The Mandate just put in our thirteenth bore hole in about six years we’ve been here. We try and put two a year but we didn’t get to drill any last year. (Covid messed everything up!) We always consult the chairman of the village as to where they are put. They have all been put in strategic places so that clean water is available to everyone. So many people have had to walk miles each way to get just one ten liter can of water. Living without running water ourselves I would say there are many trips for those who need water. Thankfully we have a bore hole in front of our home and I have Raelee’s friends that earn money by filling my jeri cans as they are called. We go through 10-15 some days. Just think about how much you use for bathing, flushing, washing – clothes and dishes! Don’t forget cooking and drinking.
I can go into all the steps of drilling but I don’t want to bore you with technicality! Mainly the first step is to get a professionally trained Hydro-geologist to test the best place to put the well. Where the water is and the best way to get to it.
The hole is then drilled by a drilling machine and steel encased piping is put in. Then they test for how much water is there, how much can be pumped and at what rate.
After all the testing and agreement on the correct placement of a well the pipes on and then the pump is cemented in. It takes time to dry and then the base around the actual pump is poured along with a “ditch” or run-off gutter.
Then you have clean water and happy very people!
The concrete on this one just has to dry and it will be ready to pump water! You can tell how happy they are!
Uganda is home to approximately 43 million people and a very young population, with an average age of 15 years old. Think about that for a minute, 43 million people with the average age being 15 to 16 years old. That is what makes such a beautiful country so poor. There are so little opportunities for such young people to earn an income. Little money for many to even earn a basic education, no college or training school and very little hope. They are exactly the ones that are preyed upon because they are easy to persuade- the old adage if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. For the desperate kids though, all they can see is an opportunity of money and employment offered to them.
Because of where Uganda is located and its beauty, it is an important destination for international tourism and trade. The routes for trucks coming and going is a hub here. It is easy for truckers to get people out of the country, especially because many young girls make their living off of the truck drivers and can form a trust with some that are just grooming them to get more girls to traffic. Tourism also doesn’t help. People that come for the sole purpose of taking someone for what they can get out of them. In 2019 laws had to be changed for adoption and”legal” rights over children that actually had families here. It previously was changed to the adoptees staying three years before adoption. In 2019 that was changed to one year. Before there were any laws, a person could come and inside a month take a baby or child back to their country. Many times the families were either ignorant that their children were missing, often the were either given money for a lie other than the fact their children were being adopted by foreigners. Or “brokers” would tell families that the children had an opportunity to go to the best schools here in Uganda, while taking money from (mostly Americans) people that believed they were adopting an orphaned child. And not all adoptions were for loving families. Many were adopted or sold off to groups who used these children as either work or sex slaves.
When we think of human trafficking we often first think of only sex trafficking. While this is highly prevalent, there are almost as many or the same in the trafficking and selling of children and vulnerable people as “slaves”. Used to make money off them by sending them out to work – sometimes not even bad jobs – but keep all of their earnings and their passports so that they have no choice but to depend on their kidnappers and associates.
Recently there was a man who recorded a confession and was later arrested because he said over the last twenty years he had been illegally trafficking children for the equivalent of about $14,000-20,000 USD. Over twenty years that may not sound like a lot to an American but when you consider that many were probably sold for just a few dollars you will then look at it differently in terms of the amount he could have sold off.
The 2020 Police Annual Crime Report indicates that a total of 666 persons were victims of Trafficking in Persons compared to 455 victims in 2019. Of the 666 victims in 2020, 497 were victims of transnational trafficking – many from trucking, import/export “business covers” and the many ads for great paying jobs under excellent conditions as hotel maids, models, mechanics and the like.
It was just in 2009 that the 2009 Anti Trafficking Act criminalised sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed punishments of up to 15 years imprisonment for offenses involving adult victims and up to life imprisonment for those that involved children.
Human trafficking has become a major problem in Uganda. According to the Trafficking in Persons Report from 2020, estimates determined that traffickers are currently exploiting 7,000 to 12,000 children through sex trafficking in Uganda. The report also outlines how human trafficking in Uganda primarily takes the form of forced physical labor and sexual exploitation, both in the male and female population. I personally, see ads all the time on FB or through the newspapers for jobs overseas. Usually “no experience needed” and sound like good jobs. These are mainly in middle eastern countries. It is so sad to make because I know how desperate these young people are.
“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” 2 Corinthians 11:14
There have been some actions and investigations, not enough, but it takes more manpower and police when you consider how many countries border Uganda and the total of flights coming in and going out each day.
