Surgery For Ian

A little boy, named Ian, will soon learn that he will receive a surgery that will completely change his life... And it's because of you! For almost three years, Ian has had no control of his bladder. His condition caused his father to abandon him, his friends to leave him, and ultimately made Ian drop out of school. For years, Ian has been picked on by his peers and rejected by his community. His sweet mother has worked hard selling produce on the side of the road to help fund operations and medications for Ian. However, nothing succeeded. 

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In July 2017, Ian came to the gates of Project Orphans Suubi home covered in urine. He shared his condition with our Co-Founder, Brittany Stokes, and the missions team members who were staying at the house. There wasn't a dry eye in the room as Ian pleaded for someone to love him and help him find help! 

Ian, with his big smile and gentle spirit, has captured the hearts of so many people around the world and together we have worked to raise all the funds needed to cover all his medical expenses, travel and other costs we have incurred or will receive (i.e. passport, visas, x-rays, MRI, etc.). 

Over the next month - Sarah Sanger, our Project Orphans Uganda Director, will work to gather the documents needed to expedite Ian's passport, book airline tickets and make arrangements for Ian to travel with her to Tanzania. Ian's medical care and operation will take place at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre. Dr. John Bartlett, Director at Duke Global Health Institute, has been a huge key in making this all possible for Ian! 

We will share the news, that the funds have been raised for the operation, with Ian and his mother soon! In addition, we will make sure to keep you updated on Ian's journey and his recovery! Thank you to those listed below who made this all happen. We could not do it without you. 


A Special "Thank You" To Those Listed Below Who Helped Fund Ian's Operation:

  • The Mayben Family
  • The Madison Family
  • Paige Morris
  • Linette Nash
  • Brook Ninowski
  • Misty Proffitt
  • Paulette Rolston
  • Dustin Ross
  • The Smith Family (Curtis and Keira)
  • The Swope Family
  • Zach Tomlinson
  • Aaron and Kathleen Troutman
  • The Wiens Family
  • Evan Willian
  • Camp County Chiropractic
  • Duke Global Health
  • KCMC - Tanzania
  • Paige Knight Anderson
  • Jessecca Bassett 
  • Tanner Boles
  • Jennifer Buchannan
  • James Cheek
  • Haley Dolive
  • Kim Davila
  • Alicia and Tyler Dueck
  • Angela Finch Moore
  • Christine Flores 
  • Alla Fuller
  • Kendra Fulton
  • Mr. and Mrs. Gaylord
  • Kassidy and Chey Harris
  • Laurie Hazen
  • The Hendrix Family
  • John Hollingsworth
  • Jennifer Marshall

Why Short-Term Missions Make A Difference

Recently, I've read blog after blog sharing why so many people and organizations felt short-term missions trips were bad, selfish and a waste of time. These blogs and articles had titles that ranged from: "Why You Should Consider Canceling Your Short-Term Mission Trip", "Service Trip Selfishness", and "7 Reasons Why Your Two Week Trip Doesn’t Matter: Calling Bull on 'Service Trips' and Volunteerism."

Well I'm here to tell you that I disagree. I've seen firsthand the impact short-term missions trips can have. Without volunteers, missionaries and medical professionals from all ages and backgrounds - Project Orphans would not have the impact that it does today. Why do I say that? As a non-governmental organization in Uganda that seeks to serve orphans, vulnerable children, broken families, forgotten villages and so many more hurting people - short-term missions trips is one asset that makes it all possible.

Our organization and staff doesn't have time or the man power to host medical clinics that would treat thousands of people. We don't have time or the resources to give hundreds of families meals and clothing on a regular basis. We aren't equipped to build houses, paint schools, train teachers, and evangelize hut to hut.

What we are equipped to do is be there after the team goes home from a trip which has opened new doors of opportunity and new hearts willing to receive our resources which can help them change their life long-term!

We are there after teams come and bring hope to broken families. We are there after a team has helped serve thousands in a village or fund a water well - which opens hearts to allow us to begin working with the community and its leaders. We are there after a medical team leaves to follow-up with patients and continue treating them with the necessary antibiotics they need. We are there to connect people who have accepted Jesus into their heart with a church and/or disciple them as they begin a new journey with Christ. 

People say that short-term missions trips are entirely too focused on how the volunteers benefit. How is that possible? People have worked, sacrificed and fundraised for thousands of dollars to take time off work or school and leave their families to travel across the world to meet people they don't know and unselfishly serve them!

