Jul
2008

26
Preparing for the Journey Home & the Journey Back
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Saturday, July 26th, 2008
by Dave Peters

It’s hard to believe we are packing up tonight and getting ready to go home. The trip has been a whirlwind of activity. On Monday my (biological) daughter Rachael and I spent a wonderful two hours with our adopted daughter and sister Hellen. She is a wonderful 20-year old woman who finished secondary school and has started a two-year program in catering (culinary) school. She comes from a small village 15-20 miles from town and is boarding at school in Tororo. She spoke fondly of life at home with her mother and six siblings, whom she misses dearly. At home days began at 6:00 am working in the gardens, preparing meals and tending the goats. In the evenings the family gathered together and told stories from the Bible, studied and prayed together.

I spent time this week with Irene, the hospital administrator at True Vine. Rachael and I met the hospital staff and toured the facility. Later in the week Irene invited us and our friends Katie and Alana to visit her for the day in Mbale, a large town an hour’s drive to the north. We toured the regional hospital there (where I would confidently admit myself or my children), a local school and a children’s bible class. We were treated to wonderful lunch at Irene’s home with her family. It is hard to describe the extent of the hospitality that was shown us. We were treated to the most delicious Ugandan food which all of us thoroughly enjoyed. I was given the special honor of eating the gizzards from the roasted chicken which were delicious (no kidding!). A photographer took pictures and we were honored by a special cake cutting ceremony.

I also spent time this week with several pastors from Kenya who have come to True Vine to lead a training program for the pastors. More than 40 men and women serve churches throughout the region. Our good friend Pastor Chris Nyantika from Nakuru, Kenya, shared with me the heart-wrenching story of the violence there earlier this year in which he lost his church and home and barely escaped with his life.

Life is real here, and it is experienced in a way we seldom do in the States. We seldom experience life and death situations or are faced with hunger and extreme poverty. Yet these are common occurrences for many people here. The Ugandan Christians have a strong faith that is rooted in these difficult situations. They have much more in common with the people of Jesus’ day than we Americans do, and I think they understand the gospel message in a more profound way. This is part of what draws us here and binds us together with our dear friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. Once this place gets into your system it is hard to get it out. I am sorry to be leaving so soon, and I am already planning my trip back next year.

 


Another Great Day For the Team
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Thursday, July 24th, 2008
by Michelle Boland

This was a very powerful day for many in our group. Family time started us off in an attitude of caring for one another as we shared highlights and concerns. As the team settles in, there are more opportunities to choose from each day so I can only write about what I experienced. I know I hit the lottery from start to finish!

A group of us went into Tororo this morning and visited the main site for Smile Africa. Pastor Ruth has created an amazing ministry for widows and children there. She shared her experiences that led her to begin this outreach and her calling from God to do so. We had a chance to watch some of the women make the paper beads that we have fallen in love with, and a couple of us even got to try our hand at making them. We also shopped at the widow’s store for handcrafts to take home. Boy, did we shop!

Pastor Ruth then took us to where the Karamojong children are fed and cared for. This was an experience of incredible joy and sorrow. Before we even got off the bus, hundreds of children began greeting us in song. They literally swarmed the bus in their happiness to greet us. But once off the bus, it is starkly apparent how impoverished these children are. The Karamojong children are a gypsy tribe that has been displaced from the Northern part of Uganda. They are often shunned within society and have resorted, along with their families, to scavenge for food on the streets. The ministry that Pastor Ruth has brought to them provides two meals a day and exposure to basic skills like hand washing. We mingled for a time before serving them their afternoon meal. Wednesday is the only day when they are able to have meat with their meal – one small stew-size piece in a bowl of rice. We so often take for granted having enough to eat, and it is humbling to see a child receive perhaps the only meat he or she will taste for days.

