Uganda (MNN) — There are 37.8 million people living in Uganda. Nearly 25% of them live on $1.25 per day, and 2.7 million are orphans.
But one Christian organization is giving them a chance to thrive. Children’s HopeChest runs multiple programs in Africa and around the world through its CarePoint locations that provide children with food, medical care and discipleship.
One of those programs is a tailoring school at the Wera CarePoint in Uganda. Older children who are interested in vocational training are taught how to make different types of clothes–a skill that will help them become self-sustaining adults. They sell the clothes at the local market, and the money goes back into the program. Upon completion of the program, they are in a position to use their newly acquired skills to generate income to support themselves and their family.
“The great thing about this is it supports the local economy and of course helps that particular family as well,” says Randy Valentine, Children’s HopeChest vice president of marketing and communications. “The hope and the dignity that it gives them as they help support their family through an income generating job can be life-changing.”
Children’s HopeChest has brought this same concept of sustainable income to other countries as well, including Ethiopia, Swaziland and Guatemala. And the results are encouraging.
“In Swaziland, for example, we are looking at creating a partnership with a large commercial canning organization that will purchase strawberries grown at some CarePoints and end up being sold through the cannery’s distribution network,” Valentine explains. “The proceeds from those sales will be used to perpetuate the growing operations, support the ministry and perpetuate other Income Generating Activities (IGA’s) within the CarePoint communities.
“There are other CarePoints in Swaziland, Ethiopia and Uganda that are also moving toward becoming food sustainable. The goal is to grow enough food for that particular CarePoint to reduce and ideally eliminate the reliance on outside food sources for the CarePoint and the village as well.”
That is one of Children’s HopeChest’s underlying goals: to help communities help
themselves. “Part of our model is to not only reach the children, but to reach the children’s families, and from their families to reach the wider community,” Valentine says.
“We believe that if we’re only helping the child and not seeking to help transform the community in which they live, there is a good likelihood that as the child transitions into young adulthood they could face falling back into survival mode because the community is still in an impoverished state.
“Moving toward that bigger picture concept, for us, is our longer-term goal, and we’re seeing encouraging early stage movement in some of the communities where we work right now.”
Children’s HopeChest’s ultimate mission, however, transcends present needs. It wants children, their families, guardians and their communities to hear the Gospel and develop a biblical Christ-centered framework for life.
“One of the very first things that occurs with our Community-to-Community model, along with supplying the basics–food, clothing, shelter and medical assistance–is to introduce the Gospel to them,” Valentine says. “There is an ongoing discipleship program throughout their connection with us.
“We utilize indigenous disciplers that are part of the CarePoint ministry team and continually teach the children about the Bible. Integrated into the teaching is the understanding of the importance of work. God ordained work in the Garden of Eden at the very beginning of time. The dignity that comes with the ability to have a job or an entrepreneurial type of skill is potentially life-changing.”
You can help Children’s HopeChest assist the poor financially and spiritually. Valentine asks that you pray for Gospel workers as they develop sustainable means of income and bring the message of Christ around the world. Click here to donate to Children’s HopeChest or sponsor a child in Uganda.