At the end of last week, Aunt Ketty and her husband, Okoth Casmil, were in Kampala. They began the day  with a CT scan, followed by her fourth round of chemotherapy, and then a consultation with her oncologist. That consultation started a chain of phone calls as she relayed that news that she was declared cancer free!!!!! Both abdominal and chest CTs were clear!

What a journey! What a faithful God we serve! With Him she has beaten the odds!
Praise God with us as we rejoice and celebrate this victory! There are many times in life to jump, shout, dance and sing–this is DEFINITELY one of them!!!!!!!!
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The Okoth family is all smiles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This picture was taken at the beginning of the journey, just before Aunt Ketty left for Nairobi. This week they are rejoicing that their beloved wife and mom is FREE of cancer!
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Throughout this journey, Aunt Ketty’s youngest son Israel would respond, “Mommy is sick,” when asked how she was. The day following this good news he responded with, “Mommy is fine.” And so she is because our God HEALS!
- Mary Britton

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Today we hear from Kimberly White, one of the Kasana Children’s Centre nurses. Many have been walking with a young man from our secondary school through the diagnosis of a serious medical condition. His condition deteriorated over the past month and Wizeye went to be with Jesus this Tuesday. As is the local custom, he was buried on Wednesday after a memorial service at the Kasana Church which reminded those present of the hope in Christ, even in death. Please join us in praying for his mother and two young siblings and those who knew him at New Hope.

IMG_0698There aren’t a ton of words right now.  The last couple of days have been somehow a blur.  A mixture of immensely rich moments coupled with the intensity of strong emotion.  This morning, I opted out of driving to the other side of New Hope and instead chose to walk.  I was teary in the beginning of the walk, but as I walked the pangs of emotions only intensified.  It was a walk where the tears did the mourning.  I didn’t have a bunch of words.  Just the emotions.  The pain.

It was only yesterday that I held Wizeye’s hand and told him that it was ok to go home.  I assured him that God would take care of his family.  Wizeye told me that he was going.  And a little over an hour later, he did. One minute he was there… the next he was gone.  Gone, but not forgotten.  Gone.  I talked with him one moment as I stretched out his arms.  I stepped away from his bedside to grab a quick bite.  And in those few minutes, he took his last breath.  Gone.  But not totally GONE.

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What remains are the memory of a young man full of grace. I’ve come to know him well over the last year plus.  We have had hard talks and easy ones.  We have laughed and we have cried.  My first memory of him is the time he was brought to the clinic late at night.  He had a huge cut on his head that needing suturing.  The clippers used to shave his head jammed and he was left with a haircut that was absolutely ridiculous.  He could have been angry…. could have been frustrated…. but instead, he was so gracious.  Who would have known that that interaction was the beginning of many.  Countless days, he came in for blood pressure and medication monitoring.  There were doctor visits, urgent trips to the hospital, and multiple opportunities to chat.

Over the last couple of months, his physical condition has deteriorated. It has stretched me… challenged me… and stretched me some more.  Hard questions to be asked and even harder ones to decide.  None have been answered alone.  God has led. And the peace of God has followed.  Wizeye left this world peaceful.  He left it ready.   And truth be told, it has been a day full of tears and many emotions.  But tucked underneath it, is a hope that has foundationally secured the day…. the last couple of weeks..  Wizeye you will be missed.  But we will see you again. For me, I say Sula Bulungi (good night).  But for you, my friend, I say Good Day.  Thank you for walking in faith and for finishing the race so well.

 

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Secondary Photo ResizedIn the Ugandan school system, students take major exams at P7 (the end of primary school education), S4 (the end of “O-level” secondary eduation), and S6 (the end of “A-level” secondary education). Our sons and daughters in S4  and attending our New Hope Academy receive their orientation instructions on tomorrow (Friday, October 10) and begin their strenuous three week examination process on Monday, October 13. The scores our children obtain play a significant role in their future educational options. Ugandan education officials estimate that over 295,000 students will take the S4 exams.

We try to encourage our children to do their very best and at the same time remember that their examination scores do not define who they are in Jesus Christ. Please pray for these students that they will be able to clearly display what they have learned and will be able to leave each exam with complete peace knowing they have given their best effort. At the same time, please pray that our children will see the exams as one part of the plans and purposes of a perfect God for their lives.

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EYO Outreach

October 2, 2014 · 0 comments

in NHU

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EYO organized a Vacation Bible School for the community they served in Yumbe.

Over the school holiday, 40 members of Emmanuael Youth Outreach (EYO) traveled to the Yumbe district in northwestern Uganda for a week-long outreach. EYO is a youth-led, adult-supported ministry of Kasana Community Church.

Nanteza Aziza, an S5 student, shared her perspective on her primary ministry involvement at the health center during the EYO Outreach. 

“My favorite [part] was praying for the sick and speaking to the people who were taking care of the sick. The hardest part was I prayed for one woman and the woman just died. It was hard because when I had prayed, I had faith she would live, but when she died, I doubted my faith.

