Serving the residents of Amador, Calaveras & Tuolumne Counties

Uganda Project

Sierra HOPE Adopts Sister Agency in Uganda

Children at the ACYA Orphanage in Uganda

Children at the ACYA Orphanage in Uganda

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Sierra HOPE recently adopted a sister organization: the Abandond Children and Youth Association (ACYA) in rural Northern Uganda. The ACYA was founded in 2003 by Moses Zimbe with the help of local residents. Moses’ heart was touched by the orphans roaming the countryside whose parents had died from HIV/AIDS or at the hand of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). As Moses watched these children wander without shelter, dazed by despair, sorrow, and hunger, he was deeply saddened.

Charlie, the major Clan Head in the vicinity, loaned Moses a 35 acre farm 25km from Kampala City, and with the help of local residents, he began planting maize and beans to provide food for the orphans. A building on the property provides shelter for 32 orphans, and the organization also serves approximately 300 additional orphans living in surrounding villages.


Workers tending the maize crop.

The maize crops are dependent on rainfall and not supported by any irrigation wells. A hand pump well about 200m from the main house provides good quality water most of the year, but during the dry season (November through February) the orphans must often drink from catchment ditches that fill during the occasional rains. Food is cooked on an open fire. Cassava, maize, sweet potato, and some vegetables are grown on the farm. The basics like beans and rice are purchased from the town of Kakiri about 10km away. The large sacks are transported by motorbike to the property. Most of the children suffer from malnutrition, displaying the familiar bloated stomachs that result from Kwashiorkor, a phenomenon common in the children of Africa.

Moses sent this heartfelt appeal to people of the world:

In my country, there is war, disease, starvation, and pestilence. All of these things are horrible, but I think they are most terrible for children who do not know why their parents are gone, why they must sleep on the streets at night, or why they must wake to morning’s light hungry, begging for food from pedestrians who walk over them like trash. Now, it seems so many of them are forgotten . . . I pray for aid to continue the work that keeps our orphanage at Kikusu Maggogo operating. The work provides so many children the opportunity to smile and grow. . . We ask for so little: a well for fresh water, aid in growing the maize that now sustains our orphans, and most of all the goodwill and love of our friends across the world.

Sierra HOPE Executive Director, Jerry Cadotte first heard this message from Helen Yost who met Moses on a visit to Africa a few years ago. Yost lives in Vallecito and teaches Life Science at Columbia College. When she told Cadotte about Moses and ACYA, he was immediately interested because of some of the similarities with Sierra HOPE. “They are a small organization operating in a rural area,” says Cadotte. “We know from experience that rural organizations do great work, but have difficulty getting noticed, let alone funding for their programs.” Cadotte acknowledges, “The problems they face in Uganda are extreme and the services that they provide are basic survival.”

Orphans in front of the main building.

Orphans in front of the main building.

However, like Moses, Cadotte recognizes the value of every single contribution. By adopting ACYA as a sister organization, Sierra HOPE will share some of its success. “We plan to donate a portion of the proceeds from every Sierra HOPE fundraising event to support ACYA.” The needs are great, from dairy cows to fruit trees to bedding and medical supplies—all of which take money. Sierra HOPE plans to send what they can. More specific information about this project will appear in future articles.

For now, Sierra HOPE is excited to adopt ACYA as part of the global effort to alleviate the effects of HIV/AIDS.


These images below were sent by Moses in January and show the children on Christmas day. Moses explains: “…you can see at least each child had a soda on that day which is rare. In the photos you will see our maize plantation and the solar plates … At least at the orphanage we have enough light and there is no worry for darkens.” 

Click on the images below to enlarge and scroll through.