Monday, January 11, 2010


A boy in Sudan carries his UMCOR school bag to to school each day, as he has no home to leave his belongings.

After our first year of working at the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot, the Mission Ministry Team at First United Methodist Church in Oak Ridge, Tenn., became interested in having our congregation assemble various disaster relief kits for shipment to Sager Brown. The first kit we selected was the ‘school kit’. We bought fabric, cut out bags, sewed bags and stuffed them with the necessary school supplies. We then transported these bags down to Sager Brown when a team drove down to Baldwin for our second year of kit verification, and we were actually able to verify our own kits. What a meaningful experience to see a kit from its gestation to being placed in a box, put on a pallet and the pallet placed on a shelf read for deployment to a disaster site.

But my story does not end with waving goodbye to our kits. A year later, my wife Maxine and I were fortunate to participate in a Holston Conference mission team that served the Methodist Compound in Yei, Sudan. This compound houses a school, church, feeding facilities and a few homes. The school serves over 1,000 youth. Besides providing them with an education the school feeds them the noon meal. While serving in Yei we saw many children running around with UMCOR school bags just like the ones we had built, transported, verified, and packed. This boy, in the accompanying photo, attracted my attention as he stood and watched us for several hours, as we filled prescriptions from our make-shift pharmacy. Like many of the children attending this school, he comes in from the ‘bush’ where he lives in a make-shift ‘home’ and he returns to the ‘bush’ when school is out for the day. As well as getting an education he receives one meal a day at the compound.

His UMCOR school bag is very near and dear to him as he keeps all of his worldly belongings in it. He carries it to school each day, as he has no home to leave them. The United Methodist School, his daily meal and an UMCOR school bag are his life. As I took the picture I thought about the importance of working within the structure of a connectional church and about how fortunate I was to observe the complete life cycle of an UMCOR school bag. The work of UMCOR is a blessing to both those who serve and those who are served.

By Bob Schultz, an UMCOR Sager Brown volunteer from Oak Ridge, Tennessee

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