Walking along the road. One foot in front of the other.

Each step creating its own “one, two, three, four…”

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As I travel to church on a Sunday morning, the neighboring church sounds the commencement drums. “one & ah two & 3 e & ah four &…”

There seems to be a constant rhythm all around. Either with a person’s hands, feet, even our very heartbeats have our own rhythm.

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In some of the younger Primary classes, we have been entering into a time of teaching rhythm, recognizing rhythm, mimicking rhythms, and making our own. Making rhythms recognizable by certain cultural groups.

We learn one pattern at a time, remember the old one and then learn a new one.

We add each new rhythm to our mental filing systems and pull them out one by one.

Each rhythm is very different. Some involve hands only, others incorporate stomping or snapping, all having variations of loud and quiet noises.

Then, the crowning moment, when we put it all together – each rhythm in it’s own uniqueness becomes a part of a full, beautiful picture. What was once a separate, solo pattern now becomes mingled into a big pulsating drone that can make the very hairs on your neck to stand on end.

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As I look around the classroom, I see little faces who can quickly catch the new rhythm and some who struggle to pick it. Some who are tired from a rough night. Some who smile because they don’t know what else to do. Some who just need a voice to let them know that their gift – big or small – is still good. And He will use it.

The body of Christ comes with many different parts. Some are the feet – they stomp around; march to the beat. Some are the hands – clapping “one, two, three, & ah four.” Some are the fingers; snapping along, drumming their little quiet combination.

We can’t all be the hands, can’t all be the stomping feet. He asks us to be who we were made to be. In Him.

All parts joining together to be a part of His Body – each part working differently but together they are creating something beautiful.

Finding our rhythm in this place – on this journey. And letting it ring out Loud for Him.

 - Hannah Kusler, Children and Youth Music Ministry Coordinator

 

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It’s early Friday morning… a candle is lit close to me casting a shadow inside the darkened house.  The birds are singing in the day and as I look out the windows, the sun is beginning to break away the darkness outside.  It’s early in the morning.  And the day is just beginning.   A new day.  And a day that is known by my God.   It’s been a month full of… life.   And while there has been a lot of what has become normal life… seeing patients in the clinic, spending time with my family group, and living  life with those around me.  It has also been a month of journeying alongside two different individuals both facing serious medical situations.   One a young man; another a lady with a few more years under her belt.  One a student; the other a mom of 7 children.  One aware of the seriousness of her illness; the other more fully grasping it after being hospitalized.  Both so different and yet each journeying alongside with strong community and with a faith in Jesus.  Watching the community at New Hope stand and surround these two individuals has been an absolute beautiful thing.   And I’ve been able to hear directly from the lips of these two individuals the effect that the care, support, and love has had on them.  It has left me speechless.  And it has undoubtedly greatly impacted both of these individuals.

He's up and about now, just need to snap a new picture.

He’s up and about now, just need to snap a new picture.

Wizeye Joseph, a young man and a student at our secondary school, was diagnosed this last month with End Stage Kidney Disease.  His kidneys are currently failing him.  It’s a hard diagnosis to digest… especially when how you feel doesn’t match how sick you really are.  Besides headaches and occasional blurriness, Wizeye has felt fine.  His blood pressures, however have not been fine.  He has had blood pressures as high as 218/152 and just recently came down with typhoid.  A huge hit to an already struggling body.  His creatine, a test which measures kidney function, rose to a very hi level while he was in the hospital.  He was discharged a few days later, and a repeat test, showed an improvement in this level.  It is still higher than it was when he was diagnosed with kidney failure, but an improvement nonetheless.  He’ll have his creatine rechecked next month and is slated to go back to the nephrologist in Kampala at the end of this month.
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Aunt Ketty Okoth was diagnosed with Poorly Differentiated Squamous Cell Carcinoma of her Esophagus last month.  It’s been a month of waiting for pathology results, obtaining all the necessary foundational medical tests, setting up radiation, and having treatment put on hold because of a broken machine.  There is one radiation machine in Uganda and it has been down for most of this week.   (Yes, ONE machine…. it’s a hard reality to swallow….)  It has been recommended for her to receive both radiation and chemotherapy concurrently. With a machine not working, a hesitancy here to do concurrent chemo and radiation, and a cancer that needs to be addressed urgently, it has been decided to head to Nairobi for treatment.  The plan is to leave New Hope on Monday and hop a bus Monday evening.  We should arrive Tuesday morning (after an all night drive) and are slated to be seen Tuesday afternoon at M P Shah Hospital.  God-willing, A. Ketty will begin treatment early next week.

