Tearfund: Journey from extreme poverty to hope

From heartbreak, loss and extreme poverty to hope, peace and happiness all because one 15-year-old girl decided to sponsor a child.

A former-sponsored child from Uganda lost all hope of a life worth living after his father was brutally murdered, plunging his family into extreme poverty, but a teenage changed his life.

In a series of free events, Richmond Wandera is sharing his inspirational story in Auckland – including Beachlands and Manukau – on behalf of Tearfund from February 15 to 20, to tell audiences how child sponsorship helped him break free from extreme poverty and become an internationally sought-after speaker.

Life started out well for Richmond.

He had five siblings and a mother and father who loved him dearly. They were blessed. His father was a hard-working lawyer—the breadwinner for the family. Richmond could go to school and had everything he needed. But this all changed in an instant.

When Richmond was eight, his life and everything he had known was ripped from him. Richmond returned home from school one day and found out that his father had been murdered in the presence of his mother.

After his father’s death, the family was evicted as they could no longer afford to live there. They ended up in a slum community called Naguru.

Richmond Wandera is sharing his inspirational story in Beachlands and Manukau on behalf of Tearfund from February 15 to 20. Photo supplied

“I had never seen such a dark, broken and hopeless community before,” he said.

His mother’s health suffered and Richmond said he vividly remembers the day his mother announced there was no money left, even to afford the cheapest of meals.

“We knew our time had come to grow up and scrounge for food on the streets for survival.”

One day Compassion, Tearfund’s partner, came into Richmond’s home and told him he had a sponsor. Not only did that change his life but his family’s as well.

From that day on, the chains of his physical, emotional and spiritual poverty were broken by a 15-year-old girl called Heather.

“I am forever grateful for Heather—my sponsor who lived simply so I could simply live.”

Richmond carried on to study and graduated with honours in accounting. He went on to do his masters degree in spiritual formation and discipleship, which placed him among the top 10 per cent of pastors in Uganda with an education. He then founded the Pastors Discipleship Network.

“My mission was to bring training to untrained pastors in order to deepen the church and advance the gospel in healthy churches. By the grace of God, now 10 years later, we have brought training and hope to over 6000 pastors across four countries in East Africa.

“I look back to where this first started and I see a 15-year-old girl,” Richmond said.

Tearfund CEO Ian McInnes says Richmond’s story is a remarkable and inspiring one.

“Richmond shares a powerful message of hope in desperate situations that is relevant in our own lives. We’re so privileged to have him share his incredible story with us.”


Richmond’s closest talks:

Tuesday, February 18 at Manukau City Baptist at 7pm.

Wednesday, February 19 at Beachlands Baptist at 7pm.