On Thursday, we had the incredible task of delivering the news to Butangala that they now have a partnership with Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in Wentzville, Missouri! Wow! The reaction was pure joy! We look forward to some of the members of Immanuel making the trip with us in February to see firsthand the lives that are being changed by this partnership.
There were 15 children previously being sponsored here, thanks to an organization called "Misfits for Jesus". Since Immanuel announced their partnership with Butangala, the number quickly has risen to 69, with 17 students ready for sponsorship on the website: http://www.heartsandhope.org/butangala-immanuel.html.
We spent some time working on crafts and taking pictures with the kids and then delivered the packets from their sponsors. It's hard to describe the impact this has on a child. They LOVE seeing pictures of their sponsoring families! One little girl had a bright pink headband in her packet. I was helping her look through the other contents and took the headband out and tied it around her head. I snapped her picture and showed her the result; that smile was priceless! Truly a princess.
We also spent time with the women who were all dressed in traditional Ugandan dresses; the colors popped against the brown, wooden benches they sat on. Many times there is a bigger language barrier with the women than the children so there ends up being a lot of smiling, laughing and wild gestures. I'm guessing that the message that we really do care about them somehow gets across.
The rest of the afternoon was spent singing and dancing with the kids. Sheer joy is the only way to describe the reaction of most of the children when they receive undivided attention from a visitor. It is an honor to be able to be the face of so many people who care about the future of these kids.
The building formerly used for the school is near-collapse. The roof is completely gone. The man who has allowed the school to meet there has indicated he will continue to allow it so the parents are working to raise funds to purchase tin to cover the roof again. Most of the classes meet in a temporary structure built by the community.
There is a line at the well, built just last year, most of the time.
We returned to the hotel around 6:00 and spent more time discussing the business side of Hearts and Hope with part of the staff. Today will be spent in meetings, designed to improve the organization both in Uganda and the US. We are excited about the future of Hearts and Hope!
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.