Five loaves, two fish, and a truck – in Uganda

NOTE: This post shared a no longer active GoFundMe campaign I’m managed for a local church in the summer of 2020.

Moses and me in Kampala, Uganda, 2013.

But for me, it’s VERY PERSONAL. In 2013 I traveled to Uganda, where Moses served as my driver and right-hand man for *everything* for two weeks. We’ve remained good friends – a few years ago he even named his 4th child after me!

Moses is one of eight persons who founded the Dorcas Star Mission. This campaign is raising funds to help them buy a truck to further empower their ministry feeding hospital patients — a need heightened during the pandemic.
Here’s a modest CHALLENGE (no longer active):
Margaret & I already made a $500 gift to the Mission before the campaign launched to help them cover costs while the campaign was running. But we’ll make an additional donation of $2 for EACH of my blog readers (or Facebook friends) that makes a donation (of any amount!) between now and August 15. If you donate, make a comment on this post so I know to make a $2 match for your gift!

PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A GIFT THAT IS MEANINGFUL TO YOU … it’s even a gift if you share the campaign! Thank you.

(Link direct to the GoFundMe page — you can still view the page, but the campaign no longer accepts donations)

Five loaves, two fish, and a truck – in Uganda (GOAL: $20,000)

Jesus fed several thousand people with five loaves, two fish, and faith. The Dorcas Star Mission in Mbale, Uganda has similar hopes, but they also could really use a truck. Let me explain.

Feeding the hungry is a worthy cause anytime anywhere. But feeding hungry new mothers and young children at a hospital in Uganda during a pandemic is a special challenge. This fundraiser hopes to meet that challenge.

A hospital, hunger, and the Dorcas Star Mission

Back in April, with Uganda bracing for the COVID-19 pandemic, a small group of Christian men and women who meet regularly for study and fellowship desired to do something to aid their local community. One member suggested they could provide food for patients at the local hospital. Administrators at the Mbale Regional Referral Hospital serving Eastern Uganda were happy to receive their offer. And thus the Dorcas Star Mission was born out of this simple desire to live out their faith through service to others.

In Uganda, as in many developing nations, public hospitals provide much-needed medical services—but often do not provide meals. Families must bring in food for family members in the hospital.

But not everyone has family able to do this. In Uganda many families already scramble to eat day-to-day. And under the economic disruption caused by the lockdown during this pandemic, very few hospital patients are receiving any food support at all. They may only be at the hospital for a couple of days, but without adequate meals, medications can have worsened side effects and recovery is slowed. With little more than “five loaves, two fish, and some faith,” the Dorcas Star Mission stepped in to fill this need. (But they could also really use a truck.)

Corn porridge and bananas, carried by boda-boda

The Dorcas Star Mission began their feeding program in mid-April. Using their own meager funds and a little aid from local businesses, they purchase corn meal to make porridge and they provide bananas as well. By early May they were bringing meals to 400 patients a day Monday through Friday. The hospital provides a room where they can serve up the food and wash their utensils afterwards. They first serve the breast-feeding mothers, then other patients in the women’s ward with small children, and then any other patients with no outside support.

But the need is so great. Since starting the hospital has asked them to also provide extra food two days a week when there are day clinics—to which patients (including children) often walk in from five or more miles away. In fact, even some of the hospital nurses and staff go without food for their entire shifts, so they welcome any extra porridge.

Each day the Dorcas Star Mission makes 50 gallons of corn porridge in one member’s home—enough to feed a pint of porridge to 400 women and children. Then they transport the porridge (in ten 5-gallon/20-liter jugs), along with bowls, spoons, bananas, and volunteers, to the hospital. Right now everything is ferried over Mbale’s chaotic city streets by a dozen boda-bodas—small motorcycle taxis they have to hire each day. Did I mention they could really use a truck?

The men and women of the Dorcas Star Mission have indomitable faith and boundless compassion. Although they are all persons of modest means, they have so far funded this ambitious meal program—including all the taxi fees—out of their own pockets. But acquiring a truck is simply beyond their means. Yet this would allow them to transport food, supplies and volunteers more efficiently and more safely. That’s why we’re appealing to you.

A truck … and a little bit more

A truck isn’t the only need, but it’s the biggest one. Funds we raise will go first to purchase a reliable used double-cab pick-up truck ($13,000-$15,000). Besides this major purchase, the other essential need is facemasks (now mandatory in Uganda), both for volunteers and for in-patients. Remaining funds raised will be used to cover other expenses for their ministry. These include cell phone minutes to let them coordinate their work, rent for their tiny office, porridge ingredients (cornmeal, milk, sugar), bananas, utensils, and, if possible, small stipends for core volunteers.

They’ve already strained to increase their porridge delivery to 500 servings per day five days a week. If our campaign is resoundingly successful, they know that if they provided 800 servings per day there would be that many hungry mouths to feed.

Uganda is a couple months behind the U.S. in its experience of the pandemic timeline. By offering support now, we can enable The Dorcas Star Mission to respond most effectively when the need will be greatest. So, it’s not really five loaves, two fish, and a truck. It’s more like 50-60 gallons of porridge, dozens of bananas, a handful of volunteers, facemasks, cellphone minutes … and a truck. And you can help make this happen. Please make a gift that is meaningful to you.

Trust years in the making

St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Roseville, Minnesota is hosting this fundraiser. Pastor Brad has known Moses, one of the leaders of Dorcas Start Mission, for about fifteen years. David, though not a member at St. Michael’s, is coordinating this fundraiser. David and Pastor Brad have been friends for close to two decades, and David met Moses in person when he traveled to Uganda seven years ago.

Both of us have strong relationships with Moses and have seen him act with extraordinary integrity and compassion over the years. Quite simply, we would trust him with our lives. St. Michael’s Lutheran Church is pleased to host this fundraiser as one expression of our Global Outreach. All funds received (less any transaction and transfer fees) will go to assist the Dorcas Star Mission in their charitable work providing food support for patients at the Mbale Regional Referral Hospital.

Thank you for your generosity and support of the Dorcas Star Mission through your gift to St. Michael’s Lutheran Church. If you prefer to mail in a donation, send it to St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, 1660 West County Road B, Roseville, MN 55113 – and be sure to put Dorcas Star Mission on the memo line. Contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. No goods or services were exchanged for these donations.

Five loaves, two fish, and a truck – in Uganda

You can help make this happen. Please make a gift that is meaningful to you.

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