Beyond Sponsorship

MCM has always focused on trying to meet the educational needs of those children who need it most, especially orphans, children abandoned by one or both parents, and children of parents who are impoverished or ill. Yet there have always been more children in our villages in these situations who need assistance in order to attend school, even the least expensive local primary school, than we have sponsors. 

In response to this need, MCM embarked on a new venture designed to bring in enough income to cover local primary school fees for many of these children. It has been our goal for these eleven years to move MCM-Uganda towards self-sustainability. We tried farming and animal husbandry with chickens, pigs and cows. Although the farming was successful and all these programs provided much needed jobs for our community, the animal husbandry programs were losing our profits. 

Then the experience of the brother of one of our children gave us the idea: “boda” (motorbike) taxi rental to drivers as a source of income. 

How the MCM Boda Taxi Program Works

Initially we purchased six “bodas” (now grown to fifteen, plus two cars as taxis). A “Boda-boda” is a motorbike taxi used extensively in East Africa for quick transportation. Their popularity grew in the capital of Uganda, Kampala, when poor road infrastructure resulted in traffic jams lasting hours. The term “boda boda” came from riders soliciting passengers calling out “Border to Border” 30 years ago which shortened to “boda boda” today. 

Bodas are used for any transportation need, from people to goats to furniture – which identifies only a small fraction of their uses. It was estimated that in Kampala in 2015 there were over 80,000 boda drivers. In our tiny farming village of Rutooma there are a few bodas helping to transport crops and farmers to market and other destinations. However in the small town of Kabale, 45 minutes away, one can find upwards of 5-10 bikes on high traffic corners. This is where MCM drivers work from. 

Our fifteen donated bikes plus two cars are rented by drivers who apply to our boda program manager. The drivers, young men carefully picked from the community based on merit and character, pay weekly rental to MCM for the boda. Whatever they earn above the rental fee is theirs to keep.  All the day to day repairs, servicing and fuel costs are taken care of by the drivers. MCM covers major repairs e.g. engine change and tire replacement.  A single new motorbike costs $1,500. Considering rental fee income and regular servicing costs they pay for themselves in 2 years. An average boda lasts 4-5 years and can be sold used for about $300. 

After a period of success with bodas, we added two car taxis to the program. The cars work as ambulances, bridal cars, tourist cars, airport taxis, school “buses” and many other roles depending on what our clientele want at a given time. These used cars cost about $7,000 dollars and earn four times more per month than a boda. They also cost less in servicing as they are more sturdy and last longer than 4 – 5 years. 

Thus far, the decision is paying off very well. It feels like a relief to be good stewards of God’s resources. With this project, we are able to provide employment to drivers and transportation to villagers, as well as start something new: giving a primary school education to more than 160 additional children who do not have sponsors and are struggling with poverty.

This program is particularly close to Michele’s heart because, although she is not near “retiring,” she has been praying about a succession plan for our MCM children. This is simply a necessary, responsible next step. We do not know what the future holds, as the song goes, but we know Who holds the future! We are trusting God to move MCM-Uganda towards the dignity of increasing independence as the West decreases support. This “going solo” is practically unheard of in Uganda. We believe, following God, together with you, we can! Because  really…God CAN do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine! 

God willing, MCM will increase our number of vehicles gradually with donors excited to see their gifts helping children into perpetuity! Simultaneously, the skills needed for running a small business — understanding profit, loss and ROI; fleet management and market saturation issues – will be learned by our Ugandan leaders. We have every confidence in our Uganda-MCM Director Ivan’s ability to both learn this small business and hire excellent help in the future as the business grows as Ivan continues to supervise the MCM children. How wonderful it is to follow God without fear, and what a blessed ride!!

Our prayer is to increase the number of these vehicles and also see a reduction on the dependence on our partners. Please consider a gift towards the MCM Boda Taxi Program to make this BHAG a reality! A motorbike costs $1,500 and a (used) taxi car costs $8,500. Every gift, no matter how small, will move us closer to this crazy, impossible possibility. Will you help us realize this dream?