Sunday, May 15, 2016

Welcome to the Family

What a wonderful time when new children are welcomed into our Home of Angels.

It starts with a Skype meeting between Canada and Uganda with all children included.  We talk about situations in the community.  Should we bring in a boy or girl and what ages do they think they should be?  They are included into the decision making.  Why?  Because we are a family and we make decisions together.  This way, when that new child arrives, they feel as though they contributed
and start the welcoming process.  A welcome song is sung and within hours of playing, the new arrival(s) feel comfortable enough to call this their new home and family.

Before we started building in 2010, two of the original children told us they didn't like being called orphans.  They had always dreamed of a real home.  We told them that we thought of them as more like "angels" not orphans, hence the name Jaaja Barb's Home of Angels was established.

We are currently into our 7th year and it just keeps getting better.  God takes the weakest of the weakest and sets them loose.  You just have to see the pictures in this blog and the smiles on these children's faces to know that it was Him in control.  We never know what's going to happen in the future but the one thing we do know is, He will give Edwin and I the tools to provide this home for a total of 50 "angels".

Thanks again to all that have gone the extra mile to help us, especially offering to be sponsors.
We desperately need people who will care about a little one and give them that home they dream about.

I'd like you to meet the Tri-Cities Rotaract Club.  This special club had raised money for us in the past and this year decided to have a "Benefit Concert".  I was sad I was in Uganda at the time but with the pictures they sent, I was able to share it with Edwin and the kids.  A big thanks to all of you who worked so hard to make this a success.  You made a difference in these children's lives and they all say "Thank you".

Everyone felt it was time to find 5 more children.  Edwin travelled north and found 2 twin boys ages 4 1/2 years that lived with a very ill grandmother.  He offered to help her by taking the boys to raise.  When all paperwork was finalized, they were brought to their new home with their sister Sarah who asked if she could accompany them to make it an easier transition.

Meet Paul

 The other children shared their clothes with them and Edwin later took them to the market for shoes, clothes and other necessities.  Shoes are for sure in order by the looks of it.

Meet Silas

Silas chose the alligator and dinosaur PJ's.  For these kids all clothing is good for bed and for play.

Meet Sarah

Two weeks later Edwin got a call that grandma was very ill and as Sarah had been her caregiver, it was too difficult for her now.  She was just too young to lift and cook for her.  The community leader asked if it would be possible for us to raise her with her siblings.  The answer of course was a yes and Edwin started the process of her coming into the family. We are very happy to have all three siblings living together and know that this was always in God's plan from the very beginning.  

To see these children coming from the desperate situations they came from, to seeing them now is truly a blessing.  It might look like we are always telling these kids to smile but we're not.  They're truly this happy right down to 5am washing their clothes and singing outside my bedroom window.  Who needs an alarm clock?

If you went back 70 blogs and saw where Joanne (left) and Hope (right) came from, you would not
believe them to be the same children.  Precious in the middle had similar circumstances and is already feeling amazing love from her new family.

A special day!  Edwin's father sent down matoke and cabbage from his village and Aunty Joy and the girls are preparing their favourite dish.

Edwin and Sula prepare the cabbage and onions.

We wanted to show you the boys home and how the trees are growing so tall for shade.  The hot sun and the torrential rains play a big part on the beauty of our home.

The home is now the girls home with Edwin's office on the end.  We felt it much better that he be close to the gate as we don't want people wandering around in the compound.  And no, that isn't our ambulance.  It had broken down while trying to help us and now waiting for parts.

Edwin and I don't take any of this for granted but when we see the expressions of outsiders who come to visit, we really give our heads a shake to understand what is really happening here.  It truly is a miracle in the middle of the jungle.  OK, bush but I call it jungle without animals. :)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Reaching the Broken Heart

Broken hearts are caused by many different reasons.  Whether it be a young child living on the streets or an elderly widow with no way to survive, the heart is broken.  God loves the broken people and as Christians, we are challenged to make a difference to help them.

