I’m back from Uganda – Early!

I ended up having to return from Uganda early due to some pressing business issues (not Ten Eighteen). That was really a bummer… I hated missing the visit to Jinja, Bukaleba, and the party yesterday at Ray of Hope. Fortunately my son is still there, so he’s carried out Ten Eighteen’s commitments and done a great job.

While I was there, I had a great time and great visits with many of our ladies. The weather was great — not nearly as hot as the February visit, thank goodness! — and we had many great conversations in the community. Here are some of the highlights, followed by photos of the party at Ray of Hope.

*  LAULA. We helped Laula’s mother last visit with a micro-business grant for selling chapati and cooked goods. She did pretty well until she had Laula, who was born with a club foot. Since then, she’s traveled around the vicinity, looking for a hospital that would perform the surgery. One in Mukono said they would do it free, but the wait was at least until January. With this type of surgery, the earlier you do the procedure, the better the outcome, so she was hoping for something sooner. Entebbe Hospital could do it quickly, but the cost was 100,000 shillings, out of her reach. We were able to leave the fee for the procedure, plus money for transport and food for the family during the three weeks they’d be in hospital, and are eagerly anticipating the good news of a successful surgery.

I had to adjust the exposure so Laula's foot was visible in the dim light.

I had to adjust the exposure so Laula’s foot was visible in the dim light.

* OLIVER. Last visit, we gave a grant to a hard-working woman named Oliver. She has a business selling scrap, and was doing okay — well enough to have a small stall — but she wasn’t making enough for a decent home. She was renting a place that was quite literally over the sewer ditch, and it was terribly hot and dark on top of the smell and health hazards. With a grant, she expanded her stock and has now been able to purchase land and a house not very far from her business. She is so, so happy! And the house is two large rooms, with a barred glass door and plastered walls. Amazing!

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* ROSE. Rose is new to Ray of Hope, but what a lovely spirit she has! It is now rainy season in Kampala, and the Sunday I got there saw torrential rains. Rose and her family had been living in the lower side of Namuwongo, where the buildings all flood with rain water, sewage, and other terrible filth. We saw Rose on Monday; on Sunday she’d moved to a new home because the waters had gotten so high inside her former one, and it was making them all sick (not to mention that their belongings were flooded). That had taken the capital she had for her maize-roasting business, plus she’d borrowed more. (In the slums, you have to pay at least three months rent in advance, which can be 120,000 or more — a ton of money for these families!) After our visit, I left the money for capital for her with Ray of Hope, and we ended up delivering it to her the following day. She was ecstatic!

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We didn’t have the funds this trip to do more grants, but we visited new and old friends and saw how well they are doing. Sometimes, it’s just about relationship, and that’s more than enough!

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My son did the Jinja trip, and spent the night at the babies home in Bukaleba. He has always loved it there, and has such a heart for the kids. These two are among our sponsored children. Marvin, on the left, is more than twice as old as Matthew, but was severely malnourished as a baby and has struggled with developmental delays and illnesses. He’s doing really well now, though, for which we are so thankful! Matthew was found in a trash can on the day of his birth, covered with trash to make him invisible. He weighed about 5lb. We were in Jinja that day, and another newborn, Jacob, was also found, abandoned in the market. He’s doing well, but he’s a very solemn little guy!

Zeke with Marvin and Matthew

Yesterday was the Ray of Hope/Project Friendship party. Pictures are starting to trickle in, so I’ll share the few I have so far. My son said the party went really well, and several of the young men that we sponsor who chat with me on Facebook have already let me know how much fun it was. I HATED to miss it!!

Aisha ROH party Emily Agnes ROH party Caroline Doreen ROH party little ones ROH party Edmond Francis ROH party Christine ROH party Keren ROH party Zeke at ROH party Edmond birthday ROH party

I’ll have some more pictures of the party, at least when my son gets home. A photographer friend was there and took tons of photos. I can’t wait to see them!

