John Topham

John Topham

Summerland charity completes trip to Africa

Members of the Mercy Tech Mission have returned from southern Africa, and are seeing lasting results from their efforts.

  • Aug. 21, 2012 1:00 p.m.

Mercy Tech Mission has returned from southern Africa, and according to founder and director Rick Cogbill, they are seeing lasting results from their efforts.

“Our goal is to fight poverty worldwide by passing on our skills to others, so that they can get good jobs, and thereby provide for their families. This was my fourth trip to Mozambique, and the progress is phenomenal. Our maintenance shop project is well underway, and the students from our training programs are already using their new-found skills on a daily basis.”

Cogbill was in Mozambique for the months of April and May of this year, and was joined by local Summerlander and Rotarian John Topham for the month of May. “John organized a woodworking training project centered around a wood lathe. The products made on this machine will not only be useful in the homes and the primary schools of that area, but also could be sold to the public, providing another source of income to these wonderful, but impoverished people.”

Although the donated wood lathe was shipped months ahead of the Mercy Tech trip, it became bogged down in customs and import issues, and didn’t arrive at the mission base in time to be used.

“But it’s now delivered and set up, and John is already making plans to return to pick up where he left off with his woodworking students.”

Other Summerland residents who have travelled to Africa with Mercy Tech Mission include builder Bob Denesiuk, and Cogbill’s daughter Laura.

“These visits to rural Africa are life-changing,” Cogbill said. “Everyone who has gone has expressed interest in returning. They see how much the people appreciate it when someone comes to share what they know, with no strings attached.”

Already plans are under way for a fifth trip, possibly in March of 2013. “Bob and I want to finish the maintenance shop,” Cogbill said. “It will become the center for our automotive training in that area.”

Mercy Tech is also investigating other locations where their skills training programs can be utilized. “We will continue at our current site in Mozambique as long as we are useful there, but already other organizations are asking us to consider working with them.” Those requests, along with the number of new volunteers stepping forward to help others in need, show that Mercy Tech Mission is experiencing a time of growth.

The rural people in Mozambique are desperate for knowledge, often making great sacrifices to attend the training times.

“They’ll travel for hours just to be there when our classes start.”

Cogbill appreciates the interest and support he has received from Summerland and beyond.

“Sometimes we think it’s ‘other people’ who will change the world, but it’s not true; we can all make a difference. Whether through Mercy Tech, a service club, or a local church, the main thing is that we do something. Let’s face it, we don’t choose where we’re born; it could just as easily be us growing up in the African bush. The least we can do is give something back and change a life, or even a whole community.”

For more information on Mercy Tech Mission and their projects, please visit their website at www.mercytechmission.com.