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Baby E.

A few months ago a lady heard some dogs barking near her home. It seemed as if they were digging something out from the ground. When she looked, she discovered a newborn baby covered in dirt. Everything indicated she had been buried alive. She immediately took the baby to police.

The police contacted Baby Watoto who rushed to pick up the hours old infant. When Baby E. arrived at The Bulrushes in Kampala she was cold (32 Celsius) and gasping for air. Our team immediately initiated resuscitation, but the baby’s response was poor, it seemed as if she was not going to pull through.

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Baby E’s femur was broken and her face and body were cut and scratched. It appeared the dogs had chewed most of the umbilical cord off. Her broken leg had caused internal bleeding and an X-ray revealed a pnumothorax (air between the lung and chest wall).

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After a few painful weeks of recovery, Baby E. is almost back to complete health. The fact that Baby E. is now smiling, her leg is healing and she is gaining weight as she grows under the care of a loving team is nothing but a miracle. We believe she was placed on this earth for a purpose and that when she grows she will be a leader in this country.

Please continue to pray for our Baby Watoto staff and volunteers and for the children we receive each week. These stories are real and they happen too often. Our team is constantly receiving new abandoned or malnourished babies that need critical care.

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Thank you for your support. Thank your for your prayers. Thank you to our sponsors and volunteers who donate of their time and resources to help us care for these precious babies. Thank you for believing in them and recognizing their value.

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“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.”  – I Samuel 2:8 NIV

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all our friends around the world!

2010 was an amazing year for us at Watoto. More than 2,000 children have a home and a family in our Watoto Villages. Thanks to sponsors, we were able to welcome more children into our program. We now have about 2,100 women who are being empowered through our Living Hope program. Many former child soldiers from Northern Uganda are learning to dream again and are being empowered in our vocational training schools. More than 30,000 people have graduated from our trauma rehabilitation program in Northern Uganda. We opened two babies’ homes, one in Gulu and one in Suubi Children’s Village. We launched our Makapads project at the Living Hope center in Gulu. And we took the Restore Tour on the road and touched the hearts of many people with stories of forgiveness and restoration in the lives of former child soldiers.

Of course, none of this is at all possible without the continuous support of our friends, sponsors and partners all around the world who have come alongside us and continue to believe in Watoto’s mission.

So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. May this be an amazing year for you!

God Bless you!

 

 

 

 

Stories of Empowerment

The UN says that the key to economic progress and fighting poverty is unleashing women’s potential and that is what we are all about at Living Hope.

Our ladies are not a drama of victimization; they are a story of empowerment that transforms formerly abducted little girls into successful businesswomen.

Yesterday was the official launching of the Makapads project at our Living Hope Center in Gulu. It was a wonderful and joyful morning as we celebrated alongside the Living Hope ladies and our guests of honor. Amongst them were Cathy Clarke from Hillsong Church London, Dr. Musaazi’s representatives, and Gulu’s District Council.

The next step in our journey is the distribution of Makapads. The number one success of this project is giving schoolgirls the opportunity to remain in school. We will be distributing the Makapads to schoolgirls all across Northern Uganda to cut down the number of dropouts.

The second victory is that through this project we are restoring dignity in the lives of vulnerable women by providing them with employment through an income-generating project so that they can reach their God given potential.

The Living Hope ladies have been part of this initiative for the last four months and through the project we’ve been able to employ 32 ladies.

For background information on the Makapads project, please read this blog post here: Big problem, simple solution.

Living Hope ladies welcoming us with dancing and singing

Celebrating

Nancy, one of our Living Hope Gulu staff members, displaying our Living Hope products.

Christine Lutara, our Living Hope Gulu team leader, gives the audience some background on our project.

Prossy shared her testimony with us. She shared how being employed by Living Hope has affected her. "I used to wonder where would the future of my children be? I was able to buy a piece of land. It is my own land. I now have a place where I can care for my children," Prossy said.

Christine explains the process of making the papyrus sanitary pads as Living Hope ladies demonstrate the procedure.

Holding the final product in our hands.

Thank you so much for your continuous support.

God Bless you!

A Watoto Wedding

It’s been a long time since my last post. I had the privilege of traveling for the past few months with the Restore Tour team and witness the amazing things taking place in the lives of children affected by the war in Northern Uganda. God is great. He’s used their testimonies of triumph, forgiveness and restoration to touch and heal the hearts of people all around the world. I’m thankful for all the support we received and continue to receive through this journey.

