Friday, May 27, 2022

Joy in Difficult Times

 Are you one of those people that find yourself in the midst of uncertainty, confusion and chaos with what's happening in our world today?  How easy it is to lose sight of everything we have to be thankful for in times like these?  Let's look for the broken places, trusting God to give us the wisdom and skills to make them whole again.

In 2009, when Edwin and I started, this entire picture below was bush with maybe a couple of homes.  It was a coffee plantation that was given to Edwin by his father to build one home for homeless children.  Edwin and his friends cleared it and in 2010 Home of Angels was born.  Edwin and I want you all to know that this wasn't just us who made this happen.  It was God and He used this old lady and a loaf of banana bread together with a young man in Uganda who's heart was also to help children.  He brought many of you to partner with us, encourage us, help me to bake the 15,000+ loaves of banana bread and most importantly, pray for us to succeed.  Thank's to all of you for being part of our journey.

Many of you are asking about your sponsored child.  We have eleven older children that are attending schools six days per week outside the walls of our home. Hope and Desire are currently attending YWAM north of us and the younger children are also attending our Primary and Nursery school six days a week. With COVID, the rains and interruptions in communication, it's been difficult to get pictures until now.  I hope you see your child in one of the pictures below.  Another question asked is, how is Home of Angels set up?  Thank goodness for Google Earth because now you can see the three compounds and where each building is located.  Our medical clinic and gardens are near and within walking distance. 

Another question many of you are asking is "What are our future plans?"  There's only one answer and that's to become self-sufficient where Edwin and Precious will be able to operate on their own.  This won't be tomorrow of course, but we're working on ideas to make it a reality in the next couple of years.  We want to get our church in full operation; the Trade Centre up and running where our children will be able to learn a trade when phasing out so they will survive on their own. We've recently been recognized for this.  It's not easy for children leaving homes at 18-years old to survive without any training.  Because of that, the officials in Jinja have asked permission to use Home of Angels as an example for other homes.

Of course!!  Let's get everyone doing this and help these kids. 




We've come a long way from one little house for boys.  The community has built up all around us and honestly, we have been so blessed by this.  They help us and we help them and it's worked out very well.
This diagram shows the church without a roof but in reality, everything is finished except the seats.  The wood for the pews for 500 people has been drying for two months and now the men are working hard to make them.  It should be another month before completion, hopefully for the next blog.




I have to tell you who these girls are because you might not recognize them.  Right to left is Zakia, Annet, Mariam and Eva.  Yes, they are now allowed to grow their hair.  These are some of the older girls that will be phasing out of Home of Angels in 2023.  They're currently learning to sew and doing quite well I'm told.  These are also my banana bread "queens".  They all learned to make it when I was there, so now with their new oven for baking, they can get all the practice in they need.  




From left to right we have Zakia, Ivan, Sam, James and Junior.  The girls are Mariam, Eva, Annet and Joanne.  It's been two years + since I've been back and I'm having a little trouble recognizing them now.  They have turned into amazing young adults and we are very proud of all of them.



Back Row - left to right:  Elijah, Yasin, Eddie, Frank, Alan, Silas and Paul 
Front Row - left to right:  Jimmy,  Jeremiah, Andy, David, Yahigha and Eric  




Front Row - left to right: David, little Sammi, Remme, Jeremiah, Andy, Yahigha and Silas
Middle Row - left to right: Shakira, Elijah, Alan and Eric (all kneeling)
Back Row - left to right standing: Betty, Bridget, Tracy, Chloe, Ratisha, Paul, Lovisa, Barbra, Eddie, Precious and Yasin 



Front Row - left to right:  Joweli, Remme, Andy, Sammi, Jeremiah, David and Yahigha
Middle Row -  left to right:  Yasin, Betty, Paul, Silas, Eddie, Alan, Chloe and Precious
Back Row - left to right:  Lovisa, Ratisha, Frank, Elijah, Bridget, Barbra and Tracy





Lovisa teaching the kids a traditional dance




The Bible school is almost finished on the outside with one large room completed on the inside.  Pastor Richard has a network of nineteen pastors that he is currently working with that will use this one room until we can complete the rest of the school.   




Sula is planting grass in front of the Bible school.  He plants one root at a time and it's always done to perfection.  It turns out to be the thickest green grass I've ever seen and has absolutely no chemicals ever put on it.  




Edwin and Precious' friend has offered to teach our older children to make door mats to sell.  These children will be the first group to leave, but before they do, they will be teaching their other brothers and sisters coming up behind them.  We hope to teach a good variety of trades for their journey outside our gates.


