Monday, April 7, 2014

Changing Lives

As you all know, we have 11 beautiful children living in our Home of Angels and throughout the past year their lives have drastically changed for the good.  So much so, that some of the kids in school tell others they are an "Angel" too and live at our home.  That's sad because they see the happiness in our kids and want to be a part of that too.  We want you to know that all of you reading this story have played a big part in changing their lives for the better, whether it be from donations, prayers or helping to raise money, it means a great deal to us.  The fact you care is also a lot of my inspiration, so thanks.

I left for Uganda on January 4th and returned April 4th and believe me, it was an action packed 3 months.  The kids started their own ministry "God's little Angels Ministry" and they have committed to help 2 families a month.  We had a projector donated and our good friends, the Long's had a sturdy 200 x 200 screen for our grass hut to show the Jesus video on.  We were blessed to find a young man named Jonah to teach the children about the Bible every Sunday afternoon and they will soon be inviting their friends in the community to watch the story too.

We distributed the Gleaners food throughout Uganda and again, our wonderful friend Johnny Long donated his time to make us a video to present to the Gleaners to show the volunteers where their efforts had gone.

We had Catarina from Coquitlam B.C. come and stay with us for 2 weeks.  Her expertise was going into the schools to teach the young girls about womanhood and safe sex.  Catarina also sponsors Hope, so it was nice for Hope to meet her in person.  We look forward to the day when all sponsors can come.

So here it is 4am…jet lag time once again and I would like to show you some of the things we did in the 3 months that captured my heart.  We are very proud of these kids, coming out of the situations we found them in and turning their lives around to help others.

We had planned to get the second chicken house finished but due to all the problems with money, we have to be patient.  The roof will soon be covered in steel sheets and the finishing touches done.  Until then, we will concentrate on only broilers.

We recently purchased 750 more broilers from the profit of the last 600.  This might look a little different from our chicken farms but with the guidance of our chicken farmers in Canada, we seem to be doing well.  Only 2 died upon arrival from Germany due to suffocation.  Sula and James are with them 24/7 and I am convinced they are giving it their very best to make this project work.

School is out for Alan…Yes, he may be 3 years old but he goes just like his big sisters and brothers.  Shaban takes his donated wheelchair and picks him up every noon and wheels him home on his lap.  These are not posed smiles….it's how they are every day riding through the gate.

We made a decision that every sponsored child that has a visitor will come with us to the airport to pick them up.  Hope not only met Catarina but saw the Nile River and Lake Victoria for the first time too.  We realized these kids have never seen all the things they learn about in school so this was a real treat.

We arranged for Catarina to go to a average of 2 schools or institutions a day to speak about feminine hygiene.  For some of these kids, they hide for one week a month and miss school, not understanding what is happening to their bodies.  She then had a class in our grass hut with the teachers, showing them how the kits can be made by hand and for them to continuing showing others.  Thanks Catarina for helping so many understand what we all take for granted.

Hackers for Charity is a non-profit organization that leverages the skills of technologists. They solve technology challenges for various non-profits and provide food, equipment, job training and computer education to the world's poorest citizens.  This Acer laptop was fitted with a tiny chip that holds everything these children need to learn from.  From adding 1+1=2 to Calculus,  it's there.  Every subject taught in school from our Grade 1 through Grade 12 is also included.  We have been very blessed with John and Jen Long (HFC) in that they want to equip our children with these chips if we can purchase the $200.00 laptops.  We have already set up our classroom thanks to Nina and her husband, so we would be able to have a structured class atmosphere.  Please pray that we can do this.  Also, if you would like to read more about HFC please go to

The children participated in helping the elderly at the only "Home for the Elderly" in all of Uganda.
Because of the suffering here, we made a decision to always be a part of helping them.  The kids planted all their maize and distributed soap to them for washing.  If we ever get a van, we are going to help them take the elderly to hospitals but as it is now, they have no way to get there and they just pass on in this home.  God has put it on all our hearts to do something and we are definitely listening to Him.

