"Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world," wrote Joel Barker, a successful business writer.
Pastor Arthur Turytunga, 38, who lives in Buhimba, Hoima district, western Uganda, personifies this statement.As a young orphan, he lacked basic needs and love but he had a vision to make life better for orphans and vulnerable children.
At the age of 20, with his meagre income, Arthur began looking after his neighbour Morris (aged three at the time) who is also an orphan. However, this was not enough to bring about the change he was looking for.
In 2005 Arthur became an ordained pastor for Buhimba Christian Fellowship Church in Hoima district. Later that year, Arthur says, God spoke to him and he vividly remembers this statement: “I want you to start caring for the orphans and vulnerable children as I helped and blessed you.”
In 2007, World Vision invited Arthur and five other members from Buhimba Christian Fellowship Church to attend a workshop under its Channels of Hope initiative.
Changing minds and hearts
Channels of Hope training sessions challenge religious leaders to change their attitudes from judgment and condemnation to active care and support of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. “The workshop was an eye opener, it tickled me to think of ways to reach out to children and adults living with HIV,” says Arthur.
Back at his church, Arthur sensitized the congregation about Channels of Hope and the role his church would play in giving hope to hopeless people. The congregation welcomed the idea and identified 11 orphaned and vulnerable children in the community who needed help and also contributed money and food items for them.
By mid 2008, the church had registered a faith-based organization called Buhimba Child Care Initiative, which advocates for acceptance, care and support for the less privileged people living with HIV/AIDS.
The organization teaches about prevention of HIV/AIDS and provides support to orphans and vulnerable children affected and infected by HIV/AIDS.
Support for the needy
As of May 2010, the organization had registered 143 orphans and vulnerable children and 63 people living with HIV/AIDS.
The organization has employed seven staff to implement activities such as supporting income generation activities to benefit vulnerable children, construction of shelter for the children, providing foodstuffs to the needy, support and caring for people living with HIV/AIDS and educating the community on prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Orphans and vulnerable children who benefit from the organisation’s initiatives are now living happier lives because of the care and support they receive.
For example, Christina Kyomugisa, 10, is happy in school because she received books and a new uniform from the organization.
World Vision Uganda continues to work with Arthur to implement the Channels of Hope activities while contributing to Arthur’s vision of improving the lives of orphans and vulnerable children.
Written by Davinah Nabirye