A busy time in Uganda

Hello to all of my Friends, Family and Donors as we head forward into 2017!

We’re off to a busy beginning to a new year and I am grateful and thank God that I am able to be involved in His work in this beautiful country.

We are currently busy preparing to send kids to the first school term of the year. Uganda has 3 terms a year starting in February. Students who have finished Primary 7 and Senior 4 all come to us with the results of their national exams. How they do determines their next steps in education. We have over 40 students in the two categories and each one needs advice and often the caregiver has to be included.

The costs of many things here in Uganda has unfortunately increased drastically, including lunches, shoes, supplies and school fees. It has been heartbreaking sending literally hundreds of kids away who want to go to school so badly. They gather at the gate and are told by the gate man that we can not take new students while others manage to get past and come into the office.

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The grandmother with her orphaned grand kids are just one example of the many people I have had to turn away. I have seen too many tears and some anger from these people but our first priority has to be the students already in the program. Out of 270 kids we have about 80 sponsors and the others are helped by individual donors who do not specify any child.  Money for the program is also generated from the 56 bed hostel that I run.

I am so very thankful for the West Family who arrived in mid December. Even though they are still needing to adjust and settle in they have been a huge help and encouragement to me. Daryn West is good at business management and his knowledge and involvement with our vocational school, Amaani Rwenzori, is so needed. Although the vocational school is fully funded by Welthungerhilfe, in August 2018 it becomes ours and until then we need to be ready to handle it. Daryn is enthusiastic and happy to step into that transitional role which was overwhelming to me. Brooke West is home schooling her 4 kids but is still quite involved with our kids at Manna Rescue Home. The kids there are helping them learn the local language and an older student is teaching Brooke how to make a local food called Chapati. Brooke is helping with an art project where we want to be able to connect with a school in Canada that specializes in art training.

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The health of the kids at Manna Rescue Home is quite good these days.  We have just bought new shoes for their first term of school and the older students have made most of the needed school sweaters on our knitting machines.  We still have about 10 kids that are being schooled at the home until they are ready for public school.

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Let me introduce another graduate of the program who is now making a difference in the world. He is Muchunguzi Bright and he has graduated as a clinical medical officer. He is employed in a refugee camp in the Hoima area. Uganda has one of the largest number of refugees in the world even though we are a small country. We did not meet Muchunguzi until he was in Senior 3. He had been cared for by an Anglican priest after his father died and his mother abandoned him. The priest was transferred to a distant area so our program began supporting him with funding from a Canadian organization called H.E.A.L. I know that Muchunguzi is now saving many lives and we are so proud of this courageous young man.

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Lastly, for a smile, I think most of you have heard that Church attendance and worship is very important to many Ugandans. I do not imagine many families come to church as the one in the above photo. The wife is usually also on the same bike but was home with malaria that day. This brings a whole new meaning to the saying “the family who prays together stays together”,

Anyone freezing in the snows are very welcome to come visit us here in this beautiful place and of course those also in warm areas.

Best wishes and huge gratitude to all of you,

Carol

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Thank You

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Hello to all my Friends, Family and Sponsors,
This year of 2016 has been very full with many visitors and events. It seems to have really gone by fast. On February fifth we started the construction of Amaani Rwenzori with a colorful bricklaying celebration. Now it is completed and the grand opening has been held last Friday, It was an amazing day and I am thanking God for what He continues to do for our program and the kids of the area. I will be sending more pictures of the center when it is active and students are being trained. The organizing and work of Theo of Welthungerhilfe and his staff have been huge and I feel that we have the most unique training facility in the area with the very first ceramics training in Western Uganda.

The Manna Rescue Home is doing well and the kids have been really enjoying their band instruments and they have been hired to play at many year end functions. This is a huge boost to their self esteem. They will all go to be with their extended families for Christmas and New Year. My social worker visits these families teaching them that AIDs is something that they have to live with but that they can be healthy and face a good future as long as they adhere to their medication and have proper nutrition.

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I am looking forward to 2017 with anticipation of many more visitors and many students finishing studies or training and moving forward with successful and fulfilling lives. It is always so rewarding to hear from graduates of the program and learn about what they are now doing. One of my first students from 1996 is now a surgeon with a master’s degree working at a large hospital in Kampala. He and his sweet wife Nadiia have two beautiful girls and now a baby boy has been added. I have so so many kids who I am proud of. Early in my life when I found that I would never have children the Lord showed me Isaiah 54:

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.”

That promise has been richly fulfilled.