One blogger said, "The issues are pervasive after you leave. And your temporary presence may only contribute to their fears of abandonment." I would say to any person who agrees with that statement that they are then undermining the local organization or church that is committed to serve those people long-term. 

Personally, I've seen how a short-term missions trip has opened hearts to allow our organization to work within a new community. In January, Project Orphans purchased acreage in Luwero, Uganda. This land was purchased so that we could build The Pearl Village - a community that is designed to come alongside widows, orphans, and broken-families in need of a helping hand.

This village, where we purchased land, has struggled immensely. They have had to battle land thieves, watch people kill their women and children, and experience so many other problems - I can't even begin to describe. Every time I would visit this village I could feel the darkness that inhabited it. Well this past June things began to change, and that is all because a short-term medical missions team came alongside our organization to serve. 

We hosted a medical clinic for over 800 village members, fed the entire community a large feast and then shared the vision that Project Orphans planned to build on the property just next door. Do you think these people's hearts would have been open to our organization coming into their community to work without showing the people that we are there to actually serve? No. They wouldn't have been open to that. I know this first hand because we were given a cold shoulder so many times as we shared the vision with people in the community. They didn't believe we were there to actually help their people. It wasn't until a short-term missions trip served the people - that they would begin to welcome Project Orphans with open arms. 

We've had many struggles with local land thieves who have tried to combat our organization - and what has been encouraging to us is that the community and its leaders have started to step up and protect us because they know that hope is coming because they were able to see a glimpse of it in June while this missions team served them and their families. 

One author of a blog wrote, "People on such short trips usually don’t stick around long enough to realize how ineffective they are being.  In Uganda, I became used to seeing groups of young people come for week-long visits at the orphanage where I taught English. They would play with the kids, give them a bracelet or something, and then leave all-smiles, thinking they just saved Africa. I was surprised when the day after the first group left, exactly zero of the kids were wearing the bracelet they received the day prior. The voluntarists left thinking they gave the kids something they didn’t have before (and with bragging rights for life). But the kids didn’t care, because what they really wanted was school uniforms, their school fees to be paid, guaranteed meals, access to healthcare, etc. — the basics." 

I find this statement amusing and a little dramatic. I remember Sarah, our local Ugandan Executive Director, share with me that sometimes it's okay not to be so serious and to just have fun and give kids or people a memory to hang onto. Those bracelets that the team gave meant something and I guarantee that the kids weren't wearing them the next day, because they treasured them so much.

Our kids in our Education For A Nation sponsorship program get gifts all the time. From underwear, new shoes to soccer balls and dolls... they don't wear them or play with them. Why? They value them and treasure everything that has been given to them. We literally purchased our kids underwear and new shoes to play in because they would get infections in their private areas or cuts on their feet. I noticed the kids not wearing their new clothes or playing with their toys. I was very disappointed and semi frustrated... I asked, "Why are the girls not wearing their underwear or the kids not wearing their new shoes?" I was annoyed that their sponsors had been sending them things but they weren't even using them.

Soon I realized that kids were saving their underwear, clothes and new shoes for church on Sunday. Saving their underwear, clothes and shoes for church? I thought it was crazy; but when you have never had something like a pack of underwear, a baby doll, or a pack of crayons - why would you expect them to use it or treat it as something they receive on a normal basis? Just like many of those kids who received a bracelet... it was something that had value and meaning so they treasured it and didn't wear it to school where a kid could steal it or it may get dirty. 

So I say this - because Project Orphans has many upcoming short-term missions trips and our team both local and abroad want it to be known that we value the commitment and time that people make when they come oversees to help our organization in whatever capacity they are there to serve. Thank you! 

We encourage you to do these things or think this way - when you go on a short-term trip with Project Orphans or whoever you might serve with:

  1. Take photos with the kids you impacted and that made an impression on you - and post them all over social media. You aren't selfish. You aren't exploiting a time that you had while you cared for a poor orphan. You are sharing a moment that impacted your life and I guarantee that child! Plus, you are showing how lives can be touched and encouraging your followers to do the same. So post away! 
  2. Visit orphanages and slums and don't let anyone tell you that you are turning them into tourist attractions. Without volunteers like you - those kids may not get a meal that week. They may not get a new pair of shoes or be treated for an infection they are battling. The kids in the orphanage may not ever hear how beautiful they are or get one-on-one attention from some person who just came to play with them for a day! It's okay to step into someones life for a moment and bring hope or joy. Plus, that moment may one day move you to start an organization or fund a project that could be life changing for thousands. 
  3. Don't feel bad raising money to support your trip to serve! People may say - it's a waste of money and "how thousands of dollars is spent to get to these nations which could be money donated to feed an entire community for a longtime or pay a local doctor's yearly salary." You have every right to go and see the people that need help. Most of our missionaries often become our largest sponsors. It's because they see the difference we are making and the impact funding a project or sponsoring a child can have!
  4. Never feel you don't have the skills to serve. Every person is valuable. Whether you can help carry a new bed for an elderly woman who has been sleeping on the floor and is fighting back pain, you can pray for someone and bring them Jesus, or you are an amazing organizer and want to sort donations - everyone is needed and everyone is valued. 