Have a good summer everyone and thanks again for all you do to help us.



    



















Sunday, April 3, 2022

I Am With You

 All of us at Home of Angels really believe that He is with us.  As you read and see the pictures below, you'll understand that this could not have been done by Edwin, Precious and I alone.  This project that started out to be one small house for a few kids out of a garbage dump who didn't want to be called orphans.  Back in the day, Edwin felt he wanted to provide a Christmas party on the street for them; hire some aunties to cook and create a little happiness.  He even went to the extent to buy star stickers for their foreheads.  

Women even came from our community to prepare their food so they could celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Everyone helping and everyone happy.  Wow, that did it for me.....I was in 100%.

Almost thirteen years later throughout the rainy seasons, pandemics, famine and death, here we are by the grace of God still able to carry on helping the poor and the sick.  It's unbelievable!  And don't forget about YOU ALL.  Whether you collected cans, and yes, almost $20,000 worth of cans from one dear lady; baked 100's of loaves of banana bread for some amazing fundraisers; donated for the construction of both schools, homes, church or sponsored a child.  We're all so grateful.             

It sounds like I'm saying goodbye....I'm not!  We all just wanted you to know that by helping us, you've made a huge difference in the lives of so many people and I promised everyone in Uganda, I would be sure to let you know how grateful they are.  Thanks for trusting them.

For the sponsors, I'm really sorry that the older kids aren't in any pictures.  They are all attending school off the property, 5 days a week and it's difficult.  But, the end of term is soon and they promised those pictures on their holidays.  Get ready, you might not recognize them.



A Christmas party on the streets of Jinja for children in the garbage dumps. Aunties that gave up their time to make a difference for these children, cooking and serving many hungry young ones. 




The three new kids are getting along well at Home of Angels.  Here we have little Andy pretending to be a a motorcycle driver taking Jeremiah and Remme to shop in town.




These are the children from Home of Angels that are in Primary school.  It was their first day so they all didn't have all their uniforms yet.




This is an example of one of the classrooms in P-4.  The desks for every level were hand-made.





This is a sample of one of the P-3 classrooms, again all hand-made chairs and desks.




The wall outside the Primary school and the Trade Center is being painted.




The Trade Center where they will be learning to bake, sew, make soap and door mats




The girls are doing very well at learning to sew and loving it.



Multipurpose Soap




The church is looking beautiful. The Minister of Health and Engineering in Jinja had their inspection and told us the windows had to be removed to be made larger for proper ventilation and for better lighting as we have many power outages in our area.  Actually, a very good idea as it won't get so hot inside with as many as they're predicting to attend.

  


This is Mariam and Yasin's grandfather and with our kids in the background I can see that "God's Little Angel's Ministry" is out on a Sunday making a difference to the elderly and sick.  These are bars of soap and food.  Jaaja is almost 100-years old and can't move around at all now.


Thank you for helping us make a difference in the lives of these children and in their communities.









Wednesday, March 2, 2022

When Our World Turns Upside-Down

The road of life often travels through uncharted territory.  Some see it as a personal challenge while others, often strangers, will reach out and help each other to live their life in difficult situations.  At our Home of Angels we feel that we have been called to help the helpless, especially widows and orphans, to give the personal touch, to be there for encouragement and comfort, but most of all to offer love.  As Jesus said "Whoever welcomes this child in my name, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." (Mark 9:37)

Here we are twelve years later and at the point where the older children are phasing out of HOA.  Hope and Desire passed their YWAM entrance exams with flying colours to study for one year in a northern town located near the borders of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They will be returning at the end of each term for their holidays and hopefully work for us at the end of their studies.  Thank you Joyce for providing this incredible gift for these girls.

With global warming and lack of COVID shots for 48,000,000 people, Uganda has suffered greatly but life must go on, right?  If Edwin and Precious are not on the compound, they're more than likely attending funerals.  On a good note, we've finally started constuction again; food is being planted and the sun is starting to peak out.  

Edwin and Precious have found three children that would have been on their way to the streets if they hadn't intervened.  Yes, they're sick, they're scared and they don't have any idea what it means to have food or be loved by others.  Wow! are they in for a surprise.  They're currently getting medical checkups and when approved by our doctor, they will enter our gates.  There's always the fear of having to leave another home but they will realize in time, this family will love them and leaving is not in an issue.



