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July » 2011 » Hope 4 Kids International Blog


Smile Africa
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Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
by Darlene Skarda
Slept in a little in the morning and then took a shower, washed hair etc. The shower is a challenge. The warm water is just a big trickle. 
We got a late start today as several climbed “The Rock” in Tororo Amy, Andrea & Sydney did.
About 10:30, we left for Smile Africa in Tororo. It was just a short bus ride. We toured the compound at Smile Africa. They have a very large kitchen as they feed over 400 Karamojong children six days a week (not Sunday).  The children walk many times with their younger siblings “piggy back.” They may walk two miles each way. They are fed porridge in the morning and food rich in protein & soy (developed by Angie) from Feed My Starving Children. About noon they all strip down and get showers in a large shower.
Some are quite small – barely walking. Some older children also go there in the morning for breakfast and then go to a public school but many are there all day. Some have little or no clothes. They are basically outside. There is a large shelter structure with no sides. They sit in there on the floor to eat. They do have a playground with two merry-go-rounds and some slides. The children are all very curious about us and many come up and take your hand and walk wtih you. Many of them have AIDS from their mothers. They have a nursery there where they keep about 10 babies/infants who have been abandoned. They also have a boy’s dorm for boys who are badly abused at home. One boy,around 10, had his hands and feet tied together and then his mother built a fire under him. Luckily a neighbor was aware of it and rescued him but the back of his legs are badly scarred.
It was interesting to serve them lunch. The all sat on the ground very quietly waiting for us. One little one even motioned to me as if not to forget him. The food is like a thick oatmeal that they eat with their hands in colorful plastic soup bowls.
They want to play on the merry-go-rounds, slides etc. after each meal. Some took naps on the ground. They all go home about 4PM and may not eat again until breakfast there the next morning.
We brought our lunch and ate on the bus. Then we were introduced to 11 widows and we again did the “tea – mini spa.” They loved it! These are ladies that are in the program to help them run their businesses. I was attracted to Bwatrice and agreed to sponsor her for one year (the length of the program). She has been a widow for 15 years if I understand her correctly. She has a small shop in Tororo where she grinds flour and packages it to sell. It was a most interesting day.
I was very impressed with Pastor Ruth at Smile Africa. She has such a heart for the children. She rescured Baby Esther who just celebrated her 1st birthday last week. The baby was left in the dump by her teenage mother,who was later arrested. PAstor Ruth went on to pray for the mother ( the police often call Pastor Ruth when there are problems) and Pastor Ruth didn’t even tell her about Baby Esther who was in the car. The teenage mother didn’t even know if she had a boy or a girl- She had cut the ambillical cord with her fingernails and left her. Pastor Ruth said the teenage girl has never known love so it was next to impossible for her to give love.


Juba Kids and Butacho Women
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Monday, July 18, 2011

by Darlene Skarda
We started out the morning by visiting Vision Nursery School in Juba. There are many little children there and also several in primary grades. They did several vocal presentations for us. They are really trying to teach the people how to take care themselves, nutrition and hygiene. They also had one song about AIDS which is a big problem all over Africa. We saw their chicken farm where they sell the eggs. We saw people on the ground roasting and eating peanuts. The teachers at the school were very involved with their students.  The children all behave very well. We saw one young boy at Vision School that was in a wheelchair because his legs were cut off by a train.
After lunch we drove about 1 1/4 hours to Butacho to do a tea for many women there. I think about 43 were supposed to come and we had almost 60. We did a mini spa – soaking their feet in plastic tubs which they were given, putting Vasoline on their feet and then in plastic bags to moisturize them. I must have painted fingernail polish on 30 ladies and then they were given the nail polish. They were also applied lipstick and given the lipstick – all the while they were enjoying a bottle of water which we had put a package of Crystal Lite into and biscuit cookies. They don’t get many sweets, so they loved it. They were very lively singing songs as we pampered them. 
We got back to the hotel about 7:00Pm and dinner is usually around 7:30pm. We spent the better part of the night with no electricity and no air conditioning. It wasn’t hot so that was good. The electricity was finally on about 7:00AM so that was good. 


