Adyeri is in her mid-90s. She was married to a Muganda man when she was eleven years old and taken away from her village and family. Her firstborn child arrived when she was twelve years old. Her husband, Mukasa, was considered a wealthy man. They lived in Bbunga in an area just above the lower slums in the capital of Uganda. She describes her married life as difficult from the beginning because she missed her family and felt exiled in her own country. There was much for her to learn in her new culture: a new language, a hotter climate than that of her home village, and most difficult, how to be a wife and mother at such a young age. She gave birth to nine children and five died of AIDS, which left many grandchildren in her care. This list included her granddaughter Gloria, one of our sponsored children. (See photo).
The generous and selfless hearts of Adyeri and her husband continue to serve struggling women around Bbunga. Her husband built several rentals on their property, yet most families stayed for free because they could not afford rent. Moses, one of our sponsored boys who studies at the University, testifies that without Adyeri’s kind heart, he and his four siblings would have been homeless.
The average age for a woman in Uganda is sixty-two years old. Adyeri says it has been a blessing to live such a long life and able to help her many grandchildren and neighboring families. Gloria was selected for sponsorship of her education by a wonderful family who has pledged to support her through her remaining years of school.
“Gift” lives with her jjajja (grandmother) Joyce along with two of jjajja’s grandsons (3 and 4 year olds) as well as a young woman whose name is Vivian and her three month old baby Beline. Gift passed her primary exams with high grades which means she can graduate into secondary education and be a candidate for one of the best schools. Gift wishes to become a doctor and she excels in science and math. Like all our children, she enjoyed her zoo experience and her smile was huge talking about swimming in a pool, seeing zebras, giraffes and monkeys. Gift has a beautiful future for herself, but so does her jjajja and Vivian. Joyce is our first vocational training graduate in culinary. She currently earns money by sewing traditional tunics for men and she has someone who is making her a brick oven so she can start cooking bread to sell in different shops. She says she “missed out on life as a youth”, and now she is asking God for health and a longer life so she can use her new skills and continue to help her family. One of our graduates in tailoring is currently training Vivian to sew so she will have an opportunity to feed and raise her child, Beline. It will be exciting to return in two years to see the progress of jjajja Joyce, Gift and Vivian.
In January, 2020, our Michigan team (Mary, Judy and TIna) visited business locations of our first five vocational training graduates in tailoring. They were provided micro-finance loans after graduating, which they are now paying back into the program. These five women are currently training the next carefully selected five, and most are also training their children to sew. It was a highlight of our visit to see exciting changes in these women who are now respected in their communities, able to provide food for their children, better housing, as well as tuition fees for their kids.
THE FAVOR OF OUR GOD - January 13, 2020
On January 13, the Michigan mission team arrived in Uganda to join our women and children whom we serve. We were greeted with a celebration of praise songs, dancing and a prepared music program. Two years we prayed for God's strength and willingness to send us back to Uganda to serve. Ivan, a graduate of our sponsorship program, is music director of KFU. Seven years ago a Leland, Michigan student, Zoe, raised money for KFU and when asked, she expressed the wish to build a music/theatre/dance program. The Power of One....she who planted a seed that has grown over six years resulting in an amazing program which reaches hundreds of kids who live deep in the slums of Kampala and enriches their lives and gives them hope.
Joyce is one of five women enrolled in a culinary institute to learn specialized cookery and baking skills. Joyce is the grandmother to our sponsored child "Gift". She is greatly loved by KFU women and staff because of her big heart she has for children. Apart from struggling to raise her own children after getting divorced, Joyce has been taking in many more kids in her small home to provide a roof over their heads and sometimes spending what little she gets from selling vegetables to provide food for them. Her determination of wanting to see all young girls in her community to live a better life has been a huge inspiration to the management of Kids First. When she is empowered with more skills in catering, the sky will be the limit on how far she will share what she has learned.
We can't begin to describe how grateful and humbled we are by Ggaba Model School (where many of our kids attend, and whom have helped us rent rooms to provide mentoring and education sessions for local kids).
After seeing the impact Kids First has had in the lives of sponsored kids, as well as how we are reaching out to bless, encourage and empower as many as we can in the community, they presented an award to Kids First at a recent school function.
This is a tremendous encouragement to all those working for Kids First, to have their hard work acknowledged so publicly.
Thank you to all those working so hard in Uganda. Thank you to our teams working in New Zealand and America. And thank you to all who have come on board to support us in anyway, big or small. Everything makes a difference!