After returning to the hotel for lunch, a group of us – Jim, Becky, Katie, Natalie J. and I – joined Tom to attend a meeting with the Wanjala Yonah, the director of the Center for Human Rights, Democracy and Development. The meeting was held to discuss their partnership with Hope for Kids to bring a micro-lending program to the area to help individuals start businesses for themselves. It was a great meeting, and it gave many of us our first chance to join in policy development for the area. The CHDD has put together a comprehensive plan that has the potential to serve a great many individuals in creating their own businesses with the aid of small, low-interest loans and collaborative efforts with others in their area.

It was an honor to end the evening at the home of Pastor Agree for dinner with his family, Tom, Natalie & Nick (Tom’s kids), Pastor Bob, Becky and Natalie. We were treated to the most incredible hospitality, warmth and delicious food! Pastor Agree’s wife, Rosemary, and her good friend, Rita, had been preparing the meal for two days, and everyone around the room was in heaven. Tom’s mouth had been watering all day for Rosemary’s chicken – now we know why! Pastor Agree is a man of such deep faith and spiritual wisdom that when he shares his stories, you know you are in the presence of a great servant of God.

 

Jul
2008

24
Smile Africa, Karamojong program
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
by Alana Mello and Rachael Peters

Today we visited Smile Africa and the Karamojong kids. We first went to the headquarters where the nursery school, office, and widows’ store are located. The store, run by widows, single mothers, HIV positive women, and abused women served as a great outlet for the teams’ shopping withdrawals. We bought everything from necklaces and bracelets to fabric and baskets. They were excited to see our group arrive and greeted us with song. Michelle M. distributed sweets to the kids in nursery school and, before we left, the grateful women honored us by giving us necklaces and wholehearted hugs.
While we were at the office, we met Pastor Ruth, the wonderful woman who leads the efforts of Smile Africa. She told us about the history of the Karamojong tribe and we were shocked to hear of their many struggles. Considered outcasts in society, they are forced to take jobs that no one else wants and search through garbage for food that is often spoiled, poisoned, or inedible. When we approached the feeding center, we were overwhelmed by the massive crowd of nearly 400 children who immediately broke out into song while grabbing our hands through the windows to greet us. It was amazing to see such joy and excitement from children who have next to nothing. These kids were often standing naked or in rags while waiting for the rice, broth, and single piece of meat they would receive. Children flocked to us begging to be held and hugged, and, of course, to get their picture taken. When the food was ready, the children all lined up obediently to pray. We scooped the food onto plates from enormous pots, while the children waited patiently as we passed out the food. They eagerly accepted their special treat of meat, which they only receive on Wednesdays.
The Karamojong kids were so appreciative of their small meal and the mzungus who served them. For many on our team, seeing the joy, love and need exuding from these children was an unforgettable experience. Despite the lack of love they have received, their laughs, smiles, and hugs were evidence of their capacity to love.

P.S.— This entire blog was typed by flashlight because both the power and the generator went out in the hotel. Ha ha. I guess this really is Africa (TIA)!

 


Uganda Update from Kelly Kiki
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
by Kelly Kiki

TIA—This is Africa

TIU—This is Uganda

We have been in Uganda for seven days now and I am still traveling from location to location searching for answers that can cure the ailing education system. Hope 4 Kids International’s (H4KI) Tools 4 Schools (T4S) has taken upon itself to commit to bridging the gab between the scale of emergency and the scale of response in Uganda.

Once again, we, myself and Kathee Gaskin, have begun to see the success of all of our prayers, gifts, and financial support. Last year we visited primary, secondary, and university schools collecting information that would help us understand the African approach to education.

What we discovered last year is that our eyes did not lie. From student, teacher, administrator to parent all accounts led to the same: education is failing the children of Uganda.

With the release of Natalie Eggum’s doctoral research in Uganda on the resiliency of the children and how stressors in life, extreme poverty, violence, and death, affect children’s adjustment and development. What was revealed was that children saw education as the leading cause for HOPE.