Amazing Worship and Grateful Patients
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Sunday, July 17, 2011
by Darlene Skarda
Am in Tororo, Uganda.  Sure makes me very thankful that I live where I do.  Today is Sunday, July 17th.  We attended a very “live” 2 1/2 hour church service.  There was lots of dancing and very vocal praising the Lord!  They wanted all the American ladies to get up and dance.  It appeared that everyone was going along with their wish so rather than sitting by myself I got up too and moved around!  They were just thrilled that we all did that.  My dancing was rather tame as it’s just been 2 months since I got my new hip but I have had no problems at all.  In fact, I brought a friends fold-up cane with me but have not taken it out of the suitcase.  After church we came back to our hotel (Rock Classic Hotel) and had lunch.  Then a group of us went to the Tororo City Hospital and prayed with the people there and handed out small items (sugar for tea, soap, toothbrushes/toothpaste, toilet tissue).  The hospital is very, very different.  Basically a building with very few nurses etc.  If the  patients are going to eat they have to  depend on their people at home to bring them food.  They are all so very happy to see us.  They seem to be very happy people in general in spite of the fact that they have so very little.
Our trip is going well – I can’t believe that a week from today we’ll be heading back to  the US.  We spent 2 days in Amsterdam which was very interesting.  Then we had about an 8 hour flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi, Kenya.  We spent 2 days in Nairobi and did 2 safaris.  The second one was at Nukuru where there is a very large lake and advertises over 400 species of birds.  We also saw many animals – giraffes, lions, rhinos, zebras and many more.  It is so very different to see them in the wild vs. at a zoo.  The giraffes are so graceful.   The time difference here is 10 hours later than Phoenix so while it’s now 8:30 am Sunday morning in Phoenix it is 6:30 pm here.
The food we’re served is good – not so very different than our own.  That is not true of the natives.  Our group is part of the  Hope4Kids International and there is a  boarding school here with over 400 students here.  Yesterday we met Douglas, a 12 year old that Amy’s family sponsors.  He was so thrilled to see Amy and Tristen.  He just  couldn’t quit smiling.  They had met him when they were here last year.  We sponsor Joseph who is 10 and I just met him this morning.  He just started in January so his English isn’t so good yet but he was happy to meet us too.  We saw their dorm where 42 boys live in one dorm.  Some have triple bunks and there are two housemothers!  They each have a  locker where they keep all their belongings (probably 2 – 3  changes of clothes, their plate and cup and a few other items.)  There is a  central ” kitchen where they  prepare all the food – when we were there yesterday they were cooking poi (a white pasty looking cereal type) and a  big container of pinto beans.  They were cooking over a charcoal stove in 2 huge tubs (probably 40 gallons each) and had started water in another tub to make porridge for this morning’s breakfast.  The boys each bring their plate and get a serving and just sit on the lawn and eat.  They were also doing their  laundry by hand in plastic tubs on the ground and hanging it on a line to dry.  
We’ll be seeing lots more this coming week – we will be attending the dedication of the 100th well that Hope4Kids Internation sponsors have drilled.  That is so exciting when you see where they get water before the wells are drilled.  Some are surprised at the color of the water – they thought it all was brown! 
Darlene Skarda

Tororo, True Vine and the Rock Classic
Posted by

Saturday, July, 16, 2011

By:  Angie Simon/L. Butler

Today we arrived in Tororo, our home for the next week.  It is nice to unpack and settle in to one place after several days of travelling.  Angie and Wilbur joined us today after a trip to neighboring Rwanda.  With the addition of Boris from CCV, our entire team is now together and ready to embark on the journey ahead of us. 

We had the opportunity to tour True Vine Team Ministries today.  Pastor Wilbur oversees 70 church villages throughout Africa and this lovely campus, developed and built over the past 8 years, is the headquarters for True Vine.  As such, it houses a variety of ministries including the church, which we will have the chance to worship in tomorrow.  There are also several school buildings, homes for both boys and girls that board here, a clinic, a hospital, an office and a few homes.  During the week it is a beehive of activity with children of all ages studying and playing.  In addition to the children who board here, there are also kids who travel from surrounding villages to attend school.

