Mormon Helping Hands Reach Out to Communities
By Sister Pamela Larsen
Throughout the countries of Southeast Africa, “Mormon Helping Hands 2013” has been a priesthood-directed Church program to provide community service and direct relief to those in need. It has offered Church members the opportunity to work alongside community members and serve as the Savior would serve. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). Donned in yellow vests with the Church logo, members have helped to establish the name and reputation of the Church. As they have partnered with government and community organizations, meaningful and positive relationships have been established. This year’s Helping Hands projects culminated on August 17, 2013.
There have been many, many outstanding projects throughout the Area this year. For example, the small Iganga Branch in Uganda noticed that local school children had to cross a very busy street without help. They felt that a zebra crossing marker would alert cars to slow down and perhaps save children’s lives. However, they had no funds in the branch to pay for supplies for such a project. They decided to go to the local paint store to see if it would help, and received a very positive response. The paint store would provide the paint and be part of the project. Then, because this was a safety issue, they went to the police department and told them what they would like to do. Again, they got a very positive response, and all other needed funds and resources were offered. This partnering with community leaders has fostered many positive relationships and good feelings toward the Church. The project was completed with yellow vests being proudly worn and then, with great satisfaction, was “handed over” to those who would benefit most.
On Friday, August 30, 2013, in Kampala, Uganda, a large Mormon Helping Hands “hand-over” and appreciation ceremony was held at the Kololo chapel. Eighty-five guests attended including four Ministers of Parliament (one a Cabinet Minister), the mayor of Bugembe, other civil servants, and as many as 17 personnel from news and TV media. President and Sister Chatfield, Uganda Kampala Mission, presided at the event and were presented to the government leaders and the media. They were very well received. Local priesthood leaders attended and participated, including the district president from Jinja who spoke during the proceedings to officially “hand over” and announce the successful Helping Hands projects of 2013.
President and Sister Chatfield meet with dignitaries including Rosette Ecweru, wife of the Minister of State, and their son Mark Ecweru, wearing Helping Hands vest for the media.
Over 700 volunteers in Uganda worked on over a dozen projects, giving 3,000 man-hours of service, together with 22 partners spanning the country. The evening was a great celebration of partners and friends who unanimously agree to do bigger and better in 2014.