Oh my goodness….It's 100 degrees and Frank our guard won't take off his new Alaska hat.

Meet Jonah, our new Bible mentor.  Jonah was from an orphanage too and he knows that without the love of God, he would have never made it.  He wants to make sure our children learn the Bible and know all scripture, so he teaches for one hour every Sunday afternoon.

I am so excited to find someone shorter than me….These are the Karamojong people from northern Uganda.  They have a reputation for being violent, uncivilized and stubborn and are also known
for herding cattle.  The women here have tattooed their faces to show their beauty but we only saw the beauty from within.  What a wonderful group of people who really were very grateful for the food the Gleaners had prepared for them.

Thanks to Thomas once again.  The 500 solar lights are going to only the poorest.  The people are so very grateful to you for this gift and one day we hope you will come and see the difference you have made in their lives.  Edwin is teaching them how to use them here.

We realized after Hope going to the airport to meet Catarina, that these children had never been anywhere.  We decided to take them on a little trip in a real van.   This included their own town Jinja which many had never seen before, let alone been in a van.  They had the most wonderful day and it made our hearts happy to see them so excited and grateful.

Sometimes Edwin and I just watch these kids changing by the minute.  They are such a beautiful family and the one thing you will never see is arguing….they never show anger towards each other but always show love.  Laughing and giggling from morning until night.  They have a very rigid daily schedule and I still have a hard time with it but these are Ugandan kids and it's normal.   Up at 6am…chores until 6:30am…tea at 6:45am.   Off to school until 5:30pm….back home to wash their clothes and have a bath.  Dinner at 6:30pm and back to school at 7pm until 9pm.  Homework until 10pm and solar lights off.  And by the way, they do get lunch at school.

If anyone wants to watch the video of the container arriving and some of the people we fed with the Gleaner soup, you can go to:

Thanks to all of you for following our story.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"God's Little Angels Ministry"

As I sit here in this sweltering heat gathering all the pictures and events that took place this past month, I am also thinking about the snow back home and it being so cold. Such a contrast from one side of the world to the other.  Presently in Uganda we are waiting for the rains to come so we can start the planting season and get rid of all this red dust.

I also want to share some exciting news.  Our kids….these beautiful little "Angels" who have come from such terrible circumstances to a home that loves and nurtures them have a plan.  
First of all, let me tell you that each night they come into our main home, sit on a mat and watch a Jesus video that Stephanie bought them back home.  They are learning the Bible and are like little sponges right now.  They also have been coming with us as we go from village to village and around our own community to help the poor and feed the starving.  They are always included in each activity.

They have now decided that they want to have their own kid's ministry to do things on their own.  All of them have watched and learned and feel they are ready, so the first thing to do was to choose a name.  They came up with "God's Little Angels Ministry".  They made their own agenda and first on the list will be to buy the donated projector as soon as our money comes.  They would like to show the same Jesus video in the grass hut to their friends in the community.  From there it will grow into having the community join with the adult version.  They also want to go to the elderly home down the road and plant seeds for them so they can have food, wash their clothes and sweep their rooms. Just a few ideas to start with.

The Peace these children can produce far outweighs the trials we endure trying to accomplish our dream.  We know that God is always with us and He is our only strength.  Doesn't matter if we change one life or fifty lives, we just do the best we can with what we have and never give up.

Meet Aunty Joy.  She is our newest Mama to the children and they have so much respect for her.
Together with Aunty Aidha, they make a perfect team teaching each child as if they were their own.

We would also like to introduce you to Mark.  We have had to hire a guard during the day and with Mark's expertise in security, there will be no worry about strangers walking in during the day.

Thank you Northview for our ovens.  Dennis, our electrician along with the help of Edwin have made life so much better in the food department.  I just have to learn where to buy the ingredients but thanks to all my new "Mzungu" friends, I am quickly learning.  Mzungu meaning "white".