When I went back to the hospital, I got a chance to speak with another woman suffering from the same disease. She was just crying from the pain and could not talk. She accepted Christ … then stood up and talked to us. And I got encouraged that God can use everyone – even those who are weak.

We were happy we went. Even the people there were happy because the LC3 (local official) mobilized the people to do the same thing we had done … cleaning the health center and picking up rubbish.”

More General Information about EYO and the Outreach Trip

The EYO youth worked hard to raise funds for their yearly mission trip outside of the local community. Activities on the outreach mission trip included gardening and other projects in the community, praying with local church members, a VBS, showing the Jesus film, organizing a football tournament, and door-to-door ministry. The local community is predominately Muslim and the outreach members experienced verbal opposition. The outreach brought Jesus to the community through their actions and labor around the village.

 

A showing of the Jesus film during the outreach.

A showing of the Jesus film during the outreach.

 

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Sambwe Rogers at Hope FamilyIn 1996 Sambwe Rogers joined New Hope Uganda as a day student from Kasana Village. Over the course of his schooling, his academic and work aspirations shifted. He now serves as the Hope Family Social Worker and on the Kasana Children’s Centre Management Committee.

“I knew I was going to be a doctor because I loved science, but in [the Investment Year], that all changed to social work. I loved to come back here and work with New Hope Uganda (NHU) because I felt blessed because of having been taken care of … a way of appreciating God for what he had done for me. I really desired to work with the community and people in the community.

I first worked in Extension (NHU’s staff who work with out children in the community) as Assistant Coordinator for two years. This year in January [2014], I became fully the social worker in Hope Family.

I do assessments on the babies who are always wanting to join the program. I do try to look at their health and family background and maybe family members. I encourage responsible people in the family to care for the babies. My favorite part is doing the investigations and assessment because I get to learn new things on the job.

[Working at Hope Family] I’ve been exposed in many good ways to the community. I’ve built good relationship with the people working in the community and also the families of the babies. And God has helped me through the challenges along the way – especially doing the investigations.

[During my time at New Hope] I’m seeing relationship grow stronger between the staff and children. Having grown up here as a child, I’ve seen that NHU wants sons and daughters to step into the ministry and serve the Lord.

I’m also seeing NHU is not just teaching and sending out, it is also training sons and daughters to do ministry and also pursuing … and welcoming those with a desire to come and serve with New Hope Uganda.

When I’m working at Hope Family, I think I’m serving my brothers and sisters and showing them a good example. I’ve been blessed to see some of my sisters going to do social work at universities. At first I thought [social work] was just a job that someone does, but it’s a way God uses to reach the people to share His love and share the Gospel with people in the community. So social work is also a ministry where the people’s lives are impacted.”

Sambwe off to greet a baby at the gate

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Thanksgiving 2 Thanksgiving 3 thanksgivingAt Kasana Children’s Centre, Thanksgiving occurs every July as a time of reflection of God’s goodness. We dedicate time to praise Him for what He has done in us as individuals and in the community. The service begins with a parade around the road that encircles the church and primary school waving branches in praise. The worship band led an enthusiastic worship time with songs in the languages of many tribes represented at New Hope.

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Benefit Concert

August 27, 2014 · 1 comment

in NHU

Under blue lighting inside the church with fabric around the open sides creating a cozy atmosphere, the youth of Kasana organized a benefit concert for Aunt Ketty Okoth’s treatment. On August 22 the attendees raised over 600,000 Ugandan Shillings for her ongoing treatment.

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As of last week, Aunt Ketty’s treatment has shifted to Kampala. After many prayers, conversations, and research, the Okoths and the team at Kasana coordinating to manage her care found a doctor in Kampala willing to administer her chemo. He is a kind Christian man and arranged for her to begin treatment with the most up-do-date chemotherapy protocol for esophageal cancer. We rejoice that she can receive this caliber of care while staying with her family!

DSC_0477Aunt Ketty and her family made a surprise appearance at the concert! She shared an encouraging message of how God continues to walk with her through this journey and pointed back to God’s glory and timing.

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The impromptu visit ended with Uncle Jonnes, the elders and their wives praying for Aunt Ketty. Thank you for your prayers as she walks through this journey!

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Warm greetings between Aunt Ketty and a friend after her return.

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The Okoth twins thank you for your support of their mother and family.

WOW, what a journey we are on!  Some good time has passed since we last gave you an update on Aunt Ketty Okoth and her progress.  It was 30th May when she finished her first round of treatments and arrived back here in Kasana.  What an experience for her as she was able to fly from Nairobi to Entebbe–her first time in an airplane!  Flying was much better for her health and allowed her to reach Kampala in just a few hours versus 15 on the bus.

For the past three weeks she has been resting at home and recovering from the treatment she received in the first round.  Things went exceptionally well during that five week treatment, but it still took a toll on her physically.  During these three weeks she has been eating well and building her strength in preparation for the next round of treatments.  We praise God as she is feeling fairly well, gaining some weight back and looks healthy.

