Monday, December 26, 2011

2012 trip is booked!

With only one trip on the horizon for 2012, I'm happy to have it booked. This will be my longest interval, and it's good to know we'll be back on the lovely red Ugandan soil on May 6. It looks to be a different trip, but I'm resisting the urge to plan too much - the Lord always, always directs my steps once we're there, and other than logistical necessities, I do much better to leave day to day stuff to Him.

I do know we'll spend several days in Jinja before leaving, and since my trip there was unfortunately aborted last trip due to Zeke's hospitalization, I'm extra excited to spend time there. We're planning to spend a night out at the orphanage in Bukaleba, and I'm just so excited to spend good quality time with the kids out there. And the guest house is so lovely... AH! Very excited!

So please pray for our trip, for me to not over-organize, and for all our steps to be ordered. And for no one to get sick! We so appreciate your support and prayers, always.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas in Uganda

We have entered the crazy season here in the States. Black Friday is now Black Thanksgiving, and shopping is the athletic event of choice. Honestly, since I hate crowds, it keeps me away from stores except Tuesdays at 10am, but retailers provide jobs, as do the manufactures of all the stuff people are buying, so whatever floats your boat...

But in Uganda, they aren't consumed by consumerism. It's kind of hard to be when Umeme (the power company) is having rolling black outs every day and even the nicest homes and businesses are without power a lot of the time. When you don't have money for beans for dinner, or rent for the month, much less a Christmas gift for your child. When your parents have died of HIV/Aids or cancer or TB. When you are running an orphanage on ever-dwindling donations, lucky to provide posho (corn meal mash) and beans once or twice a day.

No one can do everything. But everyone can do something. Will you? Will you make a donation this month to sponsor a child's school fees, or pay an elderly widow's rent, or pay for fuel for the hospice teams? Will you make a box for Operation Christmas Child at your local church or through the web? Will you donate shoes or children's clothes?

I know 2011 in the USA has been hard for a lot of people. And I'm just going to post some photos to give you a teeny tiny bit of perspective. Not to guilt you into anything...  Just to inform and educate. You are blessed beyond the wildest dreams of most of the world. If for absolutely nothing else than that you can have clean safe water to drink from any sink, hose,  or water fountain in the land...  Just something to think about.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What are you thankful for?

This long weekend here in the States, besides being shopping madness, is Thanksgiving. Technically that was Thursday, but sometimes it takes awhile for things to get back to normal and for some retrospection to begin. I was pondering what we in our first world lives should be thankful for that they don't have or can't imagine in Uganda... So here's a quick, partial list.

* Plentiful, stable, electricity for all.
* Clean running water that can be drunk from any faucet anywhere.
* Toilets with sewers or septic.

* Air conditioning and heat.
* Well maintained, open roads where people drive in their own lane, obey stop signs and traffic lights, and stay more than an inch or two from your vehicle.
* Exhaust systems on vehicles, especially those in front of you!

* Police officers who don't stop you for a bribe because they need tea, but who do their sworn duty to protect and defend.

* The best medical care in the world.

My son's hospital room at IHK - they were nice and he got well, but it wasn't at all modern.

* Having more than one pair of shoes, especially when doing sports.

*Trash collection.
* Proper handling of meat for sale.

* Babies not left to die.

Are you feeling like your life is too hard these days? A lot of people are, I know. And compared with what you've been used to, it might be. But take a few minutes, just these few, to get a little perspective. We are so blessed here... Beyond the imagining of the people in these photographs. That is enough to feel thankful for.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mistletoe Market is over - still need Christmas gifts?

Mistletoe Market was yesterday, and we raised $535 for Uganda! Thanks to everyone that came by - it was great to introduce you to Ten Eighteen and our great partners in Uganda.

But that was the last craft fair fundraiser, and if you missed it, you might still want to donate for 2011, and receive some awesome Ugandan handcrafts as a thank you. There are a couple of ways to do that:

* If I'm your friend on FB, I will be posting some photos soon. You can comment on any photos you'd like.

* Go to the website under "contact" and send a message. I'll be posting some photos on there as well, or you can look (but not shop) in the store. Our PayPal link is apparently possessed, and I haven't had time to call their tech support to fix it. But once you contact us, I will email you back and we can go from there.

* After Thanksgiving, if you're in the Triangle area, we can arrange to meet or you can come by.

* If you're at App, my daughter can bring you items.

We're very flexible!

I would also LOVE to speak at your church or small group in 2012. I'm pretty booked up now, with the holidays, but after Jan 7, things are opening up. Just let me know!

Thanks again for all your support in 2011 (and 2010, and 2009...!). We couldn't do what we do without you!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Opportunities to give

It is a fact of life that our tax burden often dictates our end of the year behavior. I'd like to say it's Christmas joy, but in difficult times like these... it's more often Uncle Sam that nudges us over the edge. But anything that encourages you to give works for me, and I'm a firm believer that God will use your generosity to plant even more seeds of generosity in you, and that's a "vicious cycle" I can live with!

