Voi Visit – Personal Meetings and Cherished Gatherings

Jenny Berggren. Foto: Sune BromanThere were many personal meetings and several shared high points when Manase Mkofira, Lydia Wughanga och Beatrice Walegwha from Voi in Kenya visited Ulricehamn at the end of April. An exchange that is part of the Voi project’s work to help orphans in Voi.

The first night in Ulricehamn brought the first high point. Ulricehamn church was almost filled to capacity during a charity concert with the Voi project’s own ambassador, well-known artist Jenny Berggren from the super pop group Ace of Base. The Occapella choir also took part in the concert and the visitors from Voi gave gripping testimony on what the Voi project, which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year, has meant for disadvantaged children in Voi.

– During those first years when we didn’t have support from Ulricehamn, four of the children died, says priest Manase Mkofira who was the one who took the initiative to take care of orphaned children in Voi. But since 2005, we have not lost one child!

Now, there are 50 children in the program. Since they live at home with a relative, there are really almost 50 families receiving support with things like food, medicine and school costs and even brand new houses if it is needed. There are also 50 more children enrolled in the preschool that the project runs at Bogesunds house.

Beatrice Walegwha. Foto: Sune BromanDespite the small and difficult circumstances, things have gone well for most of the children. Beatrice Waleghwa is a shining example of this. She is one of the children who have been with the program from the beginning and is now 20 years old. She is studying tourism and service at the university with brilliant results.

– I have the Voi project to thank for everything, she says. This is my family!

Lydia Wughanga is the director of the project. She been responsible for helping the orphaned children since 2008. She herself is an orphan and has taken care of her little sister, who was only five months old when their mom passed away. She knows what it means to be an orphan – and what a joy it is to help others in the same situation.

– It is fantastic to give the children a hopeful future and a smile on their face again, she says.

Another high point of the visit to Ulricehamn was a bus excursion that also included a visit to one of the Voi project’s main sponsors,  Åsundsholms Golf & Country Club. Visitors were given the chance to try both putting and swinging – with instruction provided by the club’s trainers. A new and fun activity for many of our visitors from Voi.

Yet another visit to one of our main sponsors took place in Ulricehamn. This time, we visited the flooring company Bolon.

Thanks to the support from many companies, ordinary people, and other organizations, the Voi project hasn’t “only” succeeded in helping orphans have a better life. A guest house that will function as both a gathering place for the children and provide an income for the project opened in November 2013. The building has cost about 2.5 million kronor – and is completely paid for thanks to sponsors and donors.

A third high point was the International Evening at the elementary and middle school, Bogesunds school. The school has supported the project every year through this event. This time, the event took on an entirely new dimension since visitors from Voi were on site. It was also an incredible experience for Manase, Lydia and Beatrice to see the engagement at the school from both students, teachers and parents.

Two other school visits took place during the trip to Ulricehamn. The school in Gällstad and Tingsholms high school both received a visit. Both schools are engaged in Voi in different ways.
The Voi project also works to help the caregivers of the orphaned children create their own income sources through various help to self-help projects. Because of this, a visit was organized to Companion Sjuhärad to, among other things, gather more information and experiences relating to small business ventures.

Lydia Wughanga. Foto: Sune BromanAn important part of the Voi project is the sponsor program with personal sponsors in Sweden. These sponsors were invited to a Cafe night at  Brunnsnäs church (EFS), which stands behind the project. It was a worthwhile and genial evening for the sponsors and those interested to meet and listen to Lydia’s stories about the children at risk and how they are being helped.

Our visitors from Voi also took park in two church services, one at Brunnsnäskyrkan and one in Äspereds samarbetskyrka.

The visit also included several talks and discussions about the development of the work in Voi. Lydia met with the group responsible for the sponsor program in Ulricehamn, and Manase met with the project group responsible for the expansion of the guest house, as well as the work group responsible for the congregational exchange between the Swedish Church and the Voi Lutheran Mission

And not to forget, the visit also meant many personal meetings, which spread joy and more understanding of the different ways people live. Beatrice was able to, among other things, meet young people in Ulricehamn and even take part in a youth Bible study group.

The visit to Sweden for Manase, Lydia and Beatrice ended in Skåne where they met a group from EFS in Ängelholm. The group supports the Bible school in Voi that the Lutheran Church operates there.

Donations have been collected in connection with the various gatherings and activities during the visit. Over 100,000 kronor have been collected for the work in Voi – money that goes uncut to continue the work with the orphaned children. This is possible because all costs for the trip have been financed thanks to Lunds Missionssällskap and private donations from people who are involved with the Voi project.