We were so happy to have Dolly, Welli and the kids visit from Entebbe.  They had moved indefinitely from Abbotsford a month ago to work for Word of Life in Uganda.  Our kids performed their traditional dance with Shaban on drums and sang their famous "Welcome" song.  We feel very blessed to know this family and share their love of the Lord with them and hopefully we will be a big part of each others lives in the future.  We already miss them.

Meet our little Joseph.  We decided to have a physically challenged outreach program and Joseph is the first of the younger children.  He suffers from Down's Syndrome and in this country, these children never have a chance.  Joseph has always had a dream to go to school and thanks to the Germaine family in Abbotsford who decided to sponsor him,  his dream has now come true. Thanks also to The Pin Cushion Collective group, as we were able to give him a backpack to carry his books in. Thanks Michele and your group for all the backpacks you have given…they are all so appreciated.

This is a sight which is very common on our compound.  Baths….and more baths.  With all this red dirt,  we need to wash frequently.  As soon as we can, we are going to install the showers into the lateen, but the underground pipes must first be fixed to the tank from the well.  That will be done along with the electricity into the children's homes as the power company has just recently put in the pole with lines.

As most of you know, the container we received had 500,000 meals of Gleaner soup mix in it.  This food has been very well received and with our Aunties teaching the community how to cook it Ugandan style, they love it.  One bag is feeding 75 people and each family received 2 bags.  This is one of the events held in the grass hut and we will be doing it again in the near future.

We live within 10 minutes from the only "Old Folks" home in Uganda.  No one could imagine this place….inundated with rats, bats and bed bugs.  No assistance from anyone….no nurse, no visitors, no nothing.  Average age is 80+.  It is situated on 2.7 acres with no crops except a tiny patch of Kale.  The clients have no soap to wash clothes or bodies with, no seeds to plant with and heaven only knows what else they lack.  The kids, Edwin and I went to visit, taking food and teaching them how to cook it.
We took a wheelchair and solar lights from our wonderful friend in Hong Kong who donated lights for the poor.  They can now get to their rooms safely down the dark halls.  Thank you Thomas for helping them.  We had hospital sheets, blankets and towels (100) donated from Langley.  When we gave them those for the beds, the 3 staff requested that it would be better to donated them for when they passed.  That way they could be wrapped in white to give them dignity before they were taken away by motorcycle…yes motorcycle because there is no money for transport.
I have to be honest and say, I have seen poverty at its worst but this is more than unbelievable.  These men and woman are the elders and are the backbone of Africa.  Three men are with them every day dedicating their life to helping them with nothing but love.

Oh yes, and we also gave them new shirts and some pants that were donated by Power to Change.  It was the first new clothes in a very long time.  This is Zakia explaining to this gentleman how to operate his solar light.  Each one of the kids took an elderly friend and helped them.

Our chickens are almost ready for market.  They are at 1kg dressed which means we need a little more weight on them before we sell them.  We have a big market for them in town with the restaurants and schools but all we have are 600.  As soon as we can purchase more chickens and finish the second house which will be the layers, we will have a good business going for them to help finance our project.  We have clients driving as far as Kampala for the birds and then, with the eggs from the layers, we will be able to sell them easily within our 125,000 people in the community.  People here are so happy for us and because we always help them, they want to support us.  That is God at work again…...

OK, so little Alan fell asleep but for the others, they are watching the Jesus video on their mat.  Edwin is helping them to understand as they put their hands up to ask questions and then at the end, he quizzes them.  It is amazing how they are learning and want to know the entire story so quickly.

Our dear friend and sponsor, Catarina,  will be here in little over a week.  We will be going to 5 schools in the Busoga region which is about 120km north of us to teach the young girls about feminine hygiene and becoming a woman.  At that point we will be teaching the local women how to make kits for their young girls with the sewing machine provided in the villages.  We have many community projects to do while Catarina is with us and you can be sure the kids will all be involved too.