So that’s the trip! If you would like to contribute to Ten Eighteen by becoming a sponsor or making a one-time gift, please go to our GoFundMe site. We would love to have you partner with us!

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What’s happening in Kampala these days

My son has been in Uganda for about three weeks now. On Saturdays, he and a friend have been going down to Ray of Hope in Namuwongo and hanging out with the kids there. They’ve been having a great time, and I’ve had several Facebook messages from kids who have spent time with him. I leave on Thursday and will arrive Friday night (UG time, afternoon US time). I hope to be able to post – there has been internet most of the time he’s been there, which is amazing! If not, I’ll catch you up when I get back.

Edmond! Love this guy!

zeke basketball 4 Zeke basketball ROH 3 zeke basketball ROH 2 zeke basketball ROH Haven boys game

ROH gate 3 ROH gate Haven and Edmond

View from the balcony out over the slums

View from the balcony out over the slums

View from the balcony at Ray of Hope

View from the balcony at Ray of Hope

Zeke at ROH 2

Making lots of progress!

Now that the Youth Camp is firmly in the hands of my program director, I turned my sites to the Uganda trip. I began to panic a little bit, because Zeke leaves on August 21, and that is really not that far away! I’ve made an appointment with the travel nurse for both of us to get our typhoid updated (every 2 years…yay) and get our malaria prescriptions. That’s going to cost a pretty penny for Zeke’s long trip, but it can’t be helped. We’ve seen many people with malaria… No, thank you. (And don’t say, “They can treat it right away!” because I don’t even want 1 day of it!)

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I’ve made a tentative schedule, pending approval from our Ugandan partners, and arranged the transportation with Emmanuel Gabula, transport specialist extraordinaire. Here’s the tentative:

Zeke will go to Ray of Hope to work with the Haven boys on 3 Saturdays. This is going to be great, as the first Saturday will be the first one they’re out of school for the term, and the other two will be during the break, when they don’t have much to do.

Haven boys getting ready to dance for us

Haven boys getting ready to dance for us

I’m going on a quick day trip to Jinja on the day after I arrive for a friend’s wedding. No work that day (I may not even remember it, thanks to jet lag!).

Rinty and me, February, 2013

Rinty and me, February, 2013

September 16, 17, 19, and 20, I’ll be at Ray of Hope, going into the Namuwongo community, visiting our ladies, seeing the kids, and making the usual rounds. Hopefully it won’t be as hot as it was in February! Or raining. Rain plus slums isn’t a pretty picture.

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September 22 we’re going to head to Jinja. We’ll hopefully spend a night in Bukaleba at the Arise Africa babies home, and we’ll visit with hospice. I don’t have the time to go out in the field with them this trip, but we’ll spend half a day at the morning meeting and in the office. I was hoping to get to Tororo, but I don’t think we can this time – the trip is just too short.

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Friday, September 27, I’ll be back at Ray of Hope for a planning meeting. We try to look at the budget, evaluate the programs and see if we need to tweak anything, brainstorm some new craft ideas for the ladies (I actually have a great idea this time, so I’m excited to share it!).

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Saturday, September 28 is the Project Friendship party, always the highlight of the trip. Nesco will be catering it, of course, and we might use holi powder (what they use in the color run) with the kids. We’re going to do it in Andros next month, so I’ll see how that goes before deciding for sure. But it’ll be a party, at any rate, with friendship bracelets and tee shirts and food and dancing and speeches. I’m just super, super excited about it — it’s so great to see all our ROH friends (all 125 or so of them!) in one place before we leave.

Thank God for the tent!

Thank God for the tent!

 

 

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delicious lunch!

delicious lunch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 1 we leave! See how fast that is?? So barring any needed changes by Ray of Hope, Arise Africa or Hospice Jinja, that’s the itinerary. I know it’ll be here before I know it — the Andros trip is so soon!! Please pray for us, for safe travels but most especially that we would accomplish everything that God has set for us to do!