Meet the Twins


 

Meet Jeremiah and Remma his twin sister.  Their mother was mentally challenged and raped.  She delivered both children on the streets of Jinja and disappeared immediately after giving birth. The father is unknown, so the police took both babies to an orphanage.  That orphanage closed five years later due to lack of money, so a village leader took both children into his home with five children of his own.  When Precious found them, they were naked and had nothing but each other.  In all her compassion, she brought them to Home of Angels to feed and clothe them.  The village leader was finding it difficult to provide for them, so with recent permission from our probation officer, we have been able to bring them into a real family who were waiting for them.   






Meet little Andy.  He had been given birth in a hospital, but immediately when his mother saw him, she was terrified and ran.  His eyes were an abnormal white colour and she saw only cat's eyes.  This relates to "albino" and in these countries this is very dangerous for children and adults.  We have since found out that he has "ocular albinism" meaning only the eyes are white. His elderly grandmother took him but she already had eight other grandchildren and couldn't feed them.  It was then that we decided to start the paperwork in order to give him a home.  Because he was never given a name, they called him "Andy Gwhite" because of the colour of his eyes.  Edwin and Precious really felt he needed protection and a whole bunch of love.




Ptarmigan Primary School




                                                           Our new gate to the school



Schools have finally started but it's sad that only two schools in our community were able to open their doors.  HOA and a Muslim school.  Throughout the two years of COVID-19 closures, teachers and owners had to find work elsewhere to survive.  We were able to keep our qualified staff because of an amazing family that built this school.  Ptarmigan Family Foundation cared enough to continue the support for their school in hopes that we will eventually be able to run it on our own with student fees.  It's our aim to be self-sustainable and this will really help us to get there.  Thanks to this wonderful family.



For the sponsors... can you find your child?  You might not recognize them because I can hardly identify them  from being gone for two years.  All I can see now are beautiful smiles, but I remember when they came through our gates so scared and hungry.  These kids have learned so much living at Home of Angels and we are convinced that one day they'll go out into the world making a difference.



There are currently 101 enrolled students going to Ptarmigan primary school.  Parents that can afford schooling are bringing them from all different areas of Uganda and finding them housing for each term.  




Never would these children had ever thought they would have had the chance to attend a school and call themselves an "angel"















Nothing is impossible because here they all are, dressed in a real school uniform and learning to speak English.  These children are from very poor families that live all around us.  Every day they've watched the other kids coming to school but never dreamed they would have the same chance.  Can you imagine how proud they are?  This is just one of the reasons why our community cares so much for us.  They know how much we've cared about them over the years also.


No matter what's happening in our troubled world, we choose to smile and get on with the growing pains.  We know that God is in full control and He won't be letting us down until we finish.  Thanks to everyone for following our story and helping us to help these children and the many suffering around us.



 

























Monday, January 24, 2022

The Beauty of Brokenness

 What is brokenness?  I understand it as a state of strong emotional pain that stops someone from living a normal life.  Twelve years ago when I arrived in Mpumudde, Uganda, that's what I witnessed for the first time.  Watching children picking weeds on the side of the road so they wouldn't starve was an eye-opener for me.  Brokenness, caused by poverty, homelessness and starvation, just to name a few.  

We can't put everything back together at once but we can take each broken part and put it back piece by piece.  Over the years Edwin basically went looking for these broken children, trusting God to give him the wisdom and skill in making them whole again.  Today, with the help of his wonderful wife Precious, those children that were approved to live at Home of Angels are now put back together thriving as brothers and sisters in a home where they are loved.

This past month has been very difficult with COVID-19 at HOA and in the Jinja area.  Both Edwin and Precious contracted it along with John, our contractor and his workers.  The children were once again evacuated to Malindi village to prevent them for getting it too.  Edwin had no chance for any updated pictures at this time so I thought it would be fun to surprise you with a video that we put on YouTube of the children and life around our community of Mpumudde.





Piece by piece, these children have been put back together.  Look at the results!


Due to our economic environment, some of our long-time sponsors have had to suspend their sponsorships.  If anyone would be interested in filling their spots, please let me know and I will send you an introduction and information of that child's life.  






The children in our Home of Angels have suffered tremendously in their short lives.  These children have watched their parents die: abandoned to live alone on the streets and subjected to neglect and abuse.  They've been targets for all sorts of cruelty.

At our Home of Angels, we bring these children into a safe home; provide care, nutrition, support and much needed love.

As a child sponsor, you can make a big difference in the life of one of these kids.  For a minimum of $40.00 a month, or $480.00 annually, you can help us to raise a child.  Just contact me for all the information and I will get right back to you.  barb@jaajashomeofangels.com  Thank-you.


Thank you so much for standing with us to help the less fortunate in Uganda.  Whether it was helping our orphaned children or the many suffering in our community from lack of food and water, "we" and "they" are truly grateful to you all for caring.   God bless you all.






