The money sent to the school in Uganda has helped bring 350 students to the school. (Submitted/Lakes District News)

The money sent to the school in Uganda has helped bring 350 students to the school. (Submitted/Lakes District News)

Burns Lake local raises $5,800 through garage sale

The money to go to the Mackereth family and a children’s centre in Uganda

A local Burns Lake family had a garage sale this month as a fundraiser for a school in Uganda and the Mackereth family.

Wanda Payne Giesbrecht organized a garage sale at the beginning of May like she has been doing for the past six years to raise money for a school in Uganda. This year however, she received an incredible response and raised $5,800 through the garage sale.

“This year, I was pretty hopeful that we would make enough to not just give to the school but also to give to the local Mackereth family. We decided that half the garage money would go to the Mackereth family. So 2,900 for Uganda and 2,900 to Burns Lake,” she said.

A Go Fund Me fundraiser was started earlier this year by Jennifer Varga for the Mackereth family, a local family in Burns Lake. The funds would go to the family’s two children Lena and Tyson. Crystal and Dave Mackereth’s daughter Lena was born with cerebral palsy and has had to go through several surgeries while the seven-year-old Tyson has been recently undergoing testing for seizures.

But why St. Stephen’s Children’s Centre in Uganda?

Giesbrecht started fundraising for the St. Stephen’s Children’s Centre in Uganda, in 2013 and started hosting garage sales five years ago.

“This is my sixth year doing the garage sale and it just keeps getting bigger every year,” she said, adding that this year was incredible with volunteers and a whole bunch of donations for the garage sale from locals.

Giesbrecht met a woman, Julie, while working at CNC, who had visited Uganda with her friend 20 years ago. She shared her story of how she had gone to Uganda to do some volunteer work and realized it was a scam, that the farm they were volunteering on, the people in charge were abusing the workers and the money was just going into their own pockets, so, after three days, Julie and her friend, each took $1,000 and gave $50 to 20 workers each and that, $50 freed that worker from the farm – it was like a year’s wage.

One of the men whom Julie gave the money to, named Ben, took this money and finished his high school. Julie sent him another $50 and he got his University degree, and then he went back to his community to give back. He started building this school with a little bit of money from Julie and his own hard work.

“When I got to know Julie, she was just starting a little bit of fundraising, and I started doing a little bit of fundraising in Burns Lake and our first goal was to build cement floors in the small school that Ben had built,” she said, adding that cement floors was a huge deal because the kids couldn’t learn otherwise with the fleas in the dirt floor.

“Since we started fundraising, they haven’t just put in the floors but have also built the school, and there is now 350 kids in the school there. So our garage sale not only goes towards the build of the school, but every year it helps to pay the teacher’s salaries. We also have a family that we sponsor there, single mom. By sponsoring her, she was able to bring her two children out of an orphanage, and start living in the village, and the children went to the school.”

The fundraising efforts also encourage financial independence, like the knitting machine bought from one of the garage sales for the sponsor family there, that helped the mom support her own family or the eucalyptus farms from the money raised, where the men can work, be independent and eventually sustain the school on their own.

This year, on top of the garage sale, some people in Burns Lake gave her cash and so she now has another $1,200 to send to Uganda.

“People here are overly generous. It will make such huge differences in Uganda,” she said.

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Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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