Thanks so much for supporting us on this journey both in donations and prayers.

Barb, Edwin and the kids

Friday, January 31, 2014

Dealing with Corruption

What ever made us think that corruption wouldn't touch us?  It touches the entire white community here and even though you want to believe that you are exempt from this evilness, it does happen.  We have now been initiated into the reality of Jinja, Uganda.   We come from the free world where we can work as many jobs as we want, where food is given by standing in a line on the street and the government provides programs to help us.  Here, there is only corruption and poverty.  That is why God sends us to places like this… to help the suffering.  Donations such as providing the transport overseas, the container itself and the hundreds of people who gave their time chopping vegetables to provide a high protein soup for the sick are so appreciated.  We are grateful to the organizations who provided us pallets of clean hospital sheets and blankets, pallets of new clothes and schools books, Northview church donating two ovens and new Bibles, all to be distributed to our kids and the people…the people who need it so badly.  Thank you Lord for listening to the many people praying for us…. it arrived.

But before it did, Edwin, his brothers and I were a thorn in their sides for four days as they processed it through the Busia border crossing. We tried to catch every mistake but they are professionals and because of my white skin, they took full advantage.  All we could think about was the food and all the donations you had provided us to make this a better life over here.  We had to continue on and not give up.  But as the taxes and scamming got up over $10,000, we wondered if we were doing the right thing.  Edwin kept fighting and when he got them down a little,  the  next day, up it rose again.  We couldn't win.

On Friday, after many more discussions, they finally brought the container to us.  Just watching it manoeuvring it's way down our dirt road with the people cheering and dancing, bought smiles.  Our children came outside the gate with such joy on their faces. They wanted so badly to be apart of distributing the food and helping the elderly like we had in Alan's village.  The food was finally here.

But to our surprise we still had to keep paying.
The crane set up, the container truck was ahead and when he was signalled to move back to let the crane lift it over the wall,  the man we had hired refused until we paid another $2,000.00.
By this time I was beyond control to think they could just drive away.  This "Jaaja" simply expressed herself and they moved the truck backwards for the crane to hook up.

We were refused paperwork until the last moment and it was then that we discovered the tax problem.
Taxes were calculated on 20 ovens, not 2, on 18 mattresses instead of 3, 54 cartons of toys instead of 4 and 30 hospital chairs which we never had.  The list is too long but that will give you an idea.
The moral to our story is… very sure what you are doing and who you hire when coming into these countries.

They might have hurt us for operating but they did not break our spirit and we are not giving up.

The container trying to manoeuvre the corners.

We ordered a 45T crane to lift it over the wall as it wouldn't fit through the gate.

There were 10 banana trees that had to be cut down for the container to fit but considering the contents, we didn't care.  

Cleared the razor wire but it now will be impossible to turn it on the the concrete pillars we built.  We are using concrete blocks for now.

Just fits and enough room to get things out.

The kids wanted to pray over the container before we opened it up.  Hope lead in prayer and thanked everyone for their kinds hearts to help the poor in Uganda.  She prayed over the hungry people and told God that we were coming with food for them soon.

And then we have our Shaban….our special man that loves everyone, especially the children.  He is now travelling the roads with his new wheelchair and is so happy.  Thanks to whoever donated this chair.  I try to remember everyone but this is a sign of age I think.  Shaban wants you to know he is grateful.

This was such a team effort.  The kids did their very best to help carry everything and what a wonderful job they did.  I am so proud of them and honestly, this is why I will never give up.

Our Joanne….this girl can carry unbelievable weights on her head.  She had her first birthday two days ago and I was so hoping for our new oven to bake her a real cake.  As soon as we get them hooked up, we are going to celebrate.  Joanne would like to thank Trudy and Garry for her first birthday card.