Will you join us in praying for Wizeye and for A. Ketty?  For Wizeye’s mom and siblings?  For A. Ketty’s husband, Uncle Okoth and their seven children?  Thank you! Will you join us as we trust God in however He leads?  Yes, we are asking for a miracle… for each of these precious individuals.  I am asking that no matter what, their hearts, our hearts would be drawn closer to Him.

- Kimberly White, Kasana Children’s Centre nurse

Both of these cases are being supported through generous donations to the extraordinary medical needs fund. If you feel able and led to contribute, please donate here. Thank you for drawing together as a family sharing your prayers and resources to support Aunt Ketty and Wizeye.

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The impact of the Investment Year (IY) reaches into the future activities of the students who complete it. Whether they pursue additional studies through S5 and S6, eventually attend university, find a job, earn a certificate, or many other opportunities, these young adults see the fruit of the lessons they learned through the IY programme. A handful of them shared how their IY experiences continue to shape them as they step forward into jobs and further studies.

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“I am done with my senior six and I am now working with Hope Family. This is interesting for me to work with young lads. I am enjoying being a young father to them. I am looking forward to when I have my own children. It is really lovely to be a father, and can not imagine what a joy the fathers get from having sons and daughters. Meanwhile after my time at Hope Family I will continue my further studies to become an accountant.”

Perez:
“I am finally done with S6 and I am now doing a part time job with teams at New Hope Uganda. I like the job because it gives me a chance to meet and deal with new people. I am learning some new management skills, entrepreneurial, and dealing with human resources. It is so unfortunate that a job that I have come to love and enjoy of late I will have to leave in August and proceed with university.”

Joshua:Post IY
“I am done with my senior 6 and I am working in my store selling groceries and jewelry. I am happy that I am working and getting paid by my businesses. I am pursuing a medical course at university later this year.”

Zam Zam:
“I am currently working at the secondary school teaching senior 1 and 2 in the areas of chemistry and biology. I work in the school Tuesday through Friday, and on Mondays I work in our local hospital in Kiwoko. I am enjoying teaching and the work at the hospital. The Lord willing, I will attend university to study to be a doctor.”

Kenneth:
“Oh! After a long awaited time IY is finished. I learned what it means to have godly character and knowledge of Him. I have discovered that I am able to teach and because of that discovery I am attending HSC at Mulama SS. After SS I will attended university to become a secondary teacher. I am looking forward to God using me in this area and I want to bring glory to His name.”

Compiled by Caleb Mitchell, Early Adulthood Coordinator

Pursuing additional schooling after the IY year requires more financial support than available exclusively through an individual sponsorship. If you feel called to support the IY programme and/or university and course fees for our older children, please visit the Donation page.

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This year, with the restructuring of the Children’s Spiritual Development department, Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (BMW) days have also returned. During these times, all staff join the teachers and students for a time of teaching and activities centered on exploring the biblical expression and understanding of manhood and womanhood. Explore more about why a children’s center focuses on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Our community here at New Hope Uganda seeks not only to help those who have been affected by fatherlessness, but also to transform the culture and society which causes it. This process must begin in the hearts of individuals.

This year, we are focusing on these ideas of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood on an organization-wide level. Most recently, that has been carried out through a “BMW Day” for all of the children enrolled in our primary and secondary schools at Kasana Children’s Centre.

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The youngest Primary students engage in a game of “blob tag” to emphasize relationship as the first pillar of manhood and womanhood.

For the secondary students, the morning of teaching built on a three-day seminar with various speakers a couple weeks back. The primary students learned the basics about the four pillars of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The first two pillars for both are Relationship and Image Bearing. The second two pillars of manhood are Stewardship and Headship, while the second two for womanhood are Helper and Life-Giver.

After the teaching time in the morning, the children split into two groups to work on different projects. The boys and male staff members carved hoe handles from sticks, while the girls and female staff members sewed simple headbands from fabric.

The staff and boys worked in the bush over on secondary side. Men-in-training whacked away at their hoe handles with pongas, whittling them down.

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Scattered throughout the church/primary school assembly area, the girls sat in groups of mixed ages each with a staff member or two. With quick and nimble fingers, the women-in-training executed their craft beautifully.

