An Oamaru couple dedicated to bettering the lives of a group of Ugandan orphans is asking for help from the people of Waitaki.
Lindsay and Dalaine Walker have been working with the Orphanage of Hope in Kabale, Uganda, since travelling there in 2018.
The Walkers are trying to encourage local businesses, sports groups or even families and individuals to consider sponsoring a child at the orphanage for $1 a day.
The Orphanage is home to 172 children, whose parents have mostly died from Aids and other illnesses, or have been unable to look after them. It has been a strong focus for the Walkers, who have invested a huge amount of their personal money, as well as fundraising, to help the children and the village. The House of Breakthrough church congregation, of which they are members, had come up with sponsorship for about 70 children, he said.
“So, we are seeking $1 a day for 100 children,” Mr Walker said.
“This provides food, education, clothing and medicine. We have a constant stream of people being admitted to hospital with typhoid and malaria.
“So it’s a matter of keeping them alive, as well as looking at a bigger picture which is building a new school, and we plan to raise $30,000 for that. Hopefully, by January to coincide with the next dry season. So everything’s dodged around the rainy season, which is really seven months of the year, spread over two rainy seasons, and then they have a bit of a dry period.
“The sponsorship thing is a really big one for us. Because if we get $1 a day for 100 children, that’s $3000 a month.”
Mrs Walker said the money all went straight to the children.
“It’s not like other organisations. We’ve got no administration costs.
“Every dollar that we get from somebody, we can assure them it’s going there. Any cost of anything to get money over there, Lindsay and I pay for it.”
The Walkers together have sponsored a total of 10 children over the years through different organisations, and found about 60% of what they donated went towards marketing and administration, and only about 40% reached the children.
“We’ve been to a lot of countries in South America, especially Columbia, to visit,” Mrs Walker said.
“It wasn’t until Lindsay went in 2015 and saw the real need in Uganda. It was a different need to what we were facing and looking at in South America. So that’s why our hearts went to Uganda, and a girl [Harriet] that we’d been sponsoring since we got married. That’s why he went to see her.”
House of Breakthrough had also been very supportive of the cause, and bought an old house near the orphanage, to create more room.
“The Ugandan government wanted to buy the land where the original orphanage was. We moved to this area which the Government gave us as an alternative to the land that they bought. So Dalaine and I bought an area for the school and a banana plantation and the church bought an area in the back,” Mr Walker said.
“They’ve bought land that’s got a building on it. So we can put some more children in there, and even make it more into a hospital. So when they get sick we’re not paying for hospital fees. We can get them into there, separate them and give them medication,” Mrs Walker added.
Mr Walker said there was a total of 5.5ha of land, which they were in the process of clearing to plant vegetables.
“Some of it we own and some of it we lease. We also have, within that, two banana plantations. So the banana plantation right next to the orphanage, and also a few hundred metres away where the school will be is also a banana plantation.”
As well as growing bananas and vegetables, a hen house had been donated by the Coutts family, of Glenavy, which housed 96 hens. Three beehives had also been purchased, which produced about 12kg of honey per hive, per year.
“So, you know, if we could get 20 or 30 hives. They’re only $8 a hive,” Mr Walker said.
“But the sponsorship is important .. It’s a real tragedy. But the the thing about it is, the whole dynamics is changing and has changed. A dollar a day. It’s $7 a week. So we’ve got the children down to three to a bed [from seven]. They’re really happy. We’ve got them gumboots and shoes and waterproof clothing.”