A New Chapter – Orphans of Teso
It was June of 2011 when we first drove into the small village of Ogoloi. The long, bumpy, and treacherous journey there was only the final leg of a much longer journey that started years before when our hearts first began to sense the conviction that there was more to be done about the reality of more than a billion people around the world living on less than a dollar a day.
Our decision to partner with Children’s Hope Chest in this work had not come easily. Or quickly. Months and years after recognizing our desire (obligation) to partner in the work of loving those whom Jesus affectionately referred to as “the least of these” in the world, we had investigated and travelled to several nations, met with numerous organizations, and learned a lot more about 3rd world poverty alleviation than we would ever have believed that we didn’t yet know.
Children’s Hope Chest, who operates in 10 nations and provide holistic care to more than 18,000 children around the world, provided us the platform and support we needed to accomplish what was on our hearts. Their “Survive, Thrive, Succeed” model of long term sustainable care and community development was what we had been looking for, and by the end of the 2011 calendar year we had launched our first Care Point in the tiny remote village of Ogoloi in Eastern Uganda.
Within 6 months, more than 80% of the kids at our fledgling CarePoint had been sponsored by a hodge podge motley crew of friends and family from around the world. We were amazed…never having really considered it likely that we would be able to find that many people interested in committing to the care and support of these kids in so short a time. So,after a lot of serious thought, prayer, and consideration, we made the decision to launch our second CarePoint just an hour south of Ogoloi in the Teso region. This remote but bustling cattle trading point is known to the locals as Bukedea. The Orphans of Teso family had begun. It was mid 2012.
Once again we were blown away by the constant positive response from those around us, who rallied to sponsor the kids that we had now visited twice since our first trip to the area. Bukedea was much larger than Ogoloi, with more than 200 kids having been profiled and in need of sponsorship, but within a few months we had once again reached a critical level of sponsorship sufficient to sustain the feeding, teaching, and health programs that the CarePoints provide to the most needy and at risk kids in the area.
From “Thrive” to “Succeed”
The last two years have seen a lot of progress. Both CarePoints today are making great headway into the “SUCCESS” phase of our ongoing initiatives. Today, Ogoloi has more than 190 kids being supported, fed, assisted with school, and provided the love and attention that all kids deserve and need to thrive. Bukedea’s family of orphaned and vulnerable kids is at more than 230. Even more exciting is the progress being made through the CarePoints to develop sustainable community impact. Chicken coops being used to teach kids local methods to raise chicks, and revenue being generated through sales of both grown chickens and eggs to the local market. Self sustained micro finance and micro loan initiatives providing hope to local mothers, grandmothers, farmers, and budding entrepreneurs. Farm ground is being used to teach the kids sustainable local farming methods while supplementing the daily food requirements for the CarePoint feeding programs. It’s quite incredible. And so rewarding.
But in the midst of the hope and joy that the kids at our CarePoints have begun to experience, lies a much darker and sad reality. The reality of a nation where less than 25% of kids are able to attend any form of secondary school. Where hunger and preventable sickness like malaria induced diarrhoea kill thousands each week. Where young girls are brutally raped every day on their several mile long walks to school. And where mothers and fathers die, or abandon their kids daily, leaving them to face the cruelty of a world they were never intended to experience.
The Next Chapter
And so, as we approach our 3rd year in partnership with Children’s Hope Chest, we are taking a long hard look at what the next chapter of this journey will entail. We are rallying our troops – the several hundred sponsors and donors that we work with, play with, as well as those from around the globe who have chosen to support this work from as far as New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the U.K.. And we are dreaming about the opportunities that lie ahead.
In the coming weeks we will be excited to announce some exciting updates regarding our future plans for the CarePoints, and what we believe that God has laid on our hearts for the next chapter. We hope to make this new Orphans of Teso website and blog a central location for future updates to the CarePoints, and a central landing spot for our sponsors, donors and friends to keep in the loop.
We are working to include information on our upcoming trips to the CarePoints, updates on past trips, as well as important info on your sponsored kids. We have asked several of our frequent visitors to the CarePoints to join us as contributors to the blog to help provide updates and helpful content. We are also working to launch monthly update emails for our sponsors to keep you more updated on the progress being made in Bukedea and Ogoloi.
Our goal is to provide a context for you to feel connected to the kids at the CarePoints that pray for you daily by name, and long to meet their sponsors one day, and to do whatever we can to give you a better glimpse at the immense life changing impact that your ongoing support of these two little havens of hope are having in one of the hardest hit and poverty-stricken regions in the world.
Thank you for joining us on this journey.