Towards the end of the day, coming rain led to an optional early-dismissal, but the young people carried with them physical reminders of the material they had begun to learn. And we pray God uses that day to make the truth of His designs for men and women sink deeply into their hearts.

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treasures

Many welcoming and excited smiles punctuated the celebration.

At the end of last month, we had a special time of celebrating in the Special Needs Department as we threw a party to praise God for the wonderful new classroom we have been blessed with here at Kasana.

Since the Special Needs Class began in 2011 the number of students has gradually increased from 6 to 14 and until this year we were all crammed into a couple of very small rooms in the Kasana clinic. It was always interesting for staff, children and visitors to manoeuvre around one another and the numerous pieces of equipment and wheelchairs in our classroom.

 

Enjoying the spacious mat area in the new classroom.

Enjoying the spacious mat area in the new classroom.

However, last year we were blessed with several substantial donations and many smaller ones that all made it possible for our very spacious and beautiful classroom (complete with a large indoor bathroom and store room, and a veranda with built-in seating) to be constructed. Unfortunately it did cost rather a lot more than we first hoped but we are definitely pleased with the quality of the building and it is such a great environment for the children to learn in and the staff to work in.

The guests of honour at our party were Uncle Howie and Uncle Kay who were visiting from Canada with some of their children. Their donation was the first one which kick-started the building project. Other guests included Uncle Jay and Auntie Vicki Dangers (whose daughter Julia attends sessions in our class,) Uncle Tony (our head of Childcare,) nurses and clinical officers from our clinic and two of our church elders. As well as the Treasures class children and their parents / carers, we had also invited 8 community children to come.

Praising God together in a favorite song from weekly music classes.

Praising God together in a favorite song from weekly music classes.

People began arriving at around 11am and the party started officially at about 12pm. Auntie Kate began by sharing with the guests how the Special Needs Programme had been renamed ‘Treasures in Jars of Clay’ and how it had begun back in 2009 when God had led her to come to Kasana to care for Hassan, our first special needs child. After sharing some of the children`s stories she gave several of the parents a chance to share their testimonies of how they and their children had been blessed by the programme; these stories were of great encouragement to everyone and we then all joined in praising God (lead by A.Hannah and some of the ‘Treasures Class.’) Several of the parents shared how their child`s disability had led them closer to God and one Father had even given his life to Christ as a result of the hardships he had faced caring for his severely disabled son.

treasures (2)Before lunch, two of our church elders came to the front to thank God for the classroom and all He had done through the programme. They also dedicated the building to God and prayed for many people to come to know Him as they came into contact with the children and staff of ‘Treasures In Jars of Clay.”

Everyone of course enjoyed the matooke, G-nut sauce, Rice, Meat, Chapatis and Sodas and they were so full that staff forgot to give out the cakes until over half the guests had left.

We praise God for a lovely day, a wonderful classroom, for all that He is doing through the programme and ultimately for his amazing, unconditional love for each and every one of us.

We will soon be writing another post to share with you our plans for the second half of the building project so keep an eye out and pray for God`s provision for us……..THANK YOU!

Kate Tolhurst, Special Needs Programme Coordinator

It takes a significant amount of time and resources to care for these children entrusted to us through the Treasures class – both living at Kasana and those we support who live with their families in the community. If you feel led to participate in this ministry, please consider a contribution to support their ongoing basic and medical care as well as enrichment and educational opportunities through the Treasures class.

 

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ketty okothGreetings from Uganda,

One of the great parts of being in family is how that family stands together in times of trouble. In our family we saw that first hand last year as we battled cancer. Our family, both biological and extended, really brought encouragement to our lives.

Yesterday was a time that brought back many memories of last year. We have a dear family working with us here in Kasana who are direct neighbors to us. I am not sure exactly how long they have served with New Hope Uganda, but it has been many years, as we found them here back in 2006. Their names are Ketty and Casmil Okoth and they have seven children.

