Photos of Nicholas and Shadia Receiving their Gifts

The weekend after I sent the donations for Nicholas and Shadia, for which I got receipts and found that Joy keeps very meticulous records, I received lots of pictures of them receiving their gifts! I was almost in tears to see the joy of this family, who has so little and who has been through so much, receiving simple things but things that are so needed. I was glad for the opportunity to send money instead of a package, as I didn’t have to worry about high international shipping fees and I knew I could trust Joy to purchase the right sizes and items for them. She promised me lots of pictures to make me feel like I was there with them, and she certainly did send lots!

Here are just some of them with items they received:

Joy told me how happy the children and their mother were. Along with toys for the kids, they also got clothing, shoes, and underwear. And the family got food, which was very needed. Seeing the beautiful smiles on their faces made my heart so full. I now love and care so very much about this family on the other side of the world that I very likely will never meet. But we are connected through prayer, though letters, and through God.

Letter from Mugisha Isaac!

I received another letter from Mugisha Isaac recently!

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Isaac is 6 and lives in Uganda.

The letter used the How I Have Fun template. His favorite activity is playing, and he loves to play football (soccer). He usually plays with his friends and siblings. The letter says “Calvary greetings from Isaac. He thanks you for continuously praying for him and says he enjoyed the story in the letter. He also says he will also try to make a difference even now as he grows up and later on as an adult. He continued to thank you for supporting him. He concluded by saying you pray for him to keep with good health and also continue to perform well in class.”

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Introducing Nicholas and Shadia

I have developed such a passion for Uganda. This country and its beautiful people have definitely made its way into my heart. So when I heard of the small organization, Living Life in Abundance Ministry, run by an incredibly kind and generous woman named Joy who lives in Uganda and knows these families and their needs, I contacted her to ask for a correspondent. I told her I didn’t have any requests, and I’d be happy to have any child. She assigned me Nicholas, who is 3 years old. He and his sister live with their mother. They recently lost their father to HIV/AIDS. His first picture with his sad face and torn shirt broke my heart, but then I saw his smile, and I was happy that I could hopefully give him a little more to smile about. I sent off a letter and a couple weeks later, I sent a donation to Joy so that she could purchase gifts for him, whatever he and his family needed.

Well, when I had contacted Joy to ask for a correspondent, I had first contacted the wrong email address. Several weeks later, though, she replied to my first email asking if I still wanted a correspondent. I replied that I was assigned Nicholas, but would be happy to have another one if there were more children in need. I was thrilled to be assigned his sister, Shadia, so that I can love on this whole family even more! I quickly sent another donation so Shadia wouldn’t be left out with gifts. Shadia is 4 years old. I’m grateful God had planned this “unplanned addition” all along!

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Photo Friday!

On this Photo Friday, I have some new photos of Ramya from last week’s tutoring session to share. I sponsor Ramya through United with Hope and she lives in India. I love being able to see new photos of her weekly!

She is on the right in the picture below.

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I also got a new photo of Nusura and her pretty smile, along with more information about her! Nusura is my correspondent (“penpal”) through Revive a Rural African Child in Uganda.

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Seven siblings, wow! I love her big dreams of wanting to be a nurse and completing college. We also have the same favorite color. It’s heartbreaking to think of her crying for food, something I’ve never had to experience. But that is why I’m a sponsor. The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth; it’s enough. I want to help others have enough like I do.

Introducing a New Correspondent

I have a beautiful new correspondent child, but not through Compassion. Like I had talked about smaller organizations when I shared about The Bridge of Hope, I also discovered another smaller organization: Revive a Rural African Child. This Christian organization is run voluntarily by one man with a huge heart for the children of Uganda. Eddy runs Revive a Rural African Child, and he cares for the children and has started the Visionary Learning Center, a place for children to study and learn that is run by teachers and volunteers. They are in the process of building a library. What is different about RRAC is that there is no sponsoring of children; only penpals. I was definitely intrigued how this worked.

You can sign up to be a penpal to a maximum of two children, and you send the letters directly to Uganda. You can also send packages. Since you aren’t sponsoring the child financially, only corresponding, you should be committed to writing regularly before signing up. While there is no monthly sponsorship commitment, there is obviously a cost for Eddy to send out mail to us, as well as to pick up each package at the post office that he receives, so there is a way to donate. But there is no set amount, and you can give what you have to give when you have extra to give if you want to; there is no requirement or obligation. Now, keep in mind that if you are used to corresponding with children through an organization like Compassion, RRAC is obviously different, because it’s run by one person and not hundreds. Eddy is very busy with the children, as he should be. He is fantastic, though, at providing updates on the work he is doing, and posts photos and videos with explanations several times a day! As a new supporter of this ministry, I love getting to learn about all the wonderful things they are doing and learning! Just look at the Facebook page to see some examples!

If you would like to be a penpal or find out more, there is a Facebook group to join: Revive a Rural African Child Penpals, that is separate from the main page. Some lovely ladies volunteer their time to help run the group and match penpals and children. They just posted a very informative FAQ post, that explains a lot!

