PANAMA CITY- The love and generosity of a local ministry is stretching 7,800 miles across the globe. Mercy Uganda was founded in 2009 by Bay County residents Laura & Mark Knetzer. The non-profit organization works with women and children in Uganda, many of whom have been orphaned by AIDS. The ministry is taking on it's biggest project to date and is hoping the community will partner in it. The team has taken several trips to Uganda, always packing their luggage to the brim with necessities to share. Until now, now they have a better option.
The people of Uganda won Laura Knetzer's heart during a trip in 2008. "We see kids without clothes, without shoes. Most families can't afford to feed their kids let alone send them to school," explained Laura. In Uganda the schools are government run, but there is a fee that many families simply can't pay. So in 2009 she launched Mercy Uganda. The list of what's been accomplished through the ministry is growing. Now 65 children are sponsored through the program and are able to attend school. Three clean water wells have been dug. Pit latrines are being built. Land has been purchased and a garden will soon be started. But all these projects and future ones require supplies, and there is no easy way to get them to Uganda. Until now. "It's probably our biggest step out in faith today, it is a shipping container that will ship from here to a port in Mombasa in Kenya, and then be transported to our new land in Uganda," said Laura. Construction, housing, school, and medical supplies will be stored in a Lynn Haven storage unit until the shipping container arrives.
Ezekiel 37 Medical Missions team members know just how necessary the medical supplies inside that container will be. "We go to the villages in different parts of Uganda and access their general medical needs as far as malaria and intestinal parasites and things like that," said nurse Becky Carreira. "Medical supplies are very hard for them to come by," explained nurse Brandy Riggins. "Nine times out of ten they would never receive them if we weren't there to give them these things," said Brandy.
At a cost of $18,000 to buy and ship the container, it is a major undertaking, one the team hopes the community will embrace. "I could go on all day about the need over there and how little it takes to make a difference," said Laura. "We want people in this community to be blessed while they bless people."
The team knows that equipping Ugandan children is what will change the country. "These children growing and having the opportunity for the education that their parents didn't get and then combining that with knowing the deep love God has for them...that empowers and impassions them to say "I want more for my country and God has given me the ability to do that," said Laura.
Mercy Uganda hopes to build a home for children, as well as a Christian school and medical clinic there. Laura and Mark are prayerfully consider moving to Uganda themselves. If you are interested in helping in a small or large way, log onto the MercyUganda.org.