06Jun/18

Hope Restored

When they were very young children, tragic, sudden loss of their parents left Morine and her two siblings completely alone. Their extended family struggled to decide who would take on the responsibility of a three year-old, two year-old and struggling infant.  Finally, one day as the toddlers were playing in the village, their grandparents came to take them to their home. While they did all they could to care for these children, Morine’s grandparents barely had enough to provide for clothes and food. Morine’s infant sister survived on cow’s milk, the only way they could afford to feed her. The children faced many difficult days, hungry and walking to school without shoes. Often, they would have to stay home because they did not have the money to pay for the school fees.

Years later, Morine’s grandmother heard of our child sponsorship program and registered the children for sponsorship. After waiting for one long year, they were sponsored so they could attend a quality school, receive uniforms, shoes, and meals at school!

“I saw hope restored in my life after the death of my parents, and I really thank God for the miracle of sponsorship!” Morine reflected.

Morine never took this miracle for granted, but worked diligently, achieving top scores on her government exams after 7th grade. These scores admitted her to an excellent High School where she is completing her last year of school in December 2018!  Morine is confident she will pass her final government exam to receive her Advanced Diploma which will admit her into a University to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.

Our vision at Hope Africa International is to invest in the lives of children with the goal that they will develop a passion and desire to lead in their communities. This leadership may come in various forms such as teaching, medicine, business, church ministry, and through parenting the next generation of children. Because of the simple gift of sponsorship, Morine is a beautiful example of someone who has risen above her circumstances, choosing to lead and give back to her community as a teacher.

 

 

30May/18

Reaching into the Darkness

“Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.”—Norman B. Rice

How often do we ignore the darkness in the world around us, not wanting to engage with what brings us discomfort? We are grateful that a man years ago reached out to David and gave him the opportunity he desperately needed.

David came from a humble home of eight children, raised by his widowed mother. His father passed away when he was only five years old. Without any family income to speak of, David spent a great deal of time selling charcoal to pay his own school fees. He worked hard day after day cutting trees and making charcoal to progress all the way through Secondary Four (11th grade). He performed very well on his exams and was admitted to Sebei College for Secondary Five and Six, but his charcoal business was insufficient to cover the school fees.

One day, when David had lost all hope of continuing his education, he was walking down the street in Kapchorwa and he heard a voice calling him by name, “David, David!”

David turned and replied, “Yes, please!”

The man told him, “I heard you passed very well on your government exams, but cannot attend Sebei because of the school fees!” David told him it was true, and the man said he must go to school first thing on Monday to register for classes. All his fees, uniforms, books and anything else needed would be covered! This is how God intervened in David’s life enabling him to progress all the way through University.

When David graduated from college, he managed a local hotel, but was not at peace with his career and unhealthy working conditions. He entered into a time of fasting and prayer, seeking the Lord’s direction in his life. During this time, he had a dream that he was walking on a very slippery rock and below him were children who kept sliding back down every time they attempted to climb the rock. He had to reach below to pull them up one by one. He was comforted by this dream as he realized God had lifted him up out of his own situation and was calling him to do the same for the oppressed, the orphans and the most vulnerable children.

Just after he was married in 2004, he was approached by African Renewal Ministries to manage their child sponsorship program in Kapchorwa, an unexpected answer to his dream to serve children living the same story David faced! Today, David continues to serve with Hope Africa International, often acting as the only father figure in our sponsored children’s lives, truly reaching into the darkness to lift them into the light!

David’s life is an example of how investing in just one person can have a far greater reach than we can possibly imagine. One man provided for one fatherless boy who is now caring for the needs of hundreds of children, many of whom are also fatherless and vulnerable! When we hear stories like this, we must ask ourselves what could happen if I just cared for one child?

Today, Hope Africa International sponsors children in two areas, Kapchorwa and Ngenge, Uganda, providing school fees, uniforms, medical care and camps for over 450 children. Since 2005, over 675 children have been impacted through sponsorship!

