You never really know what your neighbors are up to, do you? I've known the Parker family for most of my life and until I read an article in the Bordentown Current last year I had no idea they were spending their spare time setting up a foundation to change lives on the other side of the world.
Bordentown resident, Jim Parker is a documentary film maker. While visiting Uganda, he was moved by the beauty of the country and the warm welcome he was given by residents who were living in truly extreme poverty. HIV/AIDS has created a generation of orphans in Uganda, and many of the households are run by children. These children won't realize the hopes they have for their future without outside help - and, too often, monies donated to charity don't make it to those who need it so desperately. The Parker Mother & Child Foundation was started as a way to fill the gap between regulated government assistance and the actual needs of the recipients.
You can watch the film Jim made and narrated here. In the film, you'll learn about the root causes of the malnutrition and poverty that plague the region and why they focus their primary efforts on education.
Jim has highlighted some of their success stories on the foundation's website. Much of their work lies in providing educational opportunities to qualified girls who could not otherwise afford to attend school. In Uganda, there is no free education beyond primary school, and many families simply cannot afford to educate their daughters. For a girl to go to high school and college, she almost always has to find outside funds to support her.
The Parker Mother & Child Foundation (PMCF) looks for motivated young women who will bring the skills they learn in school back to improve their communities. Jane Mandera had a dream of becoming a dentist, but could not afford to continue her studies. With Jim's assistance, she graduated from the School of Public Health Dentistry at Mulago Hospital and is now working in a community that had no access to dental services to prior to her graduation. She's doing extraordinarily well for herself and her example will inspire others to do the same. Helping the poor and underprivileged is what Jane wants to do most for her community and she is ready to pay it forward.
Jim also assists another organization working in Uganda - Apoola Na Angor. Apoolo Na Angor, or Empowerment for Women, is an NGO based in Bukedea, in the Teso region of Uganda. Apoolo Na Angor (ANA) offers training in nutrition, sanitation, hygiene, child care, animal husbandry, agriculture, and sewing. Women who graduate become eligible to receive a cow, goat or other suitable animals, which will help them to get income for their families. Jim made a short film about their work when he visited and helps ANA raise funds to provide livestock to the graduates of their program.
How can you help? We're hosting a pop-up shop in the store to help raise funds for the Parker Mother & Child Foundation. Over the years, Jim has brought home many handmade products created by the students and we're offering them for sale in the shop. 100% of the purchase goes directly to the foundation and will benefit the PMCF and ANA.
You'll find totes, jewelry organizers, skirts, woven purses, mats and bowls. Come by the shop to learn more or visit the foundation's website http://parkermotherandchild.org to make a donation to their cause knowing the funds are helping those who need it most.