Terra (Moore) Lorenz is making a big difference in Uganda.
For the last six years she has served as the executive director of Our Village Uganda, a community-based organization (CBO) in the Iganga district of Uganda where an estimated 45 per cent of the children are either orphaned or live in vulnerable situations. Under Lorenz’s leadership the organization has grown in its ability to provide for the needs of vulnerable children as well as creating income-generating projects that strengthen the neighbouring communities.
On February 9, Lorenz was honoured for these years of service when she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Greg Ottenbreit, MP for Yorkton, presented her with the award.
Lorenz, who takes no salary for the work she does at Our Village Uganda, feels she received the award on behalf of the many people who have made her organization possible.
“The staff that I have in Uganda is so amazing,” she exclaimed. “The people here (in Canada) that have sacrificed so much and the children (in Uganda) have really brought such hope to me. It’s an honour to be accepting it for this.”
Lorenz, 26, says her greatest joy is witnessing the changes that have happened in Our Village Uganda in the last six years.
When program director Paul Bogere first came to Our Village, it was struggling to survive. He slept on a church pew and stayed on to help even though a salary couldn’t be guaranteed.
“Now at this point he’s gotten married and there’s a place he rents and he’s just finished his degree in development,” Lorenz said.
The Briercrest alumnus has also seen many changes in the lives of the children during the last six years.
The story of a boy named Simon especially touches Lorenz.
“His father died and his mom abandoned him,” she explained. “There were six brothers. Two of the brothers were older. An older brother was struggling to raise the four younger children.”
Our Village Uganda partnered with the older brother to provide the help needed so Simon and his brothers could continue to live together.
“Simon is now going into his second year of secondary school, which is like high school,” Lorenz said. “To see this young man of God growing up – that’s really cool to see just where he’s at. The heaviness he had and (now) he got top marks at his school and got an award for being the best footballer. It’s so exciting (seeing) potential being reached.”
Within the last two years, Our Village Uganda has expanded its impact. In 2011, the organization was able to purchase 24 acres of land.
“We’ve already started seeding for a garden and that’s started to offset some costs and helped us have more variety of food for the kids,” Lorenz said. “We’ll plan to have the school move there and be able to be a place that helps the community and to teach different skills.”
Last July, Our Village Uganda also became a registered charity with The Great Commission Foundation.
“That’s been a huge blessing,” Lorenz said. “They’ve been a great help to make sure we’re working within all the legalities and the system. They also work with Christian organizations so it’s been a blessing to have that extra wisdom and experience.”