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Jorja Hinks, 9, works to build school for Ugandan children

11/12/2014 10:40 EST | Updated 01/12/2015 05:59 EST
Jorja Hinks's mother calls her nine-year-old daughter the biggest "little" humanitarian she knows, and she certainly is living up to that reputation.

Jorga, who lives in the Goulds neighbourhood in St. John's, is once again working to help those in need, this time with the organization Bread from Heaven to help children in the Ugandan village of Mpigi. 

Since May, through a project called Jorja's Journeys –​ Empowering Orphans, Jorja, with the help of her mother Tracy Langden, has been raising money by selling crafts, organizing an online Christmas auction and showing off her skills as a DJ for local preteen dances. The goal is the building of a school, with the construction of four classrooms, as well as bathrooms for the orphanage.

The school will primarily be for children at the orphanage, with the goal of allowing other youngsters in the village attend as well. And Jorga hopes more additions to the school will follow, with money also raised for the community itself.

Last year, Jorja helped raise money for sick children spending Christmas in the hospital; this year, she is planning her third trip to Africa to help orphans in a Ugandan village.

Building a future

The Ugandan school project came about when Jorja and her mother sponsored a little girl from that country two years ago. The experience made such an impression on Jorja and her mom that the nine-year-old insisted they travel to Uganda to experience it in person. 

At first, Tracy was reluctant to take her daughter to an unfamiliar place in the heart of Africa, but eventually she agreed, and the two began their love affair with helping children in Uganda.

Jorja said she fell in love with the country in part because of the positive attitude of the residents, despite the poverty.

"Everyone is so happy and grateful with so little," she said.

"It makes me realize how lucky I am."

Jorja's mother was also surprised at what she encountered when she arrived in Uganda.

"It was an eyeopener for us," she said. "The environment was just so warm and friendly, from the moment we stepped on the ground we were looking forward to a return visit."

Despite their efforts, Jorja and Tracy said raising enough money is a challenge, but they've seen a lot of support from the community.

"We're hoping to raise a minimum of $20,000," said Tracy Langden.

"We're halfway there ... but no matter what we raise financially, we will definitely make a positive impact."

A history of helping others

Jorja's new project may be more ambitious than her efforts last year with the fundraiser Sleep Tight, which helped deliver new pyjamas to sick children spending Christmas in the hospital, but she isn't discouraged.

"We have a very large goal," said her mother about the Ugandan project. "But even if we come halfway, we will still initiate the school project and lay a foundation."

As well, Jorja said, her classmates in Newfoundland are curious about her time in Uganda.

"People ask a lot of questions," she said. "I tell them it was beautiful, it was amazing and I want to go again."

The mother and daughter team plans to return to Uganda in March to continue working on the project.

In the meantime, Jorja has set up Twitter and Facebook pages, so their efforts can be followed online. Anyone wishing to find those social media pages can search Jorja's Journeys on each site.

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