Children Receive New Van in Uganda

03/16/11

The children at Children of the Nations’ (COTN) Uganda Children’s Village in Lira, Uganda, gathered in excitement around their new yellow van when it rolled into town last month. They leapt in and out of the vehicle and bounced on its colorful seats decorated with cartoon rabbits, monkeys, and bears. “They were pretty excited,” says COTN–International Uganda Liaison Sylvia Taussig of Oklahoma City, who was in Lira when the van arrived.

The new van was an answer to prayers. Money for it came mainly from an anonymous gift and partly from fundraisers organized by Orange County resident Chris Bowsher, who has since become COTN–USA’s Orange County Community Relations Coordinator. Chris noticed the need for a new mode of transport last summer, when he spent eight weeks in Uganda as one of COTN’s Global Interns. “The old van was old. It broke down on more than one occasion while we were there,” Chris says. “When we asked [the staff] what their greatest needs were they didn't hesitate to say transportation. If they needed to take the kids to the church or to the doctor they would need reliable transportation.”

Last fall, after Chris returned to the US, he asked his Bible study group to help the orphans in Africa by raising money for a new van. They obliged, organizing a series of Christmas tree sales with local churches and putting proceeds toward the van purchase. The fundraisers encountered a few obstacles before getting underway. “We needed a lot of pieces to come together,” Chris says. “We had to get all the churches on board, which took a long time, and we had a small window to sell the trees because Christmas was around the corner.”

Chris and his Bible study buddies remained prayerful and optimistic. “We prayed, ‘Lord, if you want this to happen you need to make it happen. We come together in your name and ask you to make it work.’ The very next day I got a call from Eric [Nachtrieb, COTN–USA Senior Director of Field Services,] saying, ‘Go for it.’ And we got three churches to commit instead of two.”

The Christmas tree sales went swimmingly, and raised about $1,200 toward the van purchase. God continued to answer prayers afterward. An anonymous partner in Oklahoma gave more than $23,000 toward the van purchase. “They describe their giving like a hot potato: ‘God gave it to us and we want to give it to someone else right away!’” Sylvia says of the partner. Money left over from the van purchase helped pay for an SUV for the Uganda staff.

The van turned out to be a blessing not only for COTN’s children in Uganda, but also for those who raised the money. “The best part about the fundraiser was that it got our guys’ Bible study … to get out into the world and do something,” Chris wrote in his blog. “The whole excitement and challenge of making that happen energized everybody. It was awesome because we all chipped in and used the unique gifts that God gave us. And through it all we made memories that we will never forget.”

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