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Cover Family

William and Holly Pheni

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09/01/2009 - This month's cover family is William and Holly (Mizell) Pheni who currently live in Jinga, Uganda, but have strong ties to Casper. The couple has been married just over a year, having celebrated their first anniversary in June. This summer they traveled to Holly's hometown of Casper for William to meet his in-laws for the first time and to make THE announcement: "She's pregnant!"

Their first child is due in March 2010, but the couple is already well-versed in caring for young ones. Holly and William operate a children's ministry in Uganda called Our Own Home. After working with the African Children's Choir in 2005, Holly traveled to Uganda to help return the choir kids to their homes. She stayed in Africa working at the Amani Baby Cottage, a home for abandoned infants. Soon Holly felt burdened to open a home for orphaned children diagnosed with AIDS. With only $200 a month and faith that God had called her to this ministry, Holly opened Our Own Home in August, 2007, incurring no debt. The home now operates on an $8,000 a month budget and serves 42 orphans.

"We want to provide a home where they are loved," Holly said. The ministry's goal is to cater to the needs of these children – emotionally and physically.

William, who has been at the home "since day one," is now the director. He, Holly and the staff currently serve 21 boys and 21 girls ranging in age from seven months to 14 years. The Pheni's have two houses for the orphans, one for the boys and one for the girls. During the day there are three people working at the boys' house and three at the girls'. At night there are two workers in each house.

The next phase of ministry is a school for the children. Class sizes in Uganda are large, averaging about 100 students to one teacher. Additionally, children with AIDS are stigmatized. The other children do not want to play with them, and many people think that the sick children do not need an education. However, with good care and the newer medications, the children could live well into their 30s or higher.

"So they need an education," Holly said. They are hoping to have the school running within two years. "God provides," Holly continued. "He started it and continues it. This is His project for His kids. We work hard, but we couldn't do it without God."

Holly and William are now back in Uganda after a five-week trip to the states. They enjoyed down-time with friends, resting and visiting Yellowstone National Park. At home, the Pheni's enjoy playing soccer with friends and the kids at the home. They also enjoy going for walks, swimming, and spending time together in God's Word.

Handcrafted jewelry made in Uganda by widows with children is available for purchase at Cadillac Cowgirl in the Sunrise Shopping Center. 100% of the proceeds go to help support Our Own Home.

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