Uganda Family

Reporter: Gavin Alder

It has been a move sparked by a devastating moment in their lives two years ago. 10-year-old daughter, Rebecca was saved, but their home and everything in it was not. But the Barton family realized how blessed two weeks later, when they heard news of another house fire - it claimed the lives of two children. "The house fire was the catalyst for us because you realize life could pass us by. We could sit back and in 20 years time we could regret not having done certain things", Russell said.

They re-evaluated and decided to relocate to Africa. "At that time 'Hotel Rwanda' was on at the movies -- we both went and saw that, balled out eyes out. The absolute atrocities that happened and we were sitting back having lattes in Australia", Russell said. "We sat the kids down and said hey we're thinking about going to Uganda for a year and the first response was where's Uganda?", Jenny said.

As a marketing manager and a stay at home mum, Russell and Jenny had no experience in humanitarian work, so they did what they could in orphanages and schools. They begged everyone they knew in Australia to help by sending money. That was early 2005. "We've started two orphanages since then", Russell said.

This family -- on a mission -- has more than 150 orphans in its care. They say they do the best they can, for who ever they can with what they have. Russell says it's like a popular Ugandan fable. "About a young boy standing at the beach throwing a starfish into the ocean and an old man said what are you doing son that's a waste of time, there's millions of starfish washed up on the beach. The boy looks at the starfish and throws it into the ocean and says, "well I made a difference to that one's life."

And they see that difference to the orphans in their care, every day. "They're happy, they're healthy, they're secure -- laughing, living like a child should be living", Jenny said. And they have plans to help many more. "We've got 152 kids and we're growing. Our dream is for 5000 and that's just the first stage", Russell said. "You're literally saving a life and to me that's pretty cool", Jenny said.

To contact Operation Uganda you can ring 1300 795 303 or go to the website