For years, our very own TimberKids have raised money to buy chickens, a motorcycle, rainwater barrels, and even pigs for Cherish Uganda. During our recent Missions Focus Speed-Date-a Missionary night, we had the chance to meet the current directors, Brent and Leah Phillips.
A lot can happen when a pastor’s wife takes time out of a trip to support a missionary wife overseas. After a 45-minute tour of a children’s home serving kids with HIV, Leah left with the lingering idea that their church back in the United States should perhaps support the ministry. Eventually she realized that the nudge had to do with their personal family, not their church so they returned for another visit. Eleven months later, they sold everything and moved to Uganda.
Cherish Uganda is a self-sustainable children’s village comprised of seven family-style homes where two alternating moms, an auntie, and eight children live onsite. There is also a farm to provide work and food including those chickens and pigs TimberKids helped buy. Hope Academy is an elementary school for both Cherish and community members with plans to expand to a middle and high school curriculum. More recently, the Hope Hospital opened and serves the greater community living with high-risk conditions like HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, malaria, and tuberculosis. In a typical day, Cherish Uganda has 450 people in and out of their complex.
At the core of their ministry are the hearts of orphaned and vulnerable children. Many of these were abandoned by their families and picked up by the police. Some—in the wake of a move to clear the cities of street kids prior to tours by visiting dignitaries—are actually sent to a children’s prison to suffer a worse fate unless they can be brought to Cherish Uganda instead.
Once inside the loving arms of Cherish Uganda, the children are first given holistic care through food, life-saving medication, clothing, education, and counseling. Over time, the desire is to plant hope in the heart of a child by connecting them with Christ in order to rewrite their past scars of worthlessness into a story of hope. Another goal is to eventually reunite them with some sort of extended family
After investing six years on the ground and four years as CEO, Brent and Leah Phillips are now based in the United States to continue raising funds and return to Uganda each quarter for a multi-week visit. In their absence, the 125-person locally-led staff continues to cherish the rejected children of Uganda. You can find out more at cherishuganda.org.