Please continue to read the updates of our team and the amazing things God is doing through them on their blog: http://restoretour.wordpress.com/

 

Yesterday was a day of celebration for our Watoto family. Two of our graduates, Fred and Penilope, got married at Watoto Church North. It was a joyful and beautiful ceremony. Penilope was walked down the aisle by the man who has been a father figure to her through Watoto’s Father’s Heart Program. A choir formed entirely of Watoto graduates performed during the ceremony. Their Watoto families were there to celebrate the wonderful moment.

Flower girls

A very excited groom

Penilope's father's heart walks her down the aisle.

Fred & Penilope exchanging vows

Husband & wife

Fred joined Watoto in February 1993. He lived in one of our first homes and travelled with our first Watoto Children’s Choir. He studied business administration at Makerere University and is now an accountant for Watoto Child Care Ministries. Penilope joined Watoto in 1995. She studied education at Uganda Christian University and is now a teacher at Hope High School in Bbira children’s village.

It is an honor and privilege to see our Watoto children grow up to form their very own families.

If you are a sponsor, I want to thank you for helping us make these stories possible. It might seem like a small act of kindness, but it makes a huge difference. Without you we wouldn’t be able to give children the opportunity to grow up and one day form their own happy families.

God bless you!

Barbara was one of our first Watoto children. We are so proud of her. She has grown to become a role model to younger children in the Watoto family.

This beautiful young lady studied food sciences and technology and is now heading some of our agricultural self-sustainability projects. One of her many initiatives is helping mothers in Watoto’s villages improve their gardens so that they can grow and harvest vegetables right around their homes.

“What I want is to produce high quality food and the best way to do that is to take it right from the garden straight to the tables of the homes.”

I want to thank all our dedicated sponsors who make these stories possible. You are helping us raise leaders like Barbara who are already impacting the nation.

God Bless you!

New beginnings

Last Wednesday Watoto staff welcomed 20 children between the ages of 3 and 8 to Buloba village. Most of them had been abandoned, rescued by the police and taken to the government run Naguru Reception Centre. The caregivers at Naguru centre must wait 6 months before referring them to an organization that can take better care of them. They make radio announcements and wait for someone to come and claim the forgotten children.

Some have experienced abuse during their time living on the streets; others have been rescued from clubs where their mothers abandoned them during a night out. When you see them lining up to get on the bus that will take them to their new home, you get the feeling that some of them are scared, shy and even sad and it’s easy to understand why. They have been moved from one environment to another and have had to adapt to many different circumstances. They don’t know the strangers that stand before them or whether or not they can trust them. They were probably going to miss the friends they made during their months at Naguru and were sad to leave them behind. But our team welcomed them into our big family with hugs and smiles.

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After introductions were made, the children danced and sang with our team as they waited for their Watoto mothers to receive them in their new homes. Some were still reluctant. But as soon as they enter their new homes and get to sit on their new beds there’s a feeling of surprise. Our homes are simple and humble structures, but most of these children have never even had the chance to sleep on their own beds. Please pray for these precious kids as they make this big adjustment.

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Thank you and God Bless you!

Family Reunited

The very moment Jaja* Hasifa laid eyes on her beautiful grandson she cried out in excitement and danced in celebration. The nannies at The Bulrushes, our downtown babies home, left her to savor the moment as she sat on the porch with Aaron in her arms. “He looks just like my son,” she told the nannies and pointed out the similarities.

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A member of Watoto Church central found a baby boy on the floor under a pew after a service in April. His mother abandoned him there. There was no indication as to who the parents were and no names to help track family members. So, baby Aaron was taken to Baby Watoto.

Jaja Hasifa said she was at a funeral service when Aaron’s mother disappeared with the baby. The mother never came back. Thinking she would never see her grandson again, Jaja Hasifa contacted the police. After visiting two police stations and making announcements through a radio station, Kampala’s city council gave her documents that indicated that her baby had been found at Watoto Church.

“Now I can eat and sleep again,” she said, as she fed her grandson. “I am so grateful.”

After 5 months of searching they are finally reunited. Aaron will be able to join his grandmother and father at their home after a week of regular visits at Bulrushes to establish a relationship and ensure an easy transition.

This is awesome news, because we don’t usually find family members that are willing or able to care for these children. I am so happy that this gorgeous Jaja didn’t give up until she found her grandson. I cannot even begin to imagine the frustration she must have felt after going from police station to police station in search of some sort of indicator that would lead her to where her little one was. I am thankful for her strong will, because now Aaron will be able to grow next to his father and under the care of a loving grandmother.

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I hope this story brings as much joy to your heart as it does to mine! God Bless!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3(ESV)

*Jaja- word for grandparent in Luganda.

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