Over the past three years, thanks to your support, we’ve been providing reusable cloth diapers to Ekisa Ministries. Located in Jinja, Uganda, Ekisa supports children with disabilities so they can thrive in families and communities. Most recently, they received cloth diapers for six kids in their Transitional Home, bringing cleanliness and dignity to the children Ekisa serves.
Ekisa recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary, and Kristen, their founder, shares this letter:
It is hard to believe that it has been exactly ten years since Ekisa first opened its doors as a residential home. It still feels like yesterday that we drove across town to pick up 3 children from another children’s home and introduce them, and one little one who had already arrived, to the Ekisa house. That first night with only 4 children and a handful of staff members, I don’t think any of us would have been able to imagine how much Ekisa would grow and change over the next decade. Not only have we cared for over 40 children in our residential home but we have had the opportunity to work alongside hundreds of families in Jinja as well as starting to extend our reach further to provide support and training for other organisations around the world.
It has been such a privilege to be a part of the story of Ekisa, and to have a front row seat to see all that God has grown it into over the last ten years. I think everyone who has worked at Ekisa would agree that it is not always easy; there have been heart-breaking and difficult times along the way, but I doubt anyone has left without being changed for the better by these children and their families. I know that is true for me even now that I’m not able to be a part of day-to-day life at Ekisa.
While so much has changed since that first night, the heart of Ekisa still remains the same, we want to celebrate each child for the unique and amazing people they are and we want to see every child grow up in a family and community that sees their worth. If I think back to those 4 children I tucked into bed that first night, I never could have guessed what God would do in each of their lives. They are all teenagers now and each has a different story, but they have all been given gifts and talents that make the world a better and more joyful place and I’m so grateful for each of them and all of the other children and young people that Ekisa works with.
I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you, whether you have supported us since the beginning or if you have joined the journey just recently; Ekisa would not be what it is today without your prayers and support. Thank you for being a part of this story, and I look forward to seeing all Ekisa can achieve in the next ten years!
Kristin, Co-Founder, Ekisa Ministries
Here at Jake's, we're looking forward to partnering with Ekisa for their next ten years (and beyond!). Thank you for making moments like this possible. Please reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments you may have. I'd love to hear from you.
“I’ll never forget how thankful she was. It was a truly beautiful experience.”
Meagan Johnson taught cloth diaper basics in Milwaukee for a couple years, but in spring 2020 met a mom that would shift her trajectory.
“She was a single mom of a baby boy, and she couldn’t afford the start-up cost of cloth diapering,” Meagan said. “But, her baby had severe eczema, and disposable diapers made it worse.”
The mother was looking for someone willing and able to donate cloth diapers to her. Meagan said she had a “large collection” of diapers herself, so she compiled a kit and dropped them off on the family’s front porch.
“Her gratitude and the relief she felt was overwhelming,” Meagan said. “She felt a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders, because now she wouldn’t have to worry about budgeting for diapers, and most importantly, her son’s skin could now heal.”
This memorable experience inspired Meagan to dig deeper into diaper need. In Milwaukee, the poverty rate in 2020 was 25.4 percent, while the national average sat at 9.2 percent, she said. The hard truth was that 68% of families with children in Milwaukee qualify for low-income status, and there were not resources to meet diapering needs.
“I decided to launch a small cloth diaper lending program, but when I started looking for a local diaper bank to partner with – there wasn’t one,” Meagan said. “After that realization, and doing a lot of research about diaper banks around the country – I knew this needed to be something bigger.”
That’s why Meagan launched the Milwaukee Diaper Mission, one of Jake’s newest Network of Hope partners. The program distributes disposable and reusable diaper and period product kits through a handful of community partners.
“The majority of the families we serve are Black and Latinx, and most are living well below the poverty line,” Meagan said. “Access to basic needs items was already difficult for these families, and the pandemic has made it even more of a challenge. Families are regularly having to choose between food or diapers, and government assistance programs do not offer diapering support. With 1 in 3 families struggling to afford diapers, and 1 in 4 menstruating individuals unable to afford period products, we are an essential organization for this city.”
Jake’s sent its first shipment to Milwaukee Diaper Mission in early 2021.
“We just received a large shipment today and we cannot wait to get them out into the community! Thank you so much for this amazing support,” Meagan said.
No one enjoys paying fines. For families living in poverty, a citation can add a devastating blow to an already tricky financial situation.
The Oshkosh Police Department recognizes hardship requires community response, and has partnered with Jake’s to fulfill low income families’ basic needs through its Community Crisis Closet; Jake’s My Neighbor Wisconsin program provides many of the items distributed.
Imagine a police officer pulls over a driver for a basic traffic violation and discovers a child inside not in a car seat. When the officer asks the driver why they do not have a car seat, they respond that they cannot afford one, but they need to take their child to the babysitter so they can go to work.
“Now instead of issuing a citation and still not having a car seat for the child to safely ride in the car, a patrol officer can get a car seat from the Community Closet and help to install the seat in the car,” said Officer Katie Mann. “Car seats are one of the many needed items for families in Oshkosh. Having new car seats on hand to give out to families that patrol comes in contact with has been very useful.
“The Community Crisis Closet has helped a lot of families this past year,” Mann continued. “We have given out food items, clothing, bedding, shoes, hygiene items, car seats, etc to people in need.”
Mann said the department has provided supplies to the schools to help students in need, and also has worked with various organizations to support refugee families.
“Having these items on hand and readily available has been so helpful,” she said. “Being able to give these new supplies to those in need in our community has helped us to continue to build strong and positive relationships between the police department and the community that we serve.”
Here are a few other examples of when a police officer might leverage resources through the Community Crisis Closet:
Caleb’s dad brought him to the clinic in search of infant formula for him. Caleb’s mother struggled with mental health problems, and eventually Caleb’s dad needed to work, so he left Caleb with his grandpa. Unfortunately, his grandpa was unable to care for him well and he became malnourished.
Caleb lives in a 2 room home made of cinder block cement and tin with 6 family members. They do not have running water at their home or a flush toilet but do have an outhouse. Besides being malnourished Caleb also has a cold and fever on and off. They traveled 1.5 hours by motorcycle to arrive at the clinic.
Caleb had bad diarrhea when he first came, so diapers from Jake’s helped to contain that for him and helped for other kids not to get sick.
“He always is happy and laughing,” Licia of Real Hope for Haiti says. “He loves his dad and is very happy when he visits.”
Caleb arrived at just 16 pounds but grew to 23 pounds as he regained his health.
Little by Little, these kiddos get better. Together, we’re able to make that possible.
We're excited to share that Jake's Diapers was recently featured on USA Today. The news outlet interviewed our Executive Director Stephanie Bowers, capturing the depth of all the work we do.
The feature also discussed our nonprofit’s significant growth during 2020 as a result of increased needs due to COVID-19. As an example, we provided more diapers in March, April and May than we did in all of 2019.
“Diapers are such a basic need but so missed,” Stephanie explains. “If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and you go to the store because desperately need diapers and you go to the store and now the shelves are empty - what do you do?”
As of the end of July 2020, our total diaper distribution this year to babies in need is 443,994. We're excited to highlight our evolution and the impact our diapers have made since the beginning.
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