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Finding hope in desperate situations

Former sponsored-child Richmond Wandera will speaking about his experiences in Tauranga this month. Supplied photo.

A Ugandan former-sponsored child, who lost all hope then recovered it when a 15-year-old student sponsored him, is visiting Tauranga on a speaking tour.

Richmond Wandera, in partnership with aid and development organisation Tearfund, will be sharing his inspirational story of how he broke free from extreme poverty and became an internationally sought-after speaker.

Richmond was raised in the Ngaruru slum in Uganda, which meant his family often went without food.

At the age of eight, when his father was brutally murdered, he says he lost all hope of a life worth living.

He was left to care for his mother and six siblings and he spent several hours each day searching for food.

He consistently struggled with malaria, battling the disease over a dozen times.

Life changed for Richmond when Heather, a 15-year-old student from the United States, sponsored him through Tearfund’s sponsorship partner Compassion International.

Richmond reflects on how he felt that day.

“I cannot describe the joy that filled our home when we heard the news: ‘Richmond you have got a sponsor, it means you can now go back to school, it means food will be given to us because of you.’ I saw an opportunity to rekindle the hope that was taken away.”

Richmond excelled at school and was selected to enter a leadership development programme. Since then, he has earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a master’s degree in theology and is completing his PhD in the Philosophy of Leadership.

He also founded the Pastor’s Discipleship Network programme which provides free training and mentorship for pastors in Uganda.

Tearfund CEO Ian McInnes says Richmond’s story is a remarkable and inspiring one.

“Richmond shares a powerful message of hope in desperate situations that is relevant to our own lives. We’re privileged to have him share his remarkable story with us.”

Richmond will be supported by local New Zealand singer songwriter, Omega Levine. Former frontman of award-winning outfit Parachute Band, Levine has embarked on a solo journey that blends his childhood influences of Johnny Cash and Motown gospel with his unique storytelling talent.

Richmond will be speaking at Bethlehem Community Church at 7pm on Friday February 23, Otumoetai Baptist Church at 10am on Sunday February 25 and St Paul’s Presbyterian at 7pm on Sunday February 25.  Entry is free.

Further tour details can be found at www.tearfund.org.nz or by calling 0800 800 777.

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