Year-End Opportunities

You’re about to turn the page to 2016. Before you do so, you can make some last-minute charitable contributions that will lower your tax bill and win praise from your accountant, life mate or significant other.

To read no further, donate now at Team in Faith.

Otherwise consider the following…

With our partner organization in Kasese, Uganda, Action for Community Empowerment and Rehabilitation (ACER), Team in Faith supports women farmers through micro-finance loans. They build their small farms and businesses and support their families.

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We can do a lot more to build sustainable communities with your help. Make a donation at Teaminfaith.Org

Abraham is a bright young man in medical school in Ishacka, Uganda. He is doing very well but the tuition costs are a huge burden for his peasant parents.

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Abraham will make an excellent doctor. Help him complete his medical school studies. Make a tax-deductible gift today at Teaminfaith.Org

AICM College of Science & Technology in Kabale, Uganda, needs new monitors for its ICT lab. We can add nine monitors, keyboard and mice for $2300.

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Students in modern Africa must be competitive. They need up-to-date computers and software. Help them with a tax-deductible donation at Teaminfaith.Org

My friends, your donation can lift lives and raise hopes quickly. Take advantage of tax deductions at the 11th hour. Donate today…and please tell a friend.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe New Year 2016.

Your man on the ground in Africa,

Patrick Hill

An Appeal and a Promise

My friends, I am completing my fifth month in Kabale, Uganda, where I volunteer at AICM’s Vocational Training College. In a country where more than 80 percent of college-age kids are unemployed, learning marketable skills to create a job or find work is necessary.

The college has an ICT program to train computer science students. However, the machines are more than 10 years old. They are slow. They cannot run modern programs. Students here risk falling further behind their counterparts around the globe.

Team in Faith, a public charity helping education projects in Uganda, is asking for your support to purchase a network computer to accommodate nine terminals. This system will run the latest software and help train people who can hit the ground running with practical experience. We have received a good quote, which is listed below.

AICM

Would you please consider a gift to help us purchase these items and make the Vocational Training College the ICT leader in SW Uganda.

Donate at teaminfaith.net. Your gift is tax-deductible in the US and I promise it will make an immediate impact. Thank you.

Help Wanted

Thanks to you, Team in Faith is establishing its presence in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Team in Faith is based in Kabale, Uganda, where it supports education, health care and evangelism projects in the region.

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In five months, TIF has been privileged to support students, schools, churches and others through grants in aid. A big hug to our friends and donors for your support. Your tax-deductible contributions are helping to affect lives in Uganda.

Among its activities since March, Team in Faith has issued grants
* supporting 30 HIV-AIDS orphans in Kasese with school supplies for their primary school studies
* funding radio broadcasts of the good news of Jesus Christ across five countries
* supporting Kitojo Integrated Development Association’s (KIDA) hospital activities in Kabarole District in Western Uganda
* supporting university-level students in Kenya
* for uniforms for St. John’s Karusandara Orphans Primary School near Kasese

Extreme poverty affects many families in this region. Money for basic necessities, like food and water, is very tight, so affording school fees for young students is a challenge.

Team in Faith joins existing organisations that serve these marginalised populations. One of our main partners is African International Christian Ministry, or AICM. It conducts community outreach, and operates a vocational training college. More than 10,000 alumni have built careers over the past 30 years. Today, young men and women learn skills with which they can become ready to join the work force, or create new jobs as entrepreneurs.

Among the programs at the college is an ICT class that teaches students computer skills. Technology is a leading industry throughout the world. Africans deserve and want the chance to learn alongside their western colleagues with equipment that meets today’s demands.

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Students and schools here can no longer use aging equipment. With advances in technology in this competitive world, new computers are needed as a platform for training eager young minds.

To meet this demand, Team in Faith embarks on this campaign:

* Upgrade the 10-year-old computers at the ICT lab. We aim to raise $5,000 for two powerful servers, with which to network the classroom with the latest softwares. These would help build a web hosting business, teaching students the latest in network management.
* In order to keep the computers running, TIF will raise an additional $7000 for solar panels, batteries and inverters with which to supplement the municipal power.

