Birthing a Movement: Letter from the Founder

I was born in Minneapolis, MN with a loving family and every opportunity known to man.  My parents loved me, my community accepted me, and I excelled in every area of life.  I was also born with a radial clubbed hand, which causes my left arm to be slightly shorter than my right and me to be missing two fingers on my left hand.

I lived in South Africa from 2011-2013 and have had the privilege to work with two hundred of the sweetest children with disabilities you will ever meet at a special school in Cape Town.  When I first realized what life is like for children with disabilities in South Africa I was appalled.

In large parts of Africa, tribal religions are practiced in which disability is seen as a curse or as if the child is possessed. This causes an entire family to be ostracized from the community, and unfortunately happens globally, not just in Africa. As a result these children are often thrown away as infants and if their disability is discovered later in life, they are physically chained or restrained to the back of their homes.  These children are abused, neglected, malnourished, uneducated and unloved.  They have no one to stand up for their rights or provide for their needs. Acknowledging the fact that the only thing that separates my fate from the fate of these children is the fact that I was blessed to be born in a first world country is what has inspired me to start Uphold.

The last thing that under-developed countries need is another American group to build a facility with no community buy-in or governmental assistance and have it shut down in a matter of years.  I’ve seen firsthand the horrible situations that children with disabilities in under-developed countries face, and how once one of their needs is met, it doesn’t change much due to the mound of other needs that are required.  Short term projects and missions trips can help temporarily or to sustain existing projects, but a long-term, holistic approach is what will really put an end to the injustices these children face.

There are thousands of non-profit organizations in under-developed countries that work with children, but they are each going in their own direction and fighting all of their battles on their own.  By creating a synergy with organizations in the same geographical regions we can help them to work together to overcome various struggles and increase their effectiveness.  We make this possible through international awareness campaigns, facilitating Uphold  disability networks in specific geographic regions and funding the synergy of those networks to expand outreach to more children with disabilities.

Uphold seeks to help people help organizations to help children with disabilities.  We seek to fight for justice, with the backing force of the fight being rooted in love for these children that we have yet to even meet.

We uphold children with disabilities.  We uphold organizations.  We uphold justice.