MADISON — One Madison County church is working to make life just a little better for children in Uganda.
Mountain View Chapel in Rochelle is working with Victory Covenant Church in Kampala, Uganda to provide food, shelter, education and hope to families in Uganda.
The two churches formed Victory 1:27, a non-profit with a mission of helping some of the poorest people on the planet.
The organization’s name come from James 1:27. The scripture states that “true religion that God the Father accepts as pure and faultless is this, to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Almost half of Uganda’s population is under the age of 15, representing one of the youngest populations in the world. More than 40% of the population lives in poverty.
Uganda also hosts the largest refugee population in Africa—more than one million refugees have fled their home countries to seek asylum in Uganda.
These all contribute toward making Uganda one of the poorest nations of the world, a place where success is measured not by worldly possessions but simply by survival.
Rochelle resident Stacey Donnelly has traveled to Uganda several times and was struck by the contrast between life in the U.S and Uganda.
“So many of the people there are simply trying to stay alive,” said Donnelly. “Things that even the poorest Americans take for granted just aren’t there. Most people scrape by on subsistence farming and there are few jobs. It is rare for children to finish elementary school.”
Victory 1:27 Coordinator Jan Crouthamel explained how fulfilling basic needs is a full time job.
“When we are hungry we walk a few steps to the refrigerator or the pantry,” said Crouthamel. “When we are thirsty we turn on the faucet and quickly fill a glass with drinkable water. Life is very different for our kids in Uganda.”
Crouthamel said most families helped by the churches search every day to find food to feed their children.
“Our rice and beans fund is so critically important in fulfilling this basic need, providing nourishment to those that would otherwise often go without,” she said.
“They do not have running water in their homes, so they have to go to a community water source [up to two miles away] and carry the water back home in jugs,” she said.
Those jugs can weigh between eight and 48 pounds.
“This trip to the spring to gather water is an important part of every day life,” she said, “and even that water must be boiled before it is able to be used.”
The group is currently seeking a piece of land in Uganda suitable for farming. The idea is to use the land to train and educate children in the study of agriculture as well as provide a continuing source of food for the families being served.
In addition to the rice and beans fund, which also provides potatoes and fruit, Victory 1:27 has completed a three-phase Victory House project which houses teachers who teach at the Victory Primary School.
The first floor of the house is comprised of seven apartment units. The second phase of the project added a girls dormitory for 44 students. The dorm has bathrooms, four housing units for teachers and a housing unit for the dorm mother.
The third phase added a boys dormitory with bathrooms, a room for a dorm supervisors, a lounge and an additional housing unit for teachers.
The organization has also completed renovations to the Victory Primary School, adding working bathrooms with a septic system as well as an upgraded kitchen with working appliances.
The group also added additional classrooms and is in the process of constructing a third and fourth floor consisting of more classroom space, additional bathrooms and a multipurpose room.
Children are sponsored through Victory 1:27 to attend the school. Bishop Herbert Buyondo, of Victory Covenant Church, estimates that it costs about $35 per child per month to send a child to school.
Victory 1:27 seeks to find long-term sponsors for needy children and hope to change their life course through education.
After completing their secondary education, there’s also the V127 Scholarship Fund which supplements the child sponsorship payments and provides extra funding for children to keep learning.
Recipients have pursued degrees and certificates in medicine, engineering, agriculture, environmental science and more.
There are numerous ways to get involved with Victory 1:27. Recently, the group held a large community yard sale at Hoover Ridge.
To find out more about the organization, or to donate, visit v127.org.