In our commitment to bring HOPE to the children of Uganda, Kathee and I once again visited Joseph Wanjala’s school HeReigns Secondary. The students, staff, and Mr. Wanjala greeted us with songs and speeches. And once again, I had the opportunity to speak to the staff and students about our commitment to them and their commitment to each other and Africa. From there, we were treated to a local feast and cake. It was celebration the whole day—it was also my birthday.

The real magic came at the end of the day, when Kathee and I, were able to put T4S to work with funds raised by friends from Indianapolis. We purchased 12.8 million Shillings ($8,000) in books for HeReigns and committed financially to building a library to hold and secure our investment to the children’s dream.

In addition, with the financial support of those that are traveling with H4KI, we are adding to what T4S did last summer, which was the purchase of textbooks for all True Vine Preschool and textbooks for P-1 through P-4 at the Primary Schools. T4S is buying the remainder of the textbook for the primary levels: P-5 through P-7.

T4S has also collected support to connect the boarding houses to the showers and bathrooms with sand and gravel paths. This will allow the children to have some self-respect and pride in their home. We will also be adding concrete slabs and drainage around the two watering pumps. Now the area is mud and standing water.

The next day, we met with Mr. Aroda, District Inspector of Education. We spent three hours asking questions about the successes and failures in education in the Tororo District. Bottom line once again is we are stealing are children’s dreams.

The HOPE is for more textbooks (now 1 book for every 7 students but wish for 1 book for every 3 students); more teachers and classrooms (now 1 teacher for every 87 students but wish for 1 student for every 40 students); food (as reported in a local newspaper, the number one reason for dropout was lack of food); and higher teacher pay and staff housing on site (the average pay for primary teachers is $1500 a year).

What H4KI and T4S have been doing since 2004 in the Tororo area is showing tangible results. Natalie Eggum’s data also stated that 90% of the children polled felt that the rest of their life would be good. And the top reason for this was once again education.

What we do in Uganda is not about charity; it is about justice and equality. We must remember that these children look forward to competing in the same global market as Americans, Europeans, and Asians.

Our work here opens its doors to all that feel pulled to aid in bridging that gap between emergency and response.

 


Natalie Unveils Findings From Her Study to Field Officers
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
by Nick Eggum

Today my sister Natalie gave a presentation on the research she conducted last year about the children living here in Uganda. I must say, the results were thought-provoking to say the least. The statistics of the findings took a second for me to truly process at first. 80.3 % out of 61 children responding had endured the tragedy of a family member dying? This percentage is intimidating, considering that the age range of participants in the study was 6-20 years of age. The empirical evidence, mixed with putting faces to numbers is like seeing a color world with what was before black-and-white vision.

Seeing the condition of the youth here in Uganda is one thing, but actually knowing the amount of individuals that have dealt with so much in such a short experience of life is extremely humbling. It reminds me of a quote spoken by the late defensive end Reggie White. “God places the heaviest burdens on those who can carry its weight”. TIA

 


Dave Peters Delivers Proceeds to Hospital from LCGS for Mid-Wife
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
by Dave Peters

It is hard to believe we have only five more days here in Tororo before we begin the trip home. For me the time is much too short. The trip here is a long one, and with our touring in Western Uganda (which was incredible), most of us were pretty beat when we arrived. There is so much to experience and absorb here that it is overwhelming at times. Many of us “hit the wall” a day or two ago, but are getting our second wind and taking full advantage of our time here.

