In 2017 we celebrated ten years of working together with Action For Children. As we reflected on all that has been achieved over the years, we were reminded of all of the remarkable people we have met, and the amazing accomplishments that a group of committed volunteers can make. Here are some of the highlights of our journey so far…
When Geoff and I think about what we enjoy the most during our visits to Uganda, our thoughts always center on the children: the children attending the school and living in Masuliita, and specifically the children sponsored through JNFC.
Photo of majority of the sponsored children taken in 2015.
After morning assembly, the students march off to their respective classrooms.
The Early Childhood Development Centre is pictured to the right. These are some of the children who attend sitting in front of their playground. JNFC funded the fence surrounding this ECDC, as well as the play equipment behind the fence.
Our Child Sponsorship program was started in 2007 with one child and over the years our program has grown to over 50. Zaina Barry was part of the original Board of Directors and worked on the initial development and implementation of the program with the necessary forms, strategy and reporting back to sponsors format. Zaina managed the sponsorship program for the first two years and then Jill Stokes took her place for the next two years. Jill travelled to Uganda in 2010 and 2012 where she could see first hand the connection between the work she was doing in Canada, managing the Child Sponsorship program, with the results on the ground in Uganda. Leanne has been managing this program since 2012.
Zaina Barry on left with Jill Stokes at Garden Festival 2010
Since its inception, this program has experienced slow but steady growth with loyal sponsors. Our sponsors fund anywhere from one to three children, and are located in Victoria, Edmonton and Toronto. Children considered for Sponsorship are as follows:
- Living with HIV/AIDS
- Living with sick parents
- Unable to afford school fees
- In families headed by children
- Living with very elderly caretakers
- In families living in very poor conditions
- In families with large numbers of children
When a child is identified for potential sponsorship, an assessment of the family’s living situation is done. Eligible children are then entered into the sponsorship program and families begin the three-stage Family Preservation Program.
RESCUE to STABILIZATION to SELF-SUFFICIENCY
A sponsored child is ensured education, personal and family support, and an income-generating project, all monitored by AFC social workers and other staff. There are no orphanages in AFC so all rescued children remain within a family structure as much as possible: with either one or two parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles or other family member. If there is no family available, quite often someone in the village will take that child in. The AFC staff provide whatever support that family needs: ie. if a family needs better housing AFC will make a reasonable plan with the family: ie. the family makes the bricks for the house and AFC might provide iron sheets for the roof. This way the family also contributes what they can.
All the sponsored children attend the Children of Jolly Education Centre which began in 2006 with the grass hut you saw in the first post. The school has continually grown over the years with the student population being over 300 today.
JNFC is not the only agency providing funding for the school, and over the years other organizations have provided the funding to build the classrooms while JNFC will fund work on the inside such as providing furniture, desks, painting, plastering or supplies.
Children attend the Early Childhood Development Centre (ECDC) and grades one to seven. We have witnessed many children begin in the ECDC and progress right through to grade seven. Several children in the JNFC sponsorship program have been able to attend a Secondary School not too far away to continue their education. The plan for the future is to build a secondary school on the same property. They remain in the sponsorship program as long as the AFC staff can still evaluate their progress and visit with them. There are two boys studying Mechanics and Welding.
Eriah’s grandmother pictured in front of their new house in 2013. Eriah has gone through primary school and attended secondary school with several other children also in secondary school.
There have been four JNFC child sponsors who have visited Uganda with us and have been able to meet their sponsored children. Each time we travel to Uganda, we visit all the sponsored children in their homes. We bring letters from sponsors with small gifts, and we try to give something small to the family. This is always a very special time.
In 2015 Dr. Weinerman was able to meet her sponsored child (photo unavailable). Please refer to Part Three of this newsletter to read more about Dr. Weinerman’s volunteer visits as an optometrist.
The school fee provides the following for the children: scholastic materials, a uniform, lunch each school day consisting of rice or maize and beans, and a portion of the fee goes toward administration. Each child will receive personal items such as new bedding, a mattress, or personal hygiene items as is needed, and the family will receive support in the form of training in managing money and/or an income generating project to help them become self-sufficient.
When we visit the homes, it is very humbling because the families want to give us something to show appreciation for the school fees. So we have received vegetables, sugar cane, fresh eggs, woven mats, pumpkins, jack fruit and live chickens!
We were presented with gifts of bananas, pumpkin, vegetables and woven mat from this family. This is the young man that Jill sponsors. He has now entered a Welding course in a technical school.