I will end this blog with a brief story from a trip I led to Guatemala a few years ago. A short-term missions team had come to visit three homes which we had built for families to raise orphaned children in Zacapa, Guatemala. During the trip we hosted a local outreach in a village not to far from the homes. At the local village the team ministered the gospel, provided produce for the families to take home and played with the local kids. We were getting ready to pack up when a younger man came to me and shared how his mother was in her home and was to weak to come to the outreach. He begged for me to come. So I asked the youth pastor, Kassidy, who was on the team and our translator to walk down with me to this ladies home. When we reached the "home" she lived we realized how frail and sick she was. She explained to us that she was dying and had called for the priest to come visit her before she passed. She was very upset that no one had come and that she was afraid she would die before seeing the priest. 

In that moment, I shared with this sweet but very sick lady that we did not know how to find the village priest but that we had someone who had traveled all the way from America to meet her. I explained how Kassidy was a pastor from Texas. How he loved Jesus and that he came on this trip to meet her and pray for her before she got to see Jesus in heaven. Tears filled her eyes and she smiled. An overwhelming sense of peace filled the wood-tin structure. Kassidy prayed for her and shared how she had nothing to be afraid of. He told her how God couldn't wait to hold her in heaven and how precious she meant to Him. 

That moment saved that women's life. She could pass away knowing that Jesus was with her and cared so much about her. It was a short-term missions trip that God used a youth-pastor from Texas to change someone's life. That moment had nothing to do with our organization or the programs we established and the staff we work with. It had everything to do with someone being obedient to sign-up for a short-term missions trip then raise funds and take time away from his family to travel to a country where he was open to serve.
 

An Update From The Field - Written By George

The second school term in Uganda has started. The kids have been blessed and performing very well in their respective classes. The school started on very serious note. We had located seven children who were in need of an education and receive the opportunity to get off the streets and into the classroom. Thankfully, our team in US was able to find sponsors just in time for these children to join our Education Sponsorship program! God is great, Project Orphans was able to pay all their fees, thanks to their sponsors who loves these children endlessly.

All the kids in the sponsorship program are enjoying their life at school. In addition to the children, we have been able to give Jalia (Julie), the first Pearl of The Pearl Village, the opportunity to go to beauty school and begin life a new.  She is the first of a kind to benefit from the pearl Village project.  She learning the skills to better her future and be able to stand on her own. In addition, we have also enrolled three young girls into secondary school (Margret, Sharon and Esther). We pray for the best for our children in the education sponsorship program.

Most recently, Project Orphans was honored to host CURA medical team which saw thousands of people and treated them of their diseases. We saw patients in Acholi Quarter, the community surrounding The Pearl Village and then hosted a private clinic for the children who are part of our programs. The doctors identified several patients who needed treatments from the hospital and surgeries. We will be taking some of them for surgery in July or on the children's holiday. 

We had several amazing miracles happen in the month of June.

A Life For Christ. It's amazing at how God our Father operates. Bena (a child in our sponsorship program) has an Auntie who had been bed ridden for sometime - was recently treated by Project Orphans. She was found by my wife and I in her home dying.  Thankfully, we reached her in time and brought her to the hospital for treatment. There she was healed and treated for an infection and severe malaria. She could hardly walk, talk or stand on her own - when we found her.  It was a dark and challenging time for her; but God was faithful. She gave her life to Jesus and is now living to better her life and do things that will not harm her body. We are praising the Lord for her commitment to God. 

A Job For Richard. The father (Richard Ochoki) to Timothy, Lucky and Blessing (children in our sponsorship program) was appointed as assistant at their church. God is shinning His light in this family. The family had been separated for the past two years, the children were staying in the village with the Jajja (grand-mother) in North Western Uganda. The Father was in Mbarara District and the Mother was living in the Western part of Uganda. Once Project Orphans came in the picture to support the children - the family was reunited. However, they faced many obstacles. The fact that Richard is going to church and now found a position within the community is speaking to God's love and His plan of restoration with this family.

