Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Free concert gives to AIDS orphans

Grassroots funding does change lives


By SABINA DANA PLASSE
Express Staff Writer

15-year-old Ugandan Brenda Nanyanna borrowed a dress for a picture to send to her sponsor Michael White.

become orphans as a result of AIDS' forcing grandparents or the eldest child of a family to become the caretaker. In an effort to ease the pain and suffering of orphans and create stability, many international programs have been operating relief efforts.

In the East African country of Uganda, Feed His Lambs, an orphan program through the ministry of World Outreach Ministries Foundation, operates the Himmelsbach House orphanage. The Himmelsbach House's primary purpose is to care for children ages 9-14, providing them with an education, health care, food and clothing as well as maintaining the orphans' extended family relationships within their home communities.

To raise awareness and funds, valley musician Michael White has organized "A Concert to Benefit the Children of Uganda," to be held Thursday, May 8, at 7:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum.

White has invited several well-known valley musicians to perform with him, including Bruce Innes, Public Radio and Aaron Baker.

"The orphanage has been overrun and its sanitary conditions are maxed out," White said. "They could use a drainage field for a septic tank and better wells."

White organized a similar concert in 2003 with Wood River Valley resident and musician Chad Stewart to raise money to build the orphanage a kitchen.

"There are too many kids picking out of garbage cans and going to the dumps to get food," White said. "We have no idea how colossal the problem is. A million and half kids are without parents and that is huge. A thousand kids die every day.

"This is not about guilt. I just want to help and give people the opportunity to help. Let's do something for these kids."

Past director of Feed His Lambs and Sun Valley resident Phil Doerflein became aware of the orphanage when he was living in Seattle.

"I went to Uganda to check things out, and I was just a ski retailer. I had never been anywhere," Doerflein said. "Feed His Lambs purchased land and we got involved. It's a grassroots organization and everyone from North America is a volunteer."

Doerflein said he sponsored a little boy, and decided the orphanage is a humble and sincere program that does a great deal with a small amount of money. White sponsors a 15-year-old girl named Brenda Nanyanna for $30 a month.

"The program is designed to provide funds for an education through high school," Doerflein said. "It provides clothing and supports community, and a grandmother program helps to cover basic needs and the child does not become a servant of the family. It is a small and intimate program and the families that support the kids are in very good communication."

Many of the sponsors visit Uganda and help with camps. Doerflein said his niece went after graduation to help with a soccer camp. Four hundred families support 550 kids.

The concert is free and information about sponsoring an orphan and donations will be available. For more details, call 788-1526. To learn more about sponsorship, visit feedhislambs.org




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