The experience when one is lucky enough to witness something truly good, the World never again looks quite the same.

“They are their mission…. In a nutshell, John Mary and the others of URF have a mission involving compassion, action, and empowerment for others.”

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: <Chris Blake>
Date: Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 12:35 PM
Subject: Re: Uganda Rural Fund

Hi, John Mary Lugemwa founder of the Uganda Rural Fund asked that I put down a few words regarding my and Dan Hall’s experience as American volunteers for URF in Africa. Happy to do that. See the following:

Notes about Dan Hall and Chris Blake’s involvement with Uganda Rural Fund:

Dan Hall and I traveled to Uganda in the Summer of 2008 looking for a volunteer experience with AIDS children. We had chosen Uganda Rural Fund as the most grass roots organization we could find. And it did not charge a huge amount for volunteering and had no religious agenda.

What we found was a remarkable organization founded by Ugandans who had struggled hard for their own education and freedom from subsistence poverty and were committed to helping other Ugandan children, particularly AIDS orphans, with the same challenge.

We were simply awed by the willingness of the founders to work tirelessly to build a school to enable children to take National exams and move on in their education, out of soul grinding poverty and to bring support and basic help (food, clothing, health attention) to homeless and child led household orphans who were forgotten and alone, having to survive by their own courage and endurance, at ages like 6, 8, 10, not to mention adolescence. It was then and remains one of the most sincere, selfless efforts of this kind I have ever seen.

URF “adopted” an orphanage in nearby Masaka and we went there to volunteer for some time with the abandoned and displaced younger children of that area. We were lucky enough to see a need for a new boy’s “dorm” to replace a hundred year old disintegrating structure that was exceedingly dangerous to the infants and toddlers and youngsters who slept in it every night. We researched the price of replacement and were lucky enough to be able to return to Massachusetts and raise the entire amount. The old dorm was gone and the new building in place within the year.

We have since returned to Uganda to volunteer with URF and will continue to do so. We’re presently on the Board of Directors and are really happy to be part of planning the ongoing work of URF which has grown so quickly and taken on an ever strengthening vision and mission of serving the kids of Uganda, in its area. For us both, this volunteering has been a life changing experience.

Just recently, mudslides in Eastern Uganda have left hundreds dead and thousands displaced and homeless. URF has decided to attempt to rally Ugandans to help Ugandans… not always a first instinct in that country where just surviving is more the order of the day… by having students at Hope Academy as well as other associated URF volunteers participate in collecting and distributing aid to the victims of the slides. John Mary emailed Dan and I and, within 24 hours, we spoke to the people of our church and were able to collect just short of 1000 dollars for the purchase of blankets in Uganda as part of this effort of helping.

That’s how it is with URF. They live and see with their hearts… they see what is needed, now, and are not afraid to go for it. They are their mission…. In a nutshell, John Mary and the others of URF have a mission involving compassion, action, and empowerment for others. Not surprisingly, they themselves are compassionate, pro active, and empowering, and it is a real honor to be lucky “guests” in this effort of Ugandans helping Ugandans. Personally, I thank the good Lord very often that I got steered into knowing this group and being able to contribute to their efforts. It has, indeed, transformed much of my life. I think that’s the experience when one is lucky enough to witness something truly good; the World never again looks quite the same.  

Dan Hall

Chris Blake, PhD
Duxbury Counseling Center