Sarah and I appreciate all the support from those across the world. We could not do this without your support. Project Orphans is honored and blessed to have you as part of our family.

George Sanger, Project Orphans Uganda Director

Let's Party

About a month ago Christina and I were talking about The Pearl Village and how it's been very upsetting to see the people who live in this community not grasp the hope that is coming to the area. The people living in the village of Kalanamu, the community which The Pearl Village is being built, are hurting people. They are extremely poor, very sick and many have no means to make a living to provide food for their children. When I was there in January it had rained just for a brief moment and literally every home was empty because the women had gone to dig in the garden praying their crops had received water because they were so hungry from the drought. It broke my heart in pieces. That day, I also noticed that the people in the village weren't very inviting. It was almost uncomfortable being in the area were we were planting roots of our organization. I could feel the oppression and anger - it was like a weight on my shoulders. I asked George why are all these people were so cold and giving us the shoulder? He shared with me how the people of this village have been hurting for a long time. No one has come to help them. And they truly believe no one ever will.

Since then, I've been beating my head against the wall - trying to figure out a way that we can get the community to realize that they are not forgotten and hope is coming! I want this community to know that their lives have meaning and they are the generation that will break the cycle of poverty in their community.

The moment we walked the property of The Pearl Village, I knew in my heart that The Pearl Village was supposed to be built in Kalanamu. Yes, there is oppression, darkness and so much sadness in the area; but that doesn't mean we give up. These people need to know big plans are coming. They will soon have a medical clinic for basic medical care, acres of livestock and agriculture where they can learn how to grow and produce their own crops, new investments into education in their local school, a water well, and hope through job training and life-skills! 

So the question I asked myself was, "What do I want our first impression to look like?"

That's when I had the idea that...

WE ARE GOING TO THROW A PARTY!

The kingdom of heaven is compared to: a wedding banquet. What’s more joyful than a wedding banquet? We spend many thousands of dollars on them. This is the one event where we happily eat more than we should and dance like fools—and no one seems to mind. It is a carefree, celebratory event.

It is a picture, Jesus says, of the kingdom of heaven. And if the kingdom of heaven is among us in Jesus (Luke 17:21), it is partial picture of the essence of God's love now!

I quickly got on Skype with George, Sarah and Christina - and shared how I wanted to serve 2,000 to 3,000 people a full-blown meal with soda, fish, chicken, pork, potatoes and more... How we would need tents, chairs, and a stage for music and dancing. They were silent for a moment or maybe two. George most likely thought I was crazy (since I'm known for testing the limits in the group); but Sarah and Christina were all on board! 

Sarah shared, "That sometimes moments help people fight for their lives." I was confused by this statement. She then explained that you can give someone an item that they truly may need - but that can only last so long. "This is a memory in their life that they will never forget," Sarah said. "These people will know that when they walk past The Pearl Village and see the construction and work that is happening - that LIFE, JOY, and HOPE is coming!"

So for the past month we have been working on the details. We have rented thousands of chairs, tents and met with local vendors who will supply the food. We are throwing a party that will be unforgettable. We are going all out! Why? Because that's what God does for us. He goes all out for us. 

The Pearl Village Party will go down on Saturday, June 3, 2017, right after we host a free medical clinic (sponsored by CURA for the world). We will treat people's illnesses, feed their stomachs, break ground on a village of transformation, and party! 

Obviously - this idea isn't cheap. Feeding 2,000+ people can get expensive. I'm sure you can imagine. I know this isn't something we would normally fundraise for; but it's important. It's the first steps towards restoration and an opportunity to speak LIFE into people's lives for the first time. If you would like to donate to The Pearl Village Party you can do so here or going to our donate page! 

To learn more about The Pearl Village watch Opening The Gates to the Pearl Village! It shares the goals and how women and children's lives will be changed for generations to come. 

Hope to have you join us - as we throw the most unforgettable party these people will ever see!

Brittany Stokes, Co-Founder of Project Orphans

Building A Village and Home Of Hope

It's been a busy year for Project Orphans and we haven't even reached summer. Our team has been overwhelmed with the amount of support we have received for The Pearl Village and Suubi Home. The Hidden Jewel Gala was a huge success and we were able to share the vision of Project Orphans with so many which allowed us to raise enough funds to break ground on this project and continue to fund the mission of Project Orphans. Also, we were honored to be selected as the first NGO which CURA for the world partnered with to build a medical clinic. The CURA gala was a huge success and they were able to raise and donate funds to build Pearl Village's medical clinic and donate funds for a well + agriculture/livestock for the village. 

