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Uganda – The Register-Guard – Published: Monday, July 17, 2006

July 12, 2011

The Register-Guard

Group plans mission of mercy to Uganda

By Jack Moran

The Register-Guard

Published: Monday, July 17, 2006

Ethan Holub has helped raise $100,000 to help Ugandans hurt by civil war as well as refugees streaming in from neighboring Sudan.

Springfield High School senior-to-be Gracie Persson isn’t wasting her summer watching MTV or lounging in a lawn chair.

The conscientious 17-year-old is instead preparing to join about two dozen young people on a monthlong relief mission to Uganda that begins next week. The group plans to distribute food, supplies and love to sick and starving refugees driven from their villages during the East African nation’s ongoing civil war.

“I just really felt in my heart that I wanted to go,” Persson said. “I don’t know if there’s any way to really prepare for it. I’m just going to try to be calm and focus on helping people.”

That’s the right mind-set, organizer Ethan Holub said.

An experienced relief worker who has traveled around the world assisting victims of poverty and natural disasters, Holub expects that the volunteer group will receive a heaping dose of reality when they reach their sweltering and potentially dangerous Third World destination.

“We’re going into a war zone,” said Holub, 28, of Eugene. “It’ll be the first time I’ve ever done something like that. I’ve talked to the whole team about what to expect, so everyone knows the situation. They all seem to understand it and they’re gung-ho about going and trying to serve people who have nothing.”

Tens of thousands of people have died and about 2 million have been forced to flee their homes as a result of a two-decade conflict between Uganda’s government and a rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army. United Nations officials have described the situation as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Negotiations to end the civil war got off to a rocky start Saturday in Sudan.

Holub’s team primarily consists of Lane County residents between the ages of 17 and 25. They’ll spend the first two weeks of their mission alongside other aid workers in the city of Lira in northern Uganda. Besides buying and distributing food, medicine and supplies, the group will transport sick people to hospitals and pay for their treatment. Team members also plan to make bricks that will be used to build cooking stoves.

The band of volunteers will then travel to the city of Gulu for the final two weeks of their relief trip. Some will teach classes in a new education program while others work in a rehabilitation hospital for children who have escaped from the rebel army. A few others will assist doctors caring for sick and dying children, Holub said.

“Everyone is ready to go,” he said. “They know it will be miserable at some point, but they want to help these people.”

Holub said a majority of his team learned about the Uganda relief effort through the Calvary Fellowship church in Eugene, which he attends. Other young people from around the country volunteered

for the mission after visiting a Web page for We Love the Nations, a nonprofit group Holub is involved with.

Persson will be the group’s youngest participant. Her mother, Pam Nash, said she supports her daughter’s interest in traveling to Uganda.

“I can’t say I was surprised that she wanted to do this,” Nash said. “For some reason, she’s always had it in the back of her brain that someday she would be helping people in Africa. She’s a very independent young woman, and it certainly didn’t cross my mind to tell her no. I think what she’s doing is a good thing, so I’m with her on it. I’ll just hope and pray that nothing bad happens.”

Holub said two other teens who had hoped to join the mission had to drop out because their parents wouldn’t sign a release form. But overall, he said team members’ families have been supportive of the effort.

The relief mission has raised about $100,000 so far. Holub said the team’s goal is nearly $332,000 – which represents $1 for each Lane County resident. Besides cash contributions, the group is seeking donated items including clothing, vehicles and computers that they hope to ship to Africa for distribution.

“We’re not raising money just to cover our airfare, and we’re not going over there just to check it out,” Holub said. “There are millions of people there that need help, and we want to give to as many of them as we can.”

 

Local aid: Eugene resident Ethan Holub will lead a team of about 25 young people on a monthlong mission to aid sick and displaced people of Uganda in East Africa. The group leaves next week.
How to help: The team already has raised about $100,000, and is seeking additional donations. Call Holub at 731-8027 or e-mail him at surfski2727@yahoo.com. Visit: http://www.myspace.com/ welovethenations for more information.

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