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Caring for Uganda

Emma Dale • Jun 26, 2017 at 2:00 PM

When Susan Morriss participated in initiatives at her church in Connecticut more than 10 years ago, she never dreamed she would one day become the Midwest regional director of a humanitarian nonprofit organization.

That organization, Call to Care Uganda, provides health and education initiatives for children in the small country in eastern Africa.

So far, the group — with Morriss’ help — has drilled several wells to provide clean water. built a school and raised money to provide food for those who have little or none. The school — Unity Nursery and Primary School — opened Feb. 7 and has granted 40 children the opportunity for an education in the Kaberamaido district of Uganda.

Morriss began her involvement back at her previous church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal in Madison, Connecticut. There, she met Martha Hoffman, the founder of Call to Care, and the two worked side by side.

Hoffman felt a call to mission work, and after returning from a trip in Uganda in 2004, she brought back the need for help for the people there. Hoffman and Morriss began working on projects that help with sustainability in people’s lives, as well as providing education and sponsoring children.

Morriss said this work soon outgrew the size of the church, so a board of directors was created in 2007, and thus came Call to Care Uganda.

Morriss moved to Grand Haven 10 years ago, where she attends St. John’s Episcopal Church. She introduced Call to Care to her new congregation in 2013.

“This church responds to a call,” she said. “They really do. You bring an idea to this parish and they all respond.”

The organization raises money by selling crafts that their chairman in Uganda, the Rev. Chris Ochaloi, picks up at local markets and ships to the U.S. Ochaloi also works to discover poor villages for new well digging locations.

Morriss then sells the items in craft shows at St. John’s Episcopal Church twice a year. The craft items — beaded necklaces, earrings, carved items, sewn bags and baskets — are all handmade by the local village people. Crafts are up for display and sale in the Grand Haven church’s showcase, located in the main hall.

Morriss said a recent craft show raised enough money to buy 2 tons of food for the people in Uganda — a huge contribution to a country facing a devastating famine.

The money was initially supposed to buy a swing set for the children for the Unity School, but after learning of the famine, Morriss crafted a new plan.

“We can do something, we can do this,” she said. “We took the need, we recognized it and St. John’s (was) just so supportive.” 

Morriss encourages people to get involved by allowing her to visit their group.

“It’s just so rewarding doing something like this,” she said. “Getting a picture and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, we made that happen, and we’re feeding these people.’ People don’t realize that sometimes a small donation goes so far.”

For more information, visit their website at calltocareuganda.org.

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