Ongongoja – The Ends of the Earth
It is with a great deal of excitement and anticipation, but also with a healthy dose of nerves, that we announce the addition of a third CarePoint to the growing Orphans of Teso family.
Referred to by the locals as “The End of the Earth”, the extremely remote village known as Ongongoja is as obscure and “off the map” location as there is on earth today. Literally…it doesn’t show up on the map. But it exists. And the people of the region have endured about as much hardship as any people on earth.
Ongongoja is located right on the border of the Teso and Karamajong regions, and was essentially abandoned by the Ugandan government in previous years as a lost cause due to the frequent and deadly attacks by the Karamajong tribe who inhabit the area immediately to the north. The people of this difficult to reach and politically unimportant area were , in essence, exiled from their homes for a decade as a result of the ongoing attacks from the aggressive and militant Karamajong group, who were armed with rifles and weapons discarded by the fleeing Lords Resistance Army rebels a few short years before.
Today, having returned to their families land, the people of this desolate and seemingly forgotten region are facing immense difficulty in the form of extreme poverty, high HIV rates, and almost complete lack of access to clean drinking water or medical care. The area has no nearby clinics or hospitals, and merely accessing Ongongoja from Soroti (the town near Ogoloi where we stay when in country) requires specialized 4-wheel drive transportation and a team willing to endure a bumpy and treacherous several hour journey. For the locals, the journey from their remote village to the nearest health care facilities to treat sickness, or to give birth, often leads to a horrible roadside death.
Having announced our plans to move forward with this next phase of our growing partnership with Children’s Hope Chest, the team on the ground in Uganda will be initiating the process of profiling approximately 150 of the more than 800 known orphaned or abandoned kids in the immediate region. The CarePoint will likely grow to around 300 kids, and the long term development plan for the region includes two more CarePoints within about a 10 mile radius to meet the needs in the area.
Once the kids are profiled, our immediate next steps will be to:
- Locate and acquire a site for the new CarePoint (the land will likely cost in the range of $3,000 to $5,000).
- Arrange for the digging of a bore hole for clean drinking water. This will be a vital part of improving the health of the kids.
- And, we will need to begin finding sponsors for the initial pool of 150 kids to be included in the program. These will be selected by the local leadership and will include the most dire and severe cases.
As soon as we have located a feasible site and the children that are in the most need, the long term development plan will begin with a simple feeding program of local but nutritious meals. This initial step has immense and notable impact on the kids within the first six months, not just in their appearance (as the whites of their eyes lose the dull hopelessness of malnutrition, and their hair color turns from the unhealthy brown to a darker shade), but also in their disposition and energy levels. Something more than physical changes in a child who has not felt the security of confidence that comes in knowing that you will have a meal tomorrow.
Our first trip to the CarePoint site will be in January of 2015. Although not all of our team travelling to visit Bukedea and Ogoloi at that time will be able to make the additional journey, our plan is to break away with a small group for a couple of days to visit the site. We will be excited to meet the staff that at that time will have been assembled (Cooks, CareTakers, Disciplers, and Social Worker) to work with the kids. And of course, we will be very eager to begin getting to know the kids that by that time will have been selected to join the program. Our hopes will be to return with photos, stories, and profiles of the kids in need of sponsorship, but also with a new set of friendships and an even larger extended family.
As we venture forward into this new phase of our ongoing journey to live out the great commission; not just to “tell” people the good news, but to live out the good news of a world reconciled to its Father, we are eager to invite others along to join us.
There are a lot of ways that you can help us make an impact in the lives of these children, and we are asking for a lot of help from those around us to be able to fulfill the commitment that we are making to launch this additional project. When we first launched Ogoloi we had no real idea how things would work out, and how we could fund and sustain the 120 kids at that site. But God seemed to show up, and things moved forward. Today Ogoloi cares for more than 180 kids. When we took the bold step to add Bukedea it was with a lot of anxiousness, once again not knowing how an additional 200 kids could be supported. But God showed up, and today Bukedea, like Ogloloi is making great progress with more than 230 kids.
So, today, with the same level of excitement/eagerness/anxiousness we are sticking our necks out once more…with a hopeful and confident anticipation that the God who cares for those that the world has forgotten will show up. Not in a lightning bolt, or a great thundering cloud…but in the hearts and passions of those to whom much has been given, who as the hands and feet of our God on earth willingly stand to further the work of a servant king begun some 2,000 years ago and continuing through our efforts today.