The Pearl Village was just an idea that was placed on George + Sarah (Our Executive Directors in Uganda) and The Project Orphans U.S. team not even six months ago. It's amazing when an idea that is faith and life ordained takes off and spreads like wildfire. Project Orphans is truly the first in the area to be constructing and implementing a village solely based on serving vulnerable women and children. For decades, women in Uganda, have been the most marginalized and hurting people in the country. Project Orphans is working to restore dignity to these women through The Pearl Village. Many of the women who will be helped are HIV+ and have been victims of human trafficking/rape, left to bear the burden of AIDS and social injustice. The Pearl Village was an idea that was founded to change this cycle! 

The Pearl Village will not only transform lives; it will restore hope to the entire community! Through The Pearl Village, women and children will be equipped with necessary life skills and empowered through income generating projects. In addition, the psychosocial support they receive will renew their purpose and dignity! Some programs and classes at the Pearl Village include: Budgeting/Financial Courses, Agriculture and Farming Seminars, Family Devotions, Life skills/Job Training for Women, Innovative Entrepreneurship, Holy Yoga & Physical Fitness Courses For Women & Children, and so much more.  

Uganda Life Skills
Pearl Village Uganda
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The entire community will have a new found hope and learn of God's everlasting love for them. Men, women and children will all benefit from the Pearl Village whether it be through a life-skills training course/program, education scholarships, micro-loans or through the CURA Medical Clinic. 

Recently, we have started to map out the land and are working with a local Foundation, focused on permaculture, that will equip our organization to help us feed hundreds of people a week by proven methods of farming. Our local contractors have started to dig around the perimeter of the land for security fencing before we clear the land and begin digging the village's well! 

You can learn more about The Pearl Village by watching Opening The Gates To The Pearl Village video here!

As for Suubi Home (which means Home of Hope) there is lots of construction happening on property right now. Next week, we hope to have the roof completed and begin working on electrical and plumbing. This is beyond exciting for our team and the community we are working in. It wasn't even eight months ago - we stood on the foundation that Suubi Home would be built on and now we are in the final stages of construction. I can't wait to see this home filled with missionaries who want to spread hope through their gifts and talents to the people of Uganda. I can't to host movie nights and devotionals for the children in our programs and those living in the neighboring village. This home will be a resource for so many. Suubi home not only will serve as the full-time residence for our directors but it will also be a full-time residence for children who are in immediate danger and need to be taken into a safe place! Suubi home will be full of joy and also share hope to the women and men in the community through devotionals, fellowship, budgeting classes, and more! We will keep you updated on the progress of Suubi Home as we near the final stage of construction. If you are interested in helping us get moved in - please checkout our housewarming registry which we would love for you to be part of. You can view our registry here!

Next month we will be taking a medical team to serve in the slums of Kampala and at the Pearl Village. We will break ground and dedicate the village as well as the CURA medical clinic. During this trip, we will pick out the finishing details and fixtures for Suubi Home and also catch up with the children and families in our Education For A Nation Sponsorship program! It's not to late to sponsor a child for the upcoming school term. Visit our website to learn more how you can support a child and give them the opportunity to receive a private education in Kampala, Uganda!

Thank you for being part of this journey. You are all an intricate part and we appreciate each and every one of you! More updates coming soon. Promise!!!

With Love,

Brittany Stokes and Christina Yarid, Co-Founders of Project Orphans
 

That's A Wrap

Hey everyone!

The last four months have gone by much quicker than I thought they would. It honestly feels like just yesterday I was packing bags bigger than me to send to Uganda! Now four months later, my internship is coming to a close and I am so thankful for all that I’ve learned and that I’ve gotten to be a part of Project Orphans in such amazing ways. I have not only had to force my comfort zone to stretch out a little more, but I have also had the opportunity to learn about very practical details that go into running a non-profit.

Everyone knows there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make the mission of an organization happen, but there are just so many small things that encompass a lot of effort and actually bring the dream to life that we do not think about. For me, building this kind of knowledge and experience is super important because of my major. On another note, it is not every day you get to witness someone living out a vision God has put in their heart to touch the lives of so many others, much less have the opportunity to share a small part of it with them.