Income Generating Projects
As mentioned, each sponsored child/family will receive an Income Generating Project and training to maintain the project. Some examples are: brick making, weaving mats out of banana fibre, raising livestock such as pigs, goats or chickens to be used for food and to sell for income as the numbers increase. Other families have been able to raise income by making furniture, sewing, butchery, selling produce, or running a store.
For as low as $40 a month you can sponsor a child today and change a life! Visit our website at: www.jnfcanada.orgunder “How You Can Help” to learn more about Child Sponsorship and review our Wish List.
Volunteer Board of Directors Cont’d.
I have been working with child focused charities for more twenty years in both Asia and in Africa. I first heard of JFNC through Geoff and Leanne and met Jolly in 2012. I was moved by Jolly’s passion, vision and commitment to children within her community in Uganda. Since then, I have been sponsoring a child within the JNFC fold and helping out with events. More recently I joined the JNFC Board of Directors. It is great to participate in a program that provides both education and hope to young people beyond surrounding circumstances. There will always be poverty. My own inspiration is rooted in relationships and particularly the growth I have witnessed in individual young people who now can envision and grow into a better future.
Geoff and I have appreciated the compassion that Stephanie has for children living in poor and vulnerable conditions. We value her considerable experience with NGOs assisting in the third world for over 20 years. Stephanie and her husband Rob have consistently encouraged us with their helpful ideas, warm friendship, and generous support of the work in countless ways.
For as low as $40 a month you can sponsor a child today and change a life! Visit our website at: www.jnfcanada.orgunder “How You Can Help” to learn more about Child Sponsorship and review our Wish List.
A Brief History of Uganda Since European Contact
In Part Five we talked about the need for Child Sponsorship. As a third world country, Uganda has gone through a tumultuous time over the last one hundred years, leaving most of the citizens living in poverty. Following is a brief history followed by some statistics to help understand some of the challenges the people there have faced over time. All of our experiences in travelling the countryside have helped us gain a better understanding of life in a culture very different from Canada. We have more to learn!
Uganda is landlocked, on the equator and surrounded by the great lakes of central Africa. This was one of the last parts of the continent to be reached by outsiders.
Here we’ll show you a sampling of the beautiful countryside we have experienced in our travels while learning some history.
Arab traders in search of slaves and ivory arrived in the 1840s, soon followed by British explorers in the 1870’s.
This was the place carved out of rock that the Arabs would bring Africans to trade. They built this Fort near Gulu in the North to keep slaves: sorting the beautiful ones, who would live and be transported to Sudan and Egypt, from the ugly ones who would be put to death. Sir Samuel Baker wanted to stop this to save the people, and easily defeated the Arabs.
At the north side of the Fort you can see the pathway where they led the slaves to Sudan and Egypt. There were so many slaves being transported along this path that today it is lined with Palm trees that grew from the seeds.
The ruler visited by the British was Mutesa, the king (or kabaka) of Buganda. His kingdom was one of four in this region that had become firmly established by the mid-nineteenth century. The others, lying to the west, were Ankole, Toro and Bunyoro.
Buganda Kingdom Palace 2010
The existence of these African kingdoms had a profound influence on the development of Uganda during the colonial period. In 1894 the British government declared a Protectorate over Buganda. A Protectorate is a State (Buganda) protected and partly controlled by another (the British) as opposed to a Colony which is governed (essentially owned) by another country. Two years later British control was extended to cover the western kingdoms of Ankole, Toro, and Bunyoro to form, together with Buganda, the Uganda Protectorate.
The evident power of the local African kings convinced Harry Johnston, the seasoned British appointed Special Commissioner to Uganda, that control must be exercised through them. Buganda was by far the most significant of the kingdoms. The Johnston policy became effective with the Buganda Agreement of 1900. Under the terms of this agreement the kabaka’s status was recognized by Britain, as was the authority of his council of chiefs. The chiefs’ collective approval of the British protectorate over the region was eased by Johnston’s acknowledgement of their freehold right to their lands (a concept alien to African tribal traditions, but nevertheless extremely welcome to the chiefs themselves).
Lake Victoria is one of the African great Lakes named after Queen Victoria. It is Africa’s largest lake, the world’s largest tropical lake, and the world’s second largest fresh water lake by surface area after Lake Superior. This is a view from the Entebbe nature reserve for rescued wildlife.
Leanne feeding a giraffe at the Nature Reserve in Entebbe
Johnston subsequently made similar agreements with the rulers of Toro (in 1900) and of Ankole (in 1901). With this much achieved and a clear pattern set for the Uganda Protectorate, Johnston returned to Britain.
