Children's Village Update
A vision to establish a community for orphaned and vulnerable children became sharply focused in February 2009. Seventy acres of land was purchased outside the town of Kyenjojo in a rural village called Nyarungongo with the intent of developing a Children's Village dedicated to providing the children with reliable medical care, safe housing, and quality education.
Through a generous donation, we were able to construct McFarland Memorial Medical Center. By God's grace, a medical clinic, a two-bed hospital, a small surgery, a pharmacy, maternity care, full-time nurses, and a full-time medical doctor now complete the availability of affordable, comprehensive, quality health services to the people near this remote town of Kyenjojo. In February 2013, we were able to open the medical center 24 hours a day to provide much-needed care to the citizens in this west Ugandan village. Since the space for the kitchen was re-designed for a much-needed hospital, we continue to be in need of a kitchen. Until a building for a kitchen is provided, meals will be prepared outdoors over a fire.
The availability of safe drinking water is a concern in most areas of Africa, yet we have experienced a miracle on the land for the Children's Village. God provided us with not only a source of clean water, but abundant clean water on the Children's Land! Partnering with a church in Clarion PA, we drilled a well, erected a 25,000 gallon holding tank, and laid the pipe. Clean, pure water is now being piped into the medical center, and has been made available to the dormitory. As other buildings are built [such as the various schools], water will be provided as funding permits to buy the piping and pay for the fuel for the generator to pump the water.
In the summer of 2012, the children's dormitory was dedicated and now houses 34 of the most vulnerable children. In the summer of 2011, we began constructing the dormitory, called the "Palace of Treasures", which is named from the Scripture reference to God's people being treasured possessions, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation [Exodus 19:5-6]. Another generous donor provided the necessary funding to complete the first floor, so in the summer of 2012, we dedicated this building to the glory of God. The dormitory provides housing for children whose living conditions had been deplorable. We also hope for funding to be quickly provided for the second story structure so that we may house even more children. As we expand on the Children's Land and acquire even more funding, we will begin constructing separate homes and will move the children there.
In February 2013, the first day of school was celebrated in the Children's Village for 134 children whose ages range from three to fourteen! Supplies that had been sent from the U.S. in 2011 finally are able to be used...a dream come true for Alissa Cooper-Sande, who never stops believing that God will educate and raise up these children to become the next leaders for Uganda.
We praise God that this water project is nearing completion! In February 2013, clean water was piped into the dormitory, and is almost ready to be available in the new primary school.
When we first purchased the land for the Children's Village, it reportedly had no safe and clean water source. Nevertheless, God miraculously provided the funds through a local U.S. church to begin installing a water system on the Children's Land. We drilled for water in the spring of 2010 and conducted pump testing, as well as water quality analysis tests. These procedures revealed that we have a water supply that is greater than any other project in the entire district of Kyenjojo. The drillers informed us we have enough water to supply the whole district, which means we definitely have enough water for our Children's Village. Finally, the quality of our water is excellent so we will not need to have a purification system. We are so thankful we will never have to worry about our children drinking bad water.
In the spring of 2011, we had a very large holding tank transported and permanently fixed to our land. In June 2011, we received a water pump and generator from the US. The Ugandan water company came and installed the water pump, generator, and piping so that water could be provided to the Medical Center, Mini-Hospital, and the future children's dormitory and school. We dedicated this project to the Glory of God in the Spring of 2012 when a mission team was visiting.
General information about water in Africa: A study conducted by UNICEF in 2006 revealed that less than 1 in 5 primary schools provided at least 5 liters of safe water per day, per pupil. Most schools do not have access to safe water within a walking distance of .5 km. We are extremely blessed that there is a good water system in the Children's Village where the orphans and staff will be living.
By God's grace, in February 2013, we began to offer comprehensive 24-hour medical services to the people in this remote village of Kyenjojo!
In June 2009, the ground breaking ceremony was conducted and construction of McFarland Memorial Medical Center began. By the end of summer 2010, the structure was completed, but no electricity or water was yet available. We provided the first medical services in the summer of 2011 when a medical missionary team visited, improvising without modern facilities.
An August 2011 missionary team installed a generator to provide electricity and a pump for the water. In September 2011, our outpatient clinic, staffed by Ugandans, officially opened and began offering medical services, which included laboratory testing and ultrasound scan. In December 2011, we began offering hospitalization services in a small building that was originally built as a kitchen. We have found that people are walking long distances to come to our clinic and some of them are too ill to send back home.
By spring 2012, we expanded our services to include maternity care, including prenatal appointments, counseling, and baby deliveries. A two-bed hospital, as well as a small surgery, and a full-time medical doctor complete the availability of affordable, comprehensive, quality medical services to the people near this remote village of Kyenjojo. Praise God!
In February 2013, we opened the new school and celebrated the first day of school in the Children's Village with 134 children whose ages range from three to fourteen. The school, Sparkling Gems Nursery and Primary School, was dedicated to educate children in Preschool through Grade Four. These children can now receive quality education-'sharpening minds to change destinies'.
Alissa Cooper-Sande, principal of the schools, states, "We believe that, with God's help, we are truly going to change the future of many children by showing them the value that is inside each of them. I believe that our school will be a model school in the country and will motivate others to improve their instructional methods and treatment of the children. I pray that someday I will be able to talk with the President about the educational situation in Uganda. I often wondered how God would use all of my educational training in Uganda. It is amazing to see how He knows exactly what we will need to fulfill the calling He has placed inside each of us." As funding is provided, an intermediate school, high school, and vocational school will be built, to the glory of God.
Significant funding for the school was provided primarily from the efforts of a teenage girl whose passion is education. She conducted fundraisers in her community of DuBois PA and God richly blessed her efforts. Clarion-Limestone School District, the school from which Alissa graduated and in which she taught, as well as other schools, have provided funds for school materials, school furniture, and teaching supplies.