The next step is for her to return to Kenya for evaluation and testing to determine how her body has responded thus far.  There she will undergo a CT scan, an endoscopy and lab tests to determine the nature of the next treatment course.  Results will reveal whether she will either be facing more radiation, but of a different type, along with chemotherapy, or whether she will receive chemotherapy only through to the end of the year.  Please pray for the latter as this is not only much easier logistically in many ways, but also a sign that her body is fully responding to the treatments.  If she is slated to receive further radiation along with chemotherapy this will have to be done from Nairobi as such a type of radiation is not available here in Uganda. However, if she is a candidate for chemotherapy only, then we theoretically are not required to have such done from Nairobi.

We are investigating all options including the possibility of embarking on groundbreaking steps by administering the chemotherapy locally with the help of various doctors and our nurses.  Of course, this is our first choice, for if she stays in Kenya for the duration of the treatment it would not be the easiest as time away from family, added expenses, and the difficulty involved in coordinating the support for Ketty would be added factors.  We are trying to evaluate what can be done and how can we steward the finances that we have at our disposal.  Please pray for wisdom as we determine the way forward.

Financially things have gone well! God has been good to provide for all the costs thus far.  Thank you to everyone who has so generously given.  Each step of the way we have seen God’s hand through the doctors, people giving, and even how He has revealed himself through numerous avenues.  We are still in good financial standing beginning round two of this process, but we already know we will not have enough to finish the course.  I cannot tell you at this time exactly how much we will need as the costs are not yet clear, but I do know we are still needing people to stand with Ketty.  We will do our best to keep you updated, but we ask that you stand in prayer with us as we walk this out.

Geoff Britton, Children’s Spiritual Development Coordinator

Thank you for your prayers and financial support! If you feel led to give towards Aunt Ketty’s further treatment, please visit the donation page and designate your gift for the Ketty Okoth Cancer Fund.

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I don’t know about you but I love to read and I often have 1 or 2 books on the go at the same time. One of the requirements of Investment Year is that the students read 18 books through the year (Yes you read right, 18 books!). I love that at the beginning of the year we introduce this part of the programme and the look of disbelief, fear and the comments from the students that this is an impossible task!

start when they are young!

Start when they are young!

As the year progresses it’s exciting to see our students with their books, not just reading them but also enjoying them, and enjoying them so much that some of them will read more the required 18! Many of our students have only ever really ‘read’ text books so to see them discover that books have so much more to offer, it is exciting and I trust it changes them for life as they become people who read for enjoyment, knowledge and life.

Working on a book report and reflection.

Working on a book report and reflection.

Out of the 18 books they read, 7 of them are compulsory (eg, Is Africa Cursed?, Louder Than Words, Long Road to Hope – the story of NHU, and I Love Idi Amin to mention a few) and for the rest of the required reading they can chose between two main sections of Novels/Biographies and Development & Growth. For each book they read they have to write a book report, not just about the book but we are interested in their engagement with the book: we want them to evaluate their response to the book, how did it make them think and feel. Did they enjoy it or not and why or why not? How has this book challenged their world view? What, if any, is there life application after reading this book?

When I have read a great book I want to tell everybody about it and encourage them to read it, (12 Years a Slave is one I have read recently, though a tough read, what a story). We are always on the lookout to increase our IY library so if you have any recommendations, please let me know, or of you want to donate books you have read and are just sitting on a shelf, we will gladly receive them. Books and reading has certainly been one of the ways that God uses to develop skills, knowledge and character in our IY students.

– Steve Brown, IY Programme Coordinator

On this link is a wish list of books we would love to add to IY library, please take a look when you have time. Wish List http://www.amazon.co.uk/registry/wishlist/J6L4PHNAXXXD/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_ws_8biAtb1GFVFRM via @AmazonUK

If you are interested in learning further about the IY Programme, please visit our page. Please visit the donations page to support the IY Programme.

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Around here, you might here the phrase kulikayo (welcome back) several times on any given day. Welcome back home; welcome back to the office; welcome back to primary, welcome back to the classroom. No matter how near or far one has traveled, kulikayo is always an appropriate greeting upon one’s return.

DSC_0397Friday, May 30th the New Hope Uganda family welcomed Aunt Ketty Okoth back to Kasana after her one-and-a-half months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment in Kenya. That morning she and one of our nurses, Kimberly White, flew from Nairobi to Entebbe – Aunt Ketty’s first adventure on an airplane. By the time they arrived at Kasana, her family and friends from all over the site had gathered to give her a warm welcome including many children from the primary school where she and her husband are both teachers.

DSC_0405Thank you members of the NHU family near and far for making this possible! Thank you everyone who supported her family, who kept her company in Kenya, who prayed, who gave, and did so much more. Her doctors are very impressed with her continued good health throughout the treatment and minimal side effects.

The next steps are still being decided with her doctors and we will keep you informed. For now, please join us in praising God our Healer and Provider!

Kulikayo, Aunt Ketty!!

- Wesley Steeb

Administrative Assistant to the Manager

If you feel led to support Aunt Ketty’s continued cancer treatment, please visit the Donation page and designate your gift to the Ketty Okoth Cancer Fund.

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