Brittany Merrill

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/21/art.tiffany.jpg

caption=”Brittany Marrill founded the Ugandan American Partnership Organization to help Ugandan families.”]
At first glance, it’s hard to see how a pretty college student from a good home in Georgia and a poor, young mother in a Ugandan village who took in 24 orphans could be connected. But, while Brittany Merrill was studying abroad in Uganda, Sarah Kamara and her children changed the course of Brittany’s life and career. “They taught me about what is meaningful in this world and gave me purpose,” Brittany said of the encounter. “They shook me out of my complacency.”

Seeing the young mother’s need for food and shelter for the children she took in from the village, Brittany started to raise money for a better home for Kamara when she came back to the States. She found a donor to buy them a house. But, she didn’t stop there. She started the non-profit Ugandan American Partnership to help other Ugandan communities.

Four years and about $800,000 in donations after her first encounter with Kamara, Brittany opened The Ranch on Jesus Orphanage in March of this year. It holds the orphans she sought out to help and more. At capacity, 180 orphans can live there. Brittany now splits her time between Uganda and Atlanta, running her organization full-time.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview

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28 Responses to Brittany Merrill

  1. Morgan Chase says:

    At the risk of sounding cynical, aren’t there enough malnourished, abused, and ill children in the U.S for Brittany to raise funds for?

  2. Ted says:

    She is hot AND a humanitarian…..can’t beat that combo. Marry me! Just joking……it is nice to see people do the right thing. As someone in her age group – it is hard to get out of the mindset of just thinking for and about oneself. Do I have enough to pay my bills, or go out, or will I keep my job, or get a promotion, etc? How selfless she is to see that there are people out there that need her help and to really be making a difference. I think I am being nice when I don’t complain about getting a coffee order wrong – but she is great.

  3. Enrique Ruiz says:

    An exemplary model for others to follow. Her smile and the child she is holding communicate a world of love and hope. That a lady could embark on such a mission, in such faraway lands, is a testament to how small the world really is after all and how we all can make a difference regardless of our backgrounds. Sure would like to meet Brittany.

    http://www.humandiversity.biz

  4. Mike Ananou says:

    I am a member of a similar Organization for Togo (www.wtf-tg.org) that has just born and I would to know how Brittany successful raised that much money for her projects in Uganda.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  5. TJ says:

    I have a note on my facebook page where I simply put private jokes, random quotations, interesting pieces of English language, etc.
    One thing which I recollect now is

    “Guardian angels don’t always show up in white robes”

  6. Erroll Rhodes says:

    Under what study abroad program did you go to Uganda?

    EAR

  7. George Remedios says:

    What you are achieving in Africa is really outstanding and i must say that i am really ashamed that so many of us (and me in perticular) keep talking about helping people and doing things for people but never get down to doing anything.

    So any way all the very best there and my prayers will be with you as Africa can be a real hostile place to live in.

  8. victor Ikwudirim says:

    This is aquestion to miss Brittany I would like to know if there have been any challenges running the Ugandan American partnership and secondly will this initiative be restricted only to Ugandans or will it be made available to other african countries
    From Nigeria

  9. Brittany Merrill says:

    Thank yall so much for the encouragement. I really believe that giving to others and sharing your life with the poor are the most rewarding endeavors that this life can give. However, this work is incredibly challenging and requires a lot of perseverance… especially in Africa. I have had five years of setbacks and struggles that continue today but somehow, we always make it through.

    I was never one to give my life to anyone, which is why I had little experience with the poor in the US, but found myself in a village in East Africa five years ago and could not ignore the need for the children and women who struggle daily to survive. I think each person is given opportunities in life where their eyes are open to the needs of others and can either choose to respond to them or ignore them. Somehow, I responded in Africa that day after ignoring the need for so long before, and now this work has become my life.

    Thanks for your questions. I will try to respond to as many as I can but feel free to email me at contact@theuapo.org.

    Blessings,

    Brittany Merrill

  10. Walker says:

    morgan, you do sound critical. and unnecessarily so. Boo for pessimists.

