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Riverton couple hosting fundraiser for Uganda mission trip

 Juliet kadzviti, Interlake Spectator

 farming couple from Riverton, who spent the better part of a year doing philanthropic work in South Sudan, an African country, are heading back to the continent to continue their charitable efforts.
To help support their mission, Brian and Ruth Dyck will be having a coffee house fundraiser called Linking Arms with Africa at the Riverton Community Hall from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m Dec. 8.
The pair first travelled to war-torn South Sudan between August 2015 and April 2016 during a brief period of calm, where they volunteered on a 450 acre farm, through the NGO Avant Ministries.
“It’s hard for me and it’s hard for many of us to know there are people out there dying of hunger, so we had an opportunity to get involved and so we did,” Brian said.
While there, the family was able to help farm and harvest sorghum and other grain using modern farming equipment shipped from Canada.
They returned home that April with the intention of going back to the country but where unable to due to a resurgence of violence in the area.
“The door just shut on us because of the conflict there,” Brian said.
He explained Sudan (now divided into South Sudan and Sudan) has been in the throws of war since colonial rule ended in 1956.
 South Sudan gained independence in 2011, but has had its own share of civil warfare.
Because of this conflict, thousands of South Sudanese citizens have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees, including to Uganda, where the couple will visit in January.
 “We are going to work where there is a cluster of large refugee camps,” Brian said.
To help farming efforts this time around, Brian will be testing out a new piece of farming equipment called a walking tractor. The equipment is inspired by farming techniques from a few developing countries.
“(A lot of countries) are using simple manufacturing to create machines on their own farmyards, so that’s where we got the idea.”
He said the idea stems from a desire to produce more food for the region in a sustainable and realistic way.
 “When we visited South Sudan they were using relatively small equipment and there was a lot of handwork involved in the harvesting, which meant less food,” he explained.
For Brian, travelling across the world to help the less fortunate has a deep religious meaning.
“It is the love of God that is expressed in the person of Jesus Christ. That’s what Christmas is all about… His sacrificial death was there to satisfy the need for justice in the world,” Brian said.
 “Embracing that is my ultimate motivation.”
He encouraged anyone wanting to learn more about the situation in South Sudan, while raising funds for those in need attend the fundraiser. Music, dessert and coffee will be provided. There will also be a silent auction.

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