For the Townsman
A Cranbrook woman who has been working in Uganda and started a sponsorship program will be sharing stories on Nov. 28.
Kimi Toyota began “His Hope Uganda” in 2009. It is a sponsorship program to provide education to needy children. Her pursuit was that of getting children back into school.
Since its quiet beginning, the work of His Hope Uganda has been transforming lives, both in East Africa and Canada.
Toyota grew up in Cranbrook and graduated from Mt. Baker. At age 23, she behind a comfortable life of employment in Calgary’s Children’s Hospital, as well as snowboarding, movies and enjoying the typical pursuits of a 23 year old. In 2007, she and a friend decided to visit Uganda after seeing a heart breaking movie about child soldiers.
After a quick two weeks working with nine children in a home in Jinja, Uganda, she returned for a seven month stay. Upon returning to Canada, the home suddenly closed due to corruption and the nine children Toyota now called family were abruptly sent back to their scattered villages.
Then in 2009, she began the sponsorship program with her initial eight children.
By the end of that first year, the number had grown to 47, sponsored mostly by Cranbrook families who attended the local Alliance Church.
Pictured: Kimi and the hugs of Ugandan children
The ministry has been transforming since its inception with each year bringing new opportunities. In 2010, Kimi noticed that the home of one the children who was constantly sick was in hazardous shape with one of its mud, stick and dung walls periodically falling in, a leaky roof, mold and rats. She and her staff of three Ugandans decided to build a new home of brick with a metal roof. So began an endeavour that has now replaced 39 unsafe structures and built 40 sanitary drop toilets.
In 2011, teams began to arrive, first from Canada and later from England. The first team of 21 were kept busy building two homes and two brick toilet facilities, distributing clothes, visiting schools and mixing with the amazing Ugandan people over their two-week stay.
In 2013, hospital visits were introduced. Teams would visit the Children’s Hospital, feed close to 500 and spend time to pray with each of the patients, an especially emotional time due to the horrid conditions of medical care.
By 2015, the number of sponsored children who were being provided schooling as well as medical attention had grown to 152.
The work of transformation is perhaps most evident in caring for medical needs. Diana is one of countless examples. She first grabbed the attention of Kimi and the staff through her obvious inactivity. While other kids responded to the team’s visit with typical enthusiasm and joy, Diana sat on the ground with empty eyes and an appearance that suggested she was merely awaiting death.
Because she was crippled and suffered from a serious heart condition, she was left out. With medical attention, regular food and loads of love, Diana has been transformed into a delightful child whose laughter inspires and who readily shares smiles that were once so foreign to her. She is now the recipient of prayers from around the world and awaits complicated heart surgery, hopefully in England.
Pictured: The smile of Hobaida breaks through his terrible scarring
Hobaida and Swaibil are two brothers who have also been transformed through four years of love and attention. They both suffered from a severe form of skin cancer that ate away at their facial features and caused swelling of the tongue and eyes that has required that their tongues be cut open numerous times to prevent choking. Today, though still carrying serious scarring, they’re in school and thriving with joy and enthusiasm.
Transformation has also been the experience of the many from Canada and the U.S. who have joined teams that have served in Uganda for two week periods. Almost all have the desire to return and many have done so.
On Saturday, November 28, Kimi will be sharing stories and videos of her latest adventures in her new African home. Dessert will be served and a massive Silent Auction will offer goods and services worth over $12,000. The event will be held at Cranbrook Alliance Church at 6:30, with admission set at $5 per person. All are welcome. For one of only 200 tickets to this entertaining and informative event, please contact Gary Toyota at 250-426-8645.