True Vine campus is a short drive (only a few minutes) from where we are staying at the Rock Classic Hotel.  Many of us are staying in the new wing, which was recently completed, and it is very exciting to see all of the improvements around the site.  They even opened up the new conference room for dinner, which was a real treat.  It is so fun to see all of our old friends and to be together again. 

We are relishing a restful night’s sleep and an exciting day tomorrow, starting with some amazing worship time with our African brothers and sisters!


Lake Nukuru Safari and Kids in Kisumu
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Friday, July 15, 2011

By:  Angie Simon/L. Butler

Today we got to experience another amazing safari, this time around the beautiful landscape of Lake Nukuru.  The open plain area stretching out from the edge of the lake is a picuresque setting for many of Africa’s most well-known big animals.  We were blessed with beautiful weather and a hazy start to the day, which added to the mystique and excitement when we got to see herds of animals emerge from the mist.  This large open grassland has zebras, cape buffalo, rhinosceros and several different species of large deer.  The lake is famous for the pink flamingos that congregate near the edge of the lake, making it look like a pink blanket has been draped over a large part of the water. 

The land mass of this park is not large enough to support an elephant population, but they do have lions.  Unfortunately, a couple years ago most of their lion population was slain after a ranger was killed by a lion, thus making it nearly impossible to see a lion here.  However, once again we were surprised, amazed and incredibly thankful when we saw a mother lion with cubs!  One lion sighting is incredibly exciting, but two is extraordinary indeed.  Thank you, God, for your amazing creation and the opportunity to see it!

After our safari, we made the looooong drive to Kisumu to meet some of our sponsored kids.  As fun as it is to see the animals on safari, they don’t compare to the sheer joy and delight that children greet us with wherever we go.  Beautiful, expressive eyes, bright shining smiles and hands eager to hold ours welcome us at every stop.  They have so little and have endured such hardship in their young lives, yet they are full of love, laughter and hope.  They never cease to bless us more than we can possibly bless them.

We are earerly anticipating our arrival in Tororo tomorrow and the start of our time at our “home away from home.”


We Have Arrived in Uganda
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

By:  Angie Simon/L. Butler

Yes, we have arrived safely and in good spirits in the beautiful country of Africa!  Our jumping off point is Nairobi, Kenya, and after MANY hours on airplanes and in airports, we are happy to begin our journey on this amazing continent.  For those of us returning it is always a treat to experience again the sights, sounds, smells and smiles of Africa.  And for those of us who are here for the first time, today marks the start of  many wonderful memories and experiences like none other.

Jet-lagged though we may be, the fatigue of travel was quickly forgotten as we headed out on our first safari.  Seeing the animals of Africa is certainly nothing like visiting a zoo or watching National Geographic.  The majesty, power, grace and agility of these creatures never ceases to amaze and delight each of us, whether it is the first time to see them or not.  We were treated to an up-close encounter with a giraffe – one of the most graceful, really tall animals you will ever see.  In the wild they move with such fluid, elegant steps that it is really hard to describe – but suffice it to say we will never think of them again without smiling and remembering this day.  And to top that, we got to follow a mother lion and her two cubs – also up close.  Although nature shows sometimes make it seem that it is easy to see elusive animals in the wild, the reality is much different.  So we were THRILLED to get to see these predators, especially close by – and the addition of the cubs was very much an “awe” moment.

We weren’t done yet with our animal encounters.  We also got to visit an elephant orphanage today – a truly amazing experience!  The orphanage cares for baby elephants that have lost their mothers to poaching – a sad but very real fact.  We were able to feed them and pet them and the orphanage also has a sponsorship program to help cover their costs of caring for the babies.

Tomorrow we are off to Lake Nukuru and Kisumu as we make our way towards Tororo.


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.

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