Missionary’s pen pal ministry promotes education

by Megan Wohlers correspondent

It all started with a yellow dress.  I had been scrolling through  my Facebook feed, when I stopped: a family friend who is a well-known painter in the Seattle area had posted a picture of his painting of a girl in Uganda. She was spinning in a yellow dress. The description said the picture was of a girl in Uganda who is part of a pen pal program that a friend of his started. Because I had been very involved in ministry since the beginning of high school and had a heart for Uganda, I became interested in signing up for this pen pal ministry at once.

Less than a week later I had a 12-year-old pen pal; Vanessa and I have been exchanging letters ever since.  Vornita Harris, the missionary running the pen pal program, has been on the mission field for five years.

“I knew in my heart during the summer of 2008 when I came to Uganda on my very first and only mission trip that Uganda was where I was supposed to be,” Harris said. That trip was to the New Hope Uganda Childcare and Institute, located in Kasana. In 2010, she moved to the Jinja District of Uganda, which she now calls home.

Harris started the pen pal program seven months ago. She pairs up the local children with children (and adults) in the United States. The goal is education: the students benefit because they learn about different cultures and countries while also learning to write letters and developing friendships. Several of the pen pals have also sent school supplies and helped some Ugandan kids begin attending school.

Aside from the pen pal program, in which over 100 kids are involved, Harris assists three teachers with teaching and any other work they need help with. “The hardest part of my ministry,” she said, “is taking good care of myself, eating well, getting enough sleep and taking a break to rest, regroup, refresh and to refocus on ministry to work productively and proficiently.” She also asked for prayer that she will work more efficiently without burning out.

Harris said she has learned a lot throughout her journey. “One thing God has taught me that has surprised me is [humility], through having always worked from age 16 to 45 and coming on the mission field without a paying job,” she said. “He is truly a Way Maker beyond words that I can express.”

If students would like to get involved, they can email Vornita Harris at vornitak@gmail.com or message her on Facebook.

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