Mercy Tech Mission, a Summerland-based non-profit group, has already made two trips to Africa in 2011, and is planning a third trip for 2012. Their goal is to break the cycle of poverty by teaching life-changing skills and trades, and according to mission founder Rick Cogbill, Mercy Tech is making a difference.
“Our first official trip as Mercy Tech was in March,” said Cogbill. “Bob Denesiuk (a local building contractor) went with me, and Bob’s goal was to teach a crew how to build roof trusses for a conference centre.”
During their month-long visit to the ASAM mission base in Mozambique, Denesiuk’s crew completed one third of the trusses required for the project. But within three weeks of their return, Cogbill received word that all the remaining trusses had been built and were now being installed.
“By giving them some basic instruction,” he says, “the men were able to finish the work and take the building to the next step.”
The conference centre is now in use, with the first round of intensive training classes for church workers being held during the first week of December.
“The men who worked on that project can now take those skills and apply them to other job opportunities that may arise. This means they can provide for the needs of their families, and the benefits of that affect the entire community.”
In late July, Mercy Tech Mission again returned to the ASAM farm.
Joining Cogbill this time were automotive instructor Todd Green from SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary and Ed Hyslip, a former mechanic and shop owner now living in Paris, France.
Together, these men held automotive classes where seven local students received their first level of official training in automotive mechanical repair.
Cogbill also worked with local construction crews on the foundations of a new maintenance shop that will be used not only to repair mission vehicles, but will become the centre for the automotive training program as well.
“We can’t wait,” he says. “Right now we’re fixing vehicles in the dirt!”
When Cogbill returns in 2012, he hopes to begin raising the walls of the shop, and also teach the next level of the automotive training program.
Cogbill’s vision for Mercy Tech Mission came as a result of his many trips to Africa (four and counting), where he has seen firsthand how something as simple as teaching a trade can break the cycle of poverty.
“I knew there were many skilled people here in Canada who had a desire to do something significant with their chosen trade. Mercy Tech provides a way to share those skills with people who are eager to learn, but who haven’t had the opportunities that we have here in North America.”
Mercy Tech is currently raising funds to complete the workshop in Mozambique, about a $50,000 project.
“That’s pretty reasonable for a fully-equipped six-bay shop,” says Cogbill, who is a former repair shop owner himself.
“It’s a great opportunity for Summerlanders to make a difference in a small African bush community, half-way around the world.”
An information night with photos and video will be held at the Summerland Baptist Church on Sunday evening, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.
All are welcome and refreshments will be served.
Tax deductible donations for Mercy Tech Mission can be made through Summerland Baptist Church, or online through Mercy Tech’s website: www.mercytechmission.com.
To find out more, contact Rick Cogbill directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.