Disaster Relief

Ways To Help During the Current Food Crisis

Stories like this one are popping up in Ugandan media, even as the government is trying to ignore the severity of inflation and supply chain issues. As the President said recently, “Just don’t eat wheat – have matoke instead.” (Sound like any French monarch you recall?)

Now, Karamoja and the northern portions of Uganda that are bordering South Sudan are very dry and arid. The Karamoja tribes are herders, and can travel large distances to find grazing for their cattle. But what is happening there is coming to the rest of the country if it can’t get a handle on a few things:

  • Stopping the export of commodity crops to other countries until the supply chain problems ease
  • Forming some sort of safety net program for the extremely poor who have never recovered from the pandemic lockdowns
  • Stopping the new post-pandemic policy of charging at “free” hospitals

I’m not holding my breath, and we’re not waiting for the government!

Here’s how YOU can help the teen moms and teen girls in our programs – as always, 100% goes to our programs:

  • Become a monthly donor on DonorBox. We will receive the money in 1-3 business days.
  • If you are a big Paypal user, we are part of the Paypal Giving Fund. We will receive the money electronically in up to 45 days.
  • You can give through GreatNonprofits, too. We get a check within once a quarter. (Leave a review while you’re there so we can be a 2022 Top Rated Nonprofit!)
  • We are a verified charity with the National Christian Foundation (NCF). We’ve received one donation through them, and it was a check delivered fairly quickly. They take no fees.

THE BOTTOM LINE – we’ll take money however you want to give it to us! 😀

Thank you for your support!

Webele nyo,

Jennings

PS Make sure to follow us on social media for the latest updates!

GOOD NEWS AMIDST THE CONTINUING LOCKDOWN

We’re at day 44, between the first partial shutdown, and the total lockdown. We’ve got about 10 days to go – in theory – but no one actually expects the lockdown to be lifted or even eased. FOOD INSECURITY and starvation continue to be the #1 issue throughout the country and our programs.

BUT THERE IS SOME GOOD NEWS, TOO!

  • Gideon, Director of Hopeland and Wells of Hope Primary Schools, welcomed his first child on Saturday. Wife Winnie and baby Nathaniel are doing great!
  • We’ve had local donations of food from businesses like Xara Ranch and Lekker Bakery, as well as from expats who have heard about our work and want to help. This is making a big impact!
  • The Suubi House is open and running smoothly. Gertrude, the caretaker, reports that the girls and their babies are adapting wonderfully. They are all still eating, bathing, and doing laundry at the Ross House — only a 5 min walk away.
  • We are able to keep the girls from Skills for Life who have been struggling with mental health issues busy with the Ndoto co-op and outreaches into the community. They are also receiving food for their families, which is relieving the burden there and minimizing the type of atmosphere that leads to child bride practices or other behaviors leading to teenage pregnancy.
  • ALL of the Primary 7 students from Hopeland School passed the National Leaving Exam in March, thanks to your donations that allowed us to hire teachers, provide transportation, and create home-study materials for them during the 15 month school closures.
Gloria, 16, has come SO far in her 4 months at the Ross House! She is now the “senior”, and is ready and willing to help new emergency admissions in the coming weeks.

IT’S BEEN A DIFFICULT TIME, BUT THANKS TO OUR WONDERFUL DONORS AND SUPPORTERS, WE ARE STILL ABLE TO SERVE THE MOST VULNERABLE IN UGANDA.

THANK YOU!

To help vulnerable children and teens, you can donate here! 100% of your donation goes to the work – we can’t do it without you!

FOOD INSECURITY DRIVES EVERYTHING

For the last week, we’ve been posting photos on social media that don’t include faces. Since we love our beautiful girls, we’ve gotten some questions as to why we stopped showing them.

One word: SAFETY

With the imposition of the total lockdown a couple of weeks ago, the government has made the slum a dystopian nightmare of roving gangs robbing and even killing for food.

People are choosing between rent and food if they do have any money, and starving beats being homeless – so they are starving.

Even one meal of porridge a day seems like a luxury. People are showing up at our gate regularly who haven’t eaten in days, and the last thing they ate was a thin posho (ground maize) gruel.

ONE OF THE HARDEST FACTS WE FACE IS THAT WE CAN’T HELP EVERYONE.

We started our Adopt a Girl (AAG) program to provide food to those in our program who are the most at risk of being sold as a “bride;” or of voluntary or forced prostitution. Even within our program, we can’t provide food for everyone… But we CAN remove the single biggest factor for teen “marriage” and pregnancy at the moment, and that’s FOOD INSECURITY.

FOR $50, WE CAN FEED A FAMILY OF 5 FOR A MONTH. WILL YOU HELP?

