Last week I returned from visiting several of our partner communities throughout Africa where it was my privilege to meet many memorable families. One especially meaningful visit for me was with Juliet and her family in Nashisa, Uganda. My wife and I began sponsoring Juliet when FH began working in Nashisa about a year and a half ago.
When I arrived at Juliet’s home, I quickly realized that her family was one of the most vulnerable we are called to serve. A simple, mud-block building with a thatched roof housed all five family members and the yard didn’t have any chickens running around, indicating they probably don’t have any.
The whole family came out to greet me. We sat down and Juliet’s mother said a short prayer thanking God for their many blessings - not the kind of prayer you’d expect from a family with almost no worldly possessions!
I learned Juliet is the first born and has two brothers, George and Joshua. There was another child but he did not survive past his second birthday. Juliet’s mother is Agnes and her father is Mate which I think is short for Matthew. An injured leg has hindered Mate from farming like many of his neighbours but he is quite proud of a little shop where he sells bananas and other in -season fruit. When income falls short, he repairs shoes. Since most people go barefoot, this hardly helps.
When I asked Juliet’s parents how the child sponsorship program was making a difference for them, I expected to hear about the provision of school uniforms, school supplies, health insurance, and other physical benefits that are part of the program.
But instead, Juliet’s mother quickly mentioned a number of things that she has learned from training by FH community staff. She explained that she now has a much better understanding of how to keep her family clean and healthy. Small changes like the importance of clean eating areas and washing after using their “washroom” has already produced positive health changes in her children. They hardly ever have diarrhea now, something that was very common previously, and Juliet hardly ever misses school anymore. She then wondered out loud if her other son could have been saved if she had known what she knows now.
Agnes is also part of a community savings group where she is learning to read better, to calculate profits, and to save money for future needs and income generating opportunities. Their family has almost saved enough to buy their very first goat! Excitement and pride was written all over their faces.
I’m convinced that Juliet’s family will be a very integral part of their community as it grows toward sustainability. Hope is evident. Transformation in progress...one family at a time!
If you're considering sponsoring a child, like Juliet, click here: www.fhcanada.org/sponsorship