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.

Missionary Carolyn Cummings in Kenya

Carolyn has been serving with Africa Inland Mission in Kenya for 30 years. She started out as a Bible school teacher, then became the Children’s Ministry Facilitator for the Mission. She is now an administrator in the office that covers Kenya and Tanzania, providing office administration, contingency planning, project administration, and unit leadership for the missionaries working in Eastern Kenya. On weekends, she has a Bible club for teenage boys from a Kibera, large slum area in Nairobi. (Pictured: Carolyn and the boys on a camping trip at Lake Naivasha in Kenya.)

News from Carolyn (received January 10, 2020):

Dear Friends,


I trust you all had a lovely holiday season and a good start to 2020, which is AIM’s 125th Anniversary year. We are planning a big celebration at our conference in November. I’m hoping some folks from Boston will come out and help with the childcare.


My year started out as it has for the last several years, with a trip to the local schoolbook retailer called Text Book Center. There are a LOT of textbooks at the Text Book Center and it felt like we were buying ALL of them as we loaded up the shopping cart. My trusty helpers had lists of required books for the different grades and subjects and as I perused some of the books, I thought how glad I was I am NOT in school! These Kenyan kids really study. No wonder they go to school from 6am to 6pm.

The smiley girl in the front is Lorraine, who helps with the library and teaches the girls. Behind her in the cap is Frank who is our motorcycle taxi guy. He loaded 3 large boxes of books onto his motorcycle and Lorraine squeezed on too. I just closed my eyes as they sped off into Nairobi kamikaze traffic. They did make it to the library. Caleb, the coach, is in the white tee shirt. He is the one who knocks himself out this time of year getting all our new high school students into good schools. Fortunately, some of our kids did really well on their exams so he was able to blackmail schools into taking “two for one”. If they wanted one of our high achievers, they had to take one of our soccer players that scored lower. At least they got two good soccer players for their team, even if only one is a scholar athlete!

Thanks to all who contributed to this year’s binge. I ended up spending $1,400 on books, a new record. I could never help these kids without you all.