Sydney Maki with a flag of Uganda

Teen helps children in Uganda

Sydney Maki, 16, began Project Ekitangaala to help children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

A LOCAL teen has started a non-profit organization to help AIDS orphans in Uganda.

Sydney Maki, 16, began Project Ekitangaala (e-ch-tahn-gah-lah), which means The Light in the local language Luganda, to help children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

Maki was in hospital with a chronic pain disorder and spent her time reading, which included a book about Africa that led to her desire to help others.

The town where the children live is Kyotera, about an hour from the nearest city in the district of Rakai and 119 km southwest of the Ugandan capital Kampala.

The children, about 423, can’t afford school fees, food or basic medical care so the project works with Glory of Christ Primary School to provide these things for the children.

Only about 20 children can live at the school and the rest live on their own or with the one parent they have.

Maki started the project in December to help and once she connected with the man who started the school, people started to support the project so she decided to turn it into a ministry, she said.

So in March, the project officially began.

Maki has been collecting shoes for the children and already has two boxes overflowing with 80 pairs, and is hoping to collect 300 pairs.

When she travels to Uganda next June, she plans to buy some shoes there as well to support local workers.

While there, she will sleep in the children’s homes, help deworm them and treat their feet for chiggers.

There’s also plans to build more houses for the students during the month she’s there.

When she returns, she’s planning to go to the University of Calgary and get a degree in midwifery, and then intends to return to Uganda.

For those who would like to get to know the children better and get involved, there’s a pen pal program where people here are matched up with students.

The students have sent artwork and jewelry they make that’s been sold as one of the fundraisers for them.

Money raised goes to help pay the salaries for the school’s seven teachers and feed the children, all of which costs $1,000 each month, she said. And she made bookmarks to sell to raise money for mosquito nets.

Anyone who wants to donate shoes can drop them off at the Thornhill Community Church.

Crocs are preferred as they’re lighter to pack and carry to take to Africa, but anything is great, she said.

An upcoming fundraiser evening will feature Ugandan food samples, live music and more.

For more details about the fundraiser evening, see Arts for Africa under Fundraisers in City Scene on page 19.

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