News Story

Mormon Helping Hands Unite Ugandans as They Serve Their Communities

Congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently joined with their neighbors and community leaders to participate in what is known as Mormon Helping Hands.

Throughout Uganda volunteers dressed in their trademark bright yellow vests or shirts have been rendering community service.  If you were to ask them who they are and why they are doing this, they would tell you they are Christians following Jesus Christ's example of serving others.

Congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently joined with their neighbors and community leaders to participate in what is known as Mormon Helping Hands. Each unit of the Church worked with local governments, schools, or hospitals to find a project that could be completed with volunteer man-hours and would support and improve the communities in which they live.

This year throughout the Uganda Kampala Mission, members in Njeru, Jinja, Mpumudde, and Seeta cleaned local health centers inside and out.  Hospitals and maternity centers were the focus of cleaning projects by members from Walukuba and Bugembe. 

In Bugembe they were joined by Muslim volunteers who were there to also clean.  One of the Muslim friends commented, “It is good we can work together as Christians and Muslims and know that we are doing the work of God.”

In Kajjansi, Mengo, Kololo, Ntinda, and Iganga cleaning projects at nearby schools were carried out.  Inside, classrooms were mopped and rooms were cleaned, while outside the compounds were slashed, trimmed and rubbish removed. 

Following the school cleaning in Iganga, trees were planted to provide shelter and a good learning environment for the future.  One Church member used his artistic talents and painted maps of Africa and Uganda on the outside walls at the school, as well as behavior reminder signs for the compound. 

Members in Gulu and Lira spent many hours on two different days cleaning the streets and market areas in their municipalities.

In Mukono and Kabowa volunteers performed similar services in their communities as they swept, picked up rubbish and unblocked drains.  

In Masaka, the volunteers worked with local police authorities and undertook a project to beautify the Masaka Police Barracks by cleaning the roadside, trimming trees, clearing around the living quarters, and cleaning the exterior of the health clinic.  Speaking on behalf of his staff, the District Police Commander thanked the volunteers and told them he “appreciated the sign of brotherhood in the community.”

The Uganda Kampala Mission also includes the countries of Ethiopia and Rwanda.  Members in Ethiopia did similar projects by cleaning roadsides and markets in their local communities.  After planting 710 trees along a government fence line in Wendo Genet, volunteers were told by a local government leader, “You show by example; this is the first time a church has participated in community work.”

In Rwanda the three congregations individually carried out projects to distribute reading glasses to the citizens in Kigali.  Approximately 850 people came to get glasses and nearly 900 pair of glasses were handed out.

The Helping Hands Program of the Church has become an annual event.  This year over 1000 volunteers donated more than 3600 hours of service throughout the Mission.  Not only do the volunteers look for local projects, but in times of natural disasters or emergencies they are ready to serve.  The assistance of Mormon Helping Hands has been used worldwide in projects that have varied from assisting victims of earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and hurricanes to volunteering at the World Cup in Brazil earlier this year.     

Church members enjoy the fellowship that comes from working together and along side community leaders.  The reward comes when local leaders express appreciation, like that from a village leader in Nantabulirwa who said, “We thank you for keeping our village in your hearts.”

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