My church, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Torrance, CA, and Messiah Lutheran in Yorba Linda, CA, have been the principal sources for the building and maintenance of the Medical Center at True Vine. I have spent much of time the last few days with the Center staff, particularly the Administrator Irene Okwenje. I met Irene last July, not long after she was hired. It has been a pleasure to get to know her and work along side her. I have been main liaison between Irene and Hope 4 Kids (a position I am poorly qualified for and hope to turn over to a team of medical professionals in the coming year). It was a great joy for me to deliver the proceeds of our recent fundraiser for the mid-wife/pediatric program at the Center. A new house for the mid-wife and one other medical staff person was started about 10 days ago on the mission site. Believe it or not, the brick foundation and walls are up, the tin roof in on and the floors are being installed. Plans for soliciting applications, interviewing and hiring the mid-wife are underway. On Thursday Tom Eggum (H4K) and Pastor Wilbur of True Vine will be traveling to Kampala to look at used minivans which have been refurbished in Dubai and are waiting to be entered through Customs in Uganda. The van will be used by the mid-wife and medical staff for emergency transport, community outreach, immunizations and other needs. I met with the medical staff yesterday to announce the plans and they are thrilled about the new program. We are also pursing plans to purchase an x-ray machine for the Center. LCGS is able to contribute a significant portion of the cost and we are looking into ways to finance the balance of the cost to purchase and service the machine. Thanks to all of you who contributed so generously to the program. It will have a huge impact on this area where the needs are so great.

 

Jul
2008

22
Boarding School Makes a Big Difference
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Monday, July 21, 2008
by Elizabeth Flynn

Today some of the team members were able to see their kids at the main site. It was great seeing the sponsored kids happy to meet their sponsor for the first time. Then i took Bob Mooney out to see one of his sponsored kids. Natalie and Rachel went with us on this journey. We talked about Bob’s boy and by finding out more about this child we discovered that this boy would really benefit from going to a boarding school. Natalie Chavis said that she would share the sponsorship with Bob in this child’s life. So next year he will start in boarding school. Boarding school is one of the things that are making a big difference in the kids in Africa. We are thankful for the sponsors that are putting these kids in boarding and praying for more sponsors to put more kids in the boarding schools. We had a great day visiting today.

 

Jul
2008

21
Fort Portal by Dave Peters (Missing Blog)
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Friday, July 18, 2008
by Dave Peters

We have been on the go for almost four days now. We are all very tired but we are well and are having quite an adventure. We arrived in Uganda late in the evening Wednesday (after 25-27 hours of travel) and spent the night in Entebbe before heading west to Fort Portal Thursday morning. About five hours later we arrived in this beautiful, mountainous area not far from the Congo border. Thanks to the cool, moist winds from Lake Victoria the region is cool and lush. In the afternoon we toured the 15-acre farm of Mwesigwa Kamanyire James, the project coordinator of Sunrise House here in town. James grows bananas, papayas, guavas, sugar cane and coffee beans (which have wonderful small white flowers that smell like gardenias). He also raises chickens and dairy cows, as well as tilapia in his aquaculture ponds. We received a wonderful sampling of some of his fresh fruits and honey from his bee hives.

Later in the afternoon James took us to Sunrise House, an orphanage that houses 51 children and supports an additional 16 in boarding schools. Hope 4 Kids recently began partnering with Sunrise House and currently sponsors 25 of their children. They have a new building that is able to house 40 to 50 more children, but they lack the money to support them. Our hope is that the H4K sponsorships will continue to grow to fill this new dorm. We also met James’ father, retired Anglican Bishop Eustace K. Kamayire, the Founder of Sunrise House. He is a wonderful, godly gentleman who has faithfully served his church and country before, during and after the reign of Idi Amin. The children showed us their dorms, then thrilled us with songs and dance. Children throughout this country sing and dance as none others I have seen or heard. It was quite a treat.

This morning we loaded into three minivans and headed south along western Uganda to Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of the crown jewels of country. It was a two to three hour drive to the park which sits along the shores of Lakes Edward and George which are fed by the Rwenzori Mountains to the west. The first signs of the adventures awaiting us came during lunch outside at the visitors center. We were excited to see a family of warthogs come trotting through the courtyard. Shortly afterward a small elephant joined us. After lunch we boarded a boat for a tour of the Kazinga Channel, a 32 kilometer long waterway that connects the two lakes. This tour was the inspiration for Disney’s Jungle Cruise, and we soon learned why. We saw groups of four, five and up to ten or more hippos lounging in the shallows, and saw hundreds by the time we were done. There were many water buffalo, and an amazing assortment of birds.