School starts in 3 days so Edwin thought it would be a good idea if we found the box of backpacks and gave them out as a present for doing so much work today.  Alan got his baby chair and the others were elated to get something to carry their books in.  Thanks to Michele, Gina and their team with the Pin Cushion Collective for sending these gifts.

The poor in Uganda have no chance to raise their voice and get out of poverty.  It is our hope to help alleviate some of the hunger and education problems by having our Home of Angels.  We realize that as we receive three to four grandmothers a day begging us to take their grandchildren, the problem is bigger than we realized. We cannot help everyone, but we can do the best with the few we have at the moment.

We would like to thank the Gleaners and ALL our donors for what they have done throughout the past year.  On behalf of the people that go without food in our community, we also send a special thanks in advance.

God bless you all.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Calm before the Storm

Hello from Uganda

My trip from Vancouver to Entebbe was one of the best so far.  I arrived to our Home of Angels to be greeted by the children, aunties and workers who had made this a special event.  It was hard to hold back the tears.  The home has been beautifully taken care by Edwin and his staff and to come into such lush vegetation from below zero temperatures felt so good.

The children are doing well but we have had some failures along with successes.  Our little 5 year old Dan is not going to be living with us.  His brother Saika is feeling at home here with his new family but it has been a difficult adjustment.  It will get easier for him as the weeks go by.  He told me in English class last week that Jesus loves him and that He won't abandon him.  For Saika to say these words meant a lot.

Thanks to so many of you who helped us fund the chicken project. We are already working in full gear.  We decided to do one project at a time and since there is such a good profit in chickens and eggs, that is where we began.  Three days ago, 600 chicks arrived from Germany.  Since we are blessed with professional chicken farmers advising us both in Canada and Uganda, we have not lost one to date.  These birds will go to market in 5 weeks and again we will bring in another 600, slowly building it to 1000 chicks as we gain experience.  We are clearing the land now for the 2nd house which will eventually hold 1000 layers.

The container will be arriving into Mombasa at the end of January.  Our clearing agent, Moses will be there waiting for it and break the seal as it crosses over into Uganda.  From there it will be transported to our compound where it will be unloaded and later used as a storage area and office.

Our contractor John has built concrete pillars for the container to rest on.   Because the container is so large and won't fit through the gate, the crane will be lifting it over the wall and placing it onto these  structures.

This is our broiler chicken house.  It is equipped to hold up to 1000 birds for the 5 weeks prior to being sold at the market.  A year ago, we set David, Edwin's brother, up in a agriculture/produce business and we are so happy now that we did.  He is flourishing and is the one who is helping us with our food for the children.  David has approached the local restaurants in Jinja to purchase our birds and many have said yes.  He also is selling  them to the local boarding schools for the meals programs.

Edwin is in the brooder pen feeding the chicks and making sure they have water. 

The children have been helping aunty make matoke which is a fruit that looks like a green banana but is 90% water and very tasty.  Before they built the slab for the container, we had to cut
2 matoke trees down so we are taking advantage of a good meal. We still have many more trees left.
In the 5 months since we opened, I see these smiles just getting bigger.

The children bathe twice a day but sometimes little Alan needs a third….I get to have that privilege and we end up with a splash fight.  This little one has learned English so quickly and every morning I get a
"Good Morning Jaaja Barb" which starts my day off with a smile.

We wake at 6:30am and our day starts with chores.  Roads are swept and scrubbed, clothes are washed and hung and rooms cleaned.  Never an argument.

In order to build a 2nd chicken house, we cleared the land of dried up maize.  The children are picking the maize corn to further dry it and the crew will dig the plants and remove them.  We figure we will have 25 kg to eat when packaged.  If we can plant all this again next year and harvest it along with other vegetables, plus have eggs, it will help us to provide our own healthy food for these children.