Later Commissioners (British) developed Johnston’s solution for Uganda into a clear-cut distinction between it and neighbouring Kenya. In Uganda the Commissioners declared that Uganda was not suitable for European settlement.
Hiking in Sipi Falls in the area of Kapchorwa on Mount Elgon.
Many disagreed, and pressure built to allow the establishment of European farms and plantations – until another Commissioner, still in the years before World War I, convinced Britain that Uganda was to be an African state as opposed to a colony. The economics of the protectorate supported this policy. Uganda grew prosperous as cotton, introduced by the British, was grown with great success by African peasant farmers.
In 2016 we visited a cotton textile factory in Jinja.
But a federal system of semi-independent monarchies proved less appropriate in the years after World War II, when all African colonies were moving towards independence. By the early 1960s the leading Ugandan politician was Milton Obote, founder of the UPC (Uganda People’s Congress). Its main political platform was opposition to the extent of British control over the southern kingdom of Buganda.
Britain granted Uganda full internal self-government in March 1962 with Oboteelected prime minister. He negotiated the terms of the constitution under which Uganda became independent in October 1962.
Obote accepted a constitution which gave federal status and a degree of autonomy to four traditional kingdoms, of which Buganda is by far the most powerful. In the same spirit Obote approved the election in 1963 of the kabaka, Mutesa II, to the largely ceremonial role of president and head of state.
By 1966 the deteriorating relationship between Oboteand Mutesa came to an abrupt end. Mutesafled to exile in Britain. Obote immediately abolished the hereditary kingdoms ending the nation’s federal structure. With the help of army and police he terrorized any remaining political opponents.
In 1971, when Obote was abroad, his regime was toppled in a coup led by Idi Amin.Obote settled just over the border from Uganda in neighbouring Tanzania, where he maintained a small army of Ugandan exiles under the command of Tito Okello.
Idi Aminsubjected Uganda to a regime of arbitrary terror. The country’s economy was severely damaged when he suddenly expelled all Uganda’s Asians in1972, a mainstay of the nation’s trading middle class. Between 300,000 and 500,000 Ugandans are reported to be murdered during Amin’s seven years in power.
Tea fields – tea is a major export.
In 1978 Amininvaded Tanzania. Julius Nyerere,the Tanzanian president, took the opportunity to repel Amin’s army and to topple his neighbour. Tanzanian troops, joining forces with Obote’s private army, reached Kampala in April 1979. Amin fled and lived as an exile in Saudi Arabia.
Lake Bunyonyi in Rukungiri in the South West
During the following twelve months there were two interim governments led by returning Ugandan exiles. In May 1980 a Ugandan general, Tito Okello, organized a coup which brought Obote back into power. Obote was confirmed as president in a general election six months later. Uganda had lurched back from a mad dictatorship to a repressive regime held in check only by anarchy.
During the 1980s Obote used violent means to reimpose his rule, while the country continued to suffer both economically and from tribal massacres costing some 100,000 lives. In 1985 Tito Okello intervened once more, driving Obote back into exile. At the same time Yoweri Musevenihad assembled a well organized guerrilla army.
Yoweri Musevenihad briefly been Uganda’s minister of defence for the interim government after the fall of Amin. When Obote returned to power as president in 1980, and his party (the UPC) won a majority in elections widely regarded as fraudulent, Museveni refused to accept this turning back of the clock. He withdrew into the bush and formed a guerrilla group, known as the National Resistance Army (NRA).
Museveni’s war with Obote was fought largely in the area of Masulita where the Children of Jolly Education Centre is. Photo taken in 2010.
Masuliita Trading Centre
During the 1980s the NRA steadily extended the area of southern and western Uganda under its control. And Okello, after toppling Obote in 1985, proved no match for Museveni.
By January 1986 the NRA were in control of the capital, Kampala. Museveniproclaimed a government of national unity, with himself as president, a turning point in Uganda’s history.
Kampala is the capital city of Uganda and was built on seven hills. The population has grown to more than 3,000,000 and has spread beyond the seven hills.
A decade later the country was back under the rule of law (apart from some northern regions (Gulu area), where rebellion led by Joseph Kony, Leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, rumbled on). The economy was making vast strides (an annual growth rate of 5% in the early 1990s and of more than 8% in 1996). There were improvements in education, health and transport. International approval brings a willingness to invest and to lend. The nation, emerging from two decades of appalling chaos, was suddenly almost a model for Africa.
Thirty years later Museveni remains as President having been reelected in every general election since 1985. The country is currently relatively stable and maintains a positive economic growth.
