In 2004, I decided to spend my Christmas break volunteering at an orphanage in Africa. After being told by several organizations that it wasn’t a good time to volunteer, I turned to the Internet. I googled “orphanages in Africa” and discovered a whole new world – there were all these orphanages out there, started and run by locals. Through that search I met a Ugandan woman named Faith Kunihira who had started an organization called Bringing Hope to the Family. I decided to spend that month assisting her in Uganda.
While in Uganda, I experienced the effects of extreme poverty first hand. I met and lived with many children who had lost their parents to HIV/AIDS and other treateable diseases. I stood next to a mud hole that was the water source for a whole community, including Faith’s family. On Christmas day I helped serve a simple meal of rice, beans and meat to a group of orphans who were registered with Bringing Hope. Faith told me it was the best meal many of them would have that entire year. After almost a month, I flew back home to finish my last semester of college.
I expected to have my heart broken, but I was unprepared for how it would overwhelm my thoughts.
Could such extreme poverty ever be reversed? If so, how? Where would I even start?
I didn’t see it at first, but the answers to the questions I kept asking had been standing right next to me the whole time I was in Uganda and were already in action. The best way I could make a difference in the fight against extreme poverty was to support Faith and people like her.
It was Faith’s story that told me things could change, and her actions proved it.
She had escaped the poverty trap that she grew up in, but instead of using her prosperity to isolate herself from the disparity of so many around her, she used it to build a bridge for others. She quit her job, gave up everything, and started Bringing Hope to the Family. Her passion and commitment to her own community not only brought hope to her village, it inspired me.
Since 2004, Bringing Hope to the Family has built a medical clinic, vocational school, preschool and an orphanage that cares for more than 60 children. On top of all of this they now have almost 3,000 orphans and vulnerable children registered with their organization whom they help support by subsidizing their health care and education. The majority of this growth has taken place in the last five years!