Return trip to Ogooma, Africa such an eye-opener; so much has been accomplished, so much still to accomplish

Four years ago — Jan. 2010 — I travelled to Ogooma, Africa with our Team of Seven from T.O.U.C.H. Ministries.

Primary 4 Class with over 150 students and one teacher.

Primary 4 Class with over 150 students and one teacher.

BY MARJORIE COCKBURN

Four years ago — Jan. 2010 — I travelled to Ogooma, Africa with our Team of Seven from T.O.U.C.H. Ministries.

We were called the Dream Team — we drilled a water well and were in the process of building an orphanage for children in the Ateso area.

We have had five teams travel to the orphanage to support, help build, and create a home for these beautiful children since then.

I have just arrived back after having travelled with the Amina Team and was overwhelmed with what has been accomplished since the first time I went — we have 85 orphans, all sponsored, 20 workers who create a home for our kids, two dorms — one for the girls and one for the boys — washrooms with pit latrines, a kitchen, a storage area for food, a bakery, a big hall, an irrigation system for our gardens and a big beautiful church that welcomes all the villagers.

I was privileged to travel with the Amina Team (which means the Love Team in their Ateso language) led by Frank and Sherry Wiebe of Sylvan Lake. We had the opportunity to visit the hospital in Kumi (which is private and at one time was a place for all the lepers), we saw the lineups for aids, lineups for malaria, and the children’s wing where malnutrition runs rampant. It is an eye-opener that is very humbling.

Our children come from homes where they have very little. They live in a hut and sleep on the ground. Food and water are in short supply. Our team was able to go to the local market and deliver supplies to some of the families of our children. Talk about bringing tears to ones eyes — they are so thankful for so very little. Another eye-opener.

Some people from our team provided money for the orphanage to take a field trip to the airport and to the radio station (where our older kids were recorded singing — they are awesome) and then off for  lunch. It was a first for most of them to travel on a bus and see what happens in the outside world. Many of our boys now want to become pilots.

We were blessed to be a part of four couples getting remarried in our church in Ogooma — what a treasure to see these people rededicate their lives to each other. We took wedding dresses from Canada, helped decorate the church on Friday and the big day, Sat. Feb. 1st, brought families and villagers together to witness the ceremony. The message by Rev. Jeremiah and Pastor Charles was simple and to the point, “Commit your lives to one another for the rest of your lives, this is what God wants”. This message was not only for the couples — it was for the hundreds of villagers who attended as well. A meal was provided for everyone – by T.O.U.C.H. It was a beautiful day.

Team Amina was able to develop relationships with the children and workers by just being at the orphanage — playing soccer and basketball, reading books, having a campfire, simply spending time and being involved with their life. No matter where we live in this world, people just want someone to love and care about them.

If you are interested in knowing more about T.O.U.C.H. Ministries contact Richard Dyck, president, 780-918-0331; Frank Wiebe – vice-president, 403-357-8533 or myself, Marjorie Cockburn, sponsorship co-ordinator, 403-887-1096.

Team Amina left and I stayed for two more weeks and what a blessing that was.   I stayed at the orphanage and had the opportunity to experience ‘The day in the life of a child at our orphanage’.

Another walkathon in support of T.O.U.C.H. Ministries work in Ogooma is planned for Sept. 6. For more information, contact Sherry Wiebe, 403 357-9551 or Randi Scheffelmaier, 403 887-3029.