Later in the afternoon we boarded the minivans and set out in search of lions and other wild game. We saw many warthogs, a group of rare forest hogs, many waterbuck and kob (an antelope which is the national animal of Uganda). An hour or more into the land tour, our ranger guide spotted a pride of lions off in the tall grass. They were barely visible from the road, so the guide said we could make a quick trip off the track to get a short look, We drove in and all of us got a good look at the pride. Pastor Bob (Messiah Lutheran, Yorba Linda, CA) is an avid photographer and apparently he could not get enough great shots. The guide, who was in our van, urged us all to leave. Two of the vans did so, but Pastor Bob and his van stayed for just one more shot. As we got back to the track we watched as a park police officer sped towards Bob’s van which was still out near the lions. We later learned that he approached them rifle in hand and proceeded to inform them they were all under arrest. Fortunately, James from Sunrise House was with and talked the officer into allowing them to pay a 30,000 shilling fine (less than $20). Before they left one of the group asked if they could drive around the pride one last time before they left, and the officer kindly agreed. It was just another example of Ugandan hospitality!

It was a long, grueling bus ride back to Fort Portal. We are exhausted, and have a ten-hour bus ride ahead of us tomorrow. God willing we will arrive at our mission site in Tororo tomorrow evening, and will worship with our Ugandan friends on Sunday. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support. (After we arrive in Tororo, we will post some the great pictures we have taken, including one of Bob’s lion shots.)

 

Jul
2008

20
Worship at True Vine
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Sunday, July 20, 2008 Tororo
by Dave Peters

Yesterday we made the 10-hour drive from Fort Portal to Tororo, traversing almost all of Southern Uganda. It ended our 4 ½ day travel marathon. The trip to Western Uganda was long but inspiring. We got a glimpse of some of the amazing natural beauty of this country. We toured the True Vine site in the evening and saw all the recent progress on the 35-acre main site. Much has happened since my last visit in July ’07.

This morning we worshipped at the True Vine church. I joined the early English-only service which is geared for the younger crowd, almost all of whom speak English. 40 True Vine pastors from throughout the region who are here for the Bible Institute also attended. It was a privilege for me to share a message from Ephesians chapters 1-3, and a vision of the future of the church in Uganda. The later service was an experience in African Pentecostal worship which is like no other. Michelle B. observed that worship is an aerobic experience here. Our team joined in the dancing and celebration, complete with lifting chairs above their heads and singing “Higher and Higher.” Pastor Bob gave an animated sermon on the hope and unity of the Church. He did a great job preaching, but he still needs to work on his dancing.

The team is off this afternoon to visit the Tororo public hospital to pray with the patients there. The weather here is wonderful with cool evenings and pleasant days. The rain yesterday settled the dust and was a blessing for the many crops in the area. June was a particularly dry month, so the rain is much welcomed. Thanks to all of you as you continue to pray for the success of our many activities for the coming week.

Dave Peters

 


Team Arrives in Tororo Today
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Saturday, July 19, 2008
by Elizabeth Flynn

Today the team arrived to Tororo. They had a long journey but it all went well. They are happy to be here. We all went over to the main site and Tom gave everyone a tour. Some of the team members like Bob Mooney and Dave Peters were amazed at all that has been done on the site. And all the new team members were excited to see all the kids there. We then came back to the hotel and the team ate dinner and are now able to unpack to stay for the week. We are excited to have them here and i know God is going to do great things through this new team.

(We had another blog by Dave Peter’s today that did not make it through the internet. We will wait to hear from him. Keep Checking)

 
 
About

Hope 4 Kids International is 501c3 faith-based non-profit committed to help children around the world that are suffering from extreme poverty through Dignity, Health, Joy & Love.

www.hope4kidsinternational.org

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