Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Patricks Children

Gets a major boost through its new briquette project that provides aid to Ugandan orphans
by: SUBMITTED PHOTO Patrick Cowles discovers a baby boom at one Ugandan orphanage. He plans to visit 75 orphanages on his next trip to Africa for Patrick’s Children.

Patrick Cowles loves children.

That is a simple reason, but is a powerful one that propels his nonprofit Patrick's Children without Sponsors, because Cowles really puts his love into action with orphans in Uganda.

'It started in 2001 when I went on a trip to Russia with the Greater Portland Bible Church,' Cowles, a Lake Oswego resident, explained. 'I fell in love with the kids.'

It was on a trip to Uganda with the Luis Palau Association in 2002, though, where Cowles discovered his true calling to help children, and he has proceeded to transform the lives of many orphans.

Cowles' first journey to Uganda was quite an adventure.

'I didn't know what to expect,' Cowles said. 'Sometimes I would get lost because street signs were missing. But one day I visited 13 orphanages.'

Now, Cowles knows his way around Uganda much better, and he sees plenty of happy, cheerful faces on his visits to orphanages.

'We have probably helped over 50 different orphanages throughout the visits to Uganda with the purchase of much-needed supplies for the children,' Cowles said. 'By listening to the caretakers and attaining lists of items, such as school uniforms and shoes, mosquito nets, mutli-vitamins, grain, toilet paper, pens, bed sheets, etc.

'Then we visit the local markets, purchase and return back to the orphanage.'

Cowles has an extensive background as a businessman, currently as an event manager for a remodeling company, and he is on the verge of establishing a successful fundraising source with his Cooking Fuel Project. The product of this is a briquette made of shredded paper, dried leaves, sawdust, water and other natural resources.

The end product looks almost good enough to eat - sort of like a big oat donut. However, the briquette can be used instead of charcoal as a cooking fuel, and Cowles and his associates intend to produce many, many of them.

Cowles thinks he has hit paydirt this time.

'We tried chicken farms, but it cost more to raise the chickens than we could sell them for,' he said. 'It became a loss, not a profit. Our rabbit farm was no good. There's no market for rabbits.

'The briquette press project is going to be very worthwhile for the 75 orphanages that I plan to visit. The orphanages will no longer have to purchase firewood/charcoal, and they can add extra income to their household.

'I'm really excited about the project because it is easy to manage and cash flow can be attained within seven days.'

Cowles is getting help on this project from his brother and sister Rotarians in the Kruse Way Rotary Club, which will sell the briquettes at their booth at the Lake Oswego Riverfest on Aug. 27 at Foothills Park.

As a caring human being, Cowles loves little kids. As a businessman, he loves the efficiency of Patrick's Children.

'We don't send a dollar to another organization,' Cowles said. 'I know exactly where every dollar is going. I asked a Ugandan boy named James how much the children at his orphanage received out of every $50 sent to the organization supporting them. He said $15.

'There's something wrong there. It's understandable, but the difference between money donated and money received by the children should not be that drastic.'

When it comes to Ugandan children, Cowles thinks all they need is love.

'When you see our website of my trip, you definitely fall in love with the kids,' Cowles said. 'You ask yourself, 'How can I help these kids out?''

For more about Patrick's Children without Sponsors, go to the website www.patrickschildren.org.