 I am so beyond thankful for my time and place at Project Orphans this semester! It has made the semester exciting and I have built up skills and relationships I will probably carry with me for the rest of my life. The amount of love and genuineness that fuel the work of this organization is amazing. I mean this, because it takes a lot to sustain what Project Orphans is accomplishing in such an honorable and sincere way. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for them in the future!

In the meantime, it has been so wonderful to share this piece of my journey with everyone and I wish you all the best,

Taylor, Project Orphans Inter Fall 2016

A Run For Orphans - Pittsburg, TX

Hi everyone!

            The last few months with Project Orphans have been very exciting! We recently finished what was probably the biggest part of my internship this semester, which would be the 5K Race Project Orphans put on in Pittsburg, Texas. I know I only witnessed a small glimpse into the amount of work it took for both Project Orphans and the First Baptist Church of Pittsburg to pull off such amazing event. Honestly, I was humbled and privileged to get to join Project Orphans in Texas. I have been able to witness first-hand the dedication and sincerity it takes to fuel a nonprofit. The dream behind the organization is definitely not an emotional fling, because I have watched those who are on staff give their lives to very hard work, which has been sustained for years now. It takes a sincere vision to not only push through hard times, but also to continually give your best and your all to the work behind it.

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            The day we left for Texas ended up being about a 20-hour day, from the time that we left to the time we got home, and it was well worth it. I remember as I saw all of the decorations and activities being set up at the church thinking to myself that this event was way bigger than I had thought it would be. There was so much going on, from food trucks, to bounce houses, and a DJ, to people squirting each other with glow paint. It was crazy to see how much had actually been pulled off and how many people had come together in support of Project Orphans’ mission.

            For me this event was a very important part of my internship because fundraisers are a critical component of nonprofit work, so it was a great learning experience. I got to glimpse the amount of effort it takes to pull off a fundraiser, and also how God can use it. Not only is there a lasting relationship between the community of the First Baptist Church and Project Orphans, but the event also raised way more money for Project Orphans than I thought was possible. It happened because of the willingness and commitment of every person involved, especially the community in Pittsburg, who decided to partner with Project Orphans in the effort. It was a wonderful experience because I was able to glean so much out of it, while also having fun. It was also a blessing to see the Lord come through in how much this one event accomplished.

With Love,

- Taylor, Project Orphans Intern

A Woman With A Big Dream and An Even Bigger Heart - Meet Joyce

It was only but a few weeks ago when I met Joyce.

That morning we arrived in Acholi Quarters. An area where Joyce and her family along with 10,000+ others fled to escape the brutal massacres being carried out by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).  Local vendors on every corner, kids running up and down the streets playing tag, and mommas sitting on the steps greeted us as we drove by. We pulled into the driveway of a small building, which was called their "church". We stepped inside and it was so much more than a building. You could feel peace, this was a place of refuge.

Shoes blocked the entrance and kids filled the space to the brim, laughing, singing and for what seemed like the entire time- there was nothing more on their minds but to enjoy each others company and to try to forget what life is really like outside of those walls. 

This is the daily reality for many. I remember looking up and seeing Joyce. God's hand is on her and she is different, this place was different.

And God is doing a new thing.

We took some time with her as she welcomed us into her home. She began to open up about being a pastor's wife, mom, and ‘momma’ to many of the kids she watches from her extended family and how she loves on them on a daily basis. I couldn’t help but admire her transparency, her faith, and her courage. The kind of courage that is reckless. The one that moves you!

She is doing everything she can to help support and care for her family, and we (you reading this) and I get to be a small part of that.

You see, I truly believe God brings people in our lives that carry us through seasons. Some seasons where we may feel like we can’t take another step. He brings in people who can support us, encourage us and push us closer to the finish line. There’s a fresh momentum when we begin to link arms with those paving a way for others, and when we allow God to work in us. Sometimes its uncomfortable, but God orchestrates things perfectly in His timing.

Joyce expressed the many hats she wears, and how many days she is running solely on the hope she has for her family. It's tiring. It's rewarding. It's brave, and now, It's our time to help.

She showed us the necklaces her and her daughter make and the desire to see them sell so they can have extra income to provide what her heart yearns to do for her family, and when possible for her community. They are hand woven, and take two days to finish one. They're beautiful. 

 

She has BIG dreams, and through her faithfulness and trust In God- I know they are already beginning to take shape.

Joyce may not see the big picture now, but she is making a difference! And we are so excited to join her in this journey, and support her.