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I am also seeing God answering my prayers for help in running this program. This year I have been helped with much office work by Jessica Dupree, and a family from the US, Daryn and Brooke West and their four children, just arrived to work alongside me and see how they can best fit and help with this active program!

Along with the new and exciting vocational training program, Amaani Rwenzori, our ongoing program of  (YES) Youth Encouragement Services is very demanding.  It is rewarding yet hard work keeping everything running smoothly. Even as I type this my friend and helper Jessica is at the Manna Rescue Home teaching the head matron how to enter her accounts on a computer instead of doing everything by hand. We also have close to 280 kids in over 65 schools around the area. They range from primary to secondary to different vocations. If anyone ever feels led to sponsor any child of any age the need is there and huge. I can not express enough gratitude towards so many of you who continue to remember these kids with prayers and financial help. Today I just received notice of a generous donation that has enabled us to buy food packages for many of our desperate families for Christmas as well as the ongoing needs of this program. I praise God for all of you!
My dream of a vocation school is coming true and my biggest wish beyond the ongoing program is a scholarship program for students who finish Secondary School well but have no possible way to go to University.
Let me wish all of you a blessed Christmas season or a happy holiday season as we head into 2017.

With much love and gratitude to all of you,

Carol

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What We Do

Hello again to all my friends and supporters,

I often have been asked such questions as, “what do you do on a daily basis?” and “How is all the money you receive spent?”

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The first question is hard to answer because there are so many different aspects and directions of our program. With close to 300 kids there will always be issues and challenges that come up. It also takes a fair amount of time just staying ahead of emails and correspondences as well as getting pictures of kids and scanning reports and letters and such. The kid’s who are not in the Rescue Home are scattered as far as 25 kilometers in any direction on roads that are often not in good condition. My country director, Tumwiine David does most of the traveling and I spend most of my time in the office overseeing the work and talking with kids with occasional meetings both at the home office as well as in the Manna Rescue Home.

The money is spent in many different ways. Of course, there are the salaries of my staff and running costs of the program but there are also ongoing medical costs of the kids at the rescue home.  Another expense is uniforms and school lunches. All schools require uniforms and closed toe black shoes and all our kids get a school lunch because otherwise they would eat only once a day in the late evening.

We are teaching kids at the Rescue Home basic skills in sewing and knitting so we invest in supplies and tools to help them learn.

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Most families in the program care for their own home needs but we do have some child headed homes or families with sick caregivers that are in desperate shape and we try to assist them.

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The Manna Rescue Home has 30 kids all born HIV+. That home is fairly costly to run as our staff are nurses and we need to be sure the kids get good nutritious food as well as daily medicine.

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And one of the largest expenses is school fees. We pay school fees three times a year and we have about 280 kids that we assist with their tuition. 62 children have individual sponsors and the other 218 are covered by all of the generous donations that come in.

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I also run a 56 bed hostel which generates income for the Rescue Home.

YES hostel

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Our student of the month is Basaija Steven. He is a very courageous young man who has continued to struggle through very hard times. He was born in 1993 in a village with several sisters and brothers. In 1998 his father committed suicide and his mother died 2 months later of AIDS. The kids were left with a grandmother who really tried hard to manage the kids. In 1999 she came to me for help and I started assisting the family through the program. By 2002 the grandmother could no longer manage and we searched for people to foster the kids. That was hard, especially with one of his sisters who suffered with convulsions.

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Steven continued school and finished his primary 7 with high results. From there we put him into boarding schools where he continued doing well in academics. Some visitors, Peter Rothe and Linda Carroll from Canada met him and decided to sponsor him. He finished secondary school well and continued to a good university to study law. He is now in his 5th year and continues being at the top of his class. The Canadian organization HEAL continues to sponsor him. Steven has proven that a strong attitude and faith as well as hard work can take someone from nowhere to someone with a chance at a good life here in Uganda.

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Steven and many others like him are what make this work so rewarding and worth all the struggles. Without all of you all over the world this would not have been possible. I continue to thank all of you and to thank God for these miracles in this small part of the world.

To my American friends I wish you good elections and to the rest a wonderful autumn season.

Carol

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Daily Surprises

Hello to all my friends, family and sponsors,

I am now back from a really wonderful and relaxing vacation. I had been back a little over a week when I was hit with a night of extreme pain and in the morning I phoned Henry, a medical assistant and dear friend. He quickly decided that I should head to Kampala to a good hospital. He managed to find me a sort of ambulance. It had no equipment but did have a cot fastened to the floor for the 5 hour bumpy ride. He came along with me along with Florence my hostel manager. I was treated well and it was discovered that I had a gallstone. I came home the next day as the symptoms had cleared up.

