Empowering HIV/AIDS orphaned children in Africa to a self sustainable future

Catherine Koch

Catherine Koch

Founder and President of Love Is The Answer, a Canadian registered charity serving orphaned children in Africa.

“What, besides money..?”


Love to everyone!

One day after my return to Canada I was visiting with a group of parents at a school when I was asked by one of them… “What, besides money, can I give you for the children you’re working with in Uganda?”

It’s a great question, one that I’ve been asked more than a few times these months.

If we’re talking about “intangibles”, things like uplifting thoughts, prayers, holding the children in heart, envisioning them empowered… Loved, fed, clothed, housed, schooled, healthy, happy, safe, in community – or sending healing energy, like one friend, @gassho on Twitter is doing every day, by including the children in his long distance Reiki intentions – these are powerful, precious gifts for the children every moment of every day!

I do know the parent asking me that day was talking about “tangible” things; things like clothes, books, blankets, bikes, backpacks, shoes, etc.

My answer now is the same as then… “well, I am collecting a few used digital cameras and laptops to bring with me on my next journey so I can work on a “modern technology/photo essay” project with the children, but otherwise, no, there really is nothing, besides money.”

Why would I say this?

Let’s consider “ACIO” and their Child Care Center in Sironko, Uganda – a small, grass roots project “Love Is The Answer” is supporting – and examine some of our tangible accomplishments so far for these children. You can read details in my September 2009 update here on the “Projects” page.

Virtually every item I’ve gathered together for the orphaned children has been purchased in their country, from their local trading centers and communities, local suppliers and local manufacturers where and whenever possible, with funds that have been raised on the children’s behalf outside of Africa and/or my own personal funds. It’s a purchasing policy I plan to continue.

It stems from the real and lasting benefits – some heartfelt, some literal – that can be realized when one works with the developing communities the children live in, while helping to bring to the children that which will best serve and empower them. In doing so, the children and the adults around them can create from a solutions basis, ( not a band-aid one ) by collectively self-directing toward a sustainable future for all, in ways that best serve the community and its distinct context.

It’s a given we all need help sometimes, and in terms of the financial end of things, providing funding to get things going – be it start up cash for income generating activities or infrastructure, or for supplies, say, to bring standards for the children to a safe and healthy level – is presently the best way I have seen to empower the children within their communities. Buying supplies locally infuses the community with that cash and as we know, those kinds of ripples go on and on and on…

Then, for me, there’s another angle to consider on the whole “giving thing”. When I was in Uganda working closely with two child headed families, both families presented me with special gifts of Love on 4 separate occasions. Knowing they were living in extreme poverty and owned very little, what, you may wonder, would young orphaned children have and choose to give to me?

The children expressed their Love and appreciation by giving one of THE most valuable possessions they owned – a live rooster, followed by a hen – and, they were beyond happy, deeply proud and honored to do so!

Here in the West, it’s still generally considered that money is one of society’s most valued possessions, isn’t it – perhaps that’s part of the reason we’re called upon to give it away. I can’t really say for sure, but I do recognize that the children offer us all a great example.

If you consider giving financially to me and my work with the children and their communities, here are a couple other things I’d like to share:

Love is what inspires me to care for the children. I am an individual, unaffiliated with any organization, charity, religious or political agenda. I am not a business or registered as a “charity or aid org” and therefore do not issue tax receipts for financial gifts for the children or myself.

From the start of my involvement with the children and continuing to this day it’s my intention that 100% of the funds I collect on behalf of the children are spent on supplies and programs that directly provide benefits, first for the children they are intended for, and second, for the communities in which they live, if it’s possible.

By generous donation, I receive accounting help that keeps track of donor funds collected and where they go, and info about such donations can be found  here on the “How Donor Funds Have Been Spent” page.

It’s part of the benefit of supporting me, and the children through me, that donors can know for whom, where and how their money has been applied… I’m a bridge, and, much as the children at Vancouver College Elementary School ( “Projects” page ) along with their teachers, parents and other donors are experiencing personally, as well as what friends on Twitter are discovering by enjoying the pictures and stories of the children I’ve been posting there, it’s very engaging, affirming and empowering for us all!

As for how I personally afford this work… while I may have started out “alone” on this journey well over 2 years ago called by Love and my Angels, supported by family and friends, and financed by the $avings I had accumulated to that moment in life, today, the money part of my equation is very different. I’m still working on how to self-support my continuing journey on this path and it is very true to note… I simply could not be where I’ve been since my return from Uganda nor done what I’ve done these months – including having enjoyed last night’s warm and comfortable sleep on the spare bed in my friend’s home or the lunch I’ve just eaten – if it were not for the generosity and Love of others… family, life long friends, and new ones, alike!

If you want to help fund me and the children, thank you! There are two separate donate buttons on the “Donate” page, one for the children, one for me. There is also info about the projects for the children that I’m collecting funds for right now, and a personal “budget” of sorts for me on the “Projects” page in my Sept 2009 updates. Once I’ve gathered together the money to support my next journey, I will make my way back to Uganda to continue assisting children who are living in child headed families and ACIO, and, work to establish new relationships between additional schools here and other small local initiatives in Uganda who are striving to care for and empower orphaned children ( as described on the “Projects” page Sept 09 update ).

Just a couple days ago my “renewed” passport was delivered… another step closer!

Thanks for your help, both “tangible and intangible”, for the children and for me! All acts of kindness are acts of Love! Blessings!

Gratitude, Joy and Love!

Cath xo

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