So here's what you can do between now and December 31:

Nov 19, Mistletoe Market at Wakefield High School

Arrange an "open house" visit

Arrange a home party

Just write a check!

We really need your help. The economy in Uganda is rife with inflation - over 40% in 2011 alone. Especially while the dollar is quite strong, help us get funds to our partners.  Your $100 donation would have brought 200,000 shillings in 2010. Right now, that same donation will be exchanged for 283,500 shillings. Since the combined total of the rent for the two elderly widows we support is 85,000 shillings a month, you can see that the strong dollar can really help us help them right now.

We are also slowly building the primary school. Building supplies have gone way up, but again, your donation will go almost 1/3 farther than before. Now is the time to help!

People are really hurting. I know you feel less well-off than you did a year ago. But even with a small donation you can make a big difference. Please help us help them...

Help them eat.
Help them have a home.
Help them have shoes.
Help them go to school.
Help them get medicine.
Help them help the dying.

For us, it's rarely a matter of life and death. For them, it almost always is.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's a brand new day...

There sure is a lot going on in the country right now, a lot of it bad. Anxiety is running high, and you might feel like you couldn't possibly do anything to help others while you are struggling yourself. Let me encourage you with my two favorite words in the Bible:  BUT GOD.

Giving is one area where God asks you - ASKS YOU - to test Him. Yes, it takes faith. Yes, it's scary. But God promises that you will be rewarded... What more assurance do you need?  I can tell from my own life that, when you step out in faith to give to those less fortunate, God will bless you in ways you can't even imagine yet.

And more good news:  it takes so very little to help so very much in Uganda. Consider this:

* You can send a child to primary school for less than $100 a YEAR. That's less than $2 a week!

* You can send a child to secondary school for about $300 a year. Most Ugandan children stop in primary school because they can't afford secondary school, and so are destined for a life of poverty.

* You can pay the rent for a widow or single mother for under $20 a month.

* You can sponsor an orphan at Arise Africa for $30 a month.

* You can pay the salary of a social worker at Ray of Hope for about $75 a month.

You can donate any amount to help build the primary school in Bukaleba, or to help pay for the fuel for Hospice Jinja, or contribute to a grant for a woman in the slums trying to start or grow a business. And you can participate in Project Friendship by making friendship bracelets, donating for friendship bracelets, or just buying a tee shirt to promote the cause.

Bottom line, there are millions of people in Uganda that need your help. Ten Eighteen works with literally hundreds of women, children, orphans and the dying. For the cost of a couple of Cokes, you can make a big difference. Won't you help today?

And as always, we thank you for your encouragement and prayers!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

First fall event fast approaching!

Wow, Fall has really made herself known!  I'm loving this weather, and it's perfect for our first fall craft fair event.

WHERE:  Our Lady of Lourdes Church & School, Anderson Drive Raleigh
WHEN:  12:30-3:30

Last year was a great day, great turnout, and lots of fun stuff for kids. Come see the market items we brought back, donate your 10 friendship bracelets for a Project Friendship tee (or buy one for $10), and make a donation that will literally change lives.

I won't see you there, but Ryan will. Come by and say hi!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Project Friendship Tees!

In one of those middle-of-the-night, sick and on drugs moments, I designed a Project Friendship teeshirt! And (unlike some of those middle of the night brilliant ideas) they came out great!  They'll be here next week, so here's how you get one:

Don't worry, the print is clear on the tees... just a low pixel save!

Donate 10 friendship bracelets. This is a one-per donor deal, although you can buy however many you want! (how's that for a subtle hint?)

Make a $10 donation to the primary school in Bukaleba that we're building.

At this time we don't have youth sizes, although we can order them if there is a demand. We got a great deal on the adult tees, so that's all we will have: S, M, L, XL.

If you don't live in Raleigh, there will be a shipping fee, but we should be able to use padded envelopes and regular mail, which will make it minimal (unless you order a dozen... ahem...).

We're so excited that Project Friendship seems to be gaining ground every day - don't forget, $1 goes a LONG way in Uganda!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Project Friendship is catching on!

It's catching on! As of today we have one Project Friendship group in Wake Forest, and another group that will be making bracelets during their scheduled small group time each week. We've got Appalachian State University students making bracelets. Wake Tech and Southeastern students are making bracelets. Homeschool students are making bracelets. How about you?? Are you making bracelets?

This is the PK, in honor of our purple-loving Irish friend Patrick Kelly!

Our first opportunity to share Project Friendship as a fundraiser will be October 9. We'd love to have your handiwork there! It only takes 15 minutes once you get the hang of it, and you can do it while watching tv. Even guys are getting in on it! 

Remember, a little makes a BIG difference!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Project Friendship update

I made a dozen friendship bracelets yesterday. One of them took me a long time because I used a wheel (probably not doing that again!), but I can make the simple ones in about 5-8 minutes... So in general, this was a very small amount of time invested. A young friend made 3 for us. Our plan is to ask for a $1 donation for each, so that's $15.

