Announcing…Our Partnership with Youth Sport Uganda

A couple of months ago, Joshua Opolot contacted me about partnering with his organization, Youth Sport Uganda.

Their mission, “YSU works towards a world where all young people have the opportunity to improve their lives through access to sports and recreation.”  {taken from their website}

They work in Kampala, Uganda in the slum districts.  Providing sports and recreation to the poorest of children, including programs for girls.

One of the reasons that I love this program is that they not only provide something for children to do that is healthy, they go so much further.

Started in 2006, they have helped thousands of children from all types of backgrounds — differences in socio-economics and religion come together to become friends.  They do other amazing things like address health issues (including HIV/AIDS awareness) and promote health and education across Kampala and into the rest of Uganda.

Their program started simply and has grown to truly be a “sport in development” program.  It provides these children with stability, opportunities, and a change for future success and to truly excel in life.

Joshua was kind enough to share some photos of their projects with me and now I would like to share them with you.  {These are not my photos, they have been used with permission by Joshua Opolot of Youth Sport Uganda}

Happy kiddos with new stuffed animals!

The amazing Joshua Opolot!

Looks like fun!

Field hockey rocks!

Check out their website and Facebook page for even more great photos and information on current stuff happening…and follow them on Twitter.

Youth Sport Uganda is able to grow and thrive because of people like you…and they are in need of sponsors for some of their participants.  In the coming days, we will be featuring some of these kiddos.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child, you can contact me or Joshua.  Sponsorship can literally change a child’s life — giving them hope and a future.

And more great stuff…if you live in the Spokane area, we are going to be holding a sports equipment drive this spring and want to send them lots of great stuff.  If you have sports equipment that you would like to send them, please contact me at spokanegirl26@gmail.com.  If you don’t live in the Spokane area but would like to send them some awesome stuff or host a drive yourself, let me know.

AND…even more awesomeness.  I might be most excited about this.  Joshua and some awesome, wonderful ladies are sending us beaded necklaces and bracelets.  100% of the money goes directly back to Youth Sport Uganda.  You will not want to miss out.  These are not only gorgeous, they support such a great cause.  More to come on the beads, but please comment or e-mail me for information on purchasing them.  {Pictures are courtesy of Joshua Opolot.}

So beautiful!

Hard at work!

These are must haves 🙂  Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, birthdays, just because!

So much more to come, but we are thrilled to partner with such an amazing organization.  They are truly the hands and feet of Jesus.

The Most Vulnerable of All

Today there are 140 – 210 million orphans in the world.  You can check out past posts for more statistics — here and here.

Today I want to focus on a special number of these.  According to Avert, at the end of 2010 there were 3.4 million children living with HIV/AIDS around the globe.  90% of these children live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa’s struggle with the AIDS virus has caused a lot of fear in people.  There has been a lot of work done to educate the African people about AIDS and HIV…how it is spread, how it is prevented, and other facts about the virus.

However, fear remains.  This fear results in children who are orphaned and have HIV being shunned, sent to special orphanages, and avoided.

Project Hopeful has done some outstanding work in advocating for these orphans.

{Photo courtesy of MorgueFile}

These children are unlikely to be placed in families in their home countries.  They are often not able to access the anti-retro viral medications that they need.  And they often will not get the care they need because of limited resources and the belief that healthier people should get the resources.

Their best hope for the future is adoption.  And often, because of our own fear and lack of education, we pass them by as well.

There has never been a transmission of the virus between family members in a normal household setting.

These children have the possibility of living long, happy, fulfilling lives through adoption.  With the right medications, the virus can become nearly undetectable.  It is a chronic, yet manageable disease.

I encourage you to check out:  Positively Adopted, Reece’s Rainbow, Rainbow Kids, andProject Hopeful.

And I hope to begin featuring a special kiddo in need of a loving home here weekly, specifically focusing on those with HIV/AIDS.

You have the power to make a difference in the life of a child.

World AIDS Day

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It’s World AIDS Day.  I wanted to provide some links to organizations who are doing some phenomenal work in this area.  We can make a difference.  Testing HIV+ no longer means an AIDS death sentence.  Get informed.

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Before & After:  90 Days of taking the ARV

Before & After: 90 Days of taking the ARV

Check out:  (RED) for all the great statistics and what is being done to prevent AIDS.  Project Hopeful is an organization that advocates for the adoption of children who are HIV+.  The Luke Commission works on the ground in Swaziland, the country with the most cases of HIV/AIDS in the world.

