OTTAWA — A small group of students mobilized a huge amount of resources to make an enormous difference this month for a Ugandan boys’ home half a world away.
The 80 students at Redeemer Christian High School in Nepean — which includes some teens from rural SDG — raised more than $20,000 from friends, grandparents and businesses — and from digging into their own pockets — to support the Kwagala Ministries home, which has taken a dozen kids off the street in Jinja, Uganda.
The Redeemer student council dubbed it the Ugandan Mile, designed to have the students walk a metaphorical mile in the shoes of their brothers over in Africa in a 30-hour overnight weekend event at the school. They ate African bean stew and rice to get a sense of what the former street boys often eat.
Part of the success in raising the money they did was the personal connection that has been developed in the past few years. The boys in Jinja regularly Skype with a homeroom in Redeemer, whose students get to know the name and personalities of one or two of their African brothers.
Kwagala was founded by Redeemer alumnus Robbie Palmer of Kanata and Congolese youth pastor, Raoul Mugosa. Inspired by New York Times bestseller Kisses from Katie, Palmer went over to Uganda in 2012 on his earnings from working in the kitchen at the Canadian Forces’ Connaught training range to see how he could help alleviate some of the troubles there. He linked up with Mugosa, who had developed a relationship with a number of homeless kids, and they rented a home and started Kwagala, operating on a shoestring budget and a prayer.
The money raised by the Redeemer community each year provides the majority of the funding needed to keep the home running. The funds help pay for the rent and food and education of the boys, who are trying to catch up on lost years of schooling.
The Redeemer student council puts hefty work into making the Ugandan Mile a highlight of the year, organizing games, a coffee-house talent show, movies and even a clean-up of the school rooms, making the kids work for their breakfast.
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