Spartansburg resident, Ugandan native, works to make kids lives better

Spartansburg resident, Ugandan native, works to make kids’ lives better

June 1, 2019

By: Sara Jukes

Willy Ouma, born and raised in Uganda, made his home in Spartansburg in 2016, but has kept Uganda in his heart, through his efforts and actions, to improve the lives of orphans in Uganda.

Ouma is the founder and CEO of Give Hope Ministries, an educational nonprofit in Busia, Uganda. He started Give Hope Ministries in 2012, and was able to build an orphanage, which can house 150 children, as well as a school that currently serves 316 children.


Proverbs Junior Academy is the name of the orphanage and private school.


While orphanages do exist in Uganda, the facilities rely on donations to run, primarily from western organizations, Ouma said.


Ouma's goal is more than giving a home to children who need a home and care, it is to make the orphanage self-sustaining.

Students from Proverbs Junior Academy are pictured boarding a bus that was purchased in May 2018 with the help of fundraising efforts.

The academy is open to all students with paid tuition. Tuitions collected pay for food, lodging and tuition for orphans who live on campus in small group homes.


The team at the academy works with the community to ensure that tuition costs are affordable for Ugandan families.


Ouma said his motivation started at a very young age from his own tragedy.


“I lost both of my parents when I was a little boy and God impressed on my heart the children who were going through similar experiences,” Ouma said.


Ouma is a former Compassion child who qualified for the leadership development program, which supported him through college.


Compassion International is a nonprofit that helps pair sponsors with children in need all around the world. More information can be found at


“I got challenged and overwhelmed by the love of the families that sponsored me, one from Michigan and the other that sponsored my college education from Oregon,” Ouma said. “And I knew to break through the poverty cycle back home in Uganda, you needed education and I was inspired to give back to my community in whatever ways God would enable me to change the lives of the needy children, like I was, given an opportunity.”


Ouma earned a bachelor's degree in social work and social administration from Uganda Christian university in Mukono, Uganda and then moved to Chicago in 2010 to go to school at Moody Bible Institute to pursue further education. He moved back to Uganda and started Proverbs Junior Academy, orphanage and school, in May 2012.


Ouma spent the next four years traveling back and forth between the states and Uganda to work on fundraising and the construction of the school.


“There are a lot of orphanages in Uganda, especially the central part of the country,” Ouma said. “Busia is a small town in eastern Uganda that lacks widespread access to quality education and is home to one of the country’s most serious orphan crises as a result of the AIDS epidemic.”


Students of Proverbs Junior Academy gather in front of construction taking place to build a second story on a school building.

In 2013, his fundraising efforts brought him to Wyoming, where he met his wife, Autumn Baker. She is a Spartansburg native who was in Wyoming at the time as a paid volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters.


The two were married in Wyoming and then proceeded to Uganda to be married in front of family on Sept. 14, 2013.


Ouma continued to travel back and forth raising funds and working on constructing housing and classrooms, until 2016, when the family, which then included a nearly two-year-old daughter Zoe, moved permanently to Spartansburg to be closer to Autumn's family.


To date, Ouma's fundraising efforts have helped build many buildings and facilities for the children of the orphanage and school, including an orphan home building, two two-story school buildings including one library, two one-story school buildings and a kitchen was constructed with a storage area.


To protect the children at the compound, a wall was built in December 2015, including an entrance gate. The wall and fencing help provide added protection from road traffic.


In February 2016, a chicken coop was built and 1,000 chickens were bought to help feed the children and give the compound another source of income through sales of chickens and eggs. Students learn to care for the chickens and gather eggs.


A deep freshwater well was drilled in April 2016 to provide a source of clean water. To get water previously, 5 kilometers had to be walked before a clean water source could be reached. The well also made possible construction of a restroom facility with flushing toilets and a septic system to replace an old military style latrine.


One of the most recent purchases was a school bus. Some children previously had to walk 4 kilometers to school. As of May 2018, kids could be picked up by the bus and then brought back home.

Pete Melnik, of Cincinnati, is the finance and marketing director for GHM. Melnik visited the school the summer of 2018 and stayed for two and a half weeks to help school administrators transfer the schools' record keeping from paper to electronic.


When Melnik first learned about the school and talked with Ouma, he said he was really struck by the way the school runs. He was impressed that the school is able to charge tuition and make a profit from it enough to use the money, from those who are able to pay tuition, to provide tuition for orphans and economically disadvantaged children from the community.


Melnik revealed while he visited he had, what he described as a “cool cross-cultural experience” with the differences of educational practices between Uganda and the United States.