My life changed when I asked myself If I would be willing enough to give what Joyce gives on a daily basis. Could I strive to be more like her? She walks and loves just like Jesus does. Brave, compassionate, selfless and looking for no reward other than seeing others reach their full potential and live a life fully devoted to Christ. 

God desires to use you just like He does Joyce and her family.  

I wanted to share Joyce's story with you, I would like to ask you to be a part of helping Joyce provide for her family and community by purchasing this beautiful handmade jewelry.  

If you'd like to do more and help spread the love she is pouring into the people of Acholi please visit our shop and purchase one of the necklaces made by Joyce!

With love,

Joy Cage

How Sophia Changed Our World

It has been a little over a week since we have been back from Uganda and I am still processing what happened on our most recent trip. I know, it’s crazy; but it wasn’t just a short visit to see the kids living in the children’s home. This time we had purpose and we knew it would be different. It was a trip that sparked vision, broke our hearts and made our role in these kid’s lives so much more real. 

There have been many people on our trip who have had a hard time adjusting to the normalcy of our life at home. I remember flying home last Wednesday and that evening rocking my youngest daughter, Kynlee, to sleep and I literally just started to weep. 

While in Uganda, I don’t know how many times we would come across naked babies covered in dirt with high fevers, horrible coughs, and runny noses. These babies didn’t have cribs, rockers or pack-n-plays - they slept on mud floors with no blankets or plush stuffed animals. I told my husband when I got home, “We are okay. We will always be okay. We have so much love in our hearts, healthy children and will never have to worry how to survive!” 

During our trip, I was humbled to take the clothes that my girls had grown out of and dress these little babies we came across. There mom’s looked at me - not with eyes of appreciation; but eyes of a desperate mother who was so thankful that someone had thought of their baby.

Project Orphans is going through growing pains. Our vision is being stretched and we are being challenged to dream bigger. I’ve seriously have been thinking how in the world are we going to raise $35,000 by December 2016, and then God starts working on my heart and showing me what else needs to be done in the small village outside the children’s home. I told God, “Seriously, if you are going to wreck my heart for your people, have me toss and turn during the night thinking of new ways to share your love, and have me go all the way to AFRICA to do it- well I am and we are willing to step-up and be obedient; but you are going to have to provide!”

This most recent trip showed me that the families and children in Central Uganda have deep wounds. Project Orphans must step up our game! We can’t just provide necessary means to survive, education, shelter and other resources. We must dig deep and begin healing wounds in these people’s hearts. This isn’t an easy task and it will take lots of time, work and effort; but we are up for the challenge!

When we were in Uganda we broke ground on the opportunity for children to attend school. It’s a huge step of faith for us. We will have monthly salaries to pay plus children’s tuition. While in Uganda, we captured the story of Sophia. I can’t wait to share with you her story and this video. She is a precious girl that motivates me every day to get out of bed and find a way for her and her friends to go to school. Sophia doesn’t know how to read or write. She barely speaks English. She didn’t understand why we wanted to video her life. But she knew we truly loved her! 

I remember on the way to go visit her home she grabbed my hand. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. She didn’t grab me because she wanted attention; but because she wanted to hold someone’s hand who loved her and who had love to give her. 

 
 

Sophia’s home was worse than our team had expected. Her mother rents a room for Sophia, herselfand her other daughters from two men who to me were completely bad news, if you ask me. Sophia’s mom is pregnant with her fourth child and she is not married. Sophia has no father figure and is stepping in at seven-years-old as the provider and caretaker.

The four of them share a twin size piece of foam for a bed - which is next to their most precious possession. Their chicken and its baby chicks. They don’t have a kitchen. In fact, they use a pair of pants as their table and table cloth. 

I’m not sharing these facts with you to make you have pity. I’m sharing them with you because this is the reality for hundreds of children living in Kiwenda and you need to know. You need to know because some how there is a reason you have taken time out of your day to read this blog. You care and that is okay. I care too and sometimes I feel completely lost and helpless. But I need to tell you - we aren’t helpless. We can change their world. Already, we are changing Sophia’s world!

Two days after filming Sophia — our team went back to her home caring two mattresses for her and her family! Sophia ran to us with the largest smile that I have ever seen. Then I realized… did she understand why we were filming her? We shared with Sophia that she is going to be able to attend school; and not have to worry about the money to pay for school tuition or her new uniform! Sophia stopped right there and dropped to her knees and started to kiss our feet. I used everything inside of me to hold back the tears that were about to pour out of me. At that moment, I wanted to get on the ground and kiss her feet. Who am I to deserve this child’s gratitude? I am no one - I’m just one part of this organization bringing the support of everyone back home who made this possible for Sophia. 