So I've just had THE BEST skype catch up with Joshua this evening (their Saturday morning). Not only did he arrange for 3 of the Kids First board to be present to have a brief chat, but a bunch of sponsored kids were there too! We had a great chat, though I'm sure seeing me on a computer was a strange experience for some!
A highlight was seeing our recent school leaver, Christine. She has just finished orientation week at Kampala International University and is going to start her Law studies next week!!! Super exciting and we are just so so proud of her.
We had a great update about Mike as well. You may remember that he had completed his mechanics training, despite sustaining a broken leg part way though. He is now in the first 3 months of his apprenticeship and doing really well. We are so proud of his achievements.
For now it is school holidays in Uganda and we will be making sure we get school fees and sanitary items sent over for the next term in 2.5 weeks. We are also in the beginning phases of organising a penpal programme with a primary school here in New Zealand, which is another really exciting opportunity for connection and learning.
One final update sure to make your day: remember those microfinance loans? They were given out to 20 women initially. These women have all paid them back and returned the funds, which have been given out - again, and again...and again. 4 times! That's right! 80 women so far have benefitted from our microfinance programme! We are so grateful for this and so stoked to see the change it is bringing to the women and families involved in Kids First.
Love to you all. Have a great weekend. Get in touch if you'd like to know more or you want to get involved.
Thank you for your patience!
Sunny and Sarah are back from their travels to India, and in the meantime there have been some big changes in Uganda to the perception of sanitary pads which means we have done a rethink on our sanitary pad project!
I think we can all agree that reusable pads are the way to go, environmentally and for cost effectiveness. With increased awareness and government campaigning in Uganda, the taboo is lifting for girls to be able to wash and dry sanitary pads, which was the main factor holding us back from taking this step with Kids First.
Great news for our girls, Uganda, and the environment!
So then, did we need the pad machines we traveled to India for!? Turns out we did not! What are we doing instead?? Well it's in its early stages but we plan to start making our own sanitary pads for those within the Kids First group, and to sell!
More on this to come! But here is a quick sneak peak!
Welcome to 2017!
Apologies for the quietness on the blog front....our two directors Joshua and Sarah have each been very busy with some exciting news! Both families have welcomed little boys this year, Sarah's born in June and Joshua's in November.
However, with Sarah's son now 6 months old and her family about to embark on a trip to India to check out the sanitary pad machines for Kids First (yes, it's finally happening - yay!) we thought it about time to finally get around to a blog post we had been mulling over for some time.....
Marketing is an interesting field. It can influcence a lot of popular culture, but is also shaped by the culture itself. I have found the marketing of sanitary products in New Zealand and Uganda fasinating, since the start of our obsession (in a healthy way!) over sanitary products.
Take New Zealand for example. We like to be active, our women want to be empowered, and we don't want something like a period to hold us back. Our products reflect this. Most significantly the "u" brand (think: it's all about you). They even have the #bebold on their website. How empowering is that?
Check out some of the other pics of the names of our brands below (even Libra, get this from Wikipedia: symbolised by a mythological creature with the head, wings and talons of an eagle and the hind legs of a lion. Sounds creepy, but powerful! Even the incontinence pads are called Confidence!
Contrast this with Uganda, where products not only stereotype periods (7 days...what if your period is longer, shorter - are you normal?) but also remind your of the persistence (Always) and taboo subject of periods - I mean "Secrets", seriously!? I totally get that you might want it to be secret from some stranger on the street that you actually have your period right then and there, but in generally this should not be a secret or taboo topic in our society. Making it so opressess young girls who have to go through this experience alone and ill-educated about it.
What are your thoughts? Do you think we influence branding of products, or do they influence us?
Follow us on our journey to finding these sanitary pad machines - we will be regularly posting on facebook and hopefully on here too, depending on the internet availability. Here's hoping they are suitable and affordable, so we can help break down the walls of taboo that hold our girls back!
God bless and Stay Free!
Fantastic news, Linda has been found! Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers!
After Linda was taken my her mum, prior to finishing treatment for her burns, Joshua went to the police to put an announcement out on the local radio.
This week Linda's mum brought her into her school, where her brother Billington also attends. The siblings are so happy to be reunited!
Linda is now happily back at school and safe. Joshua is working to track down extended family members who may be able to help care for these kiddies in the school holidays. If we are unable to find family who can care for them they will need to remain in the care of Kids First.
We would appreciate your prayers that we can find caring and reliable family members to care for these precious children these Christmas holidays.
Here at Kids First we all have something to say, so this blog will be updated by members of our team as our work progresses to keep all of you in the loop!