AS ALWAYS, 100% OF YOUR DONATION GOES TO THE PROGRAM! THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THESE VULNERABLE TEEN GIRLS.

LIFE UNDER TOTAL LOCKDOWN

Brenda (not her real name), age 17

To say that things are bad in Uganda is a pretty serious understatement. People are already starving and facing eviction, and because of a new 20% tax on landlords starting July 1, they are being made to pay increased rents even while making no money.

ESCAPED

We had a very scary incident today. One of our girls, Brenda (not her real name), 17, answered a call from a man she didn’t know who offered her a housekeeping job. Brenda’s family is out of food and desperate, so she went to find out about the job.

The man locked her in a room and tried to rape her. His plan was to keep her imprisoned in the house, forcing her into sex and trafficking her to others.

Fortunately, Brenda fought her way out and escaped being raped. She was beaten up and covered with bruises, but because she wasn’t actually raped, the police just filed the statement along with the hundreds of others just like it that they’re getting.

HUNDREDS OF OTHERS. And we’re 10 days into a 42 day (minimum) lockdown.

We held an emergency meeting when they got back to the office. OF COURSE, Brenda is traumatized. And there are many more girls who are facing this and who maybe won’t be so lucky.

We have a total of 40 teen girls who have either completed Skills for Life or are on the waiting list and who had just had orientation for term 2 when the lockdown came. There are another 15-20 who are involved in other ways in our Namuwongo program. They are ALL extremely vulnerable.

SOLUTION: WILL YOU ADOPT A GIRL (AAG) FOR ONE MONTH?

For $50 we can feed a family of 5 (the average number in the slum) for a month. FOOD INSECURITY is the #1 driver of voluntary or forced prostitution for teen girls. Through the AAG program, we can remove that burden, we can protect these precious girls and get their families through the lockdown.

Posho, a staple in Uganda, is corn flour

We have also relaunched the Ndoto cooperative, which we ran in 2014 and 2015. Teen girls from our Skills for Life Term 1 who are at particular risk of trafficking, mental health issues, and/or homelessness will be working at Skills for Life to design and create products that we can sell once the lockdowns are over. These girls will make a salary on top of an AAG allowance of food for their family.

SUUBI HOUSE – WHERE HOPE LIVES

We finally got the keys for our transition house this week!! The painting is done, the beds and mattresses are in, and most of the necessities will be purchased this weekend. The power will get hooked up (eventually).

This means that Sharon and Shadia and their babies will be able to move from the Ross House soon, making room for us to take in emergency cases of teen moms in crisis. For the duration of the lockdown, the girls at the Suubi House will still eat and bathe at the Ross House, which is only a 5-minute walk away.

While we knew we needed this house before the lockdown, the current situation means that we will get many more cases of teen moms in crisis referred to us that ever before. Making space at the Ross House to bring in these precious girls and their babies is crucial!

YOU CAN HELP SAVE TEEN GIRLS TODAY!

100% OF YOUR DONATIONS GO TO THE PROGRAMS – WE TAKE NOTHING OUT OF IT. AND OUR AVERAGE TURN-AROUND FROM DONATION TO THE TARGET PROGRAM IS 5 DAYS. YOU CAN TRULY CHANGE A LIFE TODAY!

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED – WEEK 1 OF THE NEW SHUT DOWN IN UGANDA

WHAT WE’VE DONE IN WEEK 1

Prices have jumped on pretty much everything, including food. Fortunately, we bought at least 6 weeks’ worth of dry goods and charcoal last Monday! We had a friend bring matoke and bread by today, which will help so much!

Uganda is mostly looking at cases, not hospitalizations and deaths. Because they’re doing more testing, cases are going up. And yes, Uganda has a terrible medical system in general. (I can say that since my son was in a Ugandan hospital with pneumonia for 4 days!) But the president will be speaking again Thursday, and everyone is worried he will announce stricter lockdown measures since they are using the “cases” measurement. This would be REALLY bad.

Because of that scheduled announcement, we are waiting to start the new Skills for Life term. Meanwhile, the teachers are using the time to finalize their teaching manuals, and the tailoring class has presented their final design projects today.

The Suubi House landlord is stuck at Mulago hospital with his daughter, who has been diagnosed with COVID so now he can’t leave until the 14 day quarantine period is over. That means we don’t yet have the key! But we have ordered the furniture items that have to be built so we’ll be ready to get it done quickly once we can access the home.

We now have 8 girls from this last Skills for Life term working!! This is HUGE! (Youth unemployment is Uganda’s biggest problem.)

YOU GUYS ROCK!