The most beautiful and valuable things in life are usually realized over a period of time, not immediately, and they are first seen with the heart and not the eyes. - Alissa Sande
God is using all of us to see as He sees-to see the worth, the beauty, the potential that is locked inside each of the children, waiting to be released. Just as a gem's value is seen better after someone cleans, sharpens, and even cuts it, so too we are being asked to search tirelessly for the diamond-to love, inspire, and sharpen the children into the valuable sparkling gems that He created them to be.
As of January 2013, a single-story dormitory now provides housing for 34 of the most vulnerable children whose living conditions had been desperate. God provided a safe place and a caring staff to guide and direct these precious, abandoned children.
In the summer of 2011, we began constructing the dormitory, which Alissa calls the "Palace of Treasures", named from the Scripture reference to God's people being treasured possessions, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation [Exodus 19:5-6]. A series of circumstances precluded the completion of the first floor of the dormitory at that time and the project was on hold for a while.
In God's perfect timing, He touched the heart of yet another generous donor who provided a significant portion of the necessary funding to complete the first floor, so in the summer of 2012 when a mission team and some of the board members were visiting, we dedicated this building to the glory of God. We needed to complete the proper paperwork, hire staff for 24-hour care, and connect the water before we moved the first children into the dormitory in the fall of 2012.
We also continue to hope for additional funding to be quickly provided for the second-story structure so that we may house even more children. As we expand on the Children's Land and acquire even more funding, we will begin constructing separate homes and will move the children there.
Praise God for the Radio Ministry!
In 2013, the radio ministry continues to be vibrant and to reach many people. In 2011, we began offering a radio program on a weekly basis. This has been a powerful evangelistic and teaching tool. Many people are so blessed by this program and continue to learn more about the Bible and grow in their relationship with the Lord.
During the June 2011 mission trip, Pastor Scott Hauser from Clarion PA was blessed to preach the Word of God with Pastor Victor in a radio broadcast.
Elderly people are often found caring for the orphans or other children who are abandoned, since many of the parents have died from disease or from the results of war. We continue to visit and assess the needs of some of the elderly who try to care for these vulnerable children, but they themselves live in abject poverty. In December 2009, we began to provide for some of their needs through the Child Sponsorship Program, yet continue to find the need for additional home repairs and for the construction of latrines. Missionary teams in 2011, 2012, and 2013 have come alongside the Ugandan families headed by elderly caretakers and have provided 'a labor of love' for the building of homes and latrines, as well as providing for the physical and spiritual needs of these precious people.
We endeavor to provide opportunities for our local church members from God's Care Church and/or American visitors to be involved in these projects in order to model the principle of giving to the community and also to preach the Gospel with more than just words.
Do not fear; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. - Zephaniah 3:16-17a
The children's ministry continues to grow! Approximately 150 children and youth attend Sunday services regularly, so we have built two more temporary structures in addition to the initial God's Care Church building.
We offer weekly services that include Bible study, worship, music, and dance for the youngest children through the teenage youth. This ministry has grown significantly since November 2009, when we began offering a small church service for the children after the main adult service.
Alissa Cooper-Sande is the primary teacher, but she has other church members assist her, especially because of the language barrier. The children seem to greatly enjoy the service and are also showing spiritual growth. Alissa has been deeply burdened about the importance of raising up a new generation--one that is founded on Godly principles, and she is determined to invest spiritually in the lives of these children.
In July 2010, we began to offer the children lunch after worship--a meal many of them miss on a regular basis.
We have expanded this ministry by offering sports outreaches and individual and small group counseling, but there is still definitely a great need to improve upon this program. We pray that God sends us staff members or missionaries that have a passion to reach this generation.
Escape Bible Club, a high school organization, planned a project inspired by one member who has been supporting Heart for Uganda with other projects. She suggested that each student design some art work to represent a favorite Scripture, feature the Bible verse on the poster, and include their photograph. The advisor of Bible club then laminated the mini-posters for the youth of Kyenjojo. When a mission team arrives in Kyenjojo, they will deliver the posters and have the youth of Kyenjojo reciprocate for the youth in Rimersburg PA. Through mission projects such as these, we learn that five minutes can change a person's life forever.
Door to Door Evangelism
This ministry is mainly conducted by the members and ministers of the church. We have been able to pray for people in their homes and share the word of God with them. Each year, when missionary teams come from America, Australia, Canada, and beyond, we have also conducted these visitations. It is truly a beautiful thing to see their willingness to meet the Ugandan people at their level and share Christ with them. Many of the people are honored and deeply appreciate visitations from the "Bazungu" - white people. We look forward to future opportunities to continue these outreaches. We trust God that He will draw people to Himself and to God's Care Church as a result of these home visitations.
God's Care Ministries, the Ugandan Organization that Heart for Uganda is partnering with, has been able to establish a church structure, located in the town of Kyenjojo along the Tank Hill Road, which can accommodate about 250 people. God's Care Church has been experiencing church growth since it began in the summer of 2007. Currently it has about 350 people, (about 150 children and 200 adults), but this number continues to increase each week. God's Care Church holds two services every Sunday-Sunday School and the main Sunday service. Bible Studies are conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Wednesdays are a day of prayer and fasting with an overnight prayer meeting for ministers being held in the evening. On Friday, there is an overnight prayer meeting for the community, with healing and deliverance services also conducted on this day. On Saturday, counseling services are offered throughout the day, providing relevant advice as the Lord leads. We are very excited about what God is doing in the church. Every week we welcome visitors; we see souls being saved, people being healed and delivered, and lives being transformed.
The office for God's Care Ministries is located within walking distance, on Market Street in the town of Kyenjojo.