On the Coast of the Indian Ocean, just south of Somalia, a severe drought is devastating the land and a number of counties in Kenya, East Africa.
The drought and resulting famine is also affecting Uganda, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Prineville resident Kathy Vaughan, who serves with Redeemer Ministries, has been a missionary in Uganda since 2008. Although she currently resides in Prineville, a big part of her heart is still in Africa. She has been helping with the devastating drought and famine in Kenya by also being part of Redeemer Ministries.
She came home in 2018 to take care of her mom, who later passed away. She is currently working to renew her nurse's license, which had expired. When Vaughan finishes the course, passes the exam and serves 160 hours as a volunteer in a local hospital, her license will be reactivated. She has to have it to do the medical work she does in Uganda.
Becoming acquainted with the Orma Tribe
Vaughan serves as a missionary in Uganda, but she also is involved in an area in Kenya on the Indian Ocean, where a tribe called the Ormas live in an area about half the size of Oregon. The 70,000 tribe members are spread out throughout a number of remote villages, and thousands of non-Ormas also live in the area.
Vaughan was home in the United States in 2013, and she took a class called "Perspectives on the World Christian Mission." As part of the course and to apply what they had learned, the students in the class were assigned to select an unreached tribe, and plan a strategy to reach them with the Gospel.
She wanted to select a tribe that was close to where she had worked in Uganda.
"After doing a lot of research, I chose the Ormas of Kenya," said Vaughan. "There was quite a bit of information about them."
This group of people move their cattle and goats from place to place with the weather. During a dry season, they come back to the Tana River delta—where they are headquartered.
The government of Kenya had made the decision to sell some of the Orma land to some of the other tribes for agricultural reasons. This created a great deal of skirmishes and small battles, on account of the Orma people having to cross the land that had previously been theirs to get to the river to water their cattle.
"They are going through agricultural land, so it sets them up for battles," she explained.
Although it started as a class project, the Orma people caught ahold of her heart.
"I just started praying for the Orma tribe and praying that God would send someone to them," reflected Vaughan. "I never imagined it would be me."
In 2017, she met Pastor Emmanuel, a native of Kenya who was visiting while attending some classes in Uganda near her home. He lived near the Orma tribe, and knew a great deal about them. He also knew that they were resistant to the Gospel. She learned as much as she could from him, and made plans to visit their villages.
Shortly after, she took a group of seven Ugandans to journey to the Orma villages for the purpose of a peace and reconciliation mission between the Orma and the Pocomo tribes.
"We didn't know if we would even get into any of the Orma villages," she said. "They are very isolated. They are a very conservative Muslim tribe — they are not radical, they are very conservative."
The Ormas want to maintain their culture, and they are resistant to outsiders and anything they perceive to threaten their culture.
Pastor Emmanuel had made contacts ahead of time, and Vaughan and her group were able to meet with six of the Orma men who were heads of the villages.
"We were invited to a couple of their villages, and we started to build relationships with them," said Vaughan.
Vaughan was able to make connections with two Christian Orma pastors who were between 20 and 30 years of age. She indicated that Redeemer Ministries now works with these young pastors on a regular basis. These brave men have been beaten, chased from their villages and had had their homes burned.
"There is extreme persecution there for Christians," said Vaughan.
Redeemer Ministries originally chose to support the pastors by providing transportation money for their travels from village to village, where they meet in secret gatherings with other Orma Christians, and also occasionally have an opportunity to preach publicly.
In 2018, one of the young pastors came to Uganda and stayed with Vaughan to attend a pastor's conference. While there, a flood struck in Kenya. The government opened up two dams upriver from the Orma villages, and it came down and washed away the villages — their cattle, their goats and everything.
"I was cooking dinner, and he said, 'come look.' He was looking at a news reel," said Vaughan of the devastating memory. "The picture showed tops of houses, and he said, 'this is my village."'
He had borrowed money to put in an acre of tomatoes. He and his fellow villagers lost all their crops, in addition to animals and structures.
