Mercy Tech Mission, a non-profit group started by Summerland resident Rick Cogbill, has been granted charitable status by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
“It’s a really positive step forward,” says Cogbill, who first began taking teams to Africa in 2011.
The goal of Mercy Tech Mission (MTM) is to combat poverty in developing countries by teaching marketable skills to local people.
Being a registered charity means Mercy Tech can offer tax-deductible receipts to donors who support their work.
“Skills training is something we take for granted here in Canada,” explains Cogbill. “But in developing countries, such training is rare.”
In Mozambique, where Mercy Tech Mission is working, 80 per cent of the population lives in rural areas which are very poor.
“Lack of training means no jobs, and that perpetuates the cycle of poverty.”
A licensed automotive technician himself, Cogbill teaches mechanics during his trips, but his team members have included carpenters, wood turners, electricians, and welders.
“With MTM, we don’t go to fix a vehicle or build a building; we go to show someone else how to fix and build so that the work continues long after we’re gone.”
Mercy Tech’s motto is “Changing lives, one skill at a time” and their next trip is February 2014.
The six-week agenda will include training time as well as finishing off a maintenance shop they began building two years ago.
“In the beginning, we were fixing vehicles in the dirt; this time we’ll have an actual shop to work in.” MTM is also raising funds to supply basic hand tools for their students.
Local support for Mercy Tech Mission is growing. On Sept. 25, Mercy Tech will take part in a Contractor’s BBQ hosted by Summerland Timber Mart between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Timber Mart owner Ken Sewell has offered to donate a percentage of the day’s tool sales to help fund MTM’s February trip.
“I think it’s great what Mercy Tech is doing,” says Sewell. “We’re excited to give our contract customers an opportunity to give something back in their field of trade on a global scale.”
More information about Mercy Tech Mission is available at www.mercytechmission.com.