Last month, anti-human trafficking detectives arrested a woman accused of defrauding 200 girls of over Shs 90 million in fake job promises. (Approximately $255,000 USD) She was trying to lure girls from various parts of the country on promises of securing for them jobs in Kampala city. The victims had been exploited under “Alliance in Motion Global Uganda Limited”. The girls told police that they were charged 450,000 each in order to secure jobs that would pay them between Shs 650,000 and Shs 1 million per month. There are many stories of people being asked for large amounts of money that they have to borrow or make in “any way possible” to get the money in hopes of a good paying jobs that will support themselves and more times than not these young girls already have at least one child.
Also in March 30 females all from Burundi were found locked inside a house in Uganda. These people were trafficked here and were going to be given to shady labor exporters to illegally take them to Arab countries”.
There have been many groups of woman and girls stopped either at the Entebbe Airport under suspicious circumstances with tickets or visas that were going to middle eastern countries. Or at the borders of Kenya and Uganda. Since 2018 both countries are trying to work together to stop trafficking at the borders.
I know this isn’t just a Ugandan problem. It is a worldwide problem; it’s the vulnerable, desperate and isolated people that are the most targeted. And though it is happening more and more in the States, third world countries have previously been the biggest targets. Especially a country like ours, Uganda, where the population is mostly teen agers that have babies early and most of young girls only other option is to be married off to the highest bidder to what he will give to her family. So the promises made to them by unscrupulous people sound much better than the other options.
When we go to talk to the girls for Hope for Girls we do talk about the risks of trafficking. One thing we’ve found, even in the educated young ladies is that Americans are all good. I think the reason for this is the times they are in contact with either mission groups or people that come to help and assume all Americans have their best interests in mind.
So it is very easy for an American to sway these young ladies. We tell them that there are people in this world that consider women, girls and sometimes even boys as property. Some people steal girls and women for many reasons, not just sex or slavery but sometimes as drug mules. They lie to get them and by the time they realize they are in trouble it is too late for them to escape. Or they are just taken by force – kidnapped.
We tell them some of the lies people will tell to trick them into coming with them, offering money or other rewards. School fees are something everyone needs because although government schools are available and “free from tuition” many can’t even afford .50 notebooks or $5 uniforms. And in many rural areas the teachers don’t care, or don’t even show up. So many children go to boarding school. So a lie like this would definitely get a child or parents attention and desire.
Another thing we tell them to watch out for is the offer of a ride or food. Promising a job in another place, promising to pay their parents so that they can be taken for a better life or threatening to kill, or worse, a family member.
Anyone is vulnerable and anyone can be a trafficker. We tell them to be safe before taking any offers. Talk first to someone they trust and see if they can check it out. Usually adults are more suspicious and can guide a young person.
We teach a little self defense and tell them if at all possible don’t be put at night alone. My daddy always said “nothing good happens after midnight”! We tell them to implement the buddy system and try and travel in groups. But most importantly watch out for each other.
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. John 10:10
Jammin’ ‘n Slammin’!
I think I’ve listened to Toby Mac’s new song more times than I can count and watched the video almost as many times! I don’t know how many times we’ve seen him perform live but I know the first time was not long after he went solo. Our granddaughter and grandson are fans of his also. I think maybe his video for this song is his best video so far! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the CD!
Crowder ❤️❤️. As soon as we got busy this week with so many projects all at once the devil started in from all sides. Problems with girls we love as daughters. Our own daughter that was being manipulated and teaching her stealing and hiding things from us was okay. Now those consequences have fallen heavy on our shoulders. Table saw that was needed for the training center broke down and Chris couldn’t keep it going this time. And people, there’s no Lowe’s, Home Depot or Walmart here! Electrical wire for the training center – no one had any! It was one thing after another of the devil trying to steal our joy. In the kitchen one of those days I just started yelling “run devil run”. Scared Raelee a little bit I told her he is real and he is trying to steal the joy we’ve had the past few weeks and I’m not going to let him have mine.
He also has new songs and they have been played almost as much as the new Mac’s songs! And am I the only one that doesn’t see red hair? 🤣
So these are songs I’ve played a lot this week! I love in “I Am” the chorus – “I am
Holding on to You
Holding on to You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
There is another video to the same song “I Am” on YouTube that is very moving, from the movie “Son of God”
We started off last week, first a sit down with one of our Ugandan daughters and have a tough talk with. And then I had to had to have a talk with our other Ugandan daughter! I, and then with Christian had to have a difficult talk with her but we told her when she repents that God is there to forgive. We have forgiven her. He uses our pasts, I found myself in somewhat a similar position thirty-five years ago, before coming to Christ but He has used that situation that the devil could have used for evil, God used it in a very big way for good. We will always be by her side but there will be consequences she’s going to have to face. The consequences of my actions still affect people in my life that I love, but thank God He forgives and as His word says:
“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:12
These are some of the songs that have helped me get through without wanting to run away (okay, maybe hide for a minute!). Music, especially songs that glorify God or say the words that your heart feels are important to me and sometimes I forget how healing and how encouraging they can be. Music touches the soul.