OHHHH – and HOPEFULLY (praying, fingers and toes crossed), the Luganda Bibles will be ready before Zeke goes, and he can take a box, and then I can take 2 more!

Luganda-Bible

What does “short term missions” mean to Ten Eighteen?

Basketball camp staff 2011

I guess because summer is upon us and a lot of people are going on short term missions trips, there have been a lot of articles and blogs around the web on what short terms missions are for. I wrote this article about a blog post that I strongly disagree with, and posted this link on the Ten Eighteen Facebook page to one I strong agree with. Ten Eighteen is about to take it’s second group for a short term missions trip, so I thought I’d give an explanation of our mission and vision for those who might not have heard me talk about it.

me with a gang

Ten Eighteen is not an organization that specializes in short term missions trips.  We did one team trip in August of 2011 to do a basketball camp in Nsambya for 44 kids from Ray of Hope. To date, that’s our only team trip.

Why? From our founding, Ten Eighteen has been about relationships. We never intended to have a “one and done” type of a ministry. We have returned to Uganda 6 times since the original visit (or, more accurately 8, since my daughter went twice by herself). On each trip, we stick with our mission, which is to continue to build relationships with the people we have met and work with there. We do not promote an atmosphere of hand-outs, which is very easily done when you are going on a one-time, short term trip. It feels good to give kids stuff, to see them smile… But in most cases, that does more harm than good. It fosters an entitlement/welfare mentality, rather than one where self-reliance is the goal.

Agnes, May 2012

Agnes, May 2012

So why not big teams? I have been able to go 7 times. I have been able to get to know the ladies of Nawezakana, the kids of Ray of Hope and Nesco, the children at the babies home, the staff of hospice. We email, we Facebook, we even Tweet. My daughter has received a dozen or more wonderful, loving, heartfelt messages of congratulations on her upcoming marriage from her Ugandan friends. Taking teams takes time. Group mentalities are what they are – when you are with a group of people you know, you naturally talk to those people. You move as a big blob through the environment, making it difficult for people to break in and talk to you.  That doesn’t help our goal of relationship.

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Well then, why do teams at all? First and foremost, because on both occasions, God has been very clear about doing it. The basketball camp was God’s idea, and the camp went great. We had a dozen Ugandan volunteers along with our six, and the kids had a blast. This youth camp is the same. When we were in Andros over Easter, God gave me a very clear vision of this camp. One way to know an idea is from God is if it’s something that isn’t at all in your wheelhouse. These camps aren’t. I’m an introvert that doesn’t love large groups. I find being responsible for groups stressful. I enjoy one-on-one interaction. But I am ridiculously excited about this team and this camp, and that’s how I know it’s a God thing.

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Shouldn’t you do one every year, if they go so well? The typical “church” answer would be, “Of course!” We tend to try to institutionalize anything that is successful once. We were asked when we were doing another basketball camp, and my answer was (and remains), “When God tells me to do it.” He hasn’t yet. The same will be true of this youth camp in Andros in August. No matter how well it goes, unless God tells me to, I will not start planning “Youth Camp 2014” as soon as we get home. There are times and seasons for everything. Success doesn’t mean you must duplicate. Obedience is what God’s after. Those are the principles on which we operate.

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So what’s in it for me? Well… maybe nothing except a new stamp in your passport. You might get sick. You might be hot and miserable. You might find a bunch of kids annoying. You might hate the food. You might hate being with a group of people for a week. You might not cope well with a lack of power, water, or internet. If you’re going because there’s something in it for you, PLEASE reconsider spending your money (or other people’s donations). If God calls you to a missions trip, it’s for the people you’ll be serving. Your lack of ability to cope, eat, sleep, or be content and happy will be more than made up for by God’s… If you let it. Take one week (or however long your trip is), put yourself aside, and serve others to the best of your ability. Hug, laugh, talk, and show His love. Even if you don’t feel like it. Even if you’re grumpy. Give to whoever He called you to what He has given to you – uncompromising, unequivocal, unconditional love.

