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Does it really matter?

Greg Knight, one of our Awassa directors, shares below from his recent trip.

Some of the most vulnerable people we meet in Awassa are the older students who are orphaned. They are old enough to care for themselves but they have not finished their education and many times have no one to look out for them and encourage them. As we were finishing the worship time at Ajuuja, an opportunity was given for those present to speak. One of our university students had prepared a letter to read to us. He asked we forgive his weak English but I think you’ll agree it is perfect! In the letter below he is addressing Pastor Rob and I because we are present, his FIG family specifically and the rest of the Project HOPEFUL Awassa supporters in general. His letter is below.
“First of all, I want to say welcome our loved and blessed family.

I’m so happy to see you here and for my being with you today. On behalf of me, when we say “AJUUJA”.

AJUUJA is my mother’s my hope and my power. AJUUJA is my refuge and my trust;

In help and assistance I get from you made me a human being. Your help and assistance made me to be equal with my friends whose parents are alive.

Your support and assistance gave me the strength to continue my education; helped me to be a university student.

I was naked, but you clothed me.

You brighten my day; gave me a hope.

The death of my parents had put me in a chaos; but, your effort strengthen my heart, gave me a pleasure and a satisfaction. If it hadn’t been your assistance, where would I have been?

For all what you have done […]

By |September 16th, 2014|Awassa, Ethiopia, FIG Awassa|1 Comment|

Send me!

We at Project Hopeful are excited to announce that another member of our volunteer staff has been called by God to the overseas mission field.  Jen and Brian Knapp, along with their three children, will be moving to Uganda to serve alongside Youth Encouragement Services in Fort Portal, Uganda.  We are thrilled!  Fourteen years ago God first planted the seeds of this calling in the hearts of the Knapps.  And this is the time – the time to uproot and move.  Ecc. 3:1-2.

Youth Encouragement Services (“YES”) Uganda, founded in 1996, exists to provide education, health, training, employment and housing to some of the most helpless and forgotten orphans in Fort Portal, Uganda.   In June, the Knapps spent time with the founder of YES (Carol Adams) learning about the ways God is using YES to bring hope to more than 500 orphans in Fort Portal.  Shortly thereafter, on July 23rd, the Knapps decided to move to Uganda for at least one year to work with Carol Adams and YES.

Project Hopeful is honored to be the sending agency for the Knapp family.  We are proud of the work of Carol Adams and YES Foundation.  We are excited to learn more about the synergies between our organizations.  We look forward with great anticipation to being hope in Fort Portal.  And we cannot wait to see how the Lord will use the Knapps in this leap of faith.

Would you consider monthly support of the Knapp family?  You can register your gift here:  https://www.egsnetwork.com/gift2/?giftid=1E2976A8E6C64C6

Continue to #behope!

By |September 8th, 2014|Send Me!, Uganda|0 Comments|

So it’s not all unicorns . . . now what?

We at Project Hopeful believe in the power of prayer.  And not just a little bit.  We pray for things like the complete eradication of HIV in our lifetime, as we did last month.  We know that we serve a mighty God who is able to do all things, in His will.  So we pray, and pray a lot.

In addition to prayer, however, we also encourage adoptive parents to take advantage of the many God-given resources that are available when the difficulties of parenting children who were adopted arise.  Just like we would never tell scientists to stop searching for the cure to HIV because we are praying, neither would we suggest that someone who is in the valley with their child “just pray” and fail to take advantage of the lifeboat that God may have sent to them.  Last week this point was driven home for me as I was speaking to a friend of Project Hopeful.  She was just finishing her first Empowered to Connect conference with Karen Purvis and was sharing some of her learnings with me.  She wrote:
[Purvis] believes that the neuroplasticity of the brain makes it possible for the brain to overcome almost any prior insult with purposeful parenting.  But simple prayer and love  . . . will not be enough. [Purvis believes] reprogramming WILL NOT happen unless parents approach it knowing the science and how to use injured brain areas to get to ones that are currently offline.  That was sobering for me. I feel a new responsibility to approach my kids mindfully, purposefully. 
As I read my friend’s email, I was convicted about how often I choose to overlook warning signs that my children’s brains may be experiencing […]