Don’t get me wrong – these past few weeks have been the most encouraging and exciting weeks we’ve had in awhile. Just not without challenges!
We’ll see what next week’s playlist represents! Bye y’all, and thanks to all the new friends who have started following our sometimes crazy antics!
Don’t give up!
If you’ve followed my blog for long you know all about the rabbit project. About four and a half years ago I felt God put it on my heart to raise rabbits to help with all the malnutrition here. The plan was to have a training class, to show how rabbits can be raised easily and inexpensively and they can feed their children and themselves meat every day. Because it was something new I was laughed at and if it wasn’t going to make fast and easy money then most people weren’t interested.
It is such a frustrating thing to see so many children that only have a corn flour porridge everyday, even when the family has chickens and eggs. But they are sold for school fees or to buy the flour so that they can make it stretch. There is no nutritional value in maize flour. And though the focus on education is important, hungry and malnourished children don’t learn as well if they aren’t healthy.
What I would like you to get out of this is, just when you are ready to give up, as I have been, God shows up. That’s the hard part, patience through the times you don’t see things happening in the way you envisioned or even thought was the vision God gave you. I’ve been struggling whether I was mistaken, that maybe the idea was just my own. I spent forty hours a week in the first few years trying to do all “I” could to at least sell some to help keep feeding two hundred to sometimes four hundred rabbits!
Then God gave me the answer and the blessing of seeing my dream of feeding those most vulnerable come true in a big way just as I was ready to give up!
The same Pastor friend that is working on the school for orphans and is already caring for about 134 teenagers and the few small ones found out we raise the rabbits. He was so excited he wanted to start training right then! And we were leaving in two days to see our son for two months! But the excitement he had that there was a way besides chickens and agriculture they could have their own food to feed these children was infectious!
Pastor and a teacher or two and some students started coming in the end of March for two days every week. They went through all the training of feeding and sicknesses, how to recognize and treat. And the fun parts of cleaning the cages and how important that is.
For the last three to four weeks they have built their own cages and are ready for some rabbits! I am so excited for them but I am blessed beyond measure that even though “my plan” didn’t go as I expected and on MY time frame, God knew. And this will be a blessing not only to the kids there at the school but prayerfully to their community once they see that they too can raise rabbits for meat easily and inexpensively.
We are thankful we have been able to bless this school, and these children who have no one else but this man who has been Pastor/Mother/Father to them all. As much as we can whether it is through the Hope for Girls or helping with raising rabbits or their school as they come along, we want to walk with them.
Thank you Lord and Hooray for Pastor Emerson and Global High School! As you have been blessed, you don’t even know the blessings you have given us!
Don’t give up. If you feel God has given you a calling, a project or a ministry just know it’s not always (rarely is!) in our own timing or understanding. But if we are faithful and keep at it unless He tells us to quit the blessings are beyond measure!
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
I talked a lot about Jenifer. She is our farm manager, volunteers to educate pregnant and new mothers, immunizes babies and more. To me she is Wonder Woman! She has raised five girls and two sons pretty much all on her own. She still has one boy left in his last year of school. We have seen her grow as a great and Godly woman since being here and mentoring and discipling her. She and her daughters for sure have grown so much in their faith. We are still praying for the sons that they come to know Jesus also.
From the five girls we have Haria, the oldest girl and is a midwife. Salima went to college and is now a social worker. I write about her often and how I wouldn’t know what to do without her. For four years of our time here she had been away at school, so the last two years she has really helped us to enlarge our ministry. Takia is a seamstress/clothing designer, Takamida is also in school to be a midwife and the youngest daughter Nswiba just started nursing school. The youngest boy, Ibra says he wants to be a mechanic. Good, honest mechanics (even in the states!) are hard to find. So that will be a good profession for him.
But this post is about Jenifer’s oldest son Nelson. I would say that now he is in his thirties. When we came here we were told he was a hard worker, he could dig a foundation or latrine in nothing flat! And he was responsible, whatever he was instructed to do he did. But as for other skills he just hadn’t had anyone to teach him.
We also support a school about twenty-thirty miles away. During our second year here they needed some of their classrooms remodeled and plastered. Christian took a group of guys from our village and worked with them. They learned the importance of creating a strong foundation, how important it is to do the job correctly so that the workers that come behind to do the other work (floors, ceilings etc) could do their work correctly. They learned this because they could see how the incorrect way work was done before they came to do their job made it job that much harder.