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Thank God we only documented Sophia’s story. I don’t think I could handle much more! All I know, is there will be testimony after testimony of kids just like Sophia - who never had the opportunity to even dream about going to school, finally having a chance to be more than what they ever even thought was possible. 

This idea to give education is just one of many projects stirring in our hearts! We are excited to complete this  and start hustling on the next opportunities that God is opening in Uganda! There are many more stories to share with you. I’m still putting words together for other moments we experience. 

Sophia’s story will be released tomorrow. I ask you to watch it with an open heart! Also, please share her story - the more people who know the more people can have the opportunity to be part of Sophia and so many others future. 

Our goal is to have her story shared in several homes - sparking passion and conversation to help Project Orphans in our endeavors to find sponsors for the children attending. We are also working to find churches around the United States who will share Sophia's story on Orphan Sunday (November 13, 2016) and take an offering towards this project.

If you would like to donate towards this project, know of a church who would like to share Sophia’s story, or would like more information on becoming a child sponsor - please email me directly at Brittany@ProjectOrphans.org.  I’ll make sure to get any question you have answered and humbly serve these children that you are sowing into. 

With a humble heart,

Brittany Stokes, Co-Founder of Project Orphans

And Then I Met The Girl I Sponsored...

You know those commercials they have, with the sad songs and video footage of children in 3rd world countries needing resources, asking for sponsors?

When I was younger, I couldn’t look away from the TV during those commercials as I tried my best not to cry. As I grew older, I began to flip the channel to something else when these spots came on my television. I just couldn’t keep watch what those kids were going through. It shed light on their reality of lack and my reality of being ungrateful for having plenty.

Even as a kid, I knew I wanted to be able to commit to giving towards a child like this one-day when I had my own money. So then in my final month of graduate school, I finally got to follow through on that dream in my heart and be able to sponsor a child!

I chose Project Orphans as the organization to give through because I knew the integrity of the organization. I also loved that my monthly gift was 100% going to the child!

I knew that $30 per month wasn’t much for me, and I decided to go without just a tiny bit to be able to give and be obedient to this calling God placed in my life, and He led me to Sharon, a quiet 15 year-old girl who needed someone to believe in her.

As much as I thought of how cool it might be to be able to meet her one-day, it was something I never thought would actually happen. After all, she lives in Africa and I have never gotten much time off with jobs, plane tickets were expensive, and the flight was way too long for me to even consider it!

But somehow, all those excuses no longer mattered when I knew God was calling me to do that.

I cannot tell you how crazy cool that experience was. When I would see the money going from my account each month to support her, it was never something I thought about too much. I knew it was helping someone, but to be able to see her in person and wrap my arms around her- that put things into perspective that my donation was helping support an actual person to live a better life.

Things I would have never experienced without meeting her was how she interacts in social situations, how much love she has to give, and how eager she was to sit next to me at every chance she got. I would have never had the opportunity to have her braid half my head into tons of tiny braids as I sat in her bunkroom with all her friends.

Sponsor A Child _ Project Orphans

Through writing letters, I might have learned that she wants to be a singer someday, but I would have never had the opportunity to hear her sing “Jesus Take the Wheel” at the dinner table in front of our team. Her boldness and eagerness to love is something to be admired and modeled in my own life.

Meeting Sharon makes that monthly gift so much more meaningful. It’s still the same $30 every month, but after meeting her, there is so much more meaning to it now. I know exactly where that gift is going now. I have hugged who that gift is going towards and I will never forget or take for granted the opportunity I was able to experience in getting to travel to Uganda and meet Sharon.

If you feel that tug on your heart to sponsor a child, I highly encourage you to be obedient to that calling. Yes, you will be a huge blessing to that child; but you will also be blessed in return. Right now, Project Orphans is needing your help in sponsoring students who will be attending their new school, New Creation Centre, in Kiwenda, Uganda. The monthly cost to send a child to school is just $25! School doesn't start until February 2017; but you can sign-up now and they will begin sending you updates and profiles on that child. 

New Creation Centre Uganda

I cannot tell you what a blessing Sharon is to my life, and I will never forget the experience of getting to meet her in person thanks to Project Orphans and the generosity of those who donated towards my trip to make it happen. I will forever be humbled and grateful for this incredible opportunity. 

- Christine Flores