Our faith calls us to care for one another and serve those in need. Yet the magnitude of the world's needs can seem overwhelming, beyond our ability or capacity to affect. So it was in 2008 that St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church made a seemingly modest, but incredibly bold decision to do “one good thing.”
Five years ago, after much consideration and with a lot of faith, St. John’s decided their “one good thing” was to get to know the people of Kayoro, Uganda. Partnering with the nonprofit organization Give Us Wings, we built a clinic for the residents of Kayoro. Since then we have continued to provide limited financial support for special outreach programs of the clinic and each Sunday we pray for those living in Kayoro. Some parishioners visited Kayoro during trips in 2011, 2013, and 2015, getting to know the clinic staff and Kayoro residents who use the clinic.
While these various connections and commitments remain, now there is a new opportunity to deepen our connection with the people in this community half a world away. The nonprofit Give Us Wings has started a new program called Family to Family, to help support families in Uganda while building ties with families in the U.S.
The goal of Family to Family is to help families in Uganda overcome the obstacles that prevent their children from completing their education. Using a holistic approach and with the assistance of Give Us Wings staff, each participating Ugandan family identifies their barriers to ongoing sustainability. Then the family receives assistance to enroll one of their children in a private school, a health care spending fund that can be used to pay for services at the St. John’s Kayoro Health Center, opportunities to improve parenting skills, and access to business mentoring and small loans.
Those in the U.S. who sponsor a family will receive an introductory packet providing photos and information about the family, including the child whose education will be supported. Over the course of the year, the sponsor will also receive at least one letter from the student and two reports from Give Us Wings staff about the student’s and family’s progress. Sponsoring families are also encouraged to write to their partner family in Uganda. The program offers a unique opportunity for both families to learn about each others lives and hear each others stories. And for those of us at St. John's, it will help put names and faces on the people for whom we pray each week.
Sponsoring a family costs $1,500 a year with donations made on an annual, quarterly, or monthly basis. While the goal is that the sponsorship will continue through the student’s graduation from high school, the commitment is on an annual basis.
To participate in the Family to Family program, a St. John’s “family”can take a variety of forms – a nuclear or extended family, a bevy of friends or cohorts, a house group, or any assemblage of parishioners that share a passion or a pew. Partnering here at St. Johns to enable partnering with a family in Uganda multiples the blessing.
Jennifer Kinkead will be happy to work with interested families or individuals who would like to form a sponsoring group or learn more about the Family to Family program. Contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.