Our first team from Northview church arrived at our Home of Angels on March 18th.  What a joy it was to host these amazing men and women and to witness the love poured out on the people in our community.  Loving and praying for people that seemed to have no hope.  Taking food to our dear friend Mutesi that is presently in her last stages of AIDS; passing by a widow's mud hut and giving her a Canadian flag scarf; sitting beside a blind man and listening to his stories and so much more.  Pastor Ezra preached a service on Palm Sunday on a radio station that covers the entire country of Uganda.  Our poor community saw the love of God on this visit and are still asking where the Muzungu's (whites) have gone.

Here are some activities they experienced in our community of Mpumudde.

Jaaja Judy and Jaaja Carol showing compassion to an 98-year-old grandpa.

Almost daily, Edwin and I pass this wonderful elderly lady who struggles so hard with life.  She has
7  widowed  HIV/AIDS adults living in her home.  We stopped by to give her hugs and a new scarf from Canada.  Probably the first gift she has ever received.

The children wanted to show the team what they do in their "God's Little Ministry".  Thanks to Marlaina for her monthly food donation to Mutesi, they were able to present food and soap with the team present.

Kristin was also able to present Mutesi with a scarf from Canada.

We visited our local "Home for the Elderly".  Thanks to Joyce for the monthly support for food that the team witnessed them receiving.  Jaaja Judy connected to an elderly blind man and listened to his stories while others took a tour of the property.

Originally, this was the only old folks home in Uganda but in the past 6 months, another one has been built in Kampala, the capital city.  These people, both old and mentally challenged enjoyed this visit very much and were grateful for all prayers over them.

We want to thank the Gleaners once again for providing soup for 150 orphaned children.  The team was kind enough to bring it from Canada and also helped us with funding the cost of other items.  Everyone helped....from Edwin cutting 14 large cabbages to the aunties and children making matoke and other Ugandan favourites.  The children served and made sure everyone was happy.  It was a very special Easter.

These children are from an orphanage that has closed down.  Many were forced to go to the streets but Edwin knew where to find the ones left in our area and invited them all to join us in the celebration of Christ's resurrection.

Edwin found two more children in a village north of us that are suffering terribly.  They are 5-year- old twin boys named Kato and Waiswa and will arrive on very soon when all the paperwork is completed.  We plan to find three more little girls before I leave in May and once again let this beautiful family adjust while I continue to find sponsors.

Edwin's father frequently sends us Talapia fish, mattock and oranges.  This was for the team but they had left the day prior and the look you are seeing on Edwin's face is sheer glee.....He THINKS he is going to eat this by himself.

A sincere "Thank You" from the team and children to everyone who either helped with funding their trip or in the children's case.....for caring enough about them to provide a home, food, schooling and most of all LOVE.

All of us at the Home of Angels would like to thank Northview church for the funds to purchase 500 chicks, 30 more chairs, 100 plates and also to be able to feed the hungry in our area but most of all, for their visit to Jinja, Uganda to encourage us.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Simply Trusting

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You....... Psalm 56

That's the message the children have learned here in our Home of Angels.  A message that is being passed on to the newer children by their older brothers and sisters.  A message of how His love never fails and not to be afraid in their new home or with their new life.  Our most recent child "Precious" for example.  A very humble little girl that is only 3 years old.  She wouldn't look you in the eye when she first arrived but now she is wanting a hug every day and I am the one blessed to give that hug.

So much has happened over the past few months.  The elections for President were in February and there was some unrest in the country, especially near us.  Edwin and the children evacuated to his father's village where they were safe and were well fed.  The schools were closed and reopened 2 weeks later.  They are now having to go to school 6 days a week to catch up.

While they were gone, we lost our 1000 chickens to Newcastle disease which was a shame. We needed the eggs for protein for the children and the loss was also felt in the community as the children gave out eggs to people with HIV/AIDS.  It's not just the children that are "Simply Trusting", Edwin and I are too.  We know that He is in complete control of our operation and we will be able to order more chicks very soon.