It isn’t all Rainbows and Unicorns

We at Project Hopeful believe children should live in families, not institutions or temporary families.  Ideally, children would be able to stay with their first (biological) families, even if external interventions and support are needed to make the first family a safe, healthy, and feasible option.  That said, we recognize that the first family may not always be a real option, and if all means of keeping a child in their first family are exhausted, we support adoption.  In fact, most of our volunteer staff and Board members are parenting children who were adopted.  A big part of our lives is raising adopted children and educating other families who have adopted or are considering adoption – we believe in it that much.

Since we have walked through many adoptions – our own and ones we helped other families through – we have come to realize that many of the public messages about adoption are dangerously one-sided.

Celebrity adoption photos, dreamy Facebook posts, and “Merry Christmas-from-our -’happy’-growing-family!” cards may have minimized the commitment that comes with parenting children from hard places.  We absolutely believe in celebrating adoptions but it is imperative that we begin to communicate more clearly:  adoption is hard.  While the anticipation during the paper stage, the process of being matched with a child, staring longingly at beautiful pictures of a child from another country, and even the first meeting can feel very fairy-tale like, this is not the reality of adoption.  There are rarely unicorns and rainbows.  Adoption is hard.

Children who were adopted come from broken places.  Even those who are adopted at a very young age have experienced trauma (or at minimum, great stress) in utero, which will impact their behavior and development […]

What if your mom was a T-Rex?

What if your mother was a Tyrannosaurus Rex?  You desperately need your mom to keep you safe.  You turn to her when you are afraid, you rely on her touch to comfort you.  Human babies need mommies (or daddies- a safe, loving caregiver) for survival.  What if the one person who could keep you safe was a scary, loud, rough Tyrannosaurus Rex, with a terrifying roar and sharp pointy teeth?

What happens when you come face to face with a velicoraptor?  What do you want to do?  Where do you want to run?  You run to the person who keeps you safe- your mom!  So, what if your mom is a Tyrannosaurus Rex?  Then what do you do?

Humans are blessed with an attachment system that serves many purposes.  The attachment system lays the building blocks for mental health, relationship skills, and self-regulation.  The attachment system is also a biological system that ensures our survival.  It is through the attachment system that little babies keep their parents close.  When babies are distressed, they behave in ways that brings a parent toward them.  As babies get older, they move toward their parents- with their legs or with their eyes- seeking out closeness and safety.  This system works because parents aren’t supposed to be scary.  When a small child is feeling anxious, nervous, uncomfortable, scared, or terrified their attachment system becomes activated and draws them closer to their attachment figure.

When the attachment figure is the source of the anxious, nervous, uncomfortable, scared or terrifying feelings children are left with an unsolvable dilemma.  When your fight/flight/freeze system is activated by the same person who activates your attachment system, you’ve got a big problem.  It is this unsolvable dilemma that […]

It works!

I love Uganda.  I have two children from the gorgeous country and have traveled there many times.  When Dawn asked me – just 18 months ago – if we could start a Hope + Sisterhood in Uganda, it was pretty much a no brainer for me and for Project Hopeful.  We wanted to expand our programs in Uganda and this was the perfect opportunity.

Since we launched the Uganda Sisterhood, I have supported a sister and advocated for others to do so.  “I believe in this program,” I told people.  And I meant it.

This trip is the first time I have seen with my own eyes what God has done in the Uganda Sisterhood and I want to shout from the rooftops:  This program works.  It really works!!!

Perhaps that conclusion is a bit anti-climactic.  You may be left wondering why I’m so surprised and excited.  But here’s the thing:  I knew from being told that it was working and that women were rising up out of poverty, finding hope, and becoming independent.  Seeing it with your own eyes, however, is something quite different.  It is working!!!!

