Located in eastern Uganda, in the small village of Dorcas, district of Sironko, the Dorcas Orphanage Home was started in 1997 by several Christian women who were distressed by the increasing number of orphans wandering the countryside looking for something to eat and a place to sleep. Together, they devised a plan for an orphanage and began caring for some of the needy children in the area. Their own families had little surplus, so it was not long before supplies for the orphans ran out and there seemed no way to continue. One woman, Elizabeth Madaba, remained faithful. She asked her husband, Wilber, to become her partner in this work with orphans and she began to pray with deep anguish, beseeching God to help her feed the children.
Elizabeth’s prayers were answered when she received a letter from Family Connections Adoptions. The agency was asking if they could start a sponsorship program called Shared Blessings, to help feed and clothe the children! The plan was that each sponsor would send $25 a month for the child they were sponsoring. Since administrative costs are covered by Family Connections and all the work is done by volunteers, one hundred per cent of every donation goes to Uganda. This money buys provisions for ALL of the children, not just the ones being sponsored. As Elizabeth says, “Everyone is sharing their blessings with each other”.
Elizabeth wrote back to Family Connections, praising God for the help He was sending. Always efficient and resourceful, she mailed eighty small black and white pictures of children who could use sponsors. Some were children living in her care and others were village children in dire circumstances. Names and ages of the children were neatly printed under the pictures.
At first, communication took place by regular mail (a two to three week time factor) or by fax. There was one fax machine in the post office of a nearby town of Mbale and when the Madabas made their weekly trip into town, they would check for faxes and answer them. This method continued for about five years, when the Madabas were then able to get an international cell phone. Being able to call when there is urgent business to discuss has made the work flow more smoothly. Now, added to the phone calls is email. That service is unreliable and often difficult to access in Uganda, but when it is working, it is a big help.
Shared Blessings has been able to fund many other projects at Dorcas, besides the sponsorship program. First came the building of a modest Health Center . It was designed to be an out patient clinic, but the drastic needs have turned it into a little hospital, with overnight patients receiving life saving blood transfusions and other medical measures. Because of the careful oversight of the Madabas, the Health Center has gained an excellent reputation among medical professionals. People travel from many neighboring villages to use the services, preferring it over the government hospital in the nearest big city.
Only dirty water from mud holes or from the polluted river was available in to the people of Dorcas Village before Shared Blessings installed two wells. These are used all day, seven days a week by villagers as well as the staff of the Dorcas Orphanage. Other projects which made life easier for many were the donation of a van to serve the orphanage, a generator to boost the electricity which goes out on a daily basis and medical equipment, such as an ultra sound machine and an x-ray machine for the Health Center .
Although the children felt very privileged to live under a shelter and receive three good meals a day, their housing left much to be desired. They stayed in random, old buildings scattered around the property and additional children needing care had to be squeezed into an already crowded living space. After the first ministry group from Shared Blessings visited in 2003, a dream for a large, new building was born. It became a reality a couple years later, after much prayer and hard work.
One of Wilber’s dreams was to install a grain thresher and a sunflower seed oil press. With these machines, the older boys could learn to operate them and generate income for the orphanage. Shared Blessings raised the money for the machines, only to learn that government regulations stated they must be housed in a small industry building. That led to the next project and soon there was a small industry humming along in a large, safe building. A rice huller was added to the machinery when that product was introduced to the village by Elizabeth, who has a green thumb and learned how to grow highland rice where it never had grown before. Besides providing more jobs and an income for the orphanage, this little industry is a great help to the community. Villagers used to walk or bicycle many miles, carry hundred pound sacks of grain to be threshed. Now they can have it done locally and by someone they trust.
Wilber and Elizabeth Madaba, founders of the work at Dorcas Village.
With Wilber’s declining health and subsequent death in 2017, his son Emmanuel stepped into the leadership role. Emmanuel’s mother, Elizabeth, continues to play an important part in the work, which has changed it’s focus from caretaking of children to village concerns. Shared Blessings is finishing committements at Dorcus with a concentration on a small group of children who are HIV-positive.