Virgin Arm native working with Gates of Hope
Planning fifth trip to Uganda in aid of orphans
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
They wanted to bless “momma” with a Fanta drink.
Left: This little girl got a bed for the very first time.