As spring abruptly changes to summer, we at Social Promise are still hard at work, focusing our efforts on continual progress and innovation. Currently two of our board members, including our Executive Director, are on site in Gulu, Uganda following through with our ongoing projects and meeting with our local partners and community leaders to further Social Promises’ ability to make effective and culturally appropriate impacts within the community. Our fellow board members have continued to keep us updated on the progress of the projects and recently had an extensive meeting with the Director of St. Jude’s Children’s Home, Julius Oola. As is often the case, his report was filled with stories of success and triumph as well as new concerns and ongoing struggles. Tragically, one of the youngest children at St. Jude’s was recently involved in a cooking accident that resulted in her eventual death. This immensely sad event serves as yet another startling reminder of the thin line between life and death the children in Gulu are faced to straddle on a daily basis. The administration of St. Jude’s as well as all of us at Social Promise will continue to pursue improvements to the safety of all that call St. Jude’s home.
Although none of us are immune to the unpredictable and often unfair calamities that life can confront us with, we at Social Promise still strive to mitigate the challenges faced by the children at St. Jude’s. With your continued support we can continue to lift physically disabled children from the dirt and in doing so, provide them independence and a chance at a life without immobility and unnecessary deformity. Providing these children with proper wheelchairs not only saves lives, it resuscitates the spirit. We don’t claim to have all the answers to the problems facing these children but we are committed to partnering with them to solve the issues that THEY feel most passionately about. We believe in providing these children with every opportunity to succeed in whatever path they chose to pursue. We invite you to continue to take part in forsaking hopelessness and standing alongside Social Promise and the children & administration of St. Jude’s Children’s Home as we forge on into an exciting future. Be on the lookout for our next Global Giving update, as it will contain a more in-depth report on the events surrounding our boards’ current site visit. Thank you as always, and may you all continue to be champions of hope.
You know that feeling you get on extended road-trips or long flights cramped in the middle seat? Your body starts to tingle and feel numb. At some point, your brain takes the input and signals for a modest shift in your position to alleviate your distress. We do it subconsciously. Without giving it much thought we perform a simple physical action that results in instant relief. I had never even considered what it would be like to be incapable of performing this simple action. Without the proper motor control to execute this small task, the onset of this slow undulation of discomfort is left unchecked and can actually result in devastating consequences. The children at St. Jude Consolation Home suffer from the double burden of physical disability worsened by ill-fitting, or nonexistent, mobility equipment, such that they can and have suffered these consequences.
We all lead busy lives and get caught up in our ever-growing to-do lists. But you are receiving this email because you know that you can make an enormous impact in the world with relatively minimal sacrifice. You showed your knowledge of this, and your desire to make a difference with your donation to this project. And we write to once again thank you for what you have done. Your contribution is making a true difference.
It is good to focus, from time to time, on the enormity of our capabilities; on the capacity we all posses to have a positive influence in our world. We give our time, money, and energy to those in need for different reasons. Often those reasons are hard for us to verbalize; especially for people like you who are willing to give that altruistic support to others in need with no perceived benefit for yourself. I think the secret to our compassion lies in the complexity of our emotional urge to have a purpose, a reason for being. This month, I challenge you to probe even deeper into why you feel a calling to rush to the side of the voiceless and disenfranchised, not as an answer to all of their ills, but as a teammate in their journey.
At St. Jude Children’s Home, the devoted staff are inspiring. For them, business as usual means always extending a human hand to individuals who would, were it not for a few pioneering individuals and their network of support, likely be abandoned. Parent’s Day took place just a few days ago for primary students at the St. Jude School, and the crowd was impressive. Parents of the children who attend day-school flocked in from the surrounding areas to learn about their children’s education and to consult with their children’s teachers. The turnout demonstrates the appreciation for what is taking place everyday at St. Jude School. Parents are impressed. The desire to be educated at St. Jude Primary School is forever growing in the local population. But as you know, many children don’t have the luzury of a family to send support them. These are the children you are supporting with your donations. For these children, St. Jude’s is home and we are all charged with supporting them.