The village where Jolly was born in Rukingiri is stunningly beautiful
This photo taken in 2010 of the Bujagali Falls on the Nile before the dam was built. Jinja is where the Nile starts its long journey to the Mediterranean Sea through Central and Northern Uganda, Sudan and Egypt.
Overlooking fisherman on the Nile River in Jinja
The beauty of God’s Creation in Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth Park
Beautiful Savannah in Murchison Falls Park in North West Uganda
Medium sized antelope called Springbok
A boat trip on the Nile River takes you to Murchison Falls. This waterfall is between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert on the White Nile River. At the top of Murchison Falls, the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks only 23 feet wide and tumbles 141 feet before flowing westward into Lake Albert.
Waiting for a ride at the Nile in 2010 – run Geoff run!
Elephants make their slow descent to the water because they don’t want to fall!
Hippos and water buffalo live together
Our home in Uganda and a Message from Dr. Jolly Nyeko
In this issue we will show you where we stay when in Masulita, and we’ll include a special message from Jolly. The area of the school and the homes of the children is off grid so there is no electricity, no running water, no sewers, and no flush toilets. And there are no paved roads; just lovely red soil that turns into a slippery slurry in the rain.
For the first six years, we stayed in a rented house in the village. AFC needed some accommodation for Jolly and staff from Kampala that needed to spend more than one day at the school, as well as a place for other visitors who needed to spend time at the school. On Dr. Amanda Weinerman’s visit in 2010 she stayed in this building, and walked the 45 minutes to the school carrying her equipment needed to examine eyes.
Since this house was located far from the main dirt road, we had to hire a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) to transport our suitcases, supplies and gerri cans of water.
We had an outhouse and a bathhouse separate from the living area. While you were washing yourself, you could be looking out at the children and goats running through the banana groves.
Sleeping arrangements are always under a mosquito net.
All food is cooked on a propane tank with a grill on top which I have called the ‘cooker’. All of our water comes from bore holes (well) and are collected in gerri cans. We have to boil all of our water before cooking and before bathing. The local people can drink the water because it is clean but foreigners would most likely get an upset tummy. So we drink bottled water.
We have walked around Masulita a number of times, and have purchased beef from the local butcher on more than one occasion. We have cooked the beef with onions, carrots, tomatoes and peppers with Royco, a wonderful spice that is used everywhere. You need to cook the food for a long time, and since there is no refrigeration you can leave left-overs in the pot for the next meal BUT you must cook it again very well before eating.
When you purchase some beef, the butcher will chop off the piece you ask for and wrap it up in banana leaves.
These next two photos show you how ‘Matoke’ is cooked. Matoke is a banana and is one of the staples of the Ugandan diet. At some point I learned that there are 24 kinds of bananas in Uganda; some sweet, some large, some small and very sweet, matoke has the consistency of potato, and then there are the ones used to make local Ugandan alcohol.
The matoke bananas are wrapped in banana leaves and put into a pot. The pot is then put onto a fire and the matoke steams inside the banana leaves. You mash them before serving with your beef stew. We have grown to like matoke and it is served in several different ways.
From the rented house we had a 45 minute walk to the school. This was us in 2010 walking through banana groves and passing homes and gardens in the rain on the way to the school.
We are walking from the school back to our rented house, and you can see how bad the road is through the swamp. Vehicles get stuck in the huge ruts on a regular basis in the rainy season; including the little red truck that used to drive us.
Lots of walking!
At the end of the day we walk home.
In 2013 this wonderful guest house was built on the property of the school (through other funding). This meant that AFC would no longer have to rent the house in the village, and staff and visitors would be able to stay on the school property.
One of our meals at the guest house: chicken, vegetables and sauce. We’ve also had pumpkin, rice, posho, Ugandan sweet potato, greens, and roasted Irish potatoes.
Geoff is watching the staff cook the lunch for the school. These pots require a ‘paddle’ to stir!
And last but not least – this is a picture of Ugandan style ‘fast food drive thru’. Chicken on a skewer, deep fried cassava, beef on a skewer, ground nuts (peanuts), soft drinks and fruit are all displayed at your car or bus window ready to eat.
Message from Dr. Jolly Nyeko, founder of Action For Children, Board Member of JNFC, and dear friend for ten years.