Melnik said that during his visit, he was impressed by the compound and facilities.


“Willy and the other board members, and Willy's brother, have put together a really nice facility and a great place for the kids to learn,” Melnik said.


Melnik described how friendly the children were when he first arrived, saying that a little crowd of kids surrounded him and he was able to take time to play soccer with them.


“One of the things that makes the school unique is, first of all, it is founded and run by a Ugandan native, Willy, and also, just the financial model that we were able to use — essentially a self-sustaining model,” Melnik said.


There are still building projects that the school wants to complete to allow for more children to attend, so while the school can run with the funding program it has developed, fundraising is still needed for construction of future projects.


The facility has a 300-child capacity, which has been reached this year. Give Hope Ministries wants to be able to help as many children as possible, and has plans to construct a new orphan home building. It is projected to cost $9,000 to complete.


Other projects and funding needed are $2,400 for internet connectivity and a computer lab, $5,000 for new desks, tables and chairs, $225,000 for construction of a multi-use building and $2,500 to purchase 500 Bibles for outreach.


There are also discussions for purchasing land for a vocational education center and a skills training center, plus materials and equipment for both.


Ouma explained that adoption of children is not high in Uganda because of restrictions placed by the Ugandan government and its legal system.


“Every child would be best raised from a home and not an orphanage but sometimes it's just what it is,” Ouma said.


Proverbs is not just an orphanage, however, it is a high quality school, Ouma said.


“Our students at our school have been performing really good at the national examination,” Ouma said.

After students receive seven years of primary schooling, they are assessed at a national level with an exam, Ouma explained.


“Last year, we had 33 percent of our children, who sat for the national exam, pass in grade A and the rest of the class in grade B,” Ouma said.


While still fundraising for the school and orphanage year-round, Ouma maintains a job in Corry, working at FXI, located at 466 S. Shady Ave., as a machine operator. He also travels once a year to stay for several weeks in Uganda interacting with the teachers and children and helping to build more classrooms and housing.


Ouma is planning on going back to Uganda this July, he said.


The Oumas now have three children, Zoe, 4; Zach, 2; and 6-month-old Audrey.


To find out more information about Give Hope Ministries, or to donate, go to

Sara Jukes

Editorial Staff, The Corry Journal

28 W. South St.

Corry, Pa. 16407

(814) 665-8291 ext. 18

Fishing in the Right Place

Fishing in the Right Place


In the years of my youth, I was shown the magic of catching a fish. There was such complexity in how it was done, though it seemed to be made up of a simple sequence of events.

What pole to use, what bait, the type of line, what kind of hook, if you needed a float, or a sinker? You had to consider the time of day or night. Oh and of course, the location, from the shore, a pier, in a boat, standing in the weeds. You needed to learn patience and be flexible.

For the true angler, there is no bad day fishing. Sure, you could lose your bait, never get a bite, get a sunburn, run out of snacks, your boat might sink or the weather get bad to the point you want to just close up and go home.

In the gospels when Jesus begins to collect those that would be taught the truth of GOD, It is interesting that Jesus chose Peter, a fisherman. In fact Jesus chose mostly fishermen of those that walked with him in the 3 years of his ministry.

Jesus picked a common skill that provided for the needs of those that did the work and also provided for those that needed the goods of the fisherman’s labor. Fishing was understood by most people.

Jesus also knew where to fish, he knew how to fish in the right places. Of course when he asked Peter to put out in the boat and cast a net, Peter was not anxious to do so. He stated they had fished all night and have caught nothing. However, when Jesus asked, Peter and some of the “angler” disciples were called to go out and cast the nets. The nets were filled to overflowing in a moment. There is plenty and Jesus mentions this in another statement when he stated the Harvest is great the laborers are few. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send Laborers.

Peter, then knowing that Jesus was a special teacher and fearing that Peter’s own sins were not going to be something that Jesus would be able to accept as a man to go with him, he told Jesus his concern and Jesus, in His loving way, told Peter, “follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.”

When Saul of Tarsus, later to be known as Paul the Apostle, met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he did not know that Jesus would continue selecting those that would fish for men. In the book of ACTS, chapter 16, versus 6-10  “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in [a]Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. The Holy Spirit told them not to go, because Jesus knew that it would not be a right place for Fishing at that time and Macedonia would be a better place to share the Gospel message at that time. There were plenty of fish, hungry for the Salvation bait.

