Saturday, April 15, 2006

Marcel's Orphanage (The Children's Arc)

I want to tell you this man’s story. His name is Marcel and in 1988 at the very young age of 24 he made a very big decision that has greatly effected the direction that his life has taken. Marcel is in charge of an orphanage in Uganda where some 90 children live and he looks after another 30 or so orphans that live nearby with relatives. Almost all of which have been made orphans due to HIV/AIDS which has effected nearly every man, woman, and child in some way here in Uganda. We visited here recently when we were touring different health facilities to gain a better idea of which direction we might be able to help in the health field when we get placed in our site. “Have you ever met someone that you just get this really good feeling about,” says Chapman, one my fellow Peace Corps Trainees. “The feeling that this guy is just really positive and doing a really positive thing despite every challenge that has been placed in front of him.” And the challenges are many. Each child goes to school if they can afford to send them. School fees can be has high as $300 per year. He has expanded and expanded the orphanage to accommodate as many children as he can but he’s limited. He originally had a building built that had a nice little dining room and sitting room but now that has been turned into sleeping rooms. Most of the children sleep 2 per bed including the teenagers. Space is limited. Just that morning Marcel had to turn away 2 orphans because he just doesn’t have room to accommodate them. Last week there was a 2 month old child that was literally dropped off at his front door. He has no idea what this little girls name is, who her parents are or who she came from. She was very undernourished at the time. He has taken her in and she has been doing better thus far. Marcel said she’s lucky she didn’t end up in the bottom of a pit latrine…

The facility is small but clean. Only three adults help run the facility: Marcel, a cook, and a matron. It's a facility that is well organized and well run, one is impressed with what they do have. They have a garden where they grow a variety of food including maize, potatoes, and bananas. They also have cows, pigs, goats and a turkey. The food they grow and the pigs and cattle are a income generating project. The cows, interesting enough, are male cows. As we were touring I was thinking how nice a female cow would be so that the children might have milk to drink.

Getting help has been difficult. Marcel has a few individuals who contribute that live in Germany and Italy. “Are their any groups or churches anywhere that are helping you?” I asked. “No,” he says. “Just a few individuals.” We asked him, “Aside from money, what is it you are in need of?” “Beds,” he replied. “The kids and especially the teenagers shouldn’t have to sleep 2 per bed, so if we could get some more beds I think we’d be in better shape.” We’ve done some estimates and have found that bunk beds with mattresses cost around $25 each. We’re trying to put our heads together to come up with some fundraising ideas to raise enough money to purchase 10 beds for Marcel and his orphans. Money is the main thing they need. With money they can buy the beds, afford the children to go to school and can upgrade their facilities. We’re shooting for around $2000 altogether for 10 triple-decker beds plus mattresses. If you or your church or organization would like to help, please email me with a pledge amount and we’ll figure out some way to make this happen.

Before we left I asked him what ‘success stories’ he has from what he is doing there. “There are so many,” he replies. “You pick kids up off the street, some are in their early teens and have never had an education. We get them into school where they learn to read and write. The kids get an education and several get support to go onto trade schools and universities. To see a child succeed that otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance. It really warms my heart and I feel truly blessed.”

If you are interested in helping in some way, send me an email. I will either figure out a way to get money and support to him and if you wish I’ll get an address where you can write to him and be in contact with him. This orphanage is one of so many here in Uganda. There are over 2 million children that are orphans and this is a group of nearly 100, but they, like so many others, need outside help in order to continue.

4 Comments:

At 17 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian, while Marcel's story is very positive, it saddens me to think of these children without parents. But what would they do without Marcel? It is hard to even imagine what life is like in Uganda. I know you will do good things!
We missed you at Easter!
Love, Jennifer

 
At 22 April, 2006, Anonymous Jennifer Noble said...

That is an amazing story. Several years ago, a friend of mine gave $20 to a young man in India and he started an orphanage with that money and still runs it to this day.

Anyway, I came across this website about children in Uganda being abducted and forced into the Lord Resistance Army: http://www.invisiblechildren.com/

I was wondering if you were aware of it.

 
At 24 April, 2006, Blogger Crystal said...

This is a beautiful story, what a big heart that man has! I want to help and perhaps even visit the orphanage if it's not too far from Kampala, so please e-mail me the address of the facility, thanks!

wideopenwonder@gmail.com

 
At 02 May, 2006, Anonymous mom said...

Brian, If anyone wants to contribute-- yes, we will deposit monies made out to you so your group can reach their goal of $2000 for Marcel's ten more beds for the orphanage. Our address is 1214 N. Arthur St., Rushville, IN 46173. Your Mom and Dad, Richard and Marilyn

 

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