I jumped back to the program after a couple of days that continues to grow in amazing ways. The Amaani Rwenzori project that will offer many vocational skills as well as training in business management and life skills and other needed subjects is almost finished with the construction part. The project manager from Germany, Theo, has been extremely busy locating equipment and furniture to assist with the many skills we will teach on site. That includes a complete beautician building, a sewing and high end tailoring class and a large classroom as well as a ceramics building. The ceramics will be a first for Western Uganda and skilled trainers as well as kilns and potter wheels and others that are coming from Germany.A grand opening is scheduled for November 29th.

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To everyone who sponsors kids in the program I apologize for not keeping in touch. If anyone has any question about any child please drop me an email and I promise to reply within a week. I am going to try and feature a child on each blog.

Today’s child is our adorable little Ronnie from the Manna Rescue Home. He is almost 7 and came to us a year and a half ago in very poor shape. His mother died giving birth to him and his father was only an 18 year old young man. Villagers cared for him at first and then turned him over to his dad who had no idea how to care for a young child. The father is no re-married and his wife seems to be sweet and caring. In the pictures they were visiting him at the home and had bought a suit and tie for him. Our goal now is to help the dad with some training, perhaps in Amaani, and strengthen the home so that Ronnie can grow up in his family and in the village. The sponsorship will still be needed for sometime until the dad is on his feet and we are grateful to the Colorado man who has been caring for him.IMG_3043

There are daily decisions and investigations that continue in such a program with both joyful and heartbreaking outcomes. We continue to thank God for all of the children and we thank so many wonderful people whose generosity enables us to do this work.

Best wishes to all,

Carol

 

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My fantastic vacation

Hello to all my friends, family and supporters,

I am nearing the end of an amazing month of fun, health care and YES business. It started as I headed East toward the airport on June 19th where I spent a night and relaxing day at the Sunset Motel before flying out of Uganda on the evening of the 20th. After 21 hours in the air and 8 hours in airports with connecting flights I arrived in Syracuse, NY and was picked up by a dear friend who I have not seen in over 37 years!  We traveled to my hometown of Skaneateles where I graduated from high school in 1962. It was very good being driven around and seeing areas from my childhood and even better reconnecting with so many people from those years. I was able to spend the day with my brother Henry and his wife Marlene who is a sister to me without the “in law” word attached. Another older couple who used to work in Uganda near my place also drove a long way to come and meet me and I got to ride a horse with an old student from the 60s, who is now a friend. Riding that horse brought back many memories but unfortunately my back issues did not allow me to go much more than at a walk. The Skaneateles short stay finished with a dinner with many of my classmates of 1962 and after a presentation of my work in Uganda. It was such fun trying to place the faces but it all came back and they gave me a very warm reception.

The next phase took me South to West Port, Florida where my dear friends Sheila and Micah Smith have been hosting me along with their 5 great kids. On July 3rd we went to the beach and had a reunion with 9 of the kids adopted from my program along with the adoptive parents. I can not even begin to express my joy of seeing how well and happy these kids all are. It is so so sad that Uganda is closing doors to adoption because of the corrupt actions of some people who used adoption for gaining money and took kids who had families in Uganda who could have raised them.

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I came to the states also seeking medical attention for my chronic back issues. It started with an appointment at a spine clinic which proved discouraging because I could not receive much care unless I was prepared to spend many months away. God was good though because with Sheila’s help I was set up with health consultants and doctors who have been so very helpful and kind and have pushed many tests through that normally would have taken a long visit. I had an MRI and full medical check up along with an appointment with an ear doctor who has my hearing aid now upgraded to fit my hearing loss. My final appointment was for injections into my spine for pain control and I am now without the terrible back pain that I have lived with for many years. The down side is that injection is not a permanent fix but could last for some time. I just thank God for all the miracles of these few weeks. I also am so grateful to Sheila who has driven me all over the place to one appointment after another and then treated me to some fantastic lunches out.

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Lastly this trip has been full of fun and laughs and rest. I sleep as long as I want and read novels and just let go of concerns of my program for a while. I had an absolute blast at a water park and managed to ride all the different slides (the last one was a bit too much and I wouldn’t try it again but I am glad I did it and the others were just plain wild and fun), and I got to ride a boat through the everglades. My time with the Smith family has been incredible. Some people ask if living with 5 kids was a bit too much. Not at all!!!!!! The kids are exuberant and sometimes a bit noisy but it is happy noise and they are just full of fun of love and joy and so sweet and polite.