We have all been praying for the past two weeks as we waited for the test results to return from a growth that has developed in Ketty’s throat. Yesterday the biopsy came back. It is cancer! To be specific, it is Poorly Differentiated Squamous Cell Carcinoma situated in the middle third of her esophagus. We are confident that God, the one who created us all is going to carry them through this. Though we don’t know the outcome exactly, we do know that He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. As a cancer survivor myself I was blessed to be able to stand with the family last night as they brought the news to their children. After the tears and the many words spoken by Okoth, the father, and myself, Ketty herself began to share with the children where her hope is coming from. She spoke boldly to them about their need to trust God and not man. I was inspired by her faith and encouraged as this mother of seven shared with them how Jesus is and always has cared for her despite the trials she has faced in her life. She encouraged them to make Jesus their Lord and Savior especially in this time.

We are praying for God’s hand to work in her life, and we are asking for total healing and strength for them all. But we are also looking to see how we can be sure to get the best medical care for her as possible, thus why I am writing this. Here at New Hope we typically provide medical care for all our staff members though we often don’t have to fight a battle like this one. Financially right now we do not yet know what her treatment is going to cost, but we do know it will be exceptionally large even in African standards. We are looking for a way to cover Ketty’s salary as well as the extensive medical costs she will be facing. We want to look at all of the options which might include surgery and radiation in Kampala or possibly traveling to Kenya or even South Africa.

We are sending this out as a prayer request, that we as God’s global family could stand in prayer on behalf of our sister and her family. Please be in agreement with us for her healing as well as God’s provision. Donations toward this need can be made through New Hope Uganda to the Ketty Okoth Cancer fund. All donations will serve either medical expenses or the upkeep of her salary as we pass through this together. Any excess funds remaining when the battle is finished will go to our emergency medical fund.

In His service,

Geoffrey Britton

To support Aunt Ketty’s journey financially, please visit the Donations page and select your country to get started. Thank you!

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Praise God! We are in the middle of our first Investment Year (IY) internship, and I have so far learned many new things. Currently we are on a study of a book called “Do Hard Things.” The young people who wrote the book are encouraging us to get out of our “comfort zones” and face the world using God as our guide.
I was among those people who wanted to always be in my comfort zone but due to this book I’m ready to move and live in my “uncomfortable zones.”

 
My internship is at Friends Medical Centre with Dr. Ben and he is exposing me to the world of medicine and being a doctor. He does some minor operation at his clinic and he has given me opportunities to watch him work. At first it was scary to see a person being cut on his stomach or feet and stitched up after. But now I’m getting used to it and Dr. Ben is such a helping figure to me.

 
Through this time in IY, I have also learned to respect former New Hope Uganda children whom I grew up seeing as fellow colleagues and now they are staff members. Before I would show on the outside that I respected them but deep in my heart I couldn’t embrace it. At the IY house in Kampala, I have come to know that I have to respect U. Kasule and A. Imma [and all people whether in authority or not] just like any other New Hope Uganda staff. By God’s help and courage, I’m expecting to learn more this year.

Be blessed,

Musisi Jeremiah

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I met Peter last year when he was in my Primary One class (first grade) at Essuubi Eppya Vocational Primary School. He looked so miserable. I gave him a seat right at the front near me. Within some few minutes he would fall asleep and he was seriously snoring, I tried to wake him up to do some exercise but he couldn’t wake-up only to realize that he couldn’t write anything and he was also left handed. I talked to the pre-school teachers that he could be put there but it couldn’t happen because their class was full and he was also too old to be there at 7-years-old.

blog 006All I did was to befriend him and I started holding his hand as I taught him how to scribble and write some letters. This continued for some weeks and he started writing. After school I could go with him to my house where he was picked from in the evening because he comes from about 6km from the Kasana Children’s Centre site. Another student offered to be helping to bring him as he was coming to school. Peter had so many jiggers in the hands and in the legs. His performance wasn’t good; his attendance was irregular most of the times because if the student who walked with him was not in school he wouldn’t come either. This is the situation we were in first and second term.

When term 3 came, the whole first week Peter didn’t appear to school.  Second week he came on Tuesday and again he was very miserable. He said the student who brought him wasn’t coming to school so he couldn’t also come because of the distance. This time I felt my heart was bleeding for this boy. So I just made a decision to try and have him for third term in my house. I talked to Childcare Extension and to my husband whom I praise God responded positively. This time Peter had even more jiggers than ever before and those who saw him got scared. God gave us grace and right now the jiggers are gone, he is happy, and even his performance at the end of the school was much better. He passed three subjects which to me was like a miracle, not only that but above all he gave his life to Christ, he has learned to pray for his life and his family situations.