Women who were lost have found hope.  Women who never knew Jesus raise their hands in worship and praise to the One True God.  Women who could not afford to care for their children are parenting children who are thriving.  Women who lacked a regular income are running businesses that are thriving and successful.  Across.the.board.  All of them.  The testimonies I heard at the graduation were incredible.  Sisters are succeeding because of your short-term (12 month) “hand up.”  And so I say again, it is working.

We at Project Hopeful are praying about whether to expand our sisterhood to other countries […]

Bringing Hope Uganda: Zaina

There is so much I can say about Zaina.  This woman is amazing.  The first time I met her, ther was a distrust in her eyes.  You could see that she couldn’t possibly understand why we wanted to help her.  She was also Muslim.

Fast forward 9 months.  We are driving through Mukono town and we park on the street.  As we got out of the car, I could see the the excitement in her eyes.  As we crossed the street, she literally wrapped her arms around me and picked me up off the ground!

She was so proud to share with us all her projects.  She is selling roasted corn, roasted plantains and rearing goats.  She as so excite to tell us hat she is making a profit and is saving money.

She shared with us that she has accepted Christ and “loves Him with her whole heart”.

Then she told us about Veronica.  One day she found this precious 13 year old girl sleeping on the roof of a house.  She had been abandoned and would sleep there to keep herself safe from animals.  She proudly told us that she is her foster mom and raced in the house to show us the “official” paperwork.

We are so proud of Zaina!  From a place of despair to opening her home to an abandoned child….Gods redemption is a beautiful thing.

We want to help Zaina help Veronica so if you If would be interested in sponsoring Veronica, please email dawn@projecthopeful.org.  Sponsorship is $35 per month and covers school fees, iniforms and school supplies.

In Christ,
Dawn

Bringing Hope Uganda: Nakubuli

It’s Wednesday night and your pastor calls you at home. He tells you that there will be out of town visitors to the church on Sunday and that he wanted to make certain the guests would feel welcome. Naturally, you agree to help. Then the pastor asks you for something extraordinary: He asks you to bring to church one day of your salary. All of it. If you earn $45,000 a year, that’s about $180. If you earn $100,000 as a household, that’s $400. You don’t really have time to question the pastor before he thanks you and hangs up to call the next congregant. And so, Sunday rolls around and you oblige – even though it’s hard.
Some variety of that is what happened to us in Uganda this week. We went to attend church in Nakibule (where many of our Hope + Sisters attend church) and toward the end of a lovely service, the pastor asked the congregation to come forward for the offering. As the offering came to a close, the pastor asked his people to rise again and bring gifts to the alter for their guests. Us. And in that place, with tears streaming down my face, I watched as a village full of people who earn on average $1 per day brought a literal mountain of food to the front and placed it at our feet. When they were done, it was announced that not only was the fruit for us, but they were going to pack up the money offering to give to us as well – to use to purchase water […]

Bring Hope Uganda: Jesca

We met Jesca the first time in January 2013.   She was just 23 years old and a mother of 2, with her 3rd on the way.  She wasn’t sure whether or not she could trust us and you could see the hurt and anger in her eyes.
As we spoke with Jesca, we began to understand her hurt.  She was born with HIV. Then, when she was a child…both her parents died of AIDS.  She felt so much hurt and anger that her parents gave her a disease and as she put it “left her”.  Her life was extremely difficult and those who were supposed to take care of her….hurt her and she conceived her first child at just 17 years old.
She met a man and married.  She was forced to send her son to the village because her new husband did not want him.  After they conceived their first child together, he became abusive.  By the time we met Jesca, she was pregnant with their second child and just broken.  She feared for her life.
In January 2014, we saw Jesca again.  She came running to me with the biggest smile on her face.  There was a joy in her eyes that wasn’t there before.  With funds from the HOPE+ sisterhood, she opened a store.  She shared that every week, she would try to save 1000 to 2000 (30 to 90 cents) per week so she could take care of her children.  She said she was still with her husband but now that she was making money, it had gotten a little better.
We visited Jesca this week.  This young woman is amazing.  She is determined and strong.  She has opened a saving account at the bank.  She shared with us that she tithes to the church.  She shared with us that she […]