The 10 year Journey of Jolly Nyeko Foundation Canada (2007-2017)
From 1995 when the call to rescue children became clear to me, each day was an open sheet to print the new unfolding ideas from God. The vision of Jolly Nyeko Foundation in Uganda (JNF) was born in 1997 while reading a book by a lady evangelist of the nineteen sixty’s, Kathleen Khulman. The vision was born with a brightness of candles, candles of comfort, hope and joy all around. So the logo for JNF Uganda has 7 candles, a sign that all that God has established is in the light of His fulfilment and will be completed in him, in addition to bringing comfort, hope and joy to the hurting. The source is God and God alone, for He is the creator and giver of life.
This photo taken in 2012 when we drove to Jolly’s village of birth in Rukingiri. We were the first white people to sleep in this village.
From 1995 to 2005, JNF concentrated on building a children’s ministry in the name of Action For Children (AFC). The ministry developed into a strong national agency that has reached out to a cumulative number of 27,000 children since inception with various programs of Microfinance, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, Family preservation and Child sponsorship for elementary education and day care.
From 2006 onwards, the vision concentrated on ‘influencing the education of children in Uganda’ with the target of: Ten thousand children in the AFC programme are retained in school and enabled to complete their education to the highest level possible.
Beginning of Jolly Nyeko Foundation Canada (JNFC) 2006.
JNFC began with my journey to Canada in August 2006 to embark on a long but fulfilling journey of PhD in Youth and Child Care at the University of Victoria, BC. On arrival in Victoria, one of my 10 point prayer items was ‘to find a fellowship of believers’, so I scanned through the available activities and groups that existed on the campus, and found a group called ‘the Navigators”. I had heard about the Navigators from Uganda, and I knew they were bible believing members. On the students’ noticeboard, they advertised a get together of international students of the university on a Saturday afternoon at the beach that was close to my students’ residence. So I planned to stroll there and find out what that was and who was involved. And so I went. It was a beautiful, sunny summer afternoon and the beautiful Cardboro Bay brightened out the day.
On arrival, I saw a mother at a table full of goodies and she invited me to have some. Why not anyway? That’s why I came! As a person interested in children, and as a mother of 3, I was attracted by her young children that were all around her. I quickly associated with her and opened a conversation as I introduced myself to her. I found out she was the organiser of the event and was the coordinator of the Navigators ministry at the campus. Her name was Judi Peacock. We connected from that day. She informed me of the weekly prayer and bible study sessions they have on campus every Monday. I definitely did not even need an invitation; I had found what I was looking for! God answered my prayer.
The following Monday, there I was being introduced to the rest of the members that attended the prayer session. One of those members was Leanne Stokes who did not miss the opportunity that she was well known for in the group of hosting visitors! She invited me to her home for a dinner, with the purpose of getting ‘to know more’ about this lady from Uganda!
The next week, Judi Peacock invited me to speak to a wider group meeting at her home for an evening dinner. I spoke to them about Action For Children, the child care ministry I was involved in. And many of them at that evening, wanted to know how they can be involved in what I was doing. God was touching many to be part. Some offered to do whatever task I needed while in Canada, for example, my friend, Zaina Barry, offered to take me wherever I needed to go in Victoria town, often she took me to the shops, to church, to gatherings where I was invited to speak. She later offered to record the messages that I presented, as many people wanted to hear them, yet, I spoke without any written speech. She recorded and transcribed them, till they became too many for her to cope.
As I met on more occasions with Leanne, and prayed together, we had this sense that God wanted us to do more, not just here in Canada but even back home in Uganda. Some gatherings I addressed would attract some individual who would write me a cheque in support of the children in Uganda, and when I brought the cheques to Uganda, banked them, they would somehow bounce without being cleared for some unknown reasons, not that there was no money on the givers account, but the process of clearing small amounts of foreign exchange across Canada to Uganda was complicated. Leanne’s husband, Geoff, being an accounts professional, came in to find a solution. After much prayer, and God’s guidance, it was clear that we had to register an organization in Canada that would facilitate the process. Jolly Nyeko Foundation Canada (JNFC) was born, and by that time, it was already 2007.
The journey since 2007 – 2017
It has not been a smooth sailing journey. The beginning was kind of complicated, especially when we had to deal with the government systems. We wanted to follow the rules and ensure we did everything right. It was not easy. But with God’s help and advice from different knowledgeable and interested, experts, we registered with the Canadian government and went through the hustle of getting charity status. Many of the people I had met at that first gathering both at the beach and at Judi’s home, became the first board members. They agreed on tasks to do as volunteers, some became sponsored coordinators, secretaries, treasurers, mobilisers, and took on children to sponsor as a way of raising resources. Many changes happened over time, as some of these volunteers became busy at their work places, others became mothers and availability became an issue. Whoever was available, sacrificed their time to be part of JNFC. The volunteers mobilised more people either from their churches or groups they belonged to.
