Assisting immigrants at the Mexico/U.S. Border

UPC members David Ruston and Greg Patinka spent several weeks this past winter/spring working with the Tucson Samaritan program at the Mexico/U.S. border, a program that searches for travelers in the desert in an effort to save lives. On April 8, we heard about some of their experiences. We were joined by one of their co-workers, Dora Rodriguez.


It was July of 1980 when she and 25 other young men and women fleeing the civil war in El Salvador crossed the Mexico/U.S. border into Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument hoping to find peace and prosperity in El Norte. Unprepared for the arduous journey during the hottest time of the year and long out of supplies, 13 of the 26 perished. 


Dora, one of the 13 survivors, told about her experience and what she is doing now to help travelers. She also talked about a resource center in Sasabee, Mexico, to aid travelers. She and Gail Kocourek of the Tucson Samaritans started the resource center after the U.S. began deporting busloads of travelers into a community with very limited services.


Click below to see the recorded Zoom conversation.


Mission Support to the Makadara district of Nairobi, Kenya

Two members of our worshiping community, Betty Wambui and Julie Njoroge, grew up in Nairobi and have helped us develop a relationship with the community in the Makadara district of Nairobi. Residents of this district are a mix of low- and middle-income. Despite varying degrees of poverty, the people of Makadara are rich in aspirations. Our mission focuses on children and youth through financial support of education and social stability.

Pictured: (Left) Children of the Bahati Day Care and Nursery School express their excitement with the new school supplies.

(Center) Betty and Julie with children and staff of the day care/nursery school.

(Right) Some of the boys and staff from the Makadara youth center.

In collaboration with the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, we support the Bahati Day Care and Nursery School through local purchases of books and school supplies. In doing so, we support local businesses, authors, and educators. This also gives agency to the teachers who guide our choices, and ensures that the books are in accordance with the Education Ministry’s directions for this stage of education.


Another challenge that the Makadara community grapples with is an abundance of “unanchored youth” who are homeless and live without the care of parents or guardians. Working with a government-funded youth center in Makadara, we purchased shoes for many of the boys in this program.


Whuti-Srogboe Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Ghana

We are blessed to have a mission relationship with Whuti-Srogboe Evangelical Presbyterian Church (in the South Volta region of Ghana) through our member and their son, Dr. Elikem Nyamuame. Elikem’s father, Frederick Kwadzo Nyamuame, was the pastor there for many years, retiring after the church’s 100th anniversary celebration in October 2016.


The church runs the only elementary school in the region. We collected a special offering, raising $2,675 that made it possible for Whuti-Srogboe to purchase desks, chairs, and school supplies for their students. We were able to buy books for an entire class of students for their whole elementary education. The desks we bought mean that none of the children will have to sit on the floors anymore.


Our gifts made it possible for the school and the church to use money that would otherwise have been spent on supplies to paint the school building and put in flooring on the ground level.


Members of our congregation also donated musical instruments such as trumpets and clarinets to help the youth enhance their musical skills and provide pleasing and spirit-filled worship during church services.