There have been other opportunities in building here on our property, and putting flagstone on our porches. Something they’ve never done before. Many in the village were so impressed that they could do such good work. They didn’t know there was so much talent in these young men. But they were being taught to do these jobs well and not just throw things together. Nelson is really only one of two guys Christian can put in charge of a job and know it will get done correctly and in a timely fashion. So they became known as “professionals”!
I just recently learned that because of the skills he learned working with Christian he is consistently working on building for people. Even just got a contract with a man to build homes and apartments for him.
I just wanted to honor this young man who took what he learned and used those skills so that he is now known not just here but in other places as a hard worker who is responsible, honest and gets the job done! We are really proud of what he has accomplished. There are many others that acquired the same skills but have never tried to apply themselves.
On Monday we hosted twenty-four expectant mothers. We were expecting twenty-seven but some had already went into labor, one had a sick mother she was caring for and one had given birth the night before. (The ones that had already had their babies were still given the tote bags, we just took out the mama kit) They came so that we could give out the Mama kits that have everything they need when giving birth. Jenifer also gave a message to them about pre-natal and post-natal care. (This is what she does for the government.) She also tells them of the importance of immunizing their babies and family planning shots. She is qualified to administer both.
In Uganda (and other third world countries) a woman in labor is expected to bring her own supplies for birth. The hospitals don’t even get them the sterile instruments they need. The current maternal mortality ratio in Uganda is 336 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Infant mortality is 43 deaths per 1000 live births, with 42% of the mortality occurring during the neonatal period. Many of these deaths are related to either poor health of the mother when pregnant, not having regular visits to a doctor or unsanitary conditions during child birth.
A Mama kit has everything a mama needs for giving birth, and is all packed in a sterile package they are not to open until it is time to use. It has both a plastic sheet for mother and one for putting the baby on. There’s a scalpel and string to tie off the umbilical cord, and cotton. We have been asking $10 donations for the kit. That is at cost, we make no profit from these, we just want healthy births for mother’s and babies.
I have spent a lot of time on different projects to find materials but when you live in a culture that sometimes call things differently (I ask for a thermos and will never find. It’s called a flask). But during quarantine I can say something awesome came from it. I became friends with someone in Kampala that could send some things we needed. For five months we weren’t allowed on the roads. Only food deliveries or medicine. People even needed permission from their chairman and local police to go to the hospital in an emergency.
We still talk and he still gets me things I can’t get here, and when he found out we give girls kits and mama kits along with all the other things we do, he and his wife want to help. She is looking for fabric for me, he has gotten me the mama kits at a price that we can now give not only the mama kit but also a receiving blanket, pads for after delivery, soap, panties (knickers), washcloths and a very nice tote bag that our seamstress sews. I’m not one to be prideful but after years of trying to do as much as I can for women and girls this has really excited me and I am proud of myself! I am very thankful that meeting my friend at a terrible time during covid has brought about blessings I didn’t know would come. I am thankful God put us together. And I am so thankful to be able to do more for mothers. The mama kits are so important but other things get forgotten that they also need right after birth.
I did tell them they better bring me babies to see after they’ve delivered. I’ve either bought mats, given transport money to get to the hospital or mama lots over four years and only two have ever brought their babies to see me!
If you would like to support mother’s or girls please go to http://www.themandate.com 100% goes to the ministries, all administrative fees are covered by our board members.
I was going to write a different post but I got some news yesterday I want to share. I want to share for two reasons, one is you never know the fullness of God’s plans, even on what we would think is a small scale. The other reason, we sometimes don’t even think about the way in which God works. Our vision of Gods kingdom is so small we can’t fathom the mystery and greatness of His works. We only see one thing but God sees all and not only is He working on you and what He asks you to do but he is already putting other plans in place so that it all comes together when you least expect it.
My last post mentioned that smiling little boy – Suluman – I wanted so much to take home with me. The one that had been abandoned at a young age (he is four and I think I said he was three) I had even asked Pastor Emerson if any of the children are ever adopted out. Apparently there were more people around listening (something that is common here I’ve found many times. I’m not going to say busybodies, but….In our village especially!) I turned to Chris and asked him if we could pray about it. I will just say, I am 57 and am raising an eleven year old girl so I already have my hands full. And they say this one is a little firecracker! Of course Chris said we could pray about it if that’s what I wanted to do but there would really have to be confirmation it was God working it out!