My own church I attended, St George’s Anglican in Cardboro Bay became a great support as they regularly offered time, space, and funds to promote the work of JNFC. I will always remain indebted to their support. Since then, many other churches, singing groups, choirs, did benefit concerts in favour of JNFC. Grant proposals were written and submitted to various agencies, just to mention Rotary Club of Saanich, who worked together with their International office, coordinated with the Rotary Club of Kalolo and secured a grant of $45,000 to construct a sports field, furnish a library and many other activities at the Jolly school in Uganda, a school that was hosting 300 very needy children.
Overtime, Leanne and Geoff Stokes, having more available time on their hands, plus the interest they had, were more engaged in the affairs of the organization. For example, out of their courtesy, they offered their house as an office for JNFC, and regularly gave me room in their house as my residence after leaving the students residence at the end of the one year of my PHD course. For the next 4 years, I had to return to campus to complete my papers. I was always graciously housed at the Stokes home. I became part of the family. Only the Almighty can reward them graciously for what they did for me. I have no words to express that courtesy! As if that was not enough, each year, they made a trip to Uganda, first to see with their own eyes, what I was telling them! I made sure I took them all around the country to see every part of the work that we did. They took still and video photographs to bring back and show the people in Canada that what I had said, was actually true, and even much more! They have done that over and over, till some volunteers have also said, ‘we want to go’ and some have come! AFC appreciates all of them.
Many volunteers in Canada offered to organize fundraising events regularly, but much more, offered to give up their monthly $35 to support a child in Uganda in terms of sponsorship. This has supported over 56 children in school and their families, and communities. The children receive an education daily in school, uniform clothing, shoes, books, pens, a lunch meal. Some are in residence at school, and get an evening meal. Their families receive support to raise some income either in form of a goat, a chicken, a pig, or an agricultural input. Some children have gone beyond elementary school to vocational training and secondary school education.
In 2015, we started identifying specific projects on the one project that JNFC identified to concentrate on amidst all the many AFC projects. We go step by step as we complete one after the other. So far, we worked on refurbishing classrooms, baby/child care center (ECED), fencing around the school property to improve the safety of children, improving the cooking and eating spaces, water provision at school, sanitation, income generation projects and many others. As one project gets done, we embark on another as funds allow.
I (Leanne) love this photo I took in 2013 at the wedding of Jolly and George’s daughter. I had the priviledge of being part of a Ugandan wedding and participate in such a joyous cultural experience. Jolly and George hold a very special place in our hearts that only God could orchestrate.
As I said, it’s been a long journey of learning and implementing. However, it’s been a journey of listening to the voice of God, and being guided by Him alone. Sometimes there have been difficult moments of illness, of change of volunteers, but these have been learning steps so we know how to improve and do better. We have learnt a lot over time, and God has shown us his favour and blessings. We have created space for Canada to bless Uganda, and also created space for individuals to be a blessing to those with little to survive.
My personal appreciation goes to everyone that has been a part of this journey. I cannot mention names as I may risk forgetting someone. But as you read this letter, you are one of them in one way or another. As for Leanne, Geoff and their entire family, without forgetting, grandma, Geoff’s mum who knits and donates her products at her age, may the Lord multiply your blessings.
My prayer is that, for everyone who positively touches a little child in Uganda, the labour of your hands, will never go without being noticed, and a reward awaits you in life beyond the here and now!
Success stories, Board Member and unique ways you can help
Child sponsorship success stories:
We started the child sponsorship program in 2007 with ten children attending the Early Childhood Development Centre (ECDC). Today it has grown to 56 children. During that time we have watched the children progress through primary school and within that time we’ve seen some fluctuation: a number of students moved away to another district and new students arrived. However in the ones that have remained in Masulita for these past ten years:
- We’ve seen a number of children advance to secondary school.
- Two other students completed primary school and each one has decided to study a trade in Mechanics and Welding & Metal Fabrication.
- Several other students will be writing their final primary seven exams this November which are called Primary Leaving Exams in Uganda. If they pass, they will also advance to secondary school next year February.
It is so encouraging to see children in the District of Masulita go through the entire primary system from age three at Children of Jolly Education Centre, and continue in secondary school or learn a trade. Before this school started in Masulita there was no school within five km. This is indeed a success story!