                                                      






Saturday, January 8, 2022

Unexpected Challenges

Life certainly is a journey!  In the previous blog, I spoke about situations happening with floods here in the farming community of Abbotsford, wiping out thousands of animals and destroying many farms.  Also, in Uganda, stories regarding death from starvation because of almost two years of lockdown.  Our journey often travels through uncharted territory when the path ahead isn't clearly visible, but whatever uncertainty or challenges we might face, the Light is always with us.  Even in our times of genuine struggle and pain, we can know God's peace and permit it to rule our hearts.  That's what Edwin and Precious are currently doing as they both have contracted this nasty virus COVID-19.  The children and staff have all been evacuated to Malindi village where Edwin's family is looking after them until it's safe.  Our compound is being protected by our guards and police while the workers are continuing to build the church. 

Due to lack of current informaton, I thought it might be fun for a change to send some pictures of what I experienced while I was on my learning curve in Uganda.  It opened my eyes and it will make you all understand how blessed we are to have what we have.  Also, will you please pray for Edwin and Precious that they get well soon and can resume their normal life.  Thank you!


Our Aunties heard that in Canada, we make cakes for weddings.  They had a special friend who was getting married and wanted me to make them one.  We didn't have an oven at that time ...... so 

       

      Out comes the charcoal pot and we heat it up!   So far so good!  Mix the ingredients and in they go.


Voila.....a wedding cake

Don't ask any questions....I have no idea 👌 



It's mandatory for school uniforms to be pressed each day and I noticed the older girls were taking turns in the grass hut doing something each night.  I know I'm old but I don't think I remember this iron.  



Our dear James, who for one year (2009) helped Edwin clear the original coffee plantation to build a small house for garbage dump kids.  That's how we started....one little home, but as you know things changed. James himself dug three bore holes like this one and never complained.  By 2019, his body was broken and as much as he didn't want to leave, we covered all his expenses and moved him back to his village of birth to heal.  He will never be forgotten for his dedication.



This little sweetheart almost lived with us in the beginning with her brother Grace.  Yes, a boys name in Uganda.  She would always want to help us no matter how difficult or dirty the job.  I'm not sure if she was trying to be a Muzungu (white person) but to this day, she and Grace always know when I come back, climbing the tree on their property to welcome me and ask if I have a soccer ball for them.  Of course!



If you haven't heard the story of how we were able to dig our Home of Angels borehole, it was because of amazing friends, Laury and Tom who sold their cow "Faithful" to raise the money to do it.  When we finally reached water, our specialist Dennis came and hooked up the hoses to fill jerry cans.  The entire community was invited.  This meant not having to walk 8 kilometres that day to fetch water and they were so excited.  After hooking up the hose, Dennis decided to do something never done before.  Spray the kids!! I think it was the first time they've ever felt water on their bodies like this and look at these faces.  Mom's were horrified. How could they waste water??   We knew we were pumping 5,000 litres/hour and we had lots, so not to worry.   To this day, 11 years later, it's the same pressure. 






We ordered electricity for the compound and to get it usually took months.  It was on a Saturday when Edwin and I went to the compound to see what was happening, when a large truck with 9 men and poles came toward us.  I had a movie camera given to me by Global TV and when I saw them I told them they were being filmed.  Quietly they continued on, removing the poles from the truck, hauling each one into a position where they dug a hole with what looked like a large stick. I never saw any equipment. Up they went; into the ground and the men left.  I was filming the entire time.  Sunday, we returned.  The wires were up, electrical box attached to the house and electricity was on.  Every neighbour called Edwin to find out how much he had to bribe them.  



During our first year of construction, we had many children asking if they could come into our home and pick weeds.  I never understood why at first but soon learned they had no food.  They would pick the weeds to take home to cook for dinner.  What a wake-up call that was for me.  I started purchasing rice so they could at least have a rice-weed stew and they were so happy. I learned later these kids came from an abandoned orphanage close to our home.  Since then, we have taken in an number of these children. 



Our church is coming along well, even though we've had heavy rains and of course COVID-19 got in the way.   The next picture I send will really give you an idea of how beautiful it is with the windows and doors put in and the bricks plastered.  The community is getting very excited and so are we.

Thank you everyone who contributed to our Home of Angels throughout this past year.  You have helped us fulfill our dreams of schools, food for the poor, Bibles and our beautiful church.  You have helped us to raise each child in a way where they've felt real love and that they had a real family.  Thank you for that.

I wanted to let you know also that Edwin and Precious are feeling much better.  The children are still away until they can be sure not to contract anything.  Thank you for your prayers.