HELPING COPE THROUGH HOPE
Tom and Cheryl Martinhave just returned from their last humanitarian mission to Africa.The couple founded their organization, "Helping Cope Through Hope" in 2005.Since then, they have continued to change the lives of countless people who live in extreme poverty.
Seated on the couch in his Napanee home, Tom Martin proudly shows off the blister he earned while doing humanitarian work in Africa.
He and his wife Cheryl, international ambassadors for an organization called Helping Cope Through Hope, have just returned from their latest mission.
HCTH is a non-profit, non-partisan, voluntary Christian Outreach Organization that began in 2005.
And it's not your typical big-name organization.
"People have told us we do more in two months than a big organization does in two years," said Tom. "And we know it's true because we work right with the people."
Each year, the couple travels to Peru, Uganda and Zambia to help the poor.
During the months the Martin's are home, they raise money to fund their projects.
"It is amazing what two people can do with the help of a lot of others, and their support," said Cheryl.
"Financially we couldn't do it alone, obviously. We pay our own way there, we pay our accommodation, we pay for our food, so that ensures that whatever people give us, 100 per cent goes towards helping the people."
While away on their missions, days begin early and end late, with every second of every day dedicated to the cause.
One of their proudest achievements is the accumulation of land that will help to feed several families, and perhaps even allow a few children to attend school.
"We ride our bikes up to where we bought the land," said Tom. "We weed, hoe, and help the people do the work."
Above all, Tom and Cheryl hope to empower people so they can become independent and self-sufficient.
"We find with families, we need to empower them so they can help themselves," said Cheryl. "So we're not going back every year to help them. We want them to be able to buy their own food, and pay their own school fees, but about the only way you can help them is to give them land so they can grow their own crops, or help them start up a business."
While Tom and Cheryl are proud of what they have accomplished, they remain humble, and wish that everyone who donates to the organization could see what the money does.
"We get the blessing of seeing the kids get the things they need, and seeing them improve, but we feel bad for the people that give the money," said Tom. "We get the blessing of seeing how much the people appreciate that."
One little girl needed surgery on her upper lip, and the Martin's saw to it that the surgery happened. They sound like proud parents when they talk about how much she smiles these days, and how much her self-confidence has improved.
Even something as simple as a can of soda can brighten the day of the children in Africa.
"They get all cleaned up, and put on their best clothes just to walk into town for a can of soda," said Cheryl. "They get so excited about it."
On June 18 and 19, a memorial concert featuring 1950s and 1960s music is being held in memory of former NDSS teacher Earl Rivers, who went to Africa with the Martins several times.
The money raised from the events in Tamworth and Napanee will send a young man named Kenneth to university to become a teacher.
"We stress that we couldn't do what we do without the help of people out there," said Tom. "We are just so blessed we are able to do this. We are so thankful."
For those who wish to make a donation to HCTH, visit the website at http://www.helpingcopethroughhope.org.
Gift certificates are also available.