I grew up in the vineyard church, and spent years co-leading Vineyard youth groups. My kids are growing up miles down a dirt road on the banks of the River Nile in Uganda.

I’m passionate about two things: First, is youth growing up well. Second, is serving people that have slipped through the cracks.

I am a director of an organization called Sole Hope. Here in Uganda we are a team of 65 Ugandans and three Americans who are all about serving the people closest to Jesus’ heart in a practical and life changing way. We are a group of people who love Jesus and choose to live that out by serving those who suffer from one of the most overlooked tropical diseases in the world. It’s a parasite called jiggers that come with serious health implications and impaired mobility. Jiggers also have a heavy social stigma that separates people from their community. Our heart is to see people restored and living healthy lives in every way.

We are addressing this problem through making and distributing shoes, medical intervention, education, and ongoing social work with impacted communities and individuals. We wash feet, remove parasites, and teach people how to live jigger free forever. And it’s working! Our data is showing that more than 90% of the patients we treat in our inpatient facility go on to live jigger free. We are seeing people literally getting back on their feet, back to work, back to school, and back into their communities.

Here’s where it’s awesome though: while part of this work is done in Uganda, a big part of it is done in America, and your youth can be a part of it.

The shoes we distribute in Uganda are made out of old jeans cut up in America. It’s so important for youth to learn that they can take action and make their world a better place. We can teach them that what they do matters, and that they can have a direct impact on others, and can choose how to use that. Our model is built around people actively participating in our work. Wherever you are in the world, you can use your hands and your time to make a difference for real people in Uganda.

I firmly believe that people are built for relationships and built to be participants in life. We want your youth group to physically be a part of helping disadvantaged Ugandans get back on their feet.

Sole Hope is looking for partners. (To be frank, we are looking for financial partnerships, because it takes money to carry out our mission, but that’s not what this article is about). We honestly want and need more than that. We want your youth to be able to invest their time and talents in a practical way. Whether that’s having a shoe cutting party, collecting items for a care kit, running a 5k, hosting an event, or coming to visit us in Uganda, we want people to participate with us in this mission.

We are looking for partners who believe in us as people. We need partners committed to carrying out a shared mission of empowering the most vulnerable and overlooked people in our communities.

What’s in it for your youth group:

A place to make an impact. People often have a desire to help others around the world. We can provide your group a way to do that practically and to see their contributions changing lives.

Monthly exclusive content. All of our strategic partners get monthly updates and content that’s not a part of our social media presence.

Access to live updates and speaking engagements. Sole Hope has a thriving community of advocates around the US who would love to speak to your group and keep you informed about the work in Uganda.

A place to visit. Whether it’s a youth team or a one off visitor, we run a guest house specifically for our partners to come out and participate in what we do. We also have an internship program for people who are interested in serving for longer.

Check out this link for information on how to become a strategic partner with Sole Hope.


Ian Palkovitz
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