We plan to go into the northern villages to find more children next month.  We feel that we are ready and have stabilized to where the new children have all adjusted.  We will be looking for more sponsors in the near future so if anyone is interested in supporting a child, we would be so grateful.

In Uganda, the culture is that each child has up to 3 names.  We were introduced to this child as Stella  but when I arrived, she was known as Precious.  We are not sure what other names she has but since she is so "precious"....we will stick to that name.  She is only 3 years old, goes to school 5 days a week and is being trained to work like the other children.

This is the start of our long awaited moving day.  The girls packed up all their belongings and transferred them into the new home that Northview church so kindly donated.  We now really need to find children without a home as we be able to accommodate many more.

Girls new home

Oh boy....was this a challenge.  We needed to clean up the original latrine by peeling all the bright red paint off.  The kids, Edwin and I spent 3 days scraping and finally........

Edwin was able to paint it a more neutral colour matching the other latrine.  The kids are using the showers here only.

The little people come home early afternoon every day so I get to spend time with them before naps.  Because of the heat, they usually crash for 3 hours and up in time for the others to come home for their break.

We are very blessed to have this woman as our Aunty.  She loves the children as her own and she works so hard both in heat and rain to make everything right for them.  This is porcho she is making for lunch and dinner.  The ambulance you see in the background helped us bring firewood one day when the engine failed as it was leaving.  They are in the process of getting it fixed now.

Meet Aunty Aidha.   She too is very dedicated in making the children feel comfortable and teaching them the ways of survival.   Aidha is our chief program coordinator and works with the children teaching them about Jesus.  She is also the expert in taking out jiggers in their feet when they first arrive.

I wanted to capture a picture of the children off to Sunday school.  They honestly are like this all the time.  Smiling and never angry with one another.  They are the happiest kids I have ever seen and we are so proud of the older ones for the guidance they provide to the little ones.  This is Annet in the black dress holding Alan in the white shirt.  She came to us at 12 years old being sole provider for her 2 siblings.  Her sisters are being taken care of in the village and we make sure she sees them.

Edwin and I are so grateful to all the people around us that have done something to make our Home of Angels successful.  There are so many of you from around the world who have gone out of your way to make a difference.  We want to thank Elliot and his team for making a website for us.  We have had very positive reactions and I know it will make a difference for us in the future.

Friday, February 19, 2016

West Coast Story

Hi everyone,                 
For those of you who saw our previous blog, you would have read about the wonderful young adults of the Tri-Cities Rotaract Club providing Christmas for our "Home of Angels" and as if that wasn't enough, purchasing new backpacks with gifts inside for each of our "Angels" for school next year.  

The Tsawwassen Rotary had recently offered to share a medical container going to Uganda and I have been working hard to organize the many boxes in my home.  As I am also leaving for Uganda very soon, the Rotary has been very supportive, offering to store our items until the loading date PLUS pay all costs for transport.  Once again these young adults of the Tri-Cities Rotaract Club have volunteered to help me unload these boxes from my home and help offload them into the Rotary World Helps Warehouse.

.......and that's not all

We were presented with a HUGE surprise.

The Tri-Cities Rotaract Club chose our "Home of Angels" to have a benefit concert for.
They named it " The West Coast Story" and as you can see below, it will be held in Port Moody on March 3rd at the Hudson Station.   Everyone is welcome.

The young adults of the Tri-Cities Rotaract Club solidly stand behind their mission statement..... and we are indebted. 

                            “Three Cities. One Mission. Creating Change. Taking Action.”

I will be sending an updated blog regarding our home and the children soon after I arrive.  I will try and give you all the updated information regarding the kids and home.  Edwin is so busy trying to take care of the children and both compounds, I cannot expect him to continually take pictures too.  I don't know many people that can do what he does and so efficiently.