Thank you to all who have donated to help in this crisis! We will keep you updated here but joining our newsletter and following us on Instagram and Facebook are the best ways to get up-to-date info!

UGANDA SHUTS DOWN AGAIN… WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR US?

BLINDSIDED.

That’s the best word for it. The president had addressed the nation several days before about rising cases of COVID19, but said they were not locking down. Then, Sunday night after 8pm, he announced that a 42 day partial shut down would begin on MONDAY.

To say there was shock, dismay, anger, and chaos would be an understatement!

Chaos in Kampala as people try to leave the city before the deadline

After a REALLY good week last week in our programs, with graduation for our first term students from Skills for Life just a couple of weeks away, new water filters for Wells of Hope School, students reporting in stages back to the two primary schools, and two of the hairdressing girls hired by salons, we were very… UPSET.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • Schools are CLOSED. They just started reopening in March, and several grades hadn’t even come back yet, so we are now at about 15 months without school for many students. Since our schools service extremely poor children, this also means they lose the food and supervision they get at school. In the case of Wells of Hope, they lose the only clean water they have access to.
  • Churches, mosques, and other houses of worship are CLOSED.
  • Important gatherings, such as burials and weddings, are limited to 20 people.
  • Inter-district travel is restricted starting the 10th. (He did allow a few days for people to get home, at least.)
  • The informal economy has effectively been killed again — the only markets allowed are government sanctioned ones.

WHAT WE ARE DOING:

The primary schools are closed, which left about 10 children who are true orphans once again homeless. The foster families who took them in last year graciously agreed to receive them again, so they have been relocated to those families. We will be providing them food as we did in 2020, and they all were given Wonderbags so that will help with charcoal costs.

The girls from Term 1 of Skills for Life are finishing up their final projects. We can distance them, and make sure to stay under the “3 people” limit so that they can complete the term. Our graduation ceremony will be held once the restrictions are lifted.

Term 2 of Skills for Life is on the drawing board. I should have some updates for that by the end of the week, as the staff meets to discuss our options.

Two of the girls at the Ross House have been there for four months, and are ready to move on once the S4L term ends. We have located a place for the Suubi House, and should have access to that by the end of the week. We have to furnish it, but we will have the girls and social worker eat at the Ross House to keep extra expenses down for now. (It’s very close by.)

We are brainstorming ideas to keep the kids in the various programs ENGAGED and BUSY during the coming 6 weeks. During the lockdown of 2020, teen pregnancies skyrocketed, child bride practices escalated, and drug and alcohol use increased. While we can’t have our Saturday Turning Point, we can continue counseling sessions and small gatherings, and we are working on ways that the teens can get involved in the community to keep them busy and out of trouble.

MORE TO COME LATER THIS WEEK!

100% of donations go to the programs and

WE NEED YOUR HELP!


Prices have already gone up significantly on food and charcoal, because of the inter-district travel restrictions. We are cutting expenses where we can to prepare for emergency situations. Please consider setting up a monthly donation of ANY size ($3/mo is the minimum and even that is so helpful!), or a one time donation.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS!

2020 IN REVIEW – THE YEAR THE COVID MADE

WHAT YOU HELPED US ACCOMPLISH IN 2020:

  • We opened the Ross House, a halfway house for teen moms in the country’s largest slum of Namuwongo, and have our first two residents. The Ross House is also serving as the office for Guardian Angel Foundation; training facility for Skills for Life, GAF’s vocational training program; and counseling center for high-risk youth.
  • We provided 150,000 meals to the kids at Hopeland and Wells of Hope Schools, the Arise Africa Babies Home, and the elderly and children during the lockdown.
  • We gifted 30 families with Wonderbags to enable them to cut cooking fuel costs by 4/5.
  • We built a kitchen and cistern at Wells of Hope School.
  • We funded a Covid19 Awareness Campaign in the Namuwongo slums that reached over 20,000 people.
  • We funded the P7 Candidate Class at Hopeland School, even while schools were closed so that those children didn’t lose their chance to pass the exam that determines whether they can continue on with their education.
  • And more!

Serving breakfast at Hopeland School, before COVID

When we returned to the US on February 9, 2020, no one knew that the world was about to be turned upside down. Lockdowns and fear have caused economic hardship everywhere, but countries like Uganda have been hit hardest, with extreme lockdowns for nearly four months. Hunger and unemployment, as well as skyrocketing teenage pregnancy and forced marriages, caused huge growth in the number of those facing extreme poverty.

Ten Eighteen, Guardian Angel Foundation, our partners at Hopeland and Wells of Hope Schools, and Arise Africa International, all pivoted to feeding people to keep especially children and the elderly from further harm. It was a huge mobilization effort! But thanks to YOU, we have been able to continue.