Meet Saban, our newest employee.  Saban is physically challenged from polio and has no working legs.  He calls his stick his legs.  As you can see below, our grounds are beautiful.  He washes the floors, he sits up at night with the chickens, he teaches the children culture, he makes charcoal for us so the baby chicks can stay warm…..We cannot say enough about this young man.  He is 3 years short of finishing school because of giving up his school fees for his little brother who is left behind parentless in the village.  No one hired Saban because of his affliction but now with God's help, he found his place.  In other communities, this disability leads to job rejection but at our Home of Angels, we welcome people with all physical challenges.

Welcome Saban!

Thanks to two wonderful people in Langley, we have shears to trim the hedges.  Saban works those shears
like magic and everyone stops for a look.

You have seen what has happened in the past two weeks.  We really do feel like it is the "Calm before the Storm" because as of February 1st,  life will be busy here.  The kids start school, we have friends arriving to help us distribute food and to help teach the local women to sew kits for their young daughters.  Our wonderful friend Thomas from Hong Kong has sent his solar lights for us to distribute only to the poor and with the medicine donated, we are also able to help people in the deep villages.  God is at work and it is really evident by the changes happening daily.

Below is the last Global TV story before I left home.  Thanks Linda and Carl for doing such a good job on this story.  We all love you from Uganda.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Isn't it amazing how God creates such beauty?  I look out my window at the snow falling ever so gently, covering the ground with a thick blanket of white.  Children in the distance laughing and making snowmen.  At the same time, I am listening to Edwin and the children telling me about their special Christmas party that they had celebrated yesterday.  How the weather was so beautiful and how they ate turkey for the first time.  They told me about the story when baby Jesus was born and I was so proud of them.

Christmas was celebrated early at our Home of Angels because of the traditional custom to visit their village at this time of year. The few that do have living relatives will spend a week or two with them and return.  Because they have bonded into this amazing family unit within their new home, the thrill of a Christmas party together was very special.  Thanks Uncle Edwin for all the extras you provided.

Before I show you the pictures, I have to tell you a cute story.  Edwin came home holding a big
turkey last week.  One of the kids said "Uncle Edwin, you should have bought two turkeys."thinking he was going to breed them.  They had no idea it was a surprise for them to eat at their party.

I don't know if anyone can spot this…but I think Alan is moving into his mischievious 3's.  He is afraid of nothing.  Ummm, wonder where his shoes are…...

Uh huh…gotcha 

This is their special turkey dinner Ugandan style.  Of course along with the pop which is a very big
treat.  Maybe when our oven arrives, we will have cake for dessert next year.

Meet my prayer group….Catherine, Pam, Christina and Kim.  They have been working hard to make pillow case dresses, not just the kids at our Home of Angels, but also for the less fortunate in the communities around us.  I am so blessed to have these women in my life.
Thanks for all your hard work.

We are so happy to have received 100% of the solar lights donated from Thomas and his people in Hong Kong.  These are gifts to the poorest of the poor and are being distributed as we speak.
Thanks also to Moses for the good job he did releasing them from Customs at the airport and getting them safely to us in Mpumudde.

Meet Rachel (on the left) and her friends from Heritage Wood Secondary School.  Rachel is the daughter of Thomas who donated the solar lights above.  These girls worked very hard throughout the year to raise money by baking banana bread.  Jennifer, another daughter is at University back East and is helping us also.  Amazing family….

This is Genia, Chris and Erika from McMath Secondary school in Richmond.  I had met Genia
at Rock Ridge Canyon at a speaking engagement where the top leadership kids in B.C. attended.  From that  event, we were chosen by the Interact Club of McMath to be sponsored as an International charity and in turn, they are sponsored by their local Rotary Club.

I don't think I could ever put into words the happiness you have all created at this home.  Whether is be your prayers, your donations or just your encouragement as a sponsor, they are entirely different children.  They now consider themselves brothers and sisters, they are improving at school and they are starting to love life for the first time.  Thank you Lord for this amazing gift of life you have placed with us.

Edwin and I would also like to wish you and your families a special season filled with the joy of Jesus.

Merry Christmas