Blessings to all of you

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Love in Action

Christmas was a wonderful celebration for the children this year.  Thanks to the Tri-Cities Rotaract club, Aunty Joy was able to prepare all sorts of different foods for them.  They raised enough money for the food and also to gift each child with a new backpack for school.  It's not about the Christmas gift in our Home of Angels because every day is a gift to these kids. The Ugandan focuses on food and family to celebrate, but what Edwin and I were so impressed with, were the children celebrating the birth of Jesus also.

The rains have now stopped which means the malaria will ease off and thanks to a wonderful supporter donating a new lawn mower, the grass can now be cut low where they won't settle.  Our little Ivan had cerebral malaria which is a dangerous type stage 4 affecting the brain, but God again was watching out for him and he is finally home from the hospital feeling much better.

The kids are preparing for the team from Northview to come.  I will leave a couple of weeks ahead of them to put the women's touch on things and probably have the girls make some banana bread.  This is where I get my rest, as they have learned to make it better than I can.  No kidding.  For heaven sakes, I hear my plantation of banana trees in Malinda village is doubling in size...we have to do something with all these bananas.

I'd love to show you what "Love in Action" pictures look like in our eyes.

It doesn't matter what time of year it is....Aunty Joy and Aunty Aidha are always there for the children providing food and making sure they are doing well.  They truly love the children as their own.

I'm not sure where this amazing idea came from, but can you see the Christmas tree in the middle of the table?  It's not a real tree but these branches look like Evergreen and were put into a container with the balloons as ornaments.  And no....the pop is not opened.  Food is not served yet but they just like to look at them and decide who will share with who so they all get a taste of each kind.  This is Christmas.

Here comes Marian serving the food.  No one will start until she is sitting down and someone prays.

I'd like to introduce you to the Tri-Cities Rotaract Club out of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.  This is the 2nd year that this club has done something to raise money for our kids at the Home of Angels.  Thanks to all of you for caring enough to help us each year.

These are the backpacks that were also donated.  Each pack has the child's name carefully written
on it with a picture of what they dream to do in their future.  All filled with school items.

When you write a letter to your sponsored child, Edwin will pick them up in Jinja at the post office.  Usually, they can't read them unless they are written very clearly and in easy English.  Remember they only learn to print in school.  No cursive.  If they don't understand, Edwin will translate.  This is a very special time for these kids and the letter is treasured.

This is what I call "Love in Action" at the Gleaners.  I couldn't resist this picture.  And no....they weren't using a knife....we staged this.  These two kids worked very hard helping Mom cut onions one entire morning.  They were the only ones with clear eyes but the foggiest glasses I had ever seen.  I'm still laughing!

And where did these onions go?

Into a soup for this priceless child in Uganda who hadn't eaten for an entire day. 

This is what I mean "Kids helping Kids".  Our kids, if given the chance, will do what is needed to help a child less fortunate.  I may have laughed myself silly watching those crazy glasses but for those kids, this was serious business.  They were cutting 150 servings of onions an hour to make soup.  Bless their hearts!

I would like you to meet Hope and Desire.  When we brought in our last container, we had 30 quilts made by "The Pincushion Collective" girls.  They started making quits for us in early 2013 and their goal was a total of 60 quilts.  Thank you Michele, Gina and all the people that spent 3 years doing this for our kids.  You made your goal and we will treasure every one of them.  

And Edwin....I'm ruining your surprise.  These wonderful women made you a very unique quilt with many words inserted in the swirls....I'm not going to pretend I know what I am talking about when I say swirls but it will be arriving soon and you will understand.  Thanks again Michele, Gina and team.

It's been a rough few months in Uganda with the weather and not being able to send pictures.  Edwin has spent a lot of his time going to hospitals with sick kids and pictures were not a priority.  The main thing is that God was watching over them all and everyone is now doing well.  OK, maybe not one.  Will you please pray for Jowel?  She is in the hospital with a high fever and vomiting with a possible malaria parasite. but they are not sure.

