Prim is 33 years old. She is married with four children and has minimal education. She happily describes her culinary training achievement as “regaining her self-dignity and worth as a woman.” Prim lost both parents at an early age and she had to leave school. She faced sexual, physical and psychological abuse, resulting in an early marriage. She hoped to find happiness and self-worth as a person, but the reality of her marriage was domestic violence and being called “useless” by her husband.
Prim has longed for a skill which would make her useful to her family and community, so being selected for culinary training was a “dream come true and the best thing that has ever happened in her life.” After completing her training, she received a micro-finance loan to start her own business. She bought an oven, rented a room, and began making bread. Prim is now able to contribute to running her home and, because of COVID-19, she has gained respect from her husband because he has been out of work and turned to her for support. There is now peace in her home, no further domestic violence. Her kids do not go to bed hungry. After experiencing this life transformation, Prim wishes all Kids First mothers to be able to gain a skill. She is anxious to begin helping as many mothers as possible with culinary training.
Kids First Uganda has trained five women in culinary, ten women in tailoring, two women in cosmetology, and two men are currently training in auto mechanics.
Livingstone happily says this has been the best year of his life no matter what is currently happening in the world. He never dreamed he would have an opportunity to get a secondary education let alone being boarded at a good school. He says this opportunity has given him hope that everything is possible in life and he is not going to let COVID-19 ruin his dreams. He was enrolled in school at the beginning of this year and before schools were shut down, he passed his school football team trials and was accepted into the team. He is not allowed to play soccer in the school field yet, but he seeks out empty spaces to play with his friends. Livingstone is happy that, together with his family, they have been able to receive food from the government and he continues his school lessons from different television stations. He misses his new school, new friends, and expresses sincere gratitude to his sponsor, Tom, from Suttons Bay for supporting him.
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!
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!