I connected with Buriga Regan, a young Ugandan from the Mityana district, almost accidentally. For years I had made trips to Juarez, Mexico, every Easter to build a makeshift house with groups of teenagers. I'd also completed a trip to Malawi with World Vision. Still, with a natural passion for humanitarian work, and writing, I had yet to link my driving interests into one goal.
When I first met Buriga, he told me about his life, how a Korean sponsor had enabled him to receive some schooling, and how he was now ready to pay that forward. So, with six friends born of poverty, each with challenging stories, they began to pool their meagre resources to improve their community and shelter orphans. With no international help, they created a safe harbour for twenty-one children, naming their non-profit organisation Sharing Ministries Uganda. Throughout the time of Covid, it was hard for them to even provide food for all those children, and although it was a time of discouragement and despair, they didn't give up. I was impressed at their level of commitment and excited to get behind their work, knowing that my writing could impact the lives of others.
My daughter, Rachel, and a few friends from my church also joined the team. Together, we launched the North American branch of Sharing Ministries Uganda. After a fun shopping spree, we sent one giant box with a new outfit for each child. When we were shopping, we referred to Rachel's phone. She had a picture of each child and their age so we could select outfits according to size. Since many packages frequently get lost in the mail, we prayed hard for that box, and much to our joy, it arrived unopened. I also added a copy of my recent picture book to the box, as some children are learning to speak English.
One little boy named Clever was losing his sight. Uganda's bright sun hurt his eyes so painfully that he spent his days indoors. I hated imagining one little boy sitting on a dirt floor in the dark while all the other children were laughing and running outside. How miserable his days must be! We sent funds for his surgery. Buriga travelled with him to the nearest city and stayed with him during his recovery. Clever still needs glasses, but now his eyes have a chance to heal. The young adults at Sharing Ministries are careful to send receipts of purchases for all funds they receive and have proven their integrity.
My sister purchased a water filter after many children became sick this past year with Monkey Pox. It's a basic model, locally made in Uganda from a porous clay pot, which acts as a filter inside a plastic container. So now the children have clean water.
By offering our corporate knowledge and talents, we've discovered one small way to extend God's love to others in tangible ways. Through this experience with my Ugandan friends, I am reminded not to despise the day of small things. God speaks about this in the book of Zechariah 4:10. Instead, I should use what I have and trust God for increase, always mindful that from tiny seeds grow mighty trees.