Tom and Cheryl Martin always wanted to help the world. With that in mind, they created Helping Cope Through Hope (HCTH), a non-profit, non-partisan, voluntary Christian Outreach organization.
"We're just ordinary people who have a heart to help people," says Cheryl.
Having just returned from a four-month mission trip to Africa, Tom and Cheryl are completely full of that will to help, and plenty of stories.

During their trip, they used donations to build or repair 13 houses and two schools.

"My heart is with children," says Tom. "It really saddens me when kids can't go to school."
During the same mission, they helped 10 people begin a business, and they drilled a well. These are only a few examples.

"We get more done in a few months than big organizations get done in a year. They have their big, fancy 4x4 trucks and hotel rooms…we ride bikes, and give the bikes away when we leave," says Tom.

"We really get to know the people. When we spend so much time with them, they become our friends. The big organizations aren't like that," says Cheryl.
After teaching geography and World Issues at Napanee District Secondary School for 30 years, Tom decided to take an early retirement.
"I was teaching material on women, children, food, population and geopolitical issues … now I'm living what I was teaching. There are all these problems in the world, so I had to ask … what can I do to help?" said Tom.

With a goal to help the world in their own way, Cheryl went back to school to become a registered nurse at the age of 39. "I had my heart into nursing because I knew we would be helping people all over the world," says Cheryl. "In every country we travel to, there are people who are sick, who have fallen, who are hurt … I've been able to help not just children, but adults too."
Their program began in 2005. Since then, they have established a mode of operations that shape HCTH.
They pay their own way, ensuring each and every donated dollar goes towards helping people in Peru, Uganda and Zambia. They don't use donations to pay for their air fare, accommodation or food.
"We're not rich or anything, but we're blessed. We feel the more you give, the more you're going to get back," says Tom.
They also want to take people with them on each mission, exposing others to a part of the world in need of ministry projects.
"All you need is a desire to help people, and a love for kids … skills are not really all that important," says Tom.
Over the years, more than 45 people have joined Tom and Cheryl as they HCTH.
"As long as you have a love for people, you are going to find something you can do," said Cheryl.
The Martin's also include all denominations in their missions.
The testament to the work Tom and Cheryl are doing is the people they are helping. It shows in their smiles in photographs, and it shows in the schools being built for children to learn in. It shows in Tom's handwritten list of everything they accomplished after such a short amount of time in Africa.
Since they began their organization, a number of children born in Peru, Uganda and Zambia have inherited the name of Tom or Cheryl.
"There are a lot of us in the world," jokes Tom.

Napanee missionaries spread hope in Africa

By Katrina Geenevasen