From this platform, the campus can become wireless enabling students, faculty and community guests to enjoy first-rate Internet services, like the ones we take for granted.

You know the value of education and practical experience. You know that up-to-date computers are needed in today’s world. Would you please make a tax-deductible donation to help see this project to completion.

Make a monthly donation of $100 for one year at teaminfaith.net. As a team, we can build brighter futures for the talented young men and women from Uganda, South Sudan and DRCongo who study at AICM.

Special Needs Students

Let me introduce you to several students I’ve met on behalf of Team in Faith, who have stories worthy of your consideration and support.

Chris is a 12-year-old boy. He is physically challenged and cannot sit properly without support. He cannot stand nor crawl on his own. Thankfully, he is mentally alert and speaks well. He is capable of learning, given an opportunity.

ACER (Action for Community Empowerment and Rehabilitation), a Team in Faith project, in Kabale, Uganda, conducted an assessment on him and found out that he is suitable to join school. He can feed himself and has potential to learn.

chris and tif

He is interested in joining other children at school. Unfortunately, the demands to support him in school are too many for his parents to meet as they are poor and illiterate. ACER has given him support in terms of a wheelchair, basins and bedding materials. He now lacks school fees and facilitation to pay the caretaker while at school.

His parents, through ACER, are seeking assistance to have him fully supported in school.
ACER has identified one person willing to take care of him and an appropriate school with special needs education facilities has been identified.

The support needed to pay for annual school fees ($180), scholastic materials ($60) and a caretaker ($480) total $720.

Would you make a donation to support Chris’ education? Contributions to support Chris and other projects can be made at teaminfaith.net.

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Isaiah, 29, above, is blind man supporting three children. At the age of 13, his parents died. At the time of their deaths, Isaiah was in elementary school (Primary Two). He continued to Primary Four but dropped out due to lack of school fees.

In 2004 at the age of 18 Isaiah got married to Jesca Biira and they produced three children named Masika Mackline 10, Muhindo Ednus 8 and Biira Marylyn 6 years respectively. Isaiah and Jesca lived together until 2012 when he got in an accident. Shortly after his accident, Jesca divorced him and went back to her parents leaving Isaiah to look after their three children.

He cannot do any physical work to support his children. His elder brother, a father of 8, is taking care of him plus his children in an environment of absolute poverty. Through ACER Isaiah is appealing to all people of goodwill to help him get his children educated. He is willing to join any school that can suit his physical condition to learn.

ACER identified annual school fees and scholastic materials of $540 for the three children. Contributions are needed and welcome through Team in Faith.

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Deborah Awut, above, is one of the pioneers from Hope & Resurrection Secondary School in South Sudan. While a student, she used to sing to help motivate other young girls who took their education for granted.

She is now at university in Nairobi, Kenya, where she is in her third year seeking a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce, majoring in accounting and finance. The fighting in her native country has sent the exchange rate for South Sudan currency soaring making it difficult for her to raise fees for tuition and accommodate.

She has been an excellent student, achieving an Ordinary Diploma in business management at Marist International University. It was then on to the main campus of Catholic University of East Africa where she did Advanced Diploma work in Business Management. Now with two semesters to go and the end in sight, she needs fees for tuition and boarding.

Earlier this year, Team in Faith sent $1000 to partially cover her $3000 bill. With your help we can see Deborah graduate with a degree and a very bright future.

With your tax-deductible contribution, you can help Deborah, Chris and Isaiah toward a better life, a self-sufficient life, and life of accomplishment.

Visit teaminfaith.net and make a donation today.

Webale munonga. Thank you very much.

My Life’s Work

I received some sad news this morning.

Africa’s Children-Africa’s Future (AC-AF.com), an organization in Tanzania I visited the past two years, announced it will cease operations at the end of the year. I am heartbroken to think of the loss this will mean to the young students, many of whom are orphaned by HIV/AIDS, in Dar es Salaam.

They learned and laughed with Phil, a Swahili-speaking American from Boston, and others, and enjoyed the programs and services sponsored by the organization.