Today, thanks to Jesus Christ death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of GOD, all of the world is the right place to go fishing today. In the command of Jesus Christ; Matthew 28: 18-20;  18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go [a]therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Today, you don’t need any special bait and tackle, but your personal testimony plus the Gospel message in your heart. When you are a true believer in faith, you can spread the Gospel message. It becomes the bait that once taken in the heart, the Holy Spirit will reel in the catch of the day, saving a sinner from the eternal fire of torment and all heaven will rejoice.

It is not a believer’s responsibility to bring a person to accept Jesus Christ, but to inform them, give them the truth so they will consider accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit will do what is needed to bring them through to Salvation. For we are saved by Grace and not by works so that no one can boast.

We at Give Hope Ministries share the Gospel message with all the children, caregivers, teachers and the community through the Busia Community Church. It is shared in the word of GOD, the testimony of other believers, the factual truth that GOD is changing lives and giving a hope that a few years ago seemed only a fading dream of a path out of Poverty and no Hope for a future.

We share with others on this website, on the Facebook posts, and wherever we can the Glory of our GOD in what he is doing daily as we keep the command that Jesus Christ give in Matthew 28.

You don’t have to be so bold to go out into the world and spread the Gospel message if that is not your calling by GOD, but you can help those that do. Here at Give Hope Ministries we are called to make sure that what GOD has put in us is set forth and we are on the move to move the word of GOD in every area we are responsible to, responding in Busia at Give Hope Ministries facility.

We desire to know if you and others you know will be part of this Jesus Christ lead fishing trip, it is not a half day excursion, but a lifetime event of Love to share and to show what GOD is doing and has done for you. We always need others to help; GOD can multiply even the smallest help. If we had faith the size of a mustard seed we could say to this mountain move and it would do as commanded. It is not the size of our faith that moves it, but the fact the we have faith in what GOD can do that takes the small faith in us and in GOD all things become possible.

Contact us if you are interested in seeing how GOD can use us in helping to provide for the 300 Orphans and children now at the Busia Uganda Facility. We very much need project funding so that we can add more value to the lives of the children and the community of Busia Uganda and spread that Love and work of GOD‘s grace outward for the place that GOD started a good work in the CEO/Founder Willy Ouma. Jesus is calling you his anglers. There is plenty of fish, will you help us Fish in the right places that Jesus Christ has given our ministry to cast His Love and grow others in Chris Jesus.

As we are blessed, let Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, bless you also. We hope that the Holy Spirit will stir your heart today and help us, do what we and you have been called to do, Love one another.

Ray E. Smith

Give Hope

Praise GOD !

Athena H. is our Guest Blogger this post. We give thanks here at Give Hope for her Blog submission.

Praise GOD !
My name is Athena Huss, but in Uganda I am known as Jjaja Mulungi. I have enjoyed so much the Pearl of Africa known as Uganda many many times being obedient to serving God there. I can testify first hand the POWER of PRAYER. Prayers being answered in Uganda. I’m excited to be returning in a few weeks to teach Swimming Lessons and Water Safety on Bugala Island Lake Victoria.
I am also a grateful believer in Jesus Christ and I believe the power of PRAYER should be taught and shared. PRAYER gives hope and comfort. I am a friend that loves to pray for GIVE HOPE MINISTRIES in Busia Uganda. Truthfully, it’s not easy to see the poverty and conditions most of the people we serve live in. I praise God for Give Hope Ministries and have placed a scripture in my heart that resonates with one of my view of God’s love for His children in their ministry:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Since I started following GIVE HOPE MINISTRIES in 2014, I have seen God answer their prayer requests one after the other with His Love, Grace, and Mercy. Being humble, yet asking in faith GHM asks for others to pray for them because of its power. This touches not only one child, but many. And many in their community. This is a life changing community where the children will grow to be life changers. The families are encouraged and their lives are changing for the best and near future. Hope is easy to give and receive when you pray with someone.
In less than 5 years I have seen answered prayer in the children having a safe school with two levels and many classrooms, a school bus for transportation, working indoor kitchen (yay), a Poultry Project, Bibles for the children, and CLEAN WATER for the children and community. God has answered those prayers and has done exceedingly more that has yet to be seen. It’s my great JOY to share how good God is to His children. Mukama Mulungi. Thank you for letting me share the love of Jesus with you and the power of prayer. I will close with the following passage taken from FB Give Hope Ministries Page November 21, 2014) The purpose of life is not only to be happy about what we have achieved. It's to be useful along the way and discovering that our legacy is not found in all that we dream and realize. It can be written in the memories of those whose lives we have touched, cared for and changed. Thank you all for your prayers, generous giving, love for these little ones we serve at GHM, Busia Uganda. For more info,