17May/18

Teens in a Changing World

Often when we think of child sponsorship, we consider younger children being the most vulnerable. While the needs of young children are truly important, we have found the most crucial stage for our students is adolescence. According to WHO’s Atlas of African Health Statistics 2017, Uganda has one of the highest adolescent mortality rates in Africa due to accidents, substance abuse, suicide, violence, HIV and pregnancy complications. 40% of girls are married by age 18 and 14% have given birth between the ages of 15 and 19 (Atlas of African Health Statistics, 2017). Many of these young girls then raise their children without the involvement of the father, dropping out of school and struggling to make ends meet. We need to be deeply concerned for our older students in the program, investing even more time in discipleship, camps, health education and family support!

Hope Africa International has several strategies to respond to the increasingly complex issues our adolescent students face. First, we believe that the spiritual and emotional aspects of child development need to be addressed early on in sponsorship through Bible teaching and health education at Center Days. Also, by 5th grade, students are encouraged to participate in outreach events to open their eyes to the needs of others and how they can give back to their community. We have seen wonderful results from this investment with our children striving to be excellent students, standing strong in their faith, and having a sincere desire to make change in their community!

Things change for our students when they are promoted from Primary to Secondary School. They leave home and board full time at school (except during holidays) with rigorous academics, decrease in parental involvement, increasing peer pressure, and as is the case all over the world, a greater exposure to social media. We have implemented a discipleship program through Ugandan staff and volunteer pastors who visit the schools to meet with students as a group, guiding them spiritually and holding them accountable. We also host four day camps three times a year for our Secondary students where they truly grow in their faith, make important decisions to direct their lives and maintain a community of friends and adults who challenge them to stand strong.

Hope Africa International strives to be an ongoing support to the parents of sponsored children. Through group parent meetings, individual meetings, and home visits, our Ugandan staff have built lasting relationships with these families. Students who are orphaned or from single parent homes, often feel pressured to enter into early marriage (especially girls) or drop out of school to help out at home. Understanding the family dynamics helps us to better meet the needs of the child and provide support for the family to prevent potentially devastating consequences.

Your role as a sponsor is more important than ever at this stage of life for sponsored children. Even if you do not write often, your simple, financial support sends a message to the student that they matter! One nursing student recently wrote to her sponsor, “Thank you so much for your support. You have made me somebody important, and now I can help my parents in case they are sick! God Bless you!” What a beautiful example of how the basic investment in a teen’s life makes a world of difference.

23Oct/17

Shining Light

Lillian was sponsored at a time when her father was too ill to work, leaving him very few resources to support his children. In addition to this, he had to take out loans to pay for his medical expenses. The burden of the loans overwhelmed the family and the children suffered greatly, with no hope of completing their schooling. Lillian was sponsored at that time and proved to be responsible and hard-working, completing her secondary education with the advanced level diploma! Today, she is in her third year studying economics at a University. Lillian also continues to volunteer with Hope Africa International, investing back what she received from the program. When I was in Uganda in August, Lillian worked with my daughter to teach sixth and seventh graders in three different schools about drug and alcohol abuse prevention. She has a deep faith and love for Jesus, which makes her a powerful witness in the university setting. All of this stems from her years of sponsorship, simply because someone decided to reach out to her as a little child. As we continue to watch these children grow up, we realize the scope of sponsorship reaches far beyond the child who is sponsored. These godly men and women who were sponsored as children demonstrate the light and life of Jesus as they go out into the world. They use their gifts to build up their communities, churches and families and use their resources to help others in need, just as someone long ago reached out to help them. Hope Africa International seeks to invest deeply into the communities of Kapchorwa, Kaplobotwo and Kabachirya over the long haul. Why? Because we believe that this is how communities are empowered to rise above all circumstances, and we believe that long-term investment is the best way for transformation to take place.