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It is only by the grace of God that I have all the advantages over the poor and unfortunate in the world. I sit here in the wealthiest land the world has ever known. Today, like many other days since my return in September, I weep over a lifetime of failures to serve others. I think of the beautiful, innocent faces of all ages I met this year throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. I see them suffer in silence, without complaint. Africa has had a profound impact on me.

I ask, no, plead, that Mukama (God) return me to Africa to be in fellowship with my brothers and sisters there.

pat dar kids

I have taken steps to help them but I need others with empathy and a commitment to make a difference. A new charity, teaminfaith.org, is under my direction. With it, I will raise funds to support education and health care projects that will lift the lives of many in Uganda, DRCongo and South Sudan. Please help me.

I will return to Africa next year. I will redouble my efforts.

This is my life’s work.

Check Mates

If life were a chess match, I was king for a day.

I’ve been in Kabale, about 90 hard kms from Bwindi, for a brief road trip to video a primary school run by a Northern California NGO.

As a bonus, I visited three Anglican bishops, including a couple of retired mitre-heads I previously met. All were generous in spirit and hospitality. Check.

My host, chauffeur and FB friend, David, is an archdeacon in the local Diocese of Kigezi. We began the day by visiting retired Bishop William Rukirande. We met in 1996 when I was editing “The Missionary” (how appropriate) for Bishop Jerry Lamb in the Diocese of Northern California. Bishop William attended the diocesan convention in Redding as a representative of our companion diocese in Uganda.

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I never forgot the name or his gap-toothed smile and being a few easy kms from his home decided to make a visit. Now in his 80s, Rukirande appears fit and relaxed. I told him several times how good he looked. His comfortable home sits on eight acres of grazeland for his 30 cows.

He and his wife served a fruit salad followed by obushera, a sorghum porridge that is, well, decidedly, not delicious.

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After photos and goodbyes, it was off for the school for orphans. We were met outside by delightful kindergarteners, chanting and singing for us. An assembly of P1-P5 students greeted us with song and introductions. I got nice video from these poised pupils.

We ended the day with a short drive to see retired Bishop Enoch Kayeeye. He was one of the first people I met when I arrived in Kampala in mid-February. I could see him coming from a mile away, given his bishop’s outfit, topped by the distinctive fuschia-colored shirt.

I neglected to call to inform him of my visit so my arrival to his house was a surprise. He is a delightful man, very welcoming. We had a nice conversation and when he mentioned his work with the Batwa pygmies, I called time out.

“Can I get my camera and tripod from the car?,” I asked. He agreed and 17 minutes after I asked my first and only question, we adjourned for refreshments.

Across three continents I carried a letter of introduction from my local bishop, Barry Beisner, to Bishop George Katwesigye.

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We met in his office at the Kigezi diocese’s headquarters, on a hill overlooking Kabale. He has been to Northern California several times and we have several mutual friends. We spoke of our respective ministries and discussed issues facing the church in Uganda and the US.

Like the others, he was gracious and welcoming and invited me to join him for a meal my next time in Kabale, which is likely to come in the next few weeks.

None of these visits was planned before I arrived in Uganda but through providence and prayer, friendships were strengthened and fellowship was shared.

Check mates…..

Man on a Mission

Arriving at Bwindi in a splendidly roomy van, I was ferried to my home for the next three months in a conveyance unattainable to most in this region.

And that will be typical of about everything I do here. From my carbon footprint, to electronic gadgets, to bags of underwear and socks, I got and brought a lot.

Did I mention electronics?

I will admit I am the poster boy of western excess on this trip. iHave just about iEverything Apple makes, from laptop to iPad to iPhone. Each of those devices has its own iCamera.

Great. I brought six other HD cameras.

I don’t know exactly what I will see while in Uganda but I hope I don’t miss anything. It’s expensive to fly across the Atlantic and 11 time zones. It’s my second trip to Africa in nine months and I am very fortunate to have this opportunity to document health care and education here.

My communications colleague at the Bwindi Commmunity Hospital looks at me in amazement. Look at all this stuff. I start to justify. The laptop is my portable video editing device, the iPhone is a handy HD camera, iPad is great for social media.

