Sunday, December 28, 2014

Joys and Excitement of 2014

2014 has been an amazing year.  Early in the year we made a decision to start our sustainability programs rather than bringing in another 35+ children right away.  The reason being, many of the children we are choosing are sick and for us not to give them protein and the other nutrients they need, it would have hindered their development.  These are a few of the programs that are in progress at the moment.

Thanks to everyone who donated towards our chicken project. We were able to purchase and successfully raise 1000 layers and 1,650 broilers so far.  The layers will be laying eggs very soon and the broilers are selling as fast as we can raise them.  David has established a good market for selling our eggs, in fact so good, we are thinking about just raising layers in the future.  The children will also benefit from the protein they so desperately lack.

We recently planted a large passion fruit garden that will be starting to produce fruit in the near future.  Our gardens are full of vegetables and greens and our maize crops are the best yet.  We were able to store some for future use.

As soon as the concrete poles and chain link is installed, the 200 goats will be purchased and we can start raising them to sell.  The sale of meat on the international market will be another source of income to help with our costs, and in time these goats will multiply.  Thank you again Thomas for this wonderful donation.

In the meantime, it is the Christmas season and we truly rejoiced.  We shared the story about the birth of Jesus with many and at the same time were able to feed both the elderly and the children with soup from the Gleaners.

We have been blessed once again by Northview Community Church.  Funds have been put in place for us to complete our second children's home along with funding to finish our team apartment.  All of us at Home of Angels thank you very much for caring and hope you will be one of those teams to visit one day.

Edwin's father (75 years old) has generously volunteered to let us use his 30 acres to raise goats.   In order for that to happen, we have had to set up concrete poles and chain link on 7 of those acres to keep them contained.  We had 3 trucks of concrete posts and 4 trucks loaded with chain link make it's way through blinding dusty roads to his remote village north of us.  George was there to meet each truck to help unload, while his village friends were working to install the fence.  No one asked for wages as George had planned to pay them in food that he himself planted in his gardens.

George also planted a banana plantation for me a year ago.  He planted 300 trees and it will reproduce to 600 trees in a period of 2 years.  Once he heard we had two ovens, he assumed I would need bananas in Uganda to make banana bread.  I have started and have it almost perfected.  I am now in the process of teaching our girls to bake this bread and with the results I am seeing, they might have a little business going here one day.  It's better than mine.......

Our little Ivan is so excited to be able to go to school in February.  Edwin is working with him to teach him is ABC's and his 123's.  The other kids are also working hard with him every day to teach him the basics.  He is now one of our "angels" and will get lots of help to catch up.  

Our showers went in last month thanks to Sandra Sequira and her friends.  What a blessing this was for the kids.  Jowell wanted to experiment first and feel the water falling on her.  It's amazing what we take for granted in the Western world.

We had a HUGE Christmas party for the little people in our community.  Only the little ones were invited.  We started preparing the Gleaner food the night before and at 6am, we met together again in the cookhouse to finish cutting the cabbage and onions.  Guess who got the onions??  Aunty Aidha and Aunty Joy love working for us and continue to give endless hours in helping the less fortunate.

We have 20,000 children in our immediate area.  I was so worried how Edwin would ever pull this off without a riot.  We could only invite approximately 100 kids but little did I know Edwin had a plan.   He went to one area and told the mothers that he needed 40 children.  They all knew him so 40 appeared within minutes.  No one knew where they were going but because it was Uncle Edwin, they trusted and followed.  

By the time we finished, a total of 177 kids had eaten and enjoyed a soda.   Before they ate, Edwin told the story of Jesus and how it was His birthday today.  That's why they were celebrate His birthday.  He explained the importance of the meaning of Christmas and as he spoke there was silence.  Sula, one of our workers then preceded with a prayer to bless the food.

OK, your right....I was having far too much fun here.  Every one of these kids said thank you and were the happiest we had ever seen them.  Next year we will definitely do this again but increase the numbers to 250 children and also show the Jesus video.  The rains came this year so we were unable to do that.

Now it was time for our 2nd Christmas party for our Home of Angels kids.  Again with balloons, meat, rice, matoke and soda, they were so grateful.  Little Alan even say "fankyou" three times.

Thanks to a generous donor, the elderly and mentally challenged home just down the road from us had the chance to celebrate with food at Christmas also.  The oldest gentleman in the front is 96 years old and this was his first real Christmas.  He insisted because he was so old that he get 2 sodas.  No one argued.

We would like to express our thanks to all of you, whether it be following our journey, donating to special projects, sponsoring a child or just helping me with a banana bread sale...."Thank you".
We have a wonderful team of people that are very dedicated and we are so grateful to you all.
Please remember that as of January 1, 2015, all donation and sponsor cheques are to be written to TOIS.  You can send them to the same address which can also be found at the top of the blog under donations.