Sounds like a tiny bit of money, doesn't it?  Well, to us it is. But here's what $15 can do in Uganda:

*  Pay the rent on a home in the slums for one month.

*  Sponsor a child at Arise Africa for one month.

*  Pay more than half of a primary school child's school fees for one term.

*  Feed a large family for a month.

Please don't EVER think that being able to contribute only a little time or money isn't worth it. It can literally change a life!

This is Justin (Olum in Acholi) in the yellow. His mother was working in a hotel in Kampala as a dish washer. She made 1000 shillings a day, working 7 days a week... That's about 37 cents. A day. See what a little can do??

Thanks for your support!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Craft fair season begins!

Fall is here (officially) today, and I'm not sure I'm ready! The good news is, the craft fairs begin in just a couple of weeks. We raise a lot of funds at these, and we'd love to have your support!

Here's our schedule again:

Oct 9 - Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church (Ryan will be doing the fundraising for this one)

Oct 29 - St Raphael's Catholic Church

Nov 19 - Mistletoe Market, Wakefield HS

Dec 3-4 - Holly Days, Sanderson HS

We hope to have friendship bracelets available to give donors at these events, so please consider making a few for us!

After mid-October, I can do home party fundraisers as well. We'd love to tell you about all God is doing in Uganda, and how you can donate to help.

We wired the school fees for this term to Ray of Hope last week, including the funds for our 2 university students! Ten Eighteen is now sponsoring 36 Ray of Hope kids' school fees. Stay tuned for some bios and letters from the kids.

We will be wiring the funds to Hospice Jinja next week for the fuel for the remainder of 2011. With fuel costs rising in Uganda (as here) they are getting hit hard at a time they are trying to start a second mobile clinic unit, but we are benefitting from a strong dollar there, so our costs haven't risen much so far. I was so very sad not to visit with the wonderful people at Hospice Jinja this last trip, as they are some of the very best, most loving, incredible people I know.

I am hoping to be able to make a large contribution to the school in Bukaleba before year end. The funds raised during the craft fairs will largely go to the school, so we would love for you to consider making a year end donation. We are also trying to organize a benefit concert, although we have nothing firm yet. Details will be coming if and when it pans out! (As always, leaving it all in God's hands!)

Thank you all for your support! Reminder: If you are sponsoring a child, please send your monthly checks! And if you committed for another cause (grants for women, the school, etc) we'd love to get your check! Hopefully the Paypal link will work soon on the website, but until then, we have to rely on snail mail.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New School Term in Uganda!

The new term starts on Monday for our 36 sponsored kids!  Unlike most kids in the US, kids in Uganda are excited if they get to go to school. I say "if" because, although schools are technically free, they aren't, and the fees are out of reach for more than half the children there.

Why are free schools not free, you ask? Because of the "fees"... The fees aren't technically for tuition, they are for books, supplies (including toilet paper), and uniforms. This last is, to me, especially frustrating, because even if a child can meet the rest of the fees, without the uniform they can't attend. And while the uniform portion is only once in a year, it can double the amount due for that term. Since school fees can be more than twice (even four times, for the higher grades of S1-S4) what a month's rent is for the families in the slums, this puts school out of reach without sponsors.

As I've posted before, we picked up 15 new children to sponsor during the trip last month. All of these kids attended our basketball camp, and all are smart, enthusiastic kids with dreams of their own. All of them are behind in school - a 15 year old in Primary 4, for instance - but all of them just long for the chance to prove themselves and get out of the slums.

The Ugandan system is much like the British system, and not everyone is even allowed to go past P7. There are exams which allow you to proceed, and the A levels and O levels in secondary school which basically determine your future. You can't go to University, or even to some vocational schools, without good marks on these exams.

Won't you help us provide these kids with the best opportunity to improve the lot of their family tree? With your help they can get a vocation or even a degree. They can become the teachers and doctors and lawyers they dream of being...

As always, thanks for your thoughts and prayers!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Donations and Christmas shopping

First a big thanks to you - and God! - for a recent rash of donations. After picking up 15 more kids for school fees, but not knowing where exactly that money would come from, I am humbled as always to see God's hand at work. We've gotten $2225 in the last few days alone, which, with the money we left at Ray of Hope towards the fees, will cover all the fees for the rest of 2011! He's awesome, huh??

Secondly, here's the calendar of the local arts and craft fairs I'll be doing, giving you a chance to come by, see all the great stuff we brought back for donors, and get your Christmas gifts handled with one easy donation!

Men's bracelets - great gifts!

October 29: St. Raphael Catholic Church, Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh. 9am-5pm Parish Activity Center

November 19: Wakefield High School Mistletoe Market. 9am-4:30 pm

December 2-3: Sanderson High School Holly Days. 9am-5pm Saturday, 11am-4pm Sunday.

I'm thinking there's a fall festival at Our Lady of Lourdes in October as well, but I haven't been contacted. I'll add more if they come up, and I am definitely available to do home parties from October 19 through mid-December.