The staff at St. Jude Children’s Home joins us in this charge. They are innovative in all their methods of helping the community and making every donated dollar have the greatest impact. The off-site farming operation, useful in feeding the children and generating profits to run St. Jude’s, continues to grow with new crops and new job opportunities for community members. A top item on the list of needs continues to be new and better equipment, most commonly wheelchairs, for children with disabilities at Consolation Home. The equipment that has been received so far has positively impacted the lives of those in need and continued support will certainly do more of the same.
At Social Promise, we cherish your support and hope to continue to aid you in your pursuit of an improved world. The children of Consolation Home have more obstacles in their way than just their physical disabilities or chronic medical conditions. Social Promise works with its local partners in Gulu to attempt to carry these children past each obstacle so they may pursue happiness and their own sense of purpose. The new wheelchairs being provided to the children of Consolation Home will radically improve the quality of life for these children. But these wheelchairs will not remove the countless other barriers that will stand in their way as they move through life. Your support does provide these children with opportunities to channel their energies into improving themselves as both students and individuals of a community revitalized. Your support allows these children relief from unrelenting pain and discomfort. It gives them the opportunity to look to a future, to have the chance to succeed or fail based on their merit, and not their disabilities. Our most recent message from our partner’s at St. Jude Children’s Home contained excitement, not uncharacteristic of recent years. They are grateful and excited to have your support and are eager for continued improvement.
At this holiday season I am writing with a mixture of joy and sorrow. I thank you for all that you have done throughout the year to help the children at St. Jude Children's Home attend school and live productive lives with disabilities. Your donations have not only provided education and wheelchairs, but have also helped to provide a caring and effectively safe and nurturing environment for all the children living at St. Jude, including those children with disabilities at Consolation Home. Despite all that we do for these beautiful children, though, there are some disabilities that simply cannot be overcome. And this brings me my sadness. But knowing that you, Social Promise, and St. Jude Children's Home did so much to provide a loving and comfortable home for every child living there brings me joy and continued hope for the future. Sunday's death seems to have been truly unpreventable. As you will read, he and his brothers suffer from an unknown genetic disorder. The fact that he lived a beautiful life, full of hope, is a great blessing you helped bring to him.
Here is the abbreviated obituary for Opiyo Sunday, child of Consolation Home at St. Jude. As you read it, I trust you will notice the joy and sense of possibility that your support of this amazing Ugandan nonprofit brings to the children - and caregivers - living there.
St. Jude lost a child recently. Opiyo Sunday died at St. Mary’s Hospital from respiratory complications. Sunday was a very kind, intelligent, and sincere individual who loved music and talking with people. He was one of the creators of the Consolation Home bead-making project and he was saving his money to buy biscuits and sweets – and he dreamed of one day buying an MP3 player with the small amount of money he was able to save. The following is the story of Opiyo Sunday and his family.
Sunday arrived at St. Jude in 2008 with his mother and 7 siblings. Sunday and all four of his brothers have a rare genetic disorder that severely distorts their bodies and makes walking impossible. Sunday’s mother never understood why her five sons were born with such severe birth defects, while her two daughters are healthy. (After coming to St. Jude, Brother Elio – the Home’s Director – had blood samples analyzed in Italy, but doctors still couldn’t point to a cause.) In 2007, during the LRA rebel insurgency, Sunday’s father abandoned the family. Overwhelmed, as a single parent with five disabled children, Sunday’s mother went to St. Jude Children's Home for help. Her whole family was welcomed with open arms to Consolation Home at St. Jude Children’s Home.
At St. Jude, Opiyo Sunday learned to read and write. He delighted in the children of St. Jude, the wide variety of people he met and the books he read in his free time. He knew that he would never be able to perform physical labor and that knowledge was his path to a better life. A dedicated student, he also advised his younger brothers to study hard. He aspired to one day become an accountant or a manager.
