This is a blog post. It may include opinion that does not necessarily reflect that of ABC 10, CW 5, ABC News, or Lake Superior Community Broadcasting.
There are many ways to give to charity, and for many, giving close to home is always a priority. So many local charities need our assistance. Beacon House, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, United Way, and many more, are all worthy of our attention, and all worthy of your donations.
Moreover, I also want to encourage you to think more broadly in your donations. I recently sparked a friendship with a man in Uganda, an orphan who is caring for and teaching 35 young students, in an impoverished village in Africa.
Uganda is plagued with a corrupt government, tribal warfare, and rampant disease. Children of the country are often left to fend for themselves, orphaned, hungry, and without resources to move beyond their plight. Mwanje Patrick is leading the way in asking the world to stand with the children of his village in giving to their cause.
I started communicating with Mwanje several months ago, initially just as pen-pals, sharing each other’s customs and daily adventures from across the world.
One day I came across a photo of Mwanje stirring a large pot of what-looked-like white plaster paste. I asked him, “What is happening at the school today? Are you making ceramics?” thinking the white pot was art plaster. I was wrong, I was naive, and his answer hit me hard.
“It’s porridge,” replied Mwanje. “This is our breakfast and lunch.”
Throughout the weekend, I sat with family and friends eating more than my stomach could fit, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Mwanje. If only there was a way I could give him and his pupils seats at the table, fill their bellies up, bathe them, clothe them, give them shoes and socks, and books. They have nothing, and there I was playing Nintendo and digesting second breakfast. Guilt consumed me.
I’ve given to charity in the past, primarily through Red Cross, during a disaster. I work for local non-profit and see the benefits of a community’s generosity, but this need was different. I knew a simple donation to a global organization wouldn’t benefit Mwanje and the children he cares for, not immediately, and not directly. They are alone. Aid does not get to them, and they are in desperate need for compassionate people like you.
I decided to send money to Mwanje’s village through Western Union. He told me that the small donation made the world of difference for his village. They were so grateful they sent a humbling ‘Thank you’ video with the children holding a sign with my name on it, and a heartfelt message of gratitude. It moved me to tears.
It was the best feeling in the world and I wanted to share the feeling with my friends. I posted the video to Facebook, my friends chimed in and offered to help set up a donation crowd funding fundraiser page. We created YouCaring.com/shoesforuganda
Donations are off to a slow start. It’s hard to ask people for money for a cause that doesn’t directly affect them. Your donation is not tax deductible and you’ll never directly see the benefits of your generosity. But, it’s my hope it will make you feel as good as I did. The donations go directly to Mwanje. The goal is to gather enough funds to make a difference in the village, and come the end of Spring 2017, I plan to visit Kyanuna Village, Uganda and see how we contributed.
The village in Kyanuna is home to 35 impoverished Ugandan children, many of whom are orphans. The parents of these children are either seriously ill or have died from H.I.V. complications, Malaria, or other diseases. They lack medication, have to walk miles to government hospitals, and lack funds for proper nutrition and health.
The smallest donation can afford the simplest amenities, i.e. mosquito nets to help stop the spread of Malaria. Children in Uganda often resort to working in mines or the oil fields to survive. Mwanje Patrick is working to provide food, shoes, mosquito nets, and schooling for these children.
The funds will go to:
Mwanje teaches the children the map of the world, countries, oceans and seas. He was an orphan himself who had little education but hopes to use the donated funds to build a proper school and construct a place where the village children can get an education. The plan is to open a school in the early part of 2017.
“They have to use foot to walk and also we have few clothes to change,” said Mwanje Patrick. “I want to get girls some enough clothes so that they don’t get the infected bacteria because of dirty clothes.”
You can help! Any donation, no matter how small, makes a huge impact. If you can’t afford to give, please consider sharing with the hashtag #ShoesForUganda. Thank you!
TO DONATE VISIT YOUCARING.COM/SHOESFORUGANDA