Get informed.  Get involved.  Change lives.  Change the future.

 

Contemplative.

I haven’t been posting a lot here (although I have been posting on my personal blog recently).  I have been thinking about how to be most effective.

I can recite or post a million statistics or stories of horrible atrocities.  Sad pictures of children who need a mommy and a daddy.  Awful realities of what it’s like to live in the 3rd world while we enjoy a rather lovely 1st world experience.

No matter how poor (which believe me, I am poor) we are or how hard times can get, I still have a home.  I still have indoor plumbing and running, clean water in my home.  I still have heat in the winter and a/c in the summer.  I have a car.  I have food and can easily obtain more, even if I can’t afford it — only 2 blocks to the nearest food bank.  I have parents who still help me when I need it and I always have had loving parents who made sure that I knew how loved I was.

I get weary of defending my passion for Africa and the orphans there.  I care about ALL orphans, but God has placed a burden for Africa on my heart.  It’s hard to stand alone for a long time.  It’s hard when money is tight and you try and you try and you try but it doesn’t happen.

It’s just hard.  But I am learning that relying on God and His strength can renew you.  And not exhaust you.  And it’s worth it.

But I want to be effective.  Not exhausted.  So, I am figuring this out — little by little, step by step.  And in God’s time, it will happen.  Meanwhile, I am going to pray and advocate and do whatever I can for these precious children.

Book Review: Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis

This is from my personal blog…I thought I would share it here as well.

Journey of a Thousand Miles

Basic Info…

Title: Kisses From Katie

Author: Katie Davis

Publisher: Howard Books

ISBN-10: 1451612095

ISBN-13: 978-1451612095

My thoughts….

Probably the best book I have read in years.  I literally could not put it down.  My conversations have been littered with…Katie Davis said…and in the Kisses From Katie book…and so on.  When I was thinking about what I would write about the book, I picked up it and again….could not put it down.  I could re-read it again and again, learning and growing each time.

After finishing the book and through reading Katie’s blog, she really writes honestly and transparently.  It leaves you feeling like you are her friend.  Like she is writing to you, to tell you about this amazing adventure.

I already had a soft spot in my heart for Uganda and their people, but this book really took that to a whole other level.  I long to be…

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One Day, One Voice, One Purpose

I have seen a mixed reaction to Orphan Sunday.  I can understand both sides, for and against but I staunchly believe that Orphan Sunday is an amazing thing.  As a Christian and a dedicated follower of Jesus, Orphan Sunday is the Church’s expression of God’s heart for the orphan and the widow.

Christian Alliance for Orphans has created an AMAZING video that I encourage every single person to watch.  It really shows what the heart of Orphan Sunday is about — LOVING on children who have been orphaned.  Sometimes that expression of love is adoption, sometimes it’s giving financially, sometimes it’s prayer.  Whatever way that God speaks to our hearts individually is between Him and us.  We need to make sure that our actions are in the best interest of children, do our homework on programs before we get involved, be dedicated to following best practices, but continue to press on and to love them.  Regardless of the circumstances that have led them to be in orphan care, they need love and they need to be shown love.  I encourage you to watch the video and to search your heart for where God might be leading you.

A Life That Matters.

Isn’t having a meaningful life something that we all aspire to?  Each of us has our own path, our own skills and talents, and our own life goals.  But really at the end of the day, we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

It’s so easy to become discouraged and burned out.  Pushing through the hard days is sometimes almost too much, especially if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  People let you down.  Dreams die.

Whenever I am feeling especially discouraged, there are two things that I do.  First is to remind myself that usually really great stories have a trial in them somewhere.  If life moved along perfectly smoothly, it would be easier but I think that we would miss a lot of things.  Amazing things can be born out of darkness.  A sunrise wouldn’t be so special and amazing if there was no night.  A rainbow wouldn’t mean as much if there was no rain.  The joy after the suffering is special, it reminds us just how good joy is.

And secondly, I remind myself that in trials, there are lessons to be learned.  And I really push myself to try to figure out what lessons I can learn and grow from.  If I think that life in Spokane is difficult, what will I do in Uganda?  No family, different culture and language, none of the luxuries I take for granted every day.  Same God.  It’s learning how to deal with anxiety, loneliness, sorrow, joy, love, all of those emotions and feelings and most of all, relying completely on Christ.

When we can rely completely on Christ, focusing our attention and energy on Him and what He has called us to do that day, that is when we will begin to impact and change the world.  We will have a life that matters…no matter where we are or what we are doing.