Bring Hope Uganda: Hajara

January 2014

Age 11.  When I was 11 my mother began pursuing her dream of becoming a college graduate.  She dropped out the first time to have me.  My baby brother was just one year old and her studies required much of her time.  I was so excited for her that I didn’t hesitate to learn how to cook and swooped up my brother each night from his crib to sleep in my bed.  In fact, today my brother would say I am his second mom.

This is why Hajara’s story struck me and pierced my heart.  At 11, she was having her first baby.  The first of 7.  She was cooking and coddling at the same tender age but in a much different role and in a much different environment.  As her family grew, so did her responsibility.  And at the age I was able to let go of family responsibilities to pursue my own college degree with never ending tests, she was taking a test of her own.  One that said she was HIV+.  While my whole life was ahead of me, hers was looking more and more bleak.  And not only was SHE given this diagnosis, so was her husband and infant son, her seventh child.

Her story broke me.  As I wrestle with stateside comments about how on earth I get through my days being the mother of three boys, she is just trying to live.  Trying to feed her family and stay healthy despite HIV and TB.  God had me on the best collision course I could have ever asked for.  This woman, my HOPE + sister, has changed my life despite living an ocean away.  I could tell you that I […]

Short term missions

Around ‘The Church’ there has been a lot of negativity toward organizations and individuals participating in short term mission trips. I find it very interesting because 10 years ago there were attacks against Christians for NOT going and just ‘throwing our money’ at the poor.  I wanted to enter this conversation because it is very personal to me.

In 2008, I went on a two week mission trip to southern, rural India.  Until that point I had never seen poverty.  On this trip I saw, smelled, tasted, touched, and encountered a whole new world.  The reality of what I experienced touched me in a profound way.  I literally came UNDONE!

In 2009, my husband returned with me to India.  On this second trip we asked God to break our hearts for what breaks His.  He was faithful to answer.  We built relationships with some girls at an orphanage where we were privileged to spend three days.  It was a wonderful facility!  The children were well cared for, and loved, and still they DESIRED to BELONG in a family.  We returned home broken.  We completely changed the way we thought about our money and where and how we spent it.  We sold our cars; we down sized our lifestyle; and we opened our hearts to adoption.

Fast forward 5 years.  In addition to our four biological children, we have three adopted children ages 6, 2 and 1.  All three of our children who were adopted have special needs:  either HIV or Down syndrome.  I also began working for Project HOPEFUL where we advocate for “overlooked” orphans all over the world.  We work with HIV+ mothers to empower them so that their children will never be orphaned.  Our three […]

Know Thy Enemy

We have been a foster and adoptive family for a little over 10 years now.  We have six beautiful children.  With this decade of experience, I have come to know that I know a little about a little and I’m an expert at nothing.  This has become invaluable to me as a parent of children who are HIV positive.

When we adopted our first child who is HIV positive, we made the decision to live a very open lifestyle about HIV and our family.  We are what you might call a “disclosure family.”  That is, we have chosen to disclose the status of our HIV positive children.  Since making that decision, we have received nothing but love and acceptance from our family and close friends.

On a few occasions, however, we have been met with some rejection due to those three little letters.  Project Hopeful asked me to write about the instances where we felt some discrimination based on HIV in hopes of providing further education on the disease. 

A couple of years ago, I enrolled our children in a private swim school for swimming lessons.  Because the owner of the school did not have current information about how HIV is transmitted, she would not allow my children to enroll.  Before you get too angry at the owner, she is a very kind woman who was willing to sit with us and discuss HIV.  After our discussion, she even held a meeting with all of her instructors at the school in order to provide education to them about HIV.  We were asked to and did lead this meeting.  We distributed current information about HIV from the Centers for Disease Control website.  Some of the swim instructors’ parents […]