by Julie Stroder, Messiah’s Missions Coordinator
Several years ago, Messiah began supporting a football (or what Americans call “soccer”) team in Uganda. The boys on the team live mostly in the Nakabango area, where Messiah partners with the Lutheran church. Eric Waiswa–a young man with an incredible passion for helping boys–has coached the team for several years. Most of the team members are orphans; none of them can afford school fees or, many times, even food without assistance.
Messiah members have supported the team over the years with donations at our annual fundraiser, Celebrate Uganda. Donated funds have paid for tournament fees, first aid kits, food and water for the team, and transportation to matches. Mission teams have collected and delivered shoes, uniforms, balls, socks, and shin guards. A few boys have been allowed in the sponsorship program.
Mission team members have had the pleasure of watching this team practice and play in matches during our visits. They’ve even been invited to participate in some “friendly competition”! The boys are skilled and often win local tournaments!
Team members have also witnessed boys come out of games voluntarily because they are simply too weak due to lack of food. Eric supports as many of the boys as possible with his own money, but it’s never enough to cover all of the needs. He also has a family of his own to support, while he is attending school.
A year ago, Eric created a business proposal for a small shop to bake and sell chapati, a flatbread staple in Uganda. Messiah provided $1200 in funds for the start-up of the business. The shop is on the main road between Jinja and Kamuli and is doing well. The boys work at the bakery and funds are used to support themselves and their teammates.
Recently, Eric began teaching confirmation to the boys. They meet on Wednesdays and Sundays and are using Pastor Tim Radkey’s book Road Trip through the Bible. We delivered the books to them in 2016 and are thrilled that the team is studying God’s word as a group.
What an amazing story of people coming together to help others! So many lives have already been touched by the generosity and compassion of people here in the United States and in Uganda. Please pray for these boys; their lives are not easy and their future is still uncertain. We are thankful for support from Messiah that has made a bright future a little more possible!