So many children with disabilities in Gulu are abandoned by their families. So Sunday’s mother is sometimes asked why she stays with her disabled children and her answer is simple: “The child doesn’t know how they got disabled and neither does the mother or father, so we can’t mishandle the children with disabilities. Stay and give love to the child so that the child feels happy.” At St. Jude, Sunday’s mother is provided with a home in which it is possible for her to physically take care of her children. She prays that if God is going to take her children’s lives, they should die before her, so they never suffer without her. This mother is a remarkable woman who raised a remarkable son, Opiyo Sunday, whose intelligence, kindness and generous spirit will be sorely missed.
Thank you for all you do to help keep Consolation Home at St. Jude Children's Home in existence so that children such as Sunday can be properly cared for, given an education, access top rate health care, and keep their own hope for a brighter future.
With gratitude for your ongoing support of this project,
Once again, we are awed by the generosity of our donors! We know it is so difficult to give when you can't see the benefits of your donation directly. Hopefully today I can give you a mental picture (along with some real photos!) of the good you are doing. Because it is immense.
Thanks to this Global Giving community along with other Social Promise fundraising efforts, we recently helped keep 49 children in rural Uganda in school! This August we transferred over $10,000 to one of our partners in Uganda, St. Jude's Children's Home, so they could continue providing scholarships to children at all grade levels - because multiple studies have shown that each and every year in school contributes to a healthier, economically more stable future for a child.
Take Beatrice, for example. She was the best student in her primary school, but her parents could not possibly afford to send her to secondary school at cost more than three times what they are likely to earn in a year. With your help she is now attending upper secondary school, where she is excelling with an emphasis in science.
Or Acan. Her parents both died of HIV/AIDS when she was seven years old. Without her scholarship, she would never be able to attend school where she enjoys making friends and reading books. Isn't that what we hope for all our children?
Or Mandela. Despite his hardships (his father has a mental disability, his mother died of Ebola, and his grandmother has advanced AIDS), he performs very well in school. Your help with his scholarship is particularly important as it can be so difficult to find funding for boys to attend school, even for a successful boy such as Mandela.
So, once again, we thank you for your kindness, your dedication and your generosity. Remember that Social Promise is an all-volunteer organization so that we can keep our overhead costs as low as possible. We know you want your money going to help extremely poor people whose chances at a better future skyrocket because of the access to education and health care that you are providing. Every member of our Board of Directors also wants this. We all donate to Social Promise just like you and we all want to see our money going to do good in Uganda.
Thank you again.Take care,Sharon
The children you helped at St. Jude Children's Home are currently doing well attending the Second Term of their school year and/or gaining strength at Consolation Home. U.S. volunteers Will and Joe, who were living at St. Jude's for the last five months, keeping us constantly updated with news about the children and staff there, have left St. Jude's for the time being but have plans to return some day. While they were there they helped to get us more detailed stories of the children with special needs living in Consolation Home.
Here is the story of one boy at Consolation Home:
Simon became handicap in 2006 after he fell out of a eucalyptus tree. While receiving treatment at Lacor Hospital for his injury he met Brother Elio who invited him to live at St. Jude Children's Home where he would receive help for his disabilities as well as the chance to continue his education at one of the only full inclusion schools in northern Uganda. Simon says that he enjoys St. Jude for the education and health services he receives there; the treatment he receives is quick and effective. He talks of how grateful he is for being taken in by Brother Elio and St. Jude because with the education he is receiving at St. Jude he has a hope for the future. When he finishes his studies he wants to be a doctor and help others. Simon’s advice for persevering through difficult times is to think about the future and to not dwell on the past.
Imagine a person in Simon's position giving us inspiration for our lives. Truly amazing, right?
Thank you for making his education, and the education of many others, possible.
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