A woman on a mission
By CARRIE-ANNE GREENBANK
A GRANDMOTHER three times over, Helen Ellis knows the challenges of raising a child.
So when she heard that women in Uganda were each supporting eight orphans as part of a Watoto Ministries care program, she didn't hesitate to offer assistance.
On August 6 Mrs Ellis travels with 20 other passionate women from across Australia to Watoto's base in Uganda's capital, Kampala.
Over the two-week trip, the women devote themselves to helping the orphans and their 'house-mothers' in any way they can.
"If there's a house that needs painting or a garden that needs planting, we'll do it," Mrs Ellis said.
"We want to encourage the mothers in what they are doing. We get to pamper them with massages, facials and even foot washes."
One point seven million children have been orphaned since the start of the AIDS pandemic, according to UNAIDS research.
With an average life expectancy of only 15, there are over 880 000 orphans in Uganda.
Set up by Gary and Marilyn Skinner in 1983, Watoto Ministries currently supports more than 1200 orphans aged two to 12.
Mrs Ellis volunteered for the missions trip after hearing Mrs Skinner speak of the challenges faced by Watoto Ministries at a 'Colour My World' conference late last year.
"They give the orphans a hope and a purpose for their lives. They are raising up the next generation of Ugandan leaders," Mrs Ellis said.
"I want to express God's love to the mothers and children, so they know that other people in other nations do care."
Mrs Ellis said she would like to accept any further opportunities for missionary work.