God is good! He sets the lonely into families. This year Peter is no longer living with us. He is now part of one of the seven family groups at Kasana. He is able to come to school early, he looks smart and healthy. The smile on his face can tell that God is at work in his life. He loves school and playing with his friends. I give the glory back to God!

Ketty Okoth, teacher at Esuubi Eppya Vocational Primary School

Stories like these are possible because of our Sponsors and other supporters. Thank you for investing financially so that people like Aunt Ketty can invest in the lives of children like Peter. Through your prayers, letter writing, and monthly support, these stories of transformation and finding family can happen. Would you consider joining us in bringing the Fatherhood of God to the fatherless? Donate Here.

 

Photo courtesy of Wesley Steeb

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One of the topics you’ll hear being talked about at all levels here at Kasana these days is that of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (or, our abbreviation- BMW). It is a topic we are studying and learning, teaching to our children, teaching the community through Musana FM, and sharing with many people and churches outside of Kasana in the hopes of inspiring a national dialogue on the topic. But why is biblical manhood and womanhood an important topic for a children’s center?

A father present and future

A father present and future

As we continue to work with orphaned and abandoned children, and see countless other organizations in Uganda do the same, we’ve observed that instead of the orphan population decreasing with each generation, it is actually mushrooming. We believe the reason is that while the symptoms are being treated, the root of the problem is seldom addressed.

Fatherlessness, unless it is addressed and healed at the heart level, produces more fatherlessness. Food, clothing, and education are all excellent and needed, but they cannot deal with the deep heart wounds, fears, and belief systems of those broken by abandonment and the loss of parents. Nor can these good things stop broken and wounded people from hurting the next generation or robbing future generations of their parents because of the consequences of their life choices. In addition to the long term devastating effects of the “orphan heart” on a nation, the definitions of manhood and womanhood that each culture carries and often produce more orphaned, abandoned, or at least un-invested-in or uncared for children. Too often children with no parents (or with uninvolved or unequipped parents) wander into adulthood, not sure who they are or what it means to be a real man or woman- but desperate to prove that they are one! So, they look for the clearest cultural definition they can find, and do their best to prove they meet whatever the standard is. The fruit of this is evident everywhere we look.

At all of the New Hope’s sites, the staff believe it is time to stop treating only the symptoms (though we will always do our best to “treat” them as well!), but to also become proactive in addressing the causes. The children we are raising now will not remain children. They are the nation’s future men, women, husbands, wives, and parents. They are Uganda’s future creators of whole, healthy, families, or the future creators of more uncared for children who belong to no one! We must give them a godly definition of manhood and womanhood (and singleness, marriage, fatherhood/motherhood) if we ever hope to break the deadly cycles that surround us!

Future of Uganda

Future of Uganda

And thus our intense study of this topic in the Word of God- what does it mean to be a man or a woman? What was the Creator’s original design? How was the original design marred by sin (and twisted differently in different cultures), and how can Christ’s work on the cross bring redemption? What has God put of His image in each man or woman, and why? How can these truths relate cross-culturally? How can His Word and Spirit bring life and healing to broken lives (including our own!!) and cause this next generation to be life-giving and full of hope?

Needless to say, we have much to learn, and at times, I feel like we’re the blind leading the blind. But, praise God for His Word that gives us all we need for life and godliness, that transcends all cultures, that gives hope and redemption!

Jennie Dangers, Children’s Spiritual Development

 

Photos courtesy of Geoff Britton

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As I stare at the messy, scribbled out, erased-then-rewritten calendar, I find names of some of my students. Students’ names hidden between the harsh Sharpie-black lines. Names of students whom we have journeyed with, cried with, and shared joy with.

Today I am thanking God for my students. Whether the individuals who labor at the piano bench, or those who stretch and discipline their rebellious fingers around the fret board. Those students who endure through the boring areas of music theory or those who sit through worship team practice time and time again. And those who bear it all by opening up their mouth and letting out that joyful noise He has given them.

In what can feel like a dark, obnoxiously noisy world, there are some who desire to break through the shadows with a sound. A sound that lifts High the One who gave them that voice, that talent, that desire.

It is a joy to watch these students grow, to see God’s perfect love transform once fearful hearts, and to be a part of their story.  I thank God for them.

- Hannah Kusler

Youth and Music Ministry Coordinator

Kasana Children’s Centre

 

Photos courtesy of Allison LaBianca and Wesley Steeb

 

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