If you missed the live Webinar, don’t worry! Below is a recording of the whole event (and a transcript if reading is more your thing). In the Webinar, Ronald reviews what’s been accomplished to date, shows a vide, and looks ahead at the work that still needs to be done. Enjoy!
Ronald, What is your vision for UCSS?
UCSS’s mission is to improve the quality of life and spread God’s love to people in remote communities of Uganda by providing social services, counseling and spiritual development – one community at a time. UCSS is using a holistic approach that addresses clean water, medical care, education, economic development, counseling and spiritual development. The goal is to help each community become self-sufficient to the point where outside resources are no longer necessary. People will enjoy a higher quality of life and over time will become more tolerant and caring. The vision is to replicate this model from one community to another using a “train the trainer” approach so that over time all of Uganda is transformed.
In Early 2011 you chose to start your ministry in a remote village called Bulike. Why did you choose that village?
UCSS’s chose to start its ministry in 2011 in the village of Bulike because its 4000 residents had nothing: there was only huts, nothing else. No schools. No medical help. Someone died of malaria or bad water every day. No hope. Alcoholism. Witchcraft. Men not working.
What was your first priority when you get there?
The first thing we did was drill fresh water wells. This is a picture of kids having fresh water for the first time in their lives. We started with mobile clinics once per week and one more comprehensive clinic once per month. These two improvements reduced the # of deaths from about one per day to one per week – today that rate is even less.
You mentioned that education was something you wanted to focus on, what did you do there?
Before we got there, 15% of the children of Bulike would walk 5-12 miles to the closest school. But this journey was dangerous because of frequent kidnappings by witch doctors for child sacrifice. Parents saw no value in education and made their children work at home. When we started, we built a semi-permanent school house for the young kids, followed by now 2 additional permanent school buildings that accommodate 550 students from pre-school all the way to the 6th grade. Today about 60% of the children can read. Adult classes improved the parents’ literacy from 5% to about 40% now.
That is impressive, Ronald. I know that it’s important to you that you don’t just give hand-outs but that the villagers become self-sufficient over time. What progress have you made along those lines?
We bought land and started a model farm to teach villager how to grow crops. We started economic development groups who raised piglets and grew crops. We received a tractor that is allowing us to do in 1 week what it took us 5 months to do by hand. We now have over 50 acres that we are farming. These activities produce food and income for the families and the excess is sold and the proceeds are re-invested.
Another part of the UCSS ministry is evangelism and counseling. Can you talk about why you think those are important?
The dominant religion in the region is witchcraft. The community feared witch doctors because they could curse people if they didn’t seek them out for cures and pay for their services. Animal and even child sacrifices were common. UCSS introduced the love of Jesus Christ to the people of Bulike through evangelism and counseling. Evangelism has transformed the village in significant ways. For example, domestic violence is now less common. People who have been at war with each other for years are now working together in the church or the farm. Teachers no longer view corporal punishment as their only option. Kindness has begun to creep into the community. Before, 50% of families were involved in the production of alcohol, and alcoholism was rampant. Men would wake up in the morning to start drinking. To purchase alcohol, they would sell parts of their land, even their wife’s dress. Through evangelism and counseling, there has been a 50% reduction in alcoholism. Many of the men have shifted from producing or consuming alcohol to pursuing other economic activities like raising pigs or crowing crops, allowing them to adequately provide for their families for the first time.
Do you have a success story you can share with us?
Let me share with you Mangarita’s story. Mangarita has been married for 10 years. Like every little girl, she had a dream, a dream of growing up one day to find a husband who will treat her with love and respect. She dreamed of her own family, home, and stability. She did eventually get married but it was more of a nightmare than a dream, due to her husband’s constant drinking. Her husband was frustrated that he was not able to provide for his family, and his frustration resulted into anger and violence towards his family. After UCSS began working with the family, things slowly started to change. They accepted Christ and participated in family counseling. They started rearing pigs and growing oranges. They learned how to increase their yield of corn, potatoes and pinto beans they were growing on their plot of land. Mangarita was one of the first to attend the tailoring class and is now able to sew clothes for herself and her children. Now her children don’t have to go to school with torn clothes! She sells some of the produce from the farm to buy fabric for clothes that she then sells for income. She boasts that she has the smartest children in the village. In addition, her husband supports her tailoring work and has himself become a productive member of the community. These stories are just a reflection of the many women who have been transformed and now walk with their heads held high, confident of their purpose in life.
Ronnie, thanks for sharing that story about Mangarita! Next we would like to show the latest video that provides an update of what happened in the last year.
[Watch the Video] Ronnie, it’s hard to believe that this is the same village you started in 3 years ago! But I know not all is roses either. What are your biggest challenges and priorities for this year? Our top priority is to help Bulike achieve self-sufficiency so that we can reduce our investment and repeat the process in a second village. Our biggest challenge last year was the lack of irrigation. The dry weather did not give us the harvest we hoped for, and we cannot be dependent on the weather to achieve self-sufficiency. We MUST irrigate! We have a pledge from a donor to purchase a mobile irrigation system, which I’m very excited about. The second priority is to build the last school building and to replace the first semi-permanent building we built. I estimate this will cost about $20,000. We must also staff the medical building we just finished with two full time nurses. At that point, the government will subsidize 85% of the operational cost of running the school and medical clinic. We are so very grateful for all of your support and with that, I’d like to open it up for questions. [Dr. Begley closes the session and asks listeners to consider donating to the mission]