Uganda

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 […]

Blessed by JOY

Recently, something pretty amazing happened.  Something that surpassed any expectation I ever had for any of our HOPE+ sisters.  Meet Gertrude.

I met Gertrude the first time in March 2012.  She was an HIV+ widow whose life was hard….very hard.  She often didn’t have enough to feed herself and her son and she struggled to pay school fees.

In January 2013, we launched the Uganda HOPE+ sisterhood and Gertrude was one of the first women that entered our program.  She stood out to me because when we visited her, she prayed for me.  She prayed for God to bless the program and to help me find sisters for all of the sisters.  She was so excited to be part of this program.

 

I have literally watched hope grow inside Gertrude over the past 2 years.  Her eyes speak a joy I could only dream of having.

She has been blessed with Joy.  And I mean that literally.  Gertrude has become our first foster mom to a precious young girl named Joy who was desperately in need of a mother to love her.

I often find myself stepping back and saying “is this really happening?  Did an HIV+ widow who was destitute just 2 years ago open her home to a broken little girl?”  The answer is YES….and she did it with delight.

Gertrude’s faith and YES is truly and inspiration and a personal challenge for me.  Am I trusting that God will provide for my every need.  Am I taking Him for His word?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Matthew 6:26

It was […]

Have “Faith”…

by Dawn Patterson

When I accepted the position of Director for the HOPE+ sisterhood, Uganda, it wasn’t probably 10 minutes later that I thought “what have I gotten myself into?” I was comforted slightly by the fact that there wasn’t an immediate need to get the program up and running and there was much grace extended on the timing due to our adoption.

When I returned from Uganda and started thinking more about the responsibility and my “skills” (or lack thereof), I panicked. Enter the voice of doubt. I quickly called Deb and said “look, I am not cut out for this. I don’t have the skills to do this. I MAKE JEWELRY. That is what I’m good at. I don’t “direct” anything. Deb was kind, patient, wise & encouraging. She said 2 things that really stuck. The first was “I tell everyone to not make any major decisions until 6 months post adoption” and the second was “and for the record…you are cut out for this. You are exactly who God wants for this”. Enter the voice of truth.

It didn’t take 6 months….only about 4 when I heard God say “go…the time is now”. God perfected every detail, funds were raised almost effortlessly and we were on our way to Uganda. And I felt a tremendous amount of peace.

When I left the U.S. I was under the impression that there were 18 sisters. So, when I asked “how many sisters do we have” and the response was “about 35”…..I panicked. Again. But this time it lasted all of about 30 minutes. God had perfected every detail of this trip and I knew He had this. Peace came over me as I heard the words “Trust […]

So What is the HOPE+ Sisterhood?

The HOPE+ Sisterhood program was developed in honor of the mothers of
the children of Project HOPEFUL volunteers who have died of
complications related to AIDS. This program seeks to offer HOPE to
HIV+ mothers and to prevent unnecessary loss for their families. The
original HOPE+ Sisterhood started in Ethiopia with 14 mothers. It was
a residential facility that brought hope to mothers by offering them
skill training, jobs and even micro-loans to start small businesses.

Project HOPEFUL has wanted to have a presence in Uganda for some time
but simply didn’t know where to start, but because our God is such an
awesome God….He paved the way.

The first phase of the HOPE+ Sisterhood, Uganda will begin with 34
“Sisters”. Each woman is HIV+, on the proper medications and is in
need of a “hand up”. With your support, these sisters will begin
small business, expand their existing business or become educated in a
trade they wish to pursue.

We had the honor and privilege of meeting each and every one of these
sisters in early January. We were even able to visit many of them in
their homes and see their precious children. Their stories were
heartbreaking and touching. Some were still grieving and some were
exclaiming “I am HIV+ and I have no shame”.

The sisterhood program costs $40 a month for 6 months. We are calling
this phase 1 because we want to leave the door open for God to
determine the next step.

At Project HOPEFUL we believe in the beautiful gift of adoption but
recognize this isn’t always the answer. This is a wonderful
opportunity to walk along side a precious woman and help her preserve
the family that God has blessed her with.

If you are interested in becoming a sister or if you […]

Game Changer – The End of Stigma

From Dawn Patterson.

The best laid plans are plans at best. I’ve heard this quote many times. It’s held true so often in my life. This trip to Uganda was no different. I went there with a plan…many plans in fact. But one of my plans took a turn, a radical turn.

The HOPE+ sisterhood has always been about enabling HIV+ women to live longer, fuller lives through a Jesus centered relationship with a sister here in the US. But, because there is so much shame & stigma surrounding HIV, many of these women wanted….and needed….to remain private. Although Project HOPEFUL stands by the TRUTH “No shame in our game”….we needed to respect this. It’s so important for these women to understand that they have a disease….but they are NOT the disease! But, to help them….we need to understand them first.

I went to Uganda fully expecting each woman to want their “status” to remain private to everyone except to their sister.

I can joyfully tell you, that was not the case. AT ALL. Were there women who had not shared their status publicly? Yes. And we will respect that. But there are women who are joyfully sharing their stories and I would be doing them a disservice if I did not share them with you.

Take for instance Lazia. I met Lazia 2 years ago for the first time when I traveled to Uganda with my friend Cathy. She was one of our home visits. She was not strong, she was not physically well and had a relatively new relationship with Jesus. Lazia was a muslim and after her husband died from AIDS, she discovered she was HIV+. A few years later, a local pastor heard about this […]

Uganda Day 5: The Health Clinic

Their hope was empty just like these rooms. But soon, both will be filled.

Last June, our church, Grace Covenant of Austin Texas raised funds to build a much needed medical clinic in Mukono, Uganda. When we adopted our son this past summer, we broke ground.

Yesterday we visited the almost completed clinic. It’s been amazing the progress that has taken place.

Why am I sharing this and what does it have to do with the HOPE + sisterhood? The board members of the medical clinic have decided that every sister will receive a card that entitles them to free health care!

The blessings just keep coming and I look forward to sharing what God does for the HOPE+ sisterhood, Uganda over the next few months.

I am en route heading back home to beautiful Austin, Texas. I’ve received several emails asking about becoming a sister. I PROMISE that as soon as I am home, rested and have my brain on straight…..I will email each and every one of you.

If you are interested in becoming a sister, please email me at dawn@projecthopeful.org.

To God be the Glory…..ALWAYS!