God bless all of you and we wish you all a very Happy New Year 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Exciting Times

We would like to share with you some wonderful news.

God has opened yet another door for our Home of Angels and we are very pleased for many reasons.  As of January 1, 2015, we will be working together with the Timothy Outreach International Society (TOIS).  TOIS is a Christian charity that operates schools, clinics, community development and other ministries in Uganda.  Throughout this past year, we have gotten to know some of the TOIS principals in Canada along with the leadership team in Uganda.  We feel that God has paved the way for the connection between our two organizations and we will be able to work together effectively to develop and operate ministries that show God’s love to some of the most needy people in Uganda.

Effective January 1, 2015, all donations and sponsorship money should be sent to Barb Giraud, #96-32691 Garibaldi Drive, Abbotsford, B.C.  V2T 5T7.  Cheques are to be made out to TOIS and Home of Angels written on the subject line below. Tax receipts will then be issued by TOIS.

We have had a very exciting past two months and we are all looking forward to Christmas which is almost upon us.  The children have chosen to stay together for Christmas where we can all celebrate the birth of Jesus together.  Presently they are  attending a Bible camp in Entebbe with Dolly and Welli, our dear friends originally from Abbotsford and having the time of their lives both learning and making new friends.

We have a new little boy named Ivan who has recently come to live with us.  Ivan is 11 years old and has come from a village in the north where Serving His Children has an outreach.  It was a difficult start for him but today, 3 weeks later, he is thriving with his new brothers and sisters.  We realized with Ivan that in the future, when we bring in other children, we must do it slowly to give each one the individual attention they need to adjust. It is mandatory to have this time to accomplish the transition for these little ones. Most of them have come from very difficult situations and they need a lot of love and encouragement.  We feel so blessed that God has given us this gift of bringing hope and love into these children at our Home of Angels.  

We would like you to meet Jeff and Shannon Dyck.  They are the leadership team already established in Uganda by TOIS.  Jeff and Shannon are originally from Canada and with their 4 lovely children, are now living in Masaka/Kibaale.  They both are very knowledgeable in running both the Kibaale Community Centre and the Timothy Outreach International Society in Masaka.  They have already been instrumental for us with advice towards running an operation such as ours.

The day finally arrived when we greeted little Ivan at our gates.  Renee and her team from Serving His Children brought him over to live with us as Renee realized how happy our children were and he would have a good family to live with.  We are so grateful to have this little guy (with Edwin).  He has struggled with the unimaginable but with a lot of love and encouragement, he is already adjusting to his new family.  We are looking for sponsors for him if anyone would be interested in helping him.

What's a welcome without a party and cake?    

How could anyone not want to belong to this family?  We just have to keep remembering that they were all scared the first time they entered that gate.  They seem to feel each child's fear and make an effort to change it with a smile and a hug.

The girls are all learning to sew.  Each day we learn 2 new stitches and they are tested at the end of each week.  I am now watching them teach the Aunties what they had learned that day.  Edwin and I will be setting up a sewing room to teach them on a machine next.

I never thought I would be doing this here.  OK, so what does a person do when they have an entire banana plantation of 300 trees and the bananas are everywhere?  Bake of course, but I got smart.  I thought of teaching this art of baking to the girls.  Today I did and they loved it.  Matter a fact, their bread was better than mine.  They shared one loaf with everyone and will plan to practice again tomorrow.

Mariam celebrated her birthday on December 10th.  We baked a birthday cake and while surprising her, Desire poured water over her head as this is the tradition.  Couldn't resist this picture of shock.

Our passion fruit is getting tall and already flowering.   To utilize every space possible, kale has been placed between the plants so that the children will have their greens for nutrition.

These are our 300 broilers that are now ready to be sold.  Because it's the Christmas season, they are selling very quickly.  We have another 200 birds that will be ready for sale at the end of the month with one purchaser requesting all of them.  

Our first load of 40 birds going out of the compound.  Yes, you are seeing this correctly and they are being transported all the way to Kampala like this (80km).  They have since returned for another 100 birds for the same journey.  Apparently our birds are very tasty.

These are some of our 1000 layers.  They will be ready to lay eggs in 2 weeks in their new nests and we are very excited to see the results of our labour.  Thanks to David we will have an outlet for the eggs but what is more exciting....we will have protein for the children.  We are still in the learning stages but we are so proud of our few workers who have kept them alive and in good health.  Many people here will lose 1/2 their flock to disease, but ours are still in tact.  Thank you James and Sula.

Exciting times are still to come and we are continually witnessing what God has done in the lives of these children.  They sit and chat together about how they are going to help the next child or how they will teach the new ones the alphabet if they have never gone to school.  It truly brings tears of joy.