The gardens are starting to flourish again and the chickens are still laying enough eggs to help the children keep healthy.  They are still providing enough eggs for the widows in our area and our kids all know the orphans around Mpumudde and they too receive whatever we can spare.

Thanks again for continuing to follow our story and for all your prayers.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sharing the Blessings

Christmas time is almost here and we hope that you are preparing your hearts for the amazing gift of Christ's birth and all that it means.  Whether we celebrate in a country blessed with everything or in an impoverished nation, we must never forget that we have received a priceless gift and to remember all that He has done for us.

In our 2012 Christmas blog, I wrote about the snow falling ever so gently in Canada while in Uganda, it was so hot.  This year in 2015, we have rain and lots of it on both sides of the world.  In Uganda, it has been devastating.  One report had warned that Uganda and other East African countries would experience an El Nino effect from October 2015 until February 2016.  Cholera and malaria are threatening the lives of many people and Edwin is not just standing by.  He has taken his wages to try and help some of the hundreds of kids in our area by purchasing mosquito nets and distributing them.  Like he says...who knows of a rich man that has a child dying of malaria?  These poor children are losing their lives because they have no protection and people like Edwin reach out to help.  I have witnessed the horrors of poverty there and I try to imagine watching it daily.  To go to 4 funerals in one day with children dying under 6 years old due to lack of a $10.00 mosquito net is mind boggling.

Edwin and I both realize we cannot help everyone and we know we need to concentrate on helping our children first.  We are working very hard to find operating costs for 2016 and that has to be a priority.  I do understand why he has tried to help and I am very proud of him for doing God's work at this special time of year.

Two kids from a village north of us that came to receive a mosquito net.

Edwin, along with Moses, Ivan, Bridget, Lovisa and Annette walked 1 1/2 hours into the bush and found kids living with no parents.  Edwin picked one child from each group and brought them back to our Home of Angels compound.  Our kids then presented each one with a mosquito net and walked them back 1 1/2 hours to their village.  The reason why they did it this way was to prevent a stampede as we had witnessed in the past.

Thank you TOIS for providing a way for us to get electricity when the City of Jinja cuts us off.  The people with homes suffer due to the demand used by businesses and factories.  We now have an inverter with batteries so that when the power goes off, we will have a stand-by system.  This is a wonderful gift to have as communication between Canada and Uganda is so vital in our operations.

Play-away in the U.K. has been raising funds for a playground for us for the past few years.  They are now installing it and the kids are so excited.  Thank you Rachel, Mark and all your team members for wanting to put a smile on the children's faces.

Kid's playing

African Relief Club

This group of "amazing" students at Chilliwack Senior Secondary School, along with their teacher Steve, have opened a food kiosk within their school to raise money for their organization in Nigeria.  They decided to partner with us at Home of Angels in Uganda and share all profits made annually between both of us.  Their African Relief Club is making a big difference in both of our organizations and I wanted everyone to see what I mean when I say "Kids helping Kids" is the best part about what we are doing.   I was brought to tears when they presented us with this cheque.

This is a village very close to our Home of Angels.  The village where our little Nathan lived that died of AIDS.  The children have basically nothing including clothes or food but always have a big smile.

One day when the kids were at school, Edwin found clothes in our container and decided to give them a present.  Smiles even got bigger.

Because we have been blessed with a donation from the Rotary to share a container, I won't be going back for Christmas this year.  It is very important to put this together so I will wait a few more months until our team from Northview arrives.  The children are already working hard on a welcoming performance with the odd Skype visit to show me what they are learning.  I am so proud.

Thanks to all of you who supported us in 2015 and made it possible to grow in the way we have.  Our farm is doing well with the chickens and vegetables along with the goats thriving up north.  If it wasn't for all of you, none of this would be happening.

Merry Christmas with blessings to all in the New Year 2016.