Yes, a bit of excess for these parts. But I will use them all.

I’m a man on a mission.

Morning Commute

The pre-dawn in Kampala is alive. Hours before the sun peaks over the horizon, government workers, other commuters and students are on the move.

The headlamps on cars, matatus and boda-bodas shine weakly on the already-crowded streets. Young girls, with orange blouses and white socks, set out for class along the side of the road, rehashing homework facts before the day’s lessons begin.

The only concession to urgency is the fact that they have left home early. The pace is relaxed. Like their peers in the West, they have appointments on their schedules. What they don’t have are private cars to school, public school buses, or the angst of trying to get somewhere on time.

This is a weekday morning in Africa. I am on my way to the airport to collect my baggage which is two days late from London. I’m thinking about how I can collect the luggage, then get through security in time to make my already-delayed flight to Bwindi.

As we speed past traffic toward our destination, the shadowy figures and vehicles move with a purpose but with patience. They will get there when they get there.

The Gift of Education

Volunteers who visit Hope and Resurrection Secondary School, in Atiaba, South Sudan, are sometimes pressed into duties outside their typical routine. Tom Valiquett is a pharmaceutical scientist who joined a team from Virginia on a mission trip in 2012. He found himself at the head of a classroom, but had the credentials to make it work.

Learn how you can help educate a child, educate a nation

Countdown to Fulfillment

Faith has been described as belief in the things not seen. After years of anticipation, I leave for my video ministry trip to South Sudan in a matter of hours.

The excitement is constant. I whittle my checklist several times a day. It’s a far cry from how I’ve typically conducted my business–at the last minute. For this trip, I’ve been doing a little bit each day for weeks, getting shots, organizing travel docs, packing my luggage…so I won’t have a big panic attack as the airport shuttle arrives.

Earlier this week a friend asked me about this upcoming adventure, which will have me out of the country for six weeks. “Do you consider this trip as a signal of big change in your life,” I was asked.

No, I responded. This opportunity fulfills my destiny in life.

Years ago, I took a swing at sportscasting, my original love. Then it was more than two decades in a state cubicle farm, moving paper from here to there, creating talking points and reassuring taxpayers that all was well.

I enjoyed those work experiences at times, made great friends along the way. Inside me, though, there was a constant sense of greater work ahead.

Forty years ago, my father, brother and I spent a month in a church rectory on the island of Antigua, in the Caribbean Sea. We had a beautiful, secure home, with plumbing, and electricity. In the community around us, residents had corrugated tin roofs over their heads, carried buckets to a common well to get their water. The youth played soccer on a rock-strewn pitch. As a young teenager, it was my first exposure to a different way of life from what I enjoyed in the opulent US. It was also a foreshadowing of what awaits me next week.

My TV career fueled an interest in writing and video production. Over the years, as Apple improved its product line and made desktop publishing and non-linear video production accessible and easy, I polished skills and awaited the call.

A first opportunity came as newsletter editor for my local bishop. I produced a monthly newsletter for nearly ten years, while juggling a full-time job with my role as a new father, husband, Little League coach, and executor. More skills and contacts were developed, then placed on hold in anticipation.

Years of service with my local church put me in relationship with wonderful, selfless individuals, who served others as missionaries, instructors, pastors and cheap labor. I watched the mission trips affect lives. I participated for the first time and felt a renewed sense of purpose. I worshipped with a couple who sought missionary work in retirement. Their prayers were answered as God led them to South Sudan and elsewhere.

Their experience and my interest made for an easy match. An introduction was made to the organization that founded and operates a secondary school in South Sudan. They could use what I possess. In December 2011, my call was confirmed.

It’s hard to be in the moment on the journey. We just want to see where we’re going and not get tripped. Looking back, I can see many instances where a still, quiet voice inside me, or a friend beside me, nudged me in a direction that set me on this path. I say daily prayers for guidance and quiet confidence.

My journey has been long, with distractions and failures along the way. My compass has been influenced by prayer and loyal friends. They’ve encouraged me to regain my footing and find my voice. I am being fulfilled.