After learning all of this, I decided to sign up to be a penpal. I figured I’d start with one child for now, and then add another in the future. Since there isn’t anything to go by but a list of names/gender/ages, I trusted that God would lead me to the right name. My new penpal is Nusura, and she is 6 years old. My heart melted when Eddy sent me this picture!

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I just love this photo with this beautiful smiling girl holding this sweet note! I can’t wait to get to know her better!

I sent her a letter as quickly as I could, although I’m sure it will take some time to arrive in Uganda. Eddy lets us know and takes pictures when he receives anything. Nervous about sending a package on my own, I thought I’d try sending one through Amazon Global. It took quite awhile to find something that would actually ship to Uganda- many things don’t, even in Amazon Global- a fact that you don’t find out until you’re partway through checkout. But finally I was able to send something through. It’s one of my favorite kids books ever “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes”. My students¬†loooove¬†Pete the Cat, so I figured she would too. It’s just something small, but it’s a start to see how it goes through. And I was able to send a gift message with it.

I spotted Nusura in a picture posted to the Facebook page recently of some of the kids receiving school supplies. Look at that smile!

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Letter from Mugisha’s Pastor

Earlier in the summer, I received a letter from the pastor of Mugisha’s center. I know that he lives in an area that is very much in need, so it was great to learn more about what the center is doing to help this community!

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Mugisha attends UG709

“Dear Alisa, I am Herbert Mujabwami, pastor of St. Andrew’s Cathedral Seseme in Muhabura Diocese, southwestern Uganda. We minister to Mugisha Isaac at the Seseme Child Development Center.

We are very grateful to you for the support that you continuously give to Mugisha. May our good Lord keep blessing you.

Our community has fertile soils but is densely populated, thus we have limited land for cultivation. It also has many cases of alcoholism and sexual immorality, which causes a high rate of HIV/AIDS infections. The church has a big responsibility of ministering to this community so that its members will receive Jesus as their personal savior.

The biggest challenge is that the children find it hard to get money for school, food, and sometimes even shelter. Being in town, many men go early in the morning to look for work and return late in the evening, so it is difficult to get them involved in our ministry.

The vision for the church and center is to equip all the people to extend the love of God to others and transform the community.

The center has demonstrated practical love to the children. We have supported children by providing medical treatment, hygiene training, education, social training, economic skills development, and spiritual discipleship. many children now have the skills to earn a living in the future. Others serve in the church in many ways, such as preaching the word of God. We have a formerly sponsored child who completed studies and is now working at one of our development centers and another one who is now working at the bank. We have several children who have graduated and attending colleges to study agriculture and nursing.

The church ministers to the community by reaching out to the elderly, helping in solving family conflicts, and giving pre-marital counseling. The church also teaches the youth and adults about self-reliance and good health practices. God is doing a lot of transformation in our community through this ministry.

Approximately 85% of our sponsored children’s families attend our church, 10% attend other churches, and about 5% are still struggling with faith and do not attend any church yet.

The relationship between children and sponsors is very important. The children, especially those who are orphans, feel the love of a parent when they receive a letter from their sponsors. They feel they have someone who cares for them and supports them. Thus, they have no fear about the future. Unfortunately, some children do not receive letters and they feel discouraged. So, we encourage all sponsors to please write to these little ones, as every word of love brings them great excitement.

We request that you pray for the children in the program and that all sponsors will keep supporting them. Pray also that parents will practice what they are taught, especially in doing work to complement the support Compassion is giving. Pray for our staff at all levels to remain committed to the program and that everyone in our community will maintain good health.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share with you through this letter. We thank you again for your generous support of Mugisha and for helping our ministry flourish. May the Lord bless you, keep you, and shine upon you.

Sincerely, Herbert Mujabwami”

Letter from Mugisha Isaac

I got a second letter from Mugisha Isaac, my correspondent in Uganda, and it’s a great one!

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Mugisha Isaac is 5 and lives in Uganda.

The letter uses the template “My Hopes and Dreams for the Future”. In the future, he hopes to learn about different characters in the Bible. He wants to learn how to farm and drive. When Mugisha Isaac grows up he wants to be a teacher (always excited to hear that!) He hopes to visit Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, and he does want to go to the university when he grows up. The letter says: “Dear Alisa, Isaac and his family greet you in Jesus’ name. He says he loves and likes the letters you send him and would love to let you know that he is enjoying school and the time at the community center. His family appreciates the dedicated support you have offered and pledge to pray for you always. They end by wishing you God’s blessings.”

I have to say, I really enjoyed this template. I also liked the facts about Ugandan agriculture that it had printed on the letter. The facts include: Maize is the most common staple food in Uganda. Banana (matooke): Uganda produces the 3rd largest amount of bananas worldwide. Coffee is one of Uganda’s main exports. Most children in Uganda like eating jack fruit. Pineapple is one of the most common fruits in Uganda.

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The picture prompt is a great idea, too. Gotta love how hard he clearly worked on this drawing, erasing and redrawing parts.

The more I hear from this boy with the shy smile and his family, the more my heart grows for them.