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My family and I go to Uganda, and now Andros, as an ongoing calling. We don’t consider what we do “short term missions” even though we’re there between 2-4 weeks at a time. We are visiting friends. We are showing God’s love in the ways that He opens up for us. Maybe thinking about your short term trip in this same way will help you keep your focus on what’s ultimately important: HIM.

JW at babies home copy

Day 2 – and it’s HOT!

This is my seventh trip to Uganda, and only one was really hot. Usually jeans are fine, and I wear a sweatshirt in the morning and evening. Not this time, at least so far. It’s hot and dry and there’s red dust everywhere. Just down the hill from Father’s House they are burning, and the house is filled with smoke. Stephen and Bosco are outside to make sure the fire doesn’t jump to the property, as one did last year on the other side of the house.

I had a good – and speedy! – day in Namuwongo today. One of the ladies, Isha (pronounced Eye-sha) led us around after we visited her house, and she knew all the faster ways to get to the other women’s homes. Consequently we were done an hour earlier than usual! This was great since it was so hot. Some of those rooms and houses were like ovens, too, my goodness. I don’t know how they take it.

Morette May 2012

Morette May 2012

We visited about eight women today. The first was Morette, since she has a little stand near Ray of Hope where she cooks and sells beans. I guess it’s technically a “restaurant”, but it’s one pot on a charcoal stove, homemade benches and a picnic-type table, and a tarp strung up for shade. But she gave a very generous helping and she had a half a dozen enjoying her food, so that was great.

Isha May 2012

Isha May 2012

Isha found us after this, so we went to her house next. Her kids (a 14 month old and a 4 year old) were fascinated by this mzungu in their house (that’s what they call white people — but most of the time they mean it nicely!) and both sat on my lap. A tad problematic since they don’t wear diapers… but no harm done! Isha has a stand similar to Florence, but she only sells food at night, starting at 6pm and going until about 10pm. We actually met her husband, which is amazing.

Next we visited Miriam. Miriam sells second-hand bras and shoes. She hawks the bras around to businesses and homes nearby, and then sells the shoes at the railroad tracks when she gets tired. I know her husband is a boda driver, and they must be doing pretty well. They’d just build a one-room house when I met her last year, and they’ve added a room, with an actual window, since.

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Next we saw Joyce, a grandmother with 1 son still in primary and 4 grandchildren she cares for (their parents died of HIV/AIDS). Last May we gave her a grant for a little store, which her son was helping her with. She’s settled now, and has avocado and other veggies, lovely greens (called gobe’ and dodo, they’re delicious!), a huge sack of silverfish, and a nice safe interior to store her goods when she’s closed. She had a stall before, but her things were getting stolen, so now she’s doing better.

Rosemary May 2012

Rosemary May 2012

Rosemary was home on our second pass and is doing well. She is going from market to market hawking second-hand bras and other undergarments. She’s finding that she does better going to the markets, although she has to travel some each day. She had been at the Oweno market last year, but it burned down in April. I’m not sure if it’s been rebuild, but she seems to have decided that going to different ones each day is more profitable. She looks great, though. When I first met her a couple of years ago, she was really struggling with her ARVs, which she takes for HIV, and was exhausting herself by walking long distances hawking. Now she is doing less walking, and is on a different medication, so she’s doing great.

We met a new lady who has just started with Nawezakana named Fererri. Her husband has abandoned her and she was evicted from her place for not paying rent, so she and her children are currently living in a church. (Don’t picture your own church – this is a room with some rough wooden benches and a makeshift podium, and no glass in the windows.) Her 16 year old daughter was there doing laundry. The daughter had been working as a maid and was raped by someone in the home and is now pregnant. These cases are virtually impossible to prosecute, as the employer has money to pay bribes while the servants have no one to fight for them. It is, unfortunately, not at all uncommon. Anyway, we’re going to help her find a place to rent for 50,000 shillings and leave 3 months rent, and help her with some capital to start a business so by the time she needs to pay the rent, she can.