There was another older student being sponsored for four years beginning in 2010 to help him complete school. He was later able to complete a teacher training course and then start working at the Children of Jolly Education Centre. He lives and works in the community of Masulita, and last year he was given a promotion at the school to deputy head teacher. This is truly a picture of success!
Volunteer Board of Directors Cont’d
Rashna has served on the Board for over three years and has been a child sponsor since 2011. We met Rashna in Rotary back in 2008 and became friends. Rashna is one of those people who loves to do hands on volunteer work and has been excellent at managing the cash desk at our events. She has been extremely generous in supporting the children in the school because she understands the need to overcome poverty, and through Rashna JNFC is now a beneficiary of PECSF – The Provincial Employees Community Services Fund. Rashna, we love your compassionate heart and your infectious smile, and we have appreciated all that you bring to the work of JNFC.
Here are some unique ways you can help!
Inflatable Solar Light – $25.00
The area where the school is located is off-grid and there is no electricity at the school property. JNFC has been able to fund some solar power for the school, but more is needed to give light to the whole complex. Some of the children live close to the main town and have some electricity but the majority of the sponsored children live in homes in this area without electricity so an inflatable light would be a blessing to them. We discovered this inflatable solar light which will hang from the ceiling. It is approximately 12” by 8 ½” inflated, with a small solar panel on the front that can be charged in the sun. It is best to charge it in the sun and it has four settings to give light. It folds up into a 5” by 2 ½” pocket size which is easily transportable.
Ugandan Arts and Crafts for Sale
Each time we travel to Uganda we purchase local craft products to sell in Canada.
- Beautiful woven baskets made in Western Uganda that can be made from banana fibre, millet straw, and/or raffia and coloured with natural dyes;
- Calabashes that are designed and hand made in Uganda. These are seed pods that grow in Uganda rather like a pumpkin but they are not edible. Traditionally they are used to drink local brew, and in Western Uganda they are used for preserving milk;
- Ugandan bone jewelry;
- Set of banana fibre & raffia table mats all designed and hand woven in Uganda – set of 6 with a runner;
- Wood carved giraffes;
- Beautiful fabric bags all hand made;
- Musical shakers;
- Wooden salad spoons;
- And more…
- Our Wish Listis found on the website and lists a number of ways you can help support the children and the school.You can fund the purchase of goats, piglets or chickens to contribute to a child’s income generating project. You will be sent a certificate acknowledging your gift in your name or someone you would like to gift this to. Check out the Wish List on our website: jnfcanada.org under “How You Can Help”.
- General donationswill go to the most current urgent need at the school as determined by Action For Children.
- Sponsor a child. Your sponsorship of a child is one of the best ways to help this community.Sponsorship gives the child an education along with all the scholastic materials and uniform and, provides support for the family’s most urgent needs. If you missed Part Five of this blog on Child Sponsorship, you will find it on our website under News and Events where you can learn more. You can send a letter to your child and we’ll bring back letters from your child to you. Here is an example of a picture a child has drawn for their sponsor.
We have loved interacting and playing with the children at the school in different ways to achieve more understanding of our differences in culture. In the end, people all over the world need the same things: food, shelter, love, acceptance, peace, good health, education and understanding.
Message from Geoff and Leanne Stokes as Volunteer Board Members
This is the last post in the series celebrating JNFC’s 10thanniversary. It’s pretty hard to highlight ten years but we trust you have a better understanding of what we have been involved in over all this time. All the photographs were taken by Geoff Stokes, Jill Stokes, Leanne Stokes or someone we designated on our behalf. Here are just a few more photos out of the thousands we have taken.
This was our first time meeting this little girl in 2008. We have been sponsoring her for all these years and now she has grown into a beautiful young woman we love, and is preparing to finish primary school and enter secondary school.
Geoff Stokes – Treasurer
I have been on the Board and Treasurer for the Jolly Nyeko Foundation Canada since the beginning. Although my formal role in the organization has not changed over the past 10 years, I have.
I first met Jolly in 2006 when she started to come to our house, almost weekly, for dinner. This is where Leanne and I got to know her and understand the work that she had been doing in Uganda to help under privileged children. We could see her passion and commitment every time we met.
In earlier posts Leanne has described the process of the creation of JNFC and the process that we went through to launch the society and register (qualify) as a charity with Revenue Canada. I was very much involved in the administrative procedures, applications, financial communication with Action For Children and reporting to Revenue Canada. I thought that this administrative role was my place in the organization. Well it is still part of my role, but the richness, learning, and life experience outweighs what I thought my roll was at the outset.
Teachers in 2016 standing in front of the original grass hut where it all began in 2006.
