In countries like Uganda where poverty is pervasive and death from ailments like malaria and HIV/AIDS is commonplace, becoming an orphan at the age of three is a crisis for any child.This is precisely the situation Patrick Epuret found himself in after losing both of his parents in the early 90s.
In typical African fashion, Patrick and his three siblings were taken in by an uncle after the death of their parents. By the time Patrick reached high school age, Covenant Mercies’ Sponsorship Program was being established in his area and he was one of the first children enrolled. He loved learning and excelled in his education, but apart from the assistance offered by Patrick’s sponsor it is unlikely that his uncle could have afforded to send him to high school.
From the time he was a young boy, Patrick had a unique love for both animal and crop husbandry. He genuinely enjoyed digging in the garden and watching crops grow. As he continued through school, a Covenant Mercies staff member noted his interest and steered him toward the discipline of Agriculture. As Patrick recalls it now, he was advised that these skills would be useful to him as a farmer and an entrepreneur, even if he never managed to find steady employment as an adult.
When Patrick took up his new field of study, it was evident he had found his calling and he eagerly soaked up the knowledge. Providentially, his graduation from the institute of agriculture coincided with Covenant Mercies’ plans to launch a sustainable farming initiative at our Children’s Homes. When Patrick was offered the job as farm manager, he quickly accepted. Our program had played an important role in educating him and helping him come to faith in Christ. His desire now is to help that same program become self-sustaining, and to be an inspiration to other fatherless children whose life circumstances are all too similar to those he faced at their age.
As farm manager, Patrick’s primary responsibility is to ensure that the farm sufficiently provides for the food needs of our Children’s Homes. Secondarily, we intend to support the broader needs of our program through the sale of surplus crops and other income-generating projects on the farm. Beginning with the cultivation ofabout 40 acres with food crops like rice, beans, pineapples, potatoes, and corn, we expect to be able to supply the needs of the Homes in short order. From there, our long-term plan includes the planting of a variety of fruit trees (mangoes, oranges, bananas, avocadoes, etc.), a chicken-raising project, and potentially the establishment of a grinding mill that would serve the needs of both the Children’s Homes and the surrounding community.
As our program has matured through the years, the focus of our mission has sharpened into the following statement: we are aiming to restore our children to becoming all that God has created them to be. This is an apt description of what has happened in Patrick’s life. Though the loss of his parents at such a young age could have spelled the end for him, Patrick has developed from a young orphan into a mature, enterprising, and knowledgeable agriculturalist.
Please pray for him in the coming months, as he works to lead us toward our sustainability goals.We plan to sow about $45,000 into our sustainable farming initiatives in 2014-15. If you’d like to make a gift toward this effort, please click here. Your investment today into gifted young leaders like Patrick will help us sustain our program tomorrow with minimal dependence on donations from the outside.