To all of my sponsors of kids back in Uganda and donors in general I want to assure you that things are being well managed by my faithful staff who have been working many extra hours making sure that there are no problems or concerns not being cared for. I also have been in contact frequently and had a Skype meeting here in the US with my board for the US 501c that collects funds. They also give me a lot of support and confidence about the continuity of YES beyond my years.

This is a rather long blog but I am just feeling so grateful for so much that I feel I still have left a lot out.

I am really looking forward to getting back home. I love the US and so many people here but I also love Uganda where my heart and family are.

Love and thanks to all,

Carol

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Progress

Hello to all my friends, family and donors,

wet roadsWe are well into the rainy season with many roads quite muddy and difficult to use when checking on the kids (this picture is a road, not a river). All of our 260 or so kids who attend 64 different schools have finished first term and are bringing in the school reports. Those with sponsors also are asked to write letters. The office has been so very busy as there are always situations that need interventions or counseling.

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The kids at the rescue home also are allowed to go home for two weeks. We called all of the care givers of these kids in for a meeting where they are told about their child and any health or behavior issues that need watching. We do not want the kids to lose contact with village life and any family they still have. We continue to work on lessening the stigma these kids face with both families and villages.

We received very good news that the Manna Rescue Home has been accepted as one of only 17 homes in the whole country to be approved. The ministry is very strict on the qualifications for orphanages and we worked hard to pass all regulations.

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The construction for the Amaani Rwenzori is also coming along well. They are now doing roofing. There is still a lot to be done and interior work on construction always seems to take longer. The training buildings will also need to be equipped with things such as sewing machines, salon equipment for the beautician building and some very huge items for the ceramics studio. It will be an amazing program once things are ready and we look forward to a grand opening sometime late in the year.

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I will be away for some time as I am flying out on June 20th. I will be visiting my home town of Skaneateles, New York. It has been 40 years since I have been there. I will meet my brother there and also I hope to connect with some of my classmates from the graduating Class of ’62 (Skaneateles High). I am really looking forward to this visit. I will be in NY for 4 days and then will fly down to Florida where some good friends live. They are going to help me have a “vacation of a life time” going to theme parks and other places of interest. I also will be getting my back problems evaluated at the Florida Spine Institution. My pain is chronic and I hope to be able to resolve things and find a way to continue with my work here for as many years as God allows me.

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I ask you all to continue to keep our kids in prayer. They are incredible and brave young people who face so many issues but continue to look ahead with courage. As my logo for the Manna Home depicts, God holds all children of the world in the palm of His hand.

I continue to thank you all for all of your love, support and prayers. ~Carol

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Spring Time

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Hello friends and supporters of YES,

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and are now enjoying the start of spring. I do see that some of you are still having snow but at least you know that it will not last much longer. My Easter dawned with some clouds but ended up a beautiful day. That old saying, “red sky in the morning, sailor take warning” does not seem to apply here.

The kids at the Manna Rescue Home are doing well. Some new young kids are learning to play the band instruments and the older ones are always helpful with them. They are all back in school with some being taught at the home while others walk to the nearby primary school. As our kids get stronger they play and run a lot which does lead to accidents. Our youngest, Ronnie, fell and broke his arm but it does not slow him down at all. Our new teacher Deanna from US is adjusting to Ugandan life and the kids adore her.

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I am now in the countdown waiting for the West family who plan to come here for several years and help in YES. They hope to get here by September. I really need their help in many directions. They have been to Uganda several times and understand the conditions and challenges involved. I really pray that everything will work out for them.

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The buildings at Amaani Rwenzori! are coming up fast. It is so exciting seeing this happen. If there are any people interested in volunteering their talents in teaching different skills please contact me.  I really would love to have a ceramics expert who understands the trade with kilns, wheels and clay quality to come here to advise us. We expect construction to finish by late August. We could also use anyone who understands design and fashion for our sewing students as well as anyone interested in beautician work for our new and modern salon. We hope to have hair styles for the expats as well as for the local population. It is exciting times and we would be happy to have some of you be apart of this new venture.

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Lastly, I have joined the modern world—sort of— with a selfie stick. I tried it out with my country director David and myself. It is sort of obvious that I am using it but lots of fun.

Best wishes to all and have a beautiful spring.

Carol

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