We saw several other ladies quite quickly. One likes to dig… Yep, she LIKES to DIG. Her daughter is at university studying micro-finance.

Nulu, March 2011

Nulu, March 2011

Finally, we got to Nulu’s stall, which is the farthest away we go. Her husband was working there (the second husband, a minor miracle!) but Nulu wasn’t there. She’s taken a job cleaning the community for the government, a dirty, nasty job that she seems to like. (She has got a ton of energy, that woman!) And her husband likes working the stall, which is amazing, since he’s been unemployed for probably 10 years, so I guess that’s working out for them. The husband texted her and she came running down the railroad tracks to meet us, so we did get to see her. Her stall is, as always, doing great. She’s on a super busy corner — we almost got run over by a half dozen bodas!

This photo is from March 2011, the first time we made the long walk to Jennifer's. It's waaayyyyyy down - you can't even see it yet, and this is at least halfway there.

March 2011. This railroad track is the boundary of the slums. To the right are pretty nice homes, to the left are the slums. This was far at the end, so it’s not bad.

So that was the morning, and while it was very hot, we did get through quickly. Tomorrow we’ll visit some new ladies that I haven’t met yet, and go to a secondary school where some of our kids go. I’m not sure what I’ll do after — I guess I’ll see what time we’re done. There’s a place down at Quality that makes really good pizza…. hmmmm…

 

Day 1 in Namuwongo

Today I took video, not photos, so I don’t have anything to upload. But I had a good day!

I headed down to Namuwongo at 9am, arriving there a little before 10am. We headed down into the community and talked to a number of the ladies from Nawezakana in either their homes or at their stalls where they sell produce or cooked food.

Mary, May 2012

Mary, May 2012

Mary, who we have helped since the beginning, is doing great. Her son Festo is in his first year at university, studying law; Festo has been one of our sponsored kids for 3 years. Mary had just gotten back from Nakawa market so we watched her unpack her huge bushel bag of tomatoes, the dried silverfish, and the the various other long-lasting vegetables onto her small stand. Mary also sews for Ray of Hope.

Caroline May 2012

Caroline May 2012

We visited Caroline, who was not doing well when I was here in May, 2012. We began then to provide her with milk every day, and she looked so great! I had been worried that she wouldn’t make it, but she really looks well. The paper bead jewelry isn’t selling anymore, so we discussed some other things she and the other ladies could do that would be unique. We’re still noodling that one!

Doreen, the other of our elderly ladies, welcomed us with her little adorable kitten. The social workers have been talking to her about relocating back to her village in the north where she has land, and she is very excited to do that. Ray of Hope is going to send a staff member with Doreen and a couple of other ladies who are willing to go back to their villages to make sure their land deeds are in order, and then we are going to try to help them build a simple house and get settled. These families all moved to Kampala years ago when Joseph Kony and the LRA were wreaking havoc up in the Acholi territories, but many own land. With some help, they can move back and have a much better life than their current ones in the slums, so I’m excited that most of them are willing to do that.

Agnes, May 2012

Agnes, May 2012

Agnes and her daughter were in her stand on the main “road” along the top border of the slums. Her stand isn’t doing very well. The market is glutted with people all selling the same things – tomatoes, onions, bananas, and the like. She is a good seamstress, but the jewelry purses that were doing so well in the market are not doing well anymore. Other groups are making poor quality imitations and selling them much cheaper, so the Nawezakana bags are getting squeezed out. Again, we’re trying to come up with some alternatives. (It’s frustrating, because the ladies work so hard, and yet their efforts at the market are going so poorly!)