  11. Mark Stewart says:

    As someone who worked with Brittany on that first summer in Uganda, and who has walked beside her at times in this journey, I want to commend her.

    Brittany mentioned being shaken out of her complacency… It’s been incredible to watch her fight through her own doubt and complacency in that first summer, to hope and pray for her as she fought through the complacency of others back in America, and to see her life take root as she invested herself in the lives of others. She pours our her life for those who can do nothing for her in return, and it’s a beautiful thing.

    And the best thing is, I know she’d be doing it whether she got any attention from CNN or not!

    Great work Britto, and keep fighting the good fight.

  12. Ms Johnson says:

    This is from Ms. Johnson’s high school art class in Canyon Lake, Tx. Reading what you did is amazing! What was the turning point that made you want to really help these children and what were some of the obstacles you first encountered?

  13. Brandon Miles says:

    This a very remarkable thing she is doing for these people. It’s very nice to see people do something for others less fortunate than them, because it shows that they care. It shows that just because you have a big house, fancy cars, clothes, and jewely, that you can still do good things. I admire things like that and wish the best for her. She will be blessed later on in life for the good deeds she is performing now…

  14. Kelly Freidman says:

    I would just like to ask if she any other projects, along with building and completing an orphanage. I think it is a very large and loving accomplishment to have built and taken care of so many helpless, innocent children. Love to hear more.

  15. Kristen Yates says:

    I think it is HUGE what you are doing! I would love to hear if you have any summer programs, for high school or college students to go down to help or voulenteer. I would love to get involved, and many other people I know as well. Please let me know.
    Thanks!
    Kristen

  16. margaret g says:

    And you should see her dance!!!

  17. Ellen Peeples says:

    UAPO is a wonderful organization–congrats Brittany for the recognition you all have received for UAPO, Ranch on Jesus, and all of your hard work and faith. Lots of love from your friends in Texas!

  18. Juandy Liem says:

    Merrill surely has found Her Sacred Calling in life to help the Orphaned Children of Uganda. I hope we all find our callings in life to start by making small differences in our community or wherever we are called to do good deeds :)

    Btw… Merrill how can we contribute a little to your Organization financially ?

    God Bless you abundantly… :)

    The Miracle of Colostrum:

    http://natural-colostrum.blogspot.com

  19. charla Howard says:

    You rock Brittany!

  20. Lindsay says:

    What a blessing Brittany is in the lives of so many people both in Africa and here in the States. Keep up the good work you are admired by so many around you. What a role model to young people!

  21. agnes says:

    wow Brittany!!!You are such a great person ,your saving lives,keep up the great work.NEVER GIVE UP!Your are role model to young people giving them hope!

  22. maryam yazeed says:

    OMG Brittney you are so kind and caring. god will bless you for doing for other that needs help. Also never give up in what you doing , you are a great role model to young people around the world.

  23. Mary Bray says:

    I have been hearing about Brittany and her work in Uganda for a long time, but I never realized the extent of her efforts until I saw the CNN piece. It’s amazing to me that a young American woman is brave enough to take this on, especially in such a far away and needy place. Brittany has been an inspiration to my college daughter and now I must say she is an inspiration to me. She has changed the lives of these children on so many levels. I am so impressed.

    And thank you CNN for bringing these stories to us.

  24. jerrod says:

    took in 24 orphans, non profit organization offering food and shelter to the ones who need it the most really shows how we can all make a difference for all of those suffering around the world today.

  25. Patsy Shaw says:

    God doesn’t come in Person to help, but is there for sure to help through someone else… That Angel is you.
    God Bless U in all of ur warfare. U doing a WONDERFUL Job. It’s so very touching, Wish i could do something for these children like you, in my own little way. Would love to meet you.
    Shall keep you in my Prayers. Good Luck.

  26. Shelby Cook says:

    I think that this is really cool what you are doing. One day I hope to be able to go there one day and help the children.

  27. chetan says:

    Irrespective from what castes, race or country one comes, goodness has its own traits, characteristics common to each and every individual and also which every human being share in their heart. This is true. Brittany Merrill has proven this.

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