"There is extreme poverty there," she said.
He went home with money from Vaughan's ministry and the pastor's conference to help with the flood relief. He was able to buy food and medicine and began to build a good name for the Christians as he helped his tribe.
The Ormas were not able to return to their villages for four months. There has been no rain since the extreme flood in April 2017. The Orma people have lost many of their animals, and their attempts to plant gardens have failed.
"It's been getting worse and worse, and people are starting to starve and animals are dying," said Vaughan.
Vaughan added that her pastors have trying to help with what they have, and she has been helping as much as possible through Redeemer Ministries.
"The situation is really grave," she said. "The children especially suffer and also the elderly — but especially the children."
Vaughan came home a month after the flood to the United States to take care of her mother. Shortly thereafter, there was a cholera outbreak.
Cholera is highly contagious disease, but easily preventable with access to clean drinking water. It occurs in areas without clean water or proper sanitation.
Vaughan received news from one of her pastors in Uganda that the government wouldn't supply the medicine needed, and he was requesting $500 to get the needed medication for their people. She approached a group of widows in Prineville who support Redeemer Ministries.
"I told them about the situation, and they had collected money over the past two months," said Vaughan. "We needed $500 and they gave us $504. We sent that money to him. He had already ordered the medicine on faith, and they were able to stop the cholera epidemic."
Since the first of this year, Redeemer Ministries has supported the two pastors on a monthly basis.
"They are wonderful, committed young men," commented Vaughan. "They love their families, they love their people and they want them to know Jesus. They are willing to take the risks that it takes to be a Christian there."
Vaughan emphasized that 100 percent of any money given to help with drought relief in Kenya goes directly to the villages that are being impacted. She added that cholera is a problem again because there isn't any water to clean and sanitize with. She has a contact in an Orma village that utilizes the money donated to buy food and medicine
Continuing the ministry
"Kathy's ministry in Uganda is helping and serving the people in the name of Jesus," commented Alice Austin, a supporting member of Redeemer Ministries. "She does medical work and gives out medicines that Redeemer Ministries buys for people who can't afford them."
Austin indicated that Vaughan also works with a doctor in Uganda to have two clinic days per month. Her Ugandan partner in ministry, Ruth Isabirye, teaches a course in the villages called "Farming God's Way," which teaches them good growing practices so they can get greater yields.
When they finish the course, Vaughan gives them 2 kilos of bean seed. Redeemer Ministries owns two silos that they fill twice every year after each growing season, so the food can be distributed to those who are destitute.
Vaughan has a network of doctors who will do surgery on children if the parent can get the child to the hospital. Through Redeemer Ministries, she also pays for the bus fare, extra tests needed, medication, and food for the family member and patient while at the hospital. She gives micro-loans to women so they can start home businesses and stay home with their children.
"Schools are not free," added Austin. "Early elementary costs are not too bad, but the farther the child advances, the higher the cost."
Redeemer Ministries gives some scholarships to children so they can get a high school education and move out of extreme poverty. Redeemer Ministries is supported almost entirely by caring people in Prineville and Central Oregon.
Through a fundraiser last month, $1,625 was raised for Redeemer Ministries and sent to Kenya for drought relief. This purchased several tons of maize flour that was distributed by the Christians to those of their neighbors who were struggling the most to feed their families. The people were extremely grateful, but the need is still tremendous.
"Kathy's concern for these people is great," concluded Austin.
Redeemer Ministries serves the people of Uganda and East Africa
It serves in the following capacities: Medical outreach, the Farming Project (teaching classes, distributing seeds, giving out laying hens, goats and pigs), Land fund, solar light project, community health education, and micro-enterprise loans.
To partner with Redeemer Ministries, go to HYPERLINK "http://www.redeemeruganda.org" www.redeemeruganda.org or mail contributions to Redeemer Ministries, PO Box 311, Prineville, OR 97754. Redeemer Ministries is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Contributions are tax deductible.
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