Prossy, her mom and brother in front of their home

Prossy, her mom and brother in front of their home

We visited several other women, mostly ones who we helped for the first time last May. They are all doing well, and several have moved from temporary stalls to permanent ones. The biggest success story of these was Prossy’s mom, whom we met for the first time in 2012. The family of 7 was living on 100,000 shillings a month that Prossy brought in. Now her mom has a permanent stall selling vegetables and bananas, charcoal, sugar cane and fresh made kabalagala (pancakes). I didn’t even recognize her – she’s gained weight back and looked wonderful! (Prossy started teaching school last fall and is doing great, too!)

Nulu, March 2011

Nulu, March 2011

Tomorrow we’ll head to the “Nulu side” of the slums – the side where one of our oldest friends in Kampala (and an amazing businesswoman) has her stand. Nulu has an amazing head for business and has done so well that she’s been able to buy some land, so I’m excited to see her and find out her newest successes. Later in the week we will visit several schools, including a Senior/Secondary school where several of our sponsored kids are going. I’ll try to take pictures tomorrow so that I can upload some for you!

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!

Five days to go. Is it time to panic?

Dont-Panic

I’m leaving on Friday. My flight’s at 2:45, so I’m pretty much done with whatever I’m doing by noon. Today is Sunday, and my to-do list is as long as my arm, including editing a 100,000+ word book before I go. At some point, I guess you just have to laugh. I’m not quite there yet, though!

So what’s going on this week?

First, I need to start packing. I get 2 suitcases of up to 50lb each, so I’m probably taking one of our super-light rollers and a duffel bag. Traveling with 50lb duffel bags is a pain, but since I always come home with a lot less than I leave with, it’s great to stuff the duffel in the suitcase and only have 1 bag for the return journey. I’m taking over a lot of stuff, although not as much as usual since Suzanne has just been in New Zealand as she got a lot of things for the kids. But a friend of ours is pregnant and needs some baby stuff, another friend is moving to the US with her baby and needs some warm clothes for their arrival in NYC, and another asked for a few things as a graduation present from grad school. Plus I always take candy and glow sticks and fun things for the kids. Oh, and don’t forget the laptop, tablet and 2 iPhones for another friend, all of which I have to carry in my carry-on.

Make sure my video camera is charged, and figure out what lenses I’m taking for my camera. I want to do some interviews this trip and put together a 3-5 min video for my website. I’m terrible at interviewing people, but I’m going to ask my husband to help — he’s much better at it! I’m not going on safari so I don’t need the huge 500mm lens, and since I have to carry all the electronics and be able to heave that bag up into the overhead bins, I have to be discriminating.

Laundry. This isn’t too bad when we do a spring trip, because most of what I’m packing, I haven’t been wearing. The weather there is about 84 in the day, 68 at night, so I do need jeans and a sweatshirt or two, but mostly shorts and light tops. Still… there are the essentials, right?

Editing. 100k+ words. Enough said.

Errands. I need to go to Petsmart, Costco, Target, the grocery… There will be three men here while I’m gone, so I need to bring in the victuals!

Finish the “fix the house” list. A friend of ours is coming today to do all the things that need to be done to get our house ready to sell. We’ve got a Pod in our driveway, and I need to get stuff moved out there. (I need to not think about the fact that I’ll only have a month after I get back before we list it!) I think he’ll never be able to leave, actually…

Get cash. You can only exchange $100 bills that are 2006 or newer, with no rips, creases or marks. Theoretically it can be 2002 or newer, but you can’t find bills that old that are acceptable. I don’t need much this trip, as everyone is paying me for their goodies in shillings, but we’re doing the big party on March 2, and I’ll need to pay the caterer a deposit early in the trip. Of course, I could always use the ATM there and not worry about it… We’ll see how my time goes!

That’s not a complete list, but it’s making me tired… Here’s the more important thing — the prayer request list.

  • Safe travels both in the air and on the ground.
  • Health and energy, especially since I’ll have very little down time this trip.
  • To see everyone God wants me to see, and to bring His love and blessings.
  • That my family will be safe, healthy and happy here while I’m gone. Since ALL my family is getting left behind this time, I feel more burdened.

That’s it for now. More panicking will follow, I’m sure.

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