An Abbotsford couple has helped to renovate this orphanage in Uganda.

An Abbotsford couple has helped to renovate this orphanage in Uganda.

Orphanage gets Abbotsford assistance

Local couple fundraised to renovate facility after working with African choir.

  • Dec. 29, 2012 1:00 p.m.

by Michael LETENDRE


Flying to Uganda to paint an orphanage might not seem like a typical way to spend a December, but that’s just what Gord Tonn has done.

He has spent the last three years going to Entebbe, Uganda to renovate a school for orphans, and last week he and his crew applied the final coat of paint.

Tonn and his wife, Debbie, got a passion for mission work when they were the leaders of the African Children’s Choir.

The choir is made up of orphans, aged seven to 11, and they tour the world to raise money to build and sustain orphanages across Africa.

When the Tonns were approached to direct the group, they saw a chance to fulfill a mutual goal.

“We felt this was something we wanted to do before we started a family,” Debbie said.

They toured with the group from 1994 to 1995, and then the Tonns fell out of touch with the children – until their former singers started to reach out to them through Facebook.

The Tonns soon found that many have become successful lawyers and business owners.

“You’re proud of them like their your own kids,” Debbie said.

The Tonns heard from them that the orphanage in Entebbe, built and run by the African Children’s Choir, was in need of stucco and paint, so the Tonns have been raising money through Gord’s business, The Wet Paint Company, and by putting up Christmas decorations in their neighbourhood in exchange for donations.

They pay for the supplies, and all the labour done at the orphanage.

Gord said he is trying to help give the children a future.

“We think it’s a small thing, but really to them, it’s the world.”

He said if poverty in Uganda is going to change, it will be through the children.

“You have to do it one child at a time. You can’t reach them all, but you have to start somewhere.”