Thursday, June 09, 2005

UCCF: A Lot Of Love From Texas

The Uganda Children's Charity Foundation (UCCF) works to provide orphaned and other disadvantaged children in Uganda education and care that will enable them to become self-sufficient, assume leadership roles, and have a positive impact on Ugandan society.

Their mission, as stated on their web site is "to provide education, food, shelter, clothing and medical care to AIDS-related Ugandan orphans to nurture their mental, physical and emotional growth and well being."

UCCF was founded in 1995 by Alexis Hefley after she had lived and worked with AIDS orphans and other disadvantaged children in the capital city of Kampala for 18 months.

She first went to Uganda in 1993 at the invitation of the Uganda's First Lady Janet Museveni. While there Ms. Hefley became aware of the overwhelming need for international humanitarian assistance for the country's AIDS victims and orphan.

In 1994 she headed up a successful fundraising tour of the "Children of Uganda" dance troupe. It was the first such tour for the troupe and after that, Ms. Hefley started UCCF, as a U.S. 501(c) (3) non-profit and Ugandan nongovernmental organization NGO with offices in Dallas, Texas and Kampala, Uganda.

UCCF hopes that the outcomes of its efforts will be:

1. Increase global awareness of HIV/AIDS and its impact on children
2. Provide funds for education, food, shelter, clothing, and medical care for Ugandan HIV/AIDS related orphans
3. Provide United States education scholarships and support for selected students who will serve as cultural ambassadors and to prepare them to assume future leadership positions in Uganda
4. Develop systems to track children's education and growth
5. Define expectations of program recipients
6. Nurture relationships with sponsors

Alexis Hefley is the Executive Director and she appears to have a strong Board behind her. The members of the Board come mainly from the Dallas Texas and have a wide range of corporate, non-profit, NGO and academic backgrounds. The identification of each Board Member is published on its web site - as they should be, because together they depict an ideal example of board composition.

UCCF has many projects and the tragedy of AID related orphans gets a lot of its attention. One way they do this is by supporting community-based organizations in Uganda that serve the needs of AIDS related orphans. Among their many other programs, they have an outreach program for HIV positive mothers and they provide scholarships to Ugandan students through efforts based in the U.S.

One of the projects that caught this writer's eye was Phillip's House. Because Uganda has been so hard hit by the AIDS pandemic large numbers of children are suffering greatly. While traditionally, Ugandan families took care of the children of deceased relatives, the number of children orphaned by AIDS is overwhelming that social system.

Handicapped children in particular along with young adults who require special care are very often overlooked or disregarded in the struggle to address the effects of the context of the greater disaster.

To provide for a small number of these children, and through the donation of a sponsor family whose brother was with Downe's Syndrome, UCCF established "Phillip's House" in 2002. Phillip's House is a residence for eleven abandoned and handicapped children who have lived through a struggle to receive education and therapy. The story about Phillips is well worth the short time it takes to read about it at:

UCCF has a fund raising project involving the marketing "Children of Uganda Merchandise." This merchandise consists of CD's, t-shirts, and key chains from the Children of Uganda dance troupe that now tours the U.S. and around the world every year. This merchandise can even be ordered from UCCF's web site through an online process or by downloading an order form that can be mailed to the organization.

The Children of Uganda troupe has toured the US biennially since 1996 and billed as the Tour Of Light on UCCF's web site. The children perform through dance and song, and in so doing, tell the stories and history, the legends and beliefs of various East African cultures.

The Tour Of Light will be coming to the United States for a five-month tour in 2006.

UCCF appears to be a well organized Foundation with effective programs. And I think that anyone interested in taking a look at a "Text Book Example" of what an effective organization should look like, they should go to UCCF's site at:

And when you go there, be patient and wait for the introduction to load, it's worth the wait as well.

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