Vir­gin Arm na­tive work­ing with Gates of Hope

Plan­ning fifth trip to Uganda in aid of or­phans

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY

There’s a large bill­board in a small vil­lage in Uganda with a photo of Donna ( Rowsell) Wheeler of Vir­gin Arm. The bill­board is the com­mu­nity’s way of thank­ing Wheeler – and other sponsors — for their sup­port over the years.

For sev­eral years now, Wheeler has been help­ing or­phaned and other vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren in the com­mu­nity by pro­vid­ing for their liveli­hoods and ed­u­ca­tional needs.

In one par­tic­u­lar photo of the bill­board, dozens of young chil­dren sit in front of the large plac­ard. The chil­dren are well dressed and look happy – no doubt due to the help they are re­ceiv­ing from their sponsors.

Wheeler’s vol­un­teer ef­forts are with Gates of Hope which is af­fil­i­ated with an or­phan­age in Uganda.

A re­tired home sup­port worker, Wheeler has vis­ited Uganda four times. Her fifth trip will take her back to the African coun­try this sum­mer.

On their most re­cent trip in July 2016 ( 35 days) the mis­sion­ar­ies took with them nu­mer­ous sup­plies for the peo­ple in the vil­lages and con­tin­ued work on some of the build­ings.

“We also put power to their church and we com­pleted their school which we’d started when I was there ear­lier... We fed the el­derly. We went to dif­fer­ent vil­lages and gave out clothes,” Wheeler said.

There are many chil­dren in the vil­lages that – be­cause of poverty – aren’t in school. Wheeler is in­tent on chang­ing that.

“The min­istry I’m do­ing now is I’ve started a spon­sor­ing pro­gram... We have 92 kids that are go­ing to be go­ing to school,” she said of the pro­gram.

The num­ber of chil­dren spon­sored through Wheeler’s ini­tia­tives has in­creased since the in­ter­view with TC Me­dia.

Wheeler said for $ 22 a month, a child not only gets to go to school but gets two meals a day – which they oth­er­wise would not get.

“It’s been amaz­ing how the peo­ple of New­found­land — and even peo­ple in the States — who have heard my story and are now help­ing.”

When she heads back to Uganda in July, Wheeler will Right: Donna Wheeler (left) was pleased to give one young man a bi­cy­cle to get to school. He had a long walk and this gift made it much eas­ier for him. Wheeler is also look­ing for do­na­tions of wed­ding dresses to help make a bride’s day even more spe­cial. be dis­tribut­ing face­cloths. Her sup­port­ers in this prov­ince, across the coun­try and be­yond have been mak­ing them for her, she said.

On a prior trip she took over 500 pairs of shoes for the vil­lagers.

Peo­ple are also do­nat­ing paci­fiers for her to take with her, she said.

“Later, we are plan­ning on do­ing a big baby shower for Uganda,” an en­thu­si­as­tic Wheeler said.

From party dresses to wed­ding dresses, Wheeler is grate­ful for all the do­na­tions she has been re­ceiv­ing.

When in Uganda Wheeler of­ten trav­els by mo­tor­cy­cle to get to where she needs to go.

“They see this big white lady on the mo­tor­cy­cle and they are waving and laugh­ing,” she said of her ac­cep­tance into the com­mu­ni­ties.

Wheeler’s suit­cases al­ways in­clude candy – a wel­come treat for the chil­dren, she said.

“They come up to you and they take one candy. They get down on their knees and say ‘thank-you, Momma D.’ They are so ex­cited about any­thing you give them.”

Any­one wish­ing to do­nate to Wheeler’s cause can con­tact her via e- mail at don­nawheeler1955@hot­


They wanted to bless “momma” with a Fanta drink.

Left: This lit­tle girl got a bed for the very first time.

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