I believe God has a sense of humor, along with His plans and not mine. I have said many many times I don’t even like kids – except my own and grandkids! (Don’t judge me!) Once they hit 3-4 you can have them! I also say that especially here with so many beautiful children that have no families, that is why God gave me Raelee. To remind me that cute little baby does grow out of that cuteness and dependence on you and one day grow their wings and fly from the nest! . (That’s why I’ll stick with animals!) But since I got saved He has put me with children. Most times because I was the only one around to do it and a lot of times it wasn’t willingly but I always was blessed. (Unless it was teenagers – I just don’t know how to relate to them!) But here knowing the things these girls, boys and babies go through, my love for them all has grown.
So, it seems the word was spread around that some mzungus had come to their school and wanted to know if they could take him home. Whispers that mzungus were going to adopt him and take him away. (No offense but rumors can spread so fast that we find out what we are doing almost before we even do it in our own village!)
A lady came to Pastor, seemingly upset. He said she had often come around and sometimes would bring him food or clothes and even as we were there had bathed him and dressed him and he had walked off holding this lady’s hand. Pastor Emerson said there were times he wondered about this lady’s affections for this one boy. She told him she had heard that mzungus might be taking him away and she was very distressed. She told him she was his mother. Her husband had left her and she couldn’t care for him as a baby so she had left him there. But through the last few years had still been in his life and did what she could to help when she could. She was so afraid that he would be taken away by the mzungus and she wouldn’t see him anymore.
Through his own tears, of joy and amazement of God and God’s timing Pastor Emerson told me this story. And through my tears I said “Well, I got my answer to prayers pretty clearly”! A child belongs with his mother and I am so thankful that she was courageous enough to step up and say she was the one who left him because she knew she couldn’t care for him. She had pictures of him after she had him and they had it checked out with the Chairman of their area. She has a new husband and I don’t know their situation but either they still can’t fully care for him or she feels he has become at home there she still wants him to stay with at the school. She still wants to give him whatever she is able to. We pray there will come a day she can take him home and they will be a family.
It’s an amazing story of love, between the talk with Pastor Emerson and how his girls need the help of Hope for Girls to how it also gave a woman the courage to say she gave her baby up. God is always working situations but we don’t see the fullness. He knew exactly what would happen and in His timing. We sometimes get so wrapped up in what “we” are doing for the Kingdom that we don’t realize what He is doing all around us when we obey and GO!
I have the joy of knowing I will still see him when we go there but not all the work of raising him! And great joy he will know he is loved by many, especially his mother who was scared and just wanted a better life for him than she thought she could give.
We were able to visit a school a couple weeks ago where all the children are orphans. There were sixty-five girls that were of the age of puberty. We went to educate them about their changing bodies and give them the supplies they need. While we were having tea with their headmaster/Pastor we could hear them rejoicing and singing to Jesus. The spirit there was so heavy there.
There were so many smiling faces but some very sad stories before they had come there. One young girl had been raped by her father when she was seven yet she would still go to his grave and cry. One girl had been there for a couple years because her mother had just left her in front of a store. It was heartbreaking to hear their stories. All but four live in a very small dormitory. And this wasn’t all the girls that live there. Schools are slowly starting back so we will be going back soon to visit another grade when they come back.
We always start with a message for them to let them know they are special and God has made them just the way He wanted them, and has a plan for each of them. We encourage them to stay in school and get an education. We don’t record the reproductive educational part because we want it to be private so they won’t be scared or embarrassed to ask personal questions. And we don’t allow any boys – even Pastor Emerson!
Their headmaster is a wonderful man of God who is doing all he can with very little to care for all these teenagers, both girls and boys. The day I told him about our Hope for Girls I could just see a burden lifted. He told me just the day before one of the girls that live there had asked him for pads. She had been using old dirty cloth. How embarrassing for both of them. He said sometimes he has to make hard choices – food or pads. We feel so blessed we were able to go and talk with these girls and just love on them. Imagine what impact just $10 dollars and showing the love of Jesus does for these girls to not bear the shame and embarrassment and are able to stay in school.
The school is what we would call high school, they call secondary, but because some of the people in their village have heard he has taken in orphans there have been four little ones left there. One lady just left her baby at the door when no one was in the office because she had dropped the baby on his head. One mother left her little boy because she felt he had a big head, another because the child has a club foot. These children are considered a curse. So Pastor pays what little he can raise to a widow to take care of these children, they are not old enough to go to primary school yet.
It was very hard for me to leave this cutie. He was the one abandoned because his head was a little large. He is about three and doesn’t talk but they say he is quite the handful! I don’t understand how anyone could leave that cuteness!
The views and writings on this blog are our family experiences and do not reflect the views of The Mandate organization.