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Thursday, December 6, 2012

News, News....Good News!

At Mercy Uganda, we are always attempting to take the Good News to the people of Uganda.  Today we would like to announce some really good news that will help in that very effort!

Mercy Uganda has many people who sponsor children so that they can attend school.  Living in America, it's hard for us to imagine that in order for children in Uganda to go to school, they must pay, and many of them simply have no one to pay the school tuition or the fees for needed supplies.  It is such a blessing to be a sponsor to one of these dear, sweet children.  They take nothing for granted and appreciate the opportunity to make their lives better.  At Mercy Uganda, we try to make their lives better in more ways than just education....we try to take the truly Good News of Christ Jesus and His love for them, which is the best news of all!  

The following is a letter that brings us great joy!
Rebecca Vaught (left) and Becky Carreira (right)
September 2011 Medical team trip
Dear Friends,

My dear friend, Rebecca Vaught, and I have had the privilege of being involved in the lives of the children in Uganda through our medical ministry work with Ezekiel 37 Medical Ministry.  We have been sharing ideas with Laura Knetzer, founder of Mercy Uganda, as to ways to build the child sponsorship program. Laura asked if we would consider taking the lead role in this arm of the ministry.

After much prayer Rebecca and I have agreed to take on the responsibility of coordinators for Mercy Uganda's “Hope for Children” sponsorship program and are happy to be a part of the Mercy Uganda family.  I have been to Uganda 4 times now and Rebecca has been 3 times.  We have been a witness to what Mercy Uganda has accomplished over the past few years.  As members of the Ezekiel 37 Medical Ministry team we have partnered with Mercy Uganda in ministry work in Karamoja.  Rebecca and I both feel called to deepen our involvement through work with the student sponsorship program.  Education is vital to the success of children ending the cycle of poverty and we are anxious to get to work. We have some exciting goals and plans that we believe will take Mercy Uganda’s child sponsorship program to the next level.

One of the first things we are working on is to build a stronger method of communication between the team in Uganda and us here in the United States.  As a sponsor myself, I know how much it means to receive periodic updates, pictures, and report card information about your sponsored child.  Being able to send a letter to the students helps establish the relationship and to bond.  It enables sponsors to encourage their student, tell him or her you are praying for them, etc. Below is an explanation of why it has been difficult to obtain these updates and what we hope to provide to create this new level of communication.

Our sponsored children are currently spread throughout different regions in Uganda the furthest being Karamoja.  Karamoja is a 12 hour drive from Kampala which makes it quite difficult to keep up with the children in that area.  Approximately 50% of Mercy Uganda’s sponsored students are in Karamoja.  It is expensive for our Ugandan Director, Henry Mello, or our Karamoja Field Manager, Gabriel Lobu to travel to that remote region.  Our prayer is that the Lord will provide a couple of people who live in Karamoja, and would be interested in joining Mercy Uganda as a sort of “mentor” to the children.  These mentors would be the initial contact people in the region. The first person the schools call if there is an issue, if a child is sick, if a child isn’t doing well in school, if a child needs more school supplies, etc.  They would also make monthly or bi-monthly visits to the schools to check in with the Headmaster and to also get updates from the children.  We are also praying for a mentor for the Kampala area what would accomplish the same things as described above. We have some individuals in mind who we believe could fill those positions and ask that you pray for us regarding this important decision and role.

In order for these mentors to be successful they need the technology to make it possible.  We have done quite a bit of research and have determined that a tablet of some sort would be the best alternative.  One that has the ability to use WiFi and also a 3G network like an iPad or Motorola Xoom.  I have talked to the internet provider in Uganda and they have said that as long as we can change the SIM card they would have coverage in Karamoja and in Kampala.  The good thing about a tablet is that they can take pictures and email all from the same device.  We can also get a really good case for it to keep it protected from dust and dirt.  If you have or know someone who has an iPad or tablet (with 3G capability) that they are no longer using please let us know. If you know of businesses, organizations, or individuals who may have some of these devices they would like to donate, please let them know of our need.  As a 501(c )(3) non-profit, their donation is tax deductible!

Another plan we have is to work on creating a new and comprehensive webpage through Mercy Uganda’s website that will have pictures and biographical information about children who need sponsorships.  Our prayer is that you will share the website information with your friends and family so we can provide the gift of education to more children.  On each of the trips we’ve taken to Karamoja and other areas in Uganda it always saddens me to see the children who are of school age but are not in school.

Laura, Rebecca and I are planning a trip to Uganda in February.  The intention of the trip is to meet with the mentors and train them on how to help us improve the communication.  In addition, to visiting each of the schools where students are currently sponsored, we plan to meet with the Headmasters,  get updates on the students, and assess how they are doing in school. This will also provide the opportunity for us to build a relationship with the leaders in the schools, which will benefit the schools, the children, the communities, and the ministry as a whole.

In order to accomplish these things we need your support and prayers.  There are so many children in the villages that should be in school.  Unfortunately, school is NOT free in Uganda.  It is very difficult for a lot of people in Uganda to send their children to school. The cost of tuition in the schools is more often than not more than the average Ugandan earns. It is our hope and prayer that with your help and support the Hope for Children sponsorship program will continue to grow.

We will keep in touch with you as things progress.  In the meantime, thank you for supporting Mercy Uganda and the children that you are sponsoring. Your gift of hope and a future is a blessing to the children, their families, and to Mercy Uganda.


Becky Carreira
Mercy Uganda

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