Local News

Wake Forest Couple Starts Nonprofit to Help Ugandan Kids

Posted October 4, 2007 12:10 a.m. EDT
Updated October 4, 2007 9:28 a.m. EDT

— A 9-year-old African girl's horrific story led a Wake Forest doctor and his wife halfway around the world, and Dirk and Paige Hamp have started a crusade to help others in Uganda.

The couple's journey began after a friend e-mailed them about a 9-year-old Ugandan girl who was attacked during a land dispute.

"Sledge hammers and machetes were used to attack Jane and her family. Jane sustained serious wounds to her legs and her cranium. She was left for dead,” Paige Hamp said.

Jane's mother and sister were killed. Her father had died a year earlier from AIDS.

"There is no way that I could have closed that e-mail and gone to sleep that night and said, 'Well, that isn't my problem,'" Paige Hamp said.

Five months later, the Wake Forest couple was in Uganda. They saw that Jane's village had no electricity and no running water.

"They had a kind of an outhouse that was kind of a hole in the ground, and that's it," said Dirk Hamp, a pediatrician in Wake Forest.

While in Uganda, he said, he diagnosed several cases of AIDS and malaria while holding health clinics.

The Hamps adopted Jane and brought her home to Wake Forest.

Today, Jane has indoor plumbing and a lot more – four brothers and sisters – as well as a new mother and father committed to helping others in her native land.

"There are many, many stories like hers in Uganda and lots of kids that need help," Dirk Hamp said.

But the couple said they couldn't adopt Jane without adopting her country. So, they founded the non-profit group, Embrace Uganda, which has a mission to raise money and awareness in hopes of improving life in Uganda.

Jane's school was one of the first to get involved. Students at Trinity Academy of Raleigh plan to hold several fundraisers for the cause.

"Just $2,000 can build a house in Uganda," one student said.