Though nicknamed “the Pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill for its “magnificence and profusion of brilliant life,” the Uganda we know today is far from the “fairy tale” depicted by the British Prime Minister on his visit in the early 1900s. Its lush landscape and friendly people are still intact, no doubt. But poverty’s grip on Uganda is tight, wringing her people dry of the chance to truly thrive.
And dry indeed, for over 8 million people lack access to clean water, which not only harms health but also hinders crop production and other means of livelihood. For decades, numerous organizations have poured relief efforts into Eastern Africa, providing temporary fixes to keep people going. Too often, though, this sort of relief is just a drop in the bucket for the poor—whose problems go deeper than the material surface and can only be conquered when individuals are empowered to tap their potential for the long haul.
Here at Grove City, Project Okello seeks to do just that. Founded in 2006, Okello is a passionate student group whose mission is “to be an instrument of hope, healing, and Christ’s love” to the people of Uganda through prayer, fundraising, and awareness. Throughout the year, Okello puts together a wide array of events to support its three Ugandan missionary partners, including the Ugandan Water Project—a nonprofit founded in 2007 that has served more than 170 communities through sustainable development projects and community building.
This past November, Okello joined forces with UWP to hold its featured fall event, Wells for Hope—a music and arts festival that funds the installation of rain water collection systems in Uganda with the greater goal of clearing a path for living water to flow through the Gospel. Recruited vendors including students, alumni, and local artisans set up shop around the Student Union, selling a variety of goods from button rings and stationery to photos and hand-carved walking sticks. Through a donated percentage of vendors’ profits and other generous contributions, altogether exceeding $5000, Okello and UWP were able to fund a tank and supply at least 30 years’ worth of clean drinking water to the 350 students of St. Joseph Kakonda Primary School in the district of Nakaseke.
(Photos above courtesy of Ugandan Water Project)
So, not only were students stopping by the STU that Saturday able to tackle some early Christmas shopping and enjoy fellow students’ musical talent. More importantly, they got a unique chance to reach outside the “bubble” and contribute to an eternally worthwhile cause.
“Everyone has the right to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” says Okello’s president, Dan Schafhauser (Finance, ’16), “and the fact that we’re American college students doesn’t give us the right to ignore this in other parts of the world.”
Looking ahead to next semester, Schafhauser and his team hope to continue making an impact here on campus and abroad as they enable fellow Grovers to engage with communities in need. Whether they’re selling chicken patties to send kids to camp in Kenya, hosting Ugandan natives on campus to share their insight, or simply praying for God’s hand to heal the broken, the members of Project Okello are staying thirsty for more opportunities to revive a lost and needy world.
Follow Project Okello on Instagram here.