Grand Falls-Windsor — “They say you can’t out-give God, but it’s some fun trying,” says Grand Fall-Windsor native Maurice Tuck.
On Dec. 31, Tuck arrived back in Canada after spending two months in Malawi, Africa — one of many humanitarian missions he’s been on since 2004.
“Last year, I did seven months outside the country in three different countries,” Tulk said.
“I am hating what I am seeing, for the most part. I see a lot of hurting people — no clothes, dirty water, no food — living in places you wouldn’t have on your property. You wouldn’t store a lawn mower in the places these people are living. But I am loving what I am doing — throwing out bucketloads of love, and hopefully it gets a whole pile of people wet with it.”
Besides Africa, Tuck has been to Haiti, Ecuador and the Ukraine.
When asked why he does what he does, his response is frank.
“I did everything that the world said was going to make me happy,” Tuck said.
“I had a wild and crazy life. I chased everything from money, drugs, women, booze, whatever. … Money in my pocket, toys in my toybox. I was spending my winters in the Caribbean diving off some million-dollar boat. I should have been as happy as a clown; I wasn’t. Something was missing. I figured I would try giving back. … That works.
“They say those that have been forgiven much, love much. I have been forgiven much, now I love much. God loves me to pieces, that I know. He loves them to pieces, this I know. He asks me to go show others that He loves them.”
About 10 months ago, Tuck came into contact with a couple of men from Burlington, Ont., who get Swiss military vehicles shipped to Canada and convert them into vehicles needed elsewhere.
“The two (vehicles) that just went into Africa, one went in as a mobile medical clinic, the other one went in as a support vehicle for a feeding program,” Tuck said.
“These are extreme off-road vehicles that will go just about anywhere.”
He went to Africa ahead of the vehicles and fixed five military-style trucks that had been shipped the year before.
He also worked out of an orphanage called Iris Ministries in Malawi.
“They have a huge project there,” Tuck said. “They have an orphanage with about 60-70 kids plus, they run a school for the kids there plus other kids from the village. They have a Bible college there where they train local pastors to go out into the villages, and different feeding programs and medical programs where they are outreaching to remote villages.”
Tuck said he had the honour of spending Christmas Day with 60 orphans.
“And (watched) them open up gifts that we had got for them,” he said. “These kids, some of them had never received a gift in their life.”
His first mission to Africa was in 2004, to a place called Village of Hope in Burkina Faso. His team included his sister and her husband, Arlene and Barry Elliott of Grand Falls-Windsor. They were there to build an orphanage.
“And I just kind of fell in love with it all,” Tuck said. “I knew God made me handy for a reason. There I found out why.”
They built a playground as well.
“These kids had never seen a swing in their life,” Tuck said.
“I love to see kids have fun. I grew up in Newfoundland. I have had the best childhood ever imaginable. These kids will never see anything even close to it. So, I am big into seeing kids have a blast.”
When Tuck returned to Canada, he told his family that as a Christmas gift, they were all part-owners of a welding shop.
Then, he said, he bought all the gear for a welding shop and shipped it off to Africa. He met it there three months later and built the shop out of a 20-foot steel shipping container.
Then he taught residents how to weld.
Tuck was in Newfoundland when the tragic earthquake hit Haiti. A short while later, he was in Ontario watching the devastation on TV and said it was driving him mad.
He decided to call One Mission Society (OMS) to see if he could help.
At that time, the group was only looking for nurses, doctors and paramedics. However, they referred him to Art Duerksen, director of the Eastern Canada region.
One day Duerksen called him and said OMS had a container being loaded with revamped military vehicles for Haiti and asked if he could help. That’s how he got involved in revamping military vehicles.
“That is what I have been doing ever since is following these vehicles into the country they are going,” Tuck said, adding they have already shipped six to Haiti — four as mobile medical clinics and two shipped north as drill rigs for fresh water wells.
“I did two months in Haiti before I went into Africa with these other trucks … and doing some extreme off-roading, teaching people how to drive them, fix them and working on them.”
“When I went to the Ukraine four years ago, I went for two months. I stayed for two years working in orphanages and disabled facilities,” he said.
Tuck said he was getting ready to head back to Africa when he received a call from his sister, Arlene, who told him there was a group of 10 Newfoundlanders going to the Ukraine to work in an orphanage. They wanted to build a playground like they had in Africa and needed a welder.
“That’s how I ended up in the Ukraine,” he said.
“The guy over there that was our liaison, when he found out he had a welder coming, he said, ‘A playground would be great but I got more important things for this guy to do.’ So they threw me into a children’s hospital. Under communism, if you are a orphan or if you are disabled, you are of no value. If you end up in tomorrow’s trash, you will not make the papers.”
Tuck said a lot of the hospitals don’t get any money for upkeep and are given only 30 cents a day to feed and medicate a child
“So they are just brutal conditions,” he said.
“When the team was coming back to Canada I could think of 100 reasons to stay and none to come back, so I stayed.
“Under communism, they’ve been lied to, cheated, stole from, starved to death by their own people, so to have a foreigner come in and try to actually love them, goes beyond their comprehension.”
Back to Haiti
Tuck said he’ll be leaving for Haiti again in a couple of weeks with an organization called Empower Global.
“Handouts are an immediate fix,” Tuck said. “When people are starving, you give them a handout to help them get through it, but that’s not a solution. Hand-ups is what these people need — teaching them how to weld, teaching them how to sew, teaching them how to raise gardens, teaching them how to clean water and the importance of sanitary conditions.”
He suggests 80 per cent of the medical problems in Africa and Haiti would disappear with clean water.
Empower Global has hooked up with an organization called Life Water and they hopes to teach residents how to build and use biosand filtration systems. Tuck says one biosand filter will clean 50 litres of water a day, enough to supply a family.
“So, my plan when I go back is to … start hiring local people — everything from making our own bricks, making our own blocks, to digging foundations, building walls and buildings, and whatever else comes along with it.”
He’s not sure how long he’ll stay.
“Only one-way tickets now,” he said.
“I do not like the pressure of a return date.