Today was AMAZING. We were able to visit Rosene - a girl who has only recently been sponsored. Her sponsor, Robyn, has been instrumental in spreading the word about Kids First in New Zealand, and has sold lots of crafts for the Kids First mothers. When we weren't able to get Rosene's most recent term reports and letters to her sponsor, Joshua simply told us: wait till you get here, and I will explain...
The road slowly changed from a dirt track to ... a tiny dirt track ...
Finally, we arrived at a clearing where Rosene lives with her mum and siblings.
Rosene's family came to Uganda hoping for a better life and more opportunities. When they were struggling the the slums in Kampala, one of the Kids First family who has some family land out of the city, offered Rosene's Dad a chance to work on the land to provide for his family. He did just that. Then sold all the crops and kept the money for himself. On the motorbike he was loaned, he left with a new girlfriend leaving his wife and children in a new country speaking a foreign language, with no support.
It was heartbreaking and a huge privilege to sit with Rosene's mum and talk to her about her life: what has happened, where she is at now, and her hopes and fears for her kids. Rosene's older sister (14 years old) had already been sent out (alone and vulnerable) to work the land nearby to help with money for the family.
Rosene is fortunate - she is in school. But given her living situations we realised she will never reach her potential and her opportunity of education would be wasted if we can't provide more support for her and her family.
After long discussions with her family we decided on moving Rosene into boarding school. This way she will have education, a regular bed and "space" of her own, as well as regular meals and access to toilets and water. We will post an update of this move soon!
This was such a humbling experience, and we are so grateful to be able to play a small role in helping out families like Rosene's. If you are interested in being involved, please get in touch!
Margret Nantumbwe is a 56 year old widow who lost her husband in 2001, leaving her with eight orphans: five boys and eight girls. Sadly, one of her daughters died of AIDS, and this was the mother of one of our sponsored kids, Mesach, who is also HIV positive.
It has not been easy for Margret to take care of her family. Most of her kids did not manage to finish school, and some got pregnant while at home, adding more burden. By the time her husband died, he was building a house which they're now living in. However, it’s been hard for her to finish it. Thank God for Mesach’s sponsor who has been so supportive to this family. She has extended extra support to Margret by sending a monetary gift of 150,000 shillings.
that is bring a smile to not only Margret but to the entire family
Because at Kids First we do not agree with hand outs, I sat with Margret to look at the best way that she could use this money to improve her family's standard of living. When I asked, “what do you want to use this gift?” she gave me a huge smile and said that she wanted to work on the floor of her house which was so dusty and unclean for her and her family. We immediately called a builder to see if he could work within our budget. When he said yes, tears of joy ran down Margret’s face. She knelt down, lifted up her hands, and started praising God. As we talk now she has a new clean cemented floor.
I am so sure we did not only provide a new floor, but also reduced any illness that can come as a result of dust, damp, and poor hygiene. Thanks a lot to Mesach’s sponsor for changing lives in Uganda.
A note from Mary: The woman who sponsors this child has a very compassionate heart for the women and children of Uganda. She is the teacher I have been working with since 2010 and it is her students who have helped sponsor the soccer program. She also helps coordinate the penpal program here, helps students with their fundraising, and helps me whenever I need it...as she did last Saturday when I did an all day craft show.
I am so grateful that Joshua takes the time to not only investigate how to use 'gift money' but to share the positive end results. It means everything to sponsors to receive such stories and photos of their children.
I am attaching one photo of Judy taken last Saturday as she helped me set up for the craft show.
Ok all, apologies for the blogging hiatus, but I really had to get back on board to share with you all the awesome party we had to celebrate 8 years of Kids First while we were back in Uganda. We went to a waterfront "resort" on Lake Victoria, and thanks so some generous sponsors (who specifically requested their donations be used for something fun!) we were able to throw an awesome party with great food, some dancing, and even 2 fizzies per kid (this is a big deal). Of course we had speeches too, and an awesome cake made by Joshua's fiancee. Everyone came dressed in their absolute best, and we had a blast.
It was actually really cool to look back on how far Kids First has come and to remember all those who have given their help and time along the way. A simple yet powerful dream to help women support themselves and give their kids a future. Simple doesn't mean easy, and it hasn't been. But despite any trouble we have had, Kids First has continued to grow and it's awesome to hear the testimonies of those who have had their lives changed through Kids First.
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!