In a nutshell here are the major highlights of my experience over the past ten years:
- Working with an eleven hour time change and 14,000 km separation, poor and unreliable networks and 3-5 second delays for voice communication.
- Working with a different culture, both business and social. There have been some bumps along the way.
- Seeing the children both at the school and in their village, meeting them and their families.
- Spending time with Jolly, her family and AFC staff in Uganda: working, touring and socializing
- Developing a trust based relationship with the staff and Board of Action for Children.
- Really improving my photography skills (out of necessity).
- Communicating with JNFC’s supporters and interested individuals in Canada about what we do, and what it is like for the people living in Uganda.
- Working closely with Leanne on a project that we are both passionate about both here in Canada and when we are in Uganda.
All in all an amazing and humbling experience. I had always wanted to travel to sub-Saharan Africa, to see the country and the amazing wildlife. I never dreamed that I would be part of an organization that would impact the lives of children the way that JNFC does.
Leanne Stokes – President
It’s hard to believe that ten years has gone by. It has been an incredible journey and one that I could never have envisioned before meeting Jolly. From the time I was young, I always wanted to visit Africa but I thought I would go to Egypt first to see the pyramids. However, a different plan was in the making. Until I met Jolly, I knew little of Uganda; it was somewhere in Africa and I had heard of Adi Amin, a brutal leader.
When I first met Jolly I remember thinking that I needed to get to know her better to learn more about her far-reaching work in Uganda, and as I did I felt a deep respect and compassion for who she was. Her father was a polygamist, and she had experienced a very difficult childhood in poverty which she overcame. I have admired her tenacity to help other vulnerable children and model how to overcome circumstances through her strong faith in God. This was one of those special moments!
Since the inception of JNFC in 2007, I have filled the role of President which encompasses many aspects. In Canada there is a lot of administration in record keeping, meetings with the Board of Directors, planning, fundraising, networking, organizing fundraising and information events, organizing volunteers, newsletters, policy making, website and PR maintenance to name a few, and for the last six years I have maintained the Child Sponsorship program.
Geoff and I work as a team in all aspects of JNFC, and when we travel to Uganda Geoff is the primary photographer and I am the primary note taker as we visit the sponsored children in their homes and take in the life of the school. We love visiting all the projects that JNFC has funded to see the progress being made and what needs to be accomplished next. Each trip to Uganda is a working trip with a few days reserved for fun, usually visiting a National Park or different Districts.
We’ve gone through amazing experiences, and we’ve met remarkable people both here in Canada and in Uganda. We have learned about Ugandan culture, business practices, and government structures which are all very different to Canada. We have experienced both city and rural Ugandan hospitality. Jolly, her husband George and her family have all welcomed us with open arms each time we visit Uganda and we feel that they have become part of our family.
One of the main challenges we’ve experienced along the way has been communication between Canada and Uganda. An eleven hour time change presents difficulties with telephone and Skype, so email is the best method, even with unscheduled power outages in Uganda. Communication is the major reason why it has been important to travel to Uganda regularly; to meet the people face to face and gain a better understanding.
We’ve learned about culture, language, food, bargaining in the markets, driving on slippery red mud rural roads, pit latrines, dodging Boda Boda’s, Tribal life, a very hot climate, and “jams” in the very large city of Kampala which supports several million people. We’ve learned to be patient, learned to appreciate running water and flush toilets, and we’ve learned to love and appreciate the Ugandan people. We in the West might think we have all the answers but we can also learn from other cultures.
People have asked me why I do this and my answer is “I am compelled”; it’s a force within me that is sure and strong because God placed it there ten years ago with a purpose that went far beyond me and what I did. Here in the west there is a song called: “Walk a mile in my shoes” and, we sometimes use the expression “he or she really went the extra mile”. Well, there is a scripture in Matthew that says “when someone compels you to go with him one mile, go with him two.” And when an opportunity arises, that is the moment to respond – will I go the extra mile or not? How do you respond to endless poverty anywhere, let alone in a far off country with a vastly different culture? I’ve seen poverty where I live, and have participated as a volunteer my entire life to bring a little love and hope where I live. To travel to Uganda to deliver love with hope of a better future takes a level of faith and perseverance beyond just me that comes straight from the heart of God.
If I could be you, if you could be me
For just one hour, if we could find a way
To get inside each other’s mind,
If you could see you through my eyes
Instead your own ego,
I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind.
Walk a mile in my shoes,
just walk a mile in my shoes,
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes
(Lyrics by Joe South 1969)