The ties between Christ Episcopal Church and Children of Uganda (COU) go back to January 2008, when parishioners traveled to a rural part of Uganda to visit a school and orphanage in the Rakai District. When they toured the compound in Rakai, they came across a small room that was labeled “library” but contained not a single book.
Their tour guide was a Peace Corps volunteer who had discovered books to be so scarce in the the country that even a room so small had been turned into a more practical use of a guest room. She proposed to reach out to her friends in Illinois to raise funds to build a free-standing library, while other Christ Episcopal Church parishioners decided to reach out to their local connections in the Columbia, Maryland area to fill it with books. A deal was under way!
Back in the United States, the Outreach Commission of Christ Church had recently redefined its vision to include an international mission. The Uganda library project became its first international ministry, which took the form of book collections, shipments, and furniture. Many a reference volume and storybook went from the shelves of parishioners to Uganda via ocean-going container, and then on to Rakai.
Within the last decade, Christ Church has helped provide COU Outreach in many ways:
The Tour of Light, a student troupe of African music and dance, performed from coast to coast in the United States as a major COU fundraiser. With great input from members of Christ Church, families opened their homes to host the youngsters when the tour launched on the East Coast, and parishioners sold concert tickets and pitched in to equip the travelers for cold weather through donations of such things as hand-knitted hats and scarves.
The nonprofit organization’s Sabina Boarding Primary School now has a free-standing library that also functions as a resource center for the neighboring community in the Rakai district. Each year CEC Outreach draws upon funding to pay the salary of a full-time librarian and necessary internet fees. The headmaster’s computer is among several that Christ Church has purchased over the years for the school. In 2016, Outreach bought $700 worth of local language textbooks. In nationwide testing at the end of the year, students excelled at all levels. With gratitude, the headmaster informed us that Sabina had among the top test results in all of Uganda.
An Episcopal Diocese of Maryland Global Missions grant in 2015 had incredible impact on families of children enrolled at COU primary and secondary schools, many in the Rakai District. Waka-Waka solar powered lights enabled the single mothers of these children to weave mats in the very early mornings before sunrise and to sell these mats to provide food for their children. These solar powered lights also assist the families by lighting their way in the dark to fetch and carry water to their mud-brick homes. The children can also study their lessons from their notebooks after dark and the families save money not having to buy expensive and dangerous kerosene for lamps. Funds have been available to purchase medications for the clinic that serves Sabina School. To prevent malaria, bed-nets are in use.
Livestock can make a big difference nutritionally for growing children in a food-insecure area. Thanks to the youth of Christ Church, who contribute Mite Box coins each Lenten season, a chicken project at Sabina is established and students have added eggs to their diet. Through the diocesan grant, several families began raising pigs as a source of both food and income.
The COU connection has flourished in multiple ways among families at Christ Church, and have played a pivotal role in the viability of Children of Uganda……. but there’s always room for more. To assist in future endeavors and programs of COU, speak to a parishioner or fill out this form, and tell us you’re interested in knowing more.