dream of helping orphaned children attend school. Simone is married with one child. She currently lives in the United States but makes frequent trips to Uganda. She loves cooking, hiking and inspiring others to fulfill their dreams!

Steve Burke

Steve Burke

Country Director, Started in 2021

Steve volunteered with Simone’s Kids for a few years, and then felt the Lord leading him to serve full-time in Uganda. Steve is our Country Director and will also oversee all athletics. His 34+ years of experience with college administration and coaching brings aged experience to our program.

Godfrey Kayiire

Godfrey Kayiire

Uganda Public Relations + Development Director, Started in 2008

Kayiire Godfrey grew up in an orphanage home in Nakase, Uganda. He started Gods Hope Primary School with his wife, Hope, in 2008. They started the school to help the orphans and needy kids who remained in Nakaseke after the Cold War of Uganda, from 1980 to 1985. They have five biological children. Godfrey and his wife are the administrators of God’s Hope Primary and Secondary School.

Katy Davis

Katy Davis

Administrative Assistant, Started in 2016

Katy Davis began working with Simone’s Kids in 2016. She had been serving as a board member and felt God leading her to do more hands-on work with the organization. She has visited Uganda twice and works directly with the schools in the Sponsorship program. Katy’s passions include her dogs and raising puppies, walking and outdoor activities, as well as entertaining friends and family in her new home! She desires to continually grow her walk with Christ through Bible classes and building relationships in her local church. She has been a hairdresser for 16 years and is married with two sons aged 24 and 18!

Chris Gitta

Chris Gitta

Scholarship Director, Started in 2014

Chris Gitta was born in the slums of Kampala. My parents broke up when I was two years old, and I grew up with a single mom who was hustling to make a living. Kayiire Godfrey hired me up because I had skills in computing. I started working with the primary school as a secretary, but since I was young my dream was to help needy kids who grew up in situations like mine. I got the opportunity to meet Simone who also taught me about Jesus. I grew up in a Muslim family and I was feeling connected to God when she showed up. I am happy to work as the sponsorship coordinator at Simone’s Kids because I am living my dream!

Ellie Wooldridge

Ellie Wooldridge

Communication+Event Director, Started in 2020

Ellie started working for Simone’s Kids in 2020, as the head of marketing and event planning. Ellie has a heart for overseas mission work. She is grateful to play a small part in the big plans the Lord has for Simone’s Kids. She loves that she gets to be a vital connection on communication from Uganda to the States. Ellie has visited Uganda once, and is already looking forward her next trip.

Sharon Burke

Sharon Burke

Director of Teacher Development + Curriculum, Started in 2021

Sharon is serving as Curriculum Director at God‘s Hope. Along with her husband Steve, Sharon volunteered for Simone’s Kids and then felt called to serve full-time in Uganda. Sharon will help implement and improve our curriculum program. She will also work along side our Ugandan staff and help them excel to their best potential. Sharon is most excited to lead bible studies for our high school girls, and to create a place for young girls to come to know Jesus!

Micheal Puccinelli

Micheal Puccinelli

Research Director, Started in 2010

Michael has been involved with Simone’s Kids since 2010 and has been married to Simone since 2012. He is currently a surgery resident at the University of Oklahoma. Michael focuses on internal research and development as well as quality improvement with specific emphasis on the output and effectiveness of our educational program.


  • Robert Budd

  • Sandy Detar

  • Sarah Thomas

  • Heath Satterfield

  • Kelly Patrick

  • John Kiss

  • Rachel Shadle

  • Brent Cool

  • Debbie Plimton

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Registered 501(c)(3). EIN: 27-2202937