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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Buy a gift with a difference this Christmas...

Back by popular demand, we have updated our Alternative Gift List... this year, it's all about boosting the bog fund! As you know fundraising has been continuing apace all year to keep on building the boys home. In January, we opened the new sitting room, dining room, kitchen and store. And now it's time to build the washrooms and toilets! Our estimate for this section of the boys home is about £15,000. With all the fundraising that's been going on we're hoping to have raised about £13,000 - can you help us push it up to the target?!

Our vision in the White Eagle Project is for a qood quality home in the middle of Nyendo. Somewhere that some of Uganda's most destitute and vulnerable can call home, somewhere that can help us give a standard of care which will release the White Eagles to fly high!

So, please do download the all new Alternative Gift List here , go straight to our online donation page here and be inspired to buy someone a washbasin, a toilet or even part of a cesspit!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Time for a little swim...

The 'Try'Athlon Team have finally finished their challenge! 12 River of Life supporters met up at the Manchester Aquatics Centre to see how far they could swim, most having not managed more than 20 lengths since before time began... Collectively they managed 13 miles, with 8 year-old Eva the star of the show, putting in a very handy 50 lengths at about twice the speed of everyone else. Others who couldn't make the Manchester swim did it where they are, with a particularly impressive 150 lengths from Kath Room the following morning, and the extraordinary exploits of Brenda Davies, who is training to swim 300 lengths - just shy of 5 miles - next week!

Most excitingly, the White Eagles themselves joined in! Emily, our Director, writes: Thirteen children and two staff were able to swim last Saturday and the rest of us were just giving them morale support - I didn't know we could actually have world champions in the White Eagle children! Eight children - Mujuzi, Nicholas, Ssemakula, Tony, James, Ernest, and Nakawuki - and Julius were able to swim lengths and five children - Judith, Daniel, Namatovu, Kisakye and Kevin - and Rhonnah swum widths. The 1st group swum a total number of 129 lengths and Ivan was the best and swum 30. The 2nd group that swum across did 20 widths. We were all shocked at Ivan's speed!

Who'd have thought it, the White Eagles swimming well over 2 miles between them! You can sponsor their heroic efforts by donating online here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A week in the life of the White Eagle Project

Julius, our new deputy Manager and boys mentor, has been with River of Life for as long as i can remember - his Mum Betty is an Elder and leads the Hospital Ministry and other Community Outreach initiatives. Here are some extracts from his first weekly report - it gives you a flavour of what life as a White Eagle is like!

This week 7 of our boys and 1 girl did their Primary Leaving Examination (P.L.E). On Tuesday evening we went to the school to pick them up. On their arrival, they looked exited and free as if they were out of Jail ha, ha! Every one was happy for them and they commented on how they believe they are to pass with 1st grades. The next day we surprised them with a welcome back home party. Charles arranged music for the evening and the food was delicious. In the afternoon we took them to the pool to have fun and also see who can join in the swim on the 21st of November.

Three of our kids attended a worship gathering at Masaka Pentecostal Church; the boys and girls gave testimonies this week on how the Lord has blessed them to be part of this project - they were really touching; we had a sports evening; we continued the staff training on physical Intervention and different ways to help and support each other as colleagues in front of the children; Kelvin started crawling; In Youth Group we talked about The Power of the Tongue and over 18 youth came to the meeting, we got 4 that came for the 1st time.

This week I visited Hope and Good Foundation Schools to see how the children are doing. The headmistress thanked us in general for supporting the school. She continued to appreciate the way all the kids have behaved.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spread the word on Facebook!

We're starting a campaign this autumn to spread the word about River of Life on Facebook. We're developing a fancy new Facebook Connect Gizmo that will help us easily tell all those hundreds of Facebook 'friends' most of us have by posting a message to our walls...

You'll see a little Facebook Connect button appear on the homepage, and throughout the rest of the site, and the idea is you just click on the button, write a short message like "I'm checking out the River of Life website" or something, and submit it to your wall... that then turns up in all your friends' newsfeeds, and they get a chance to click on the link and go check out the site. Ultimately we want to spread the word and gain support for the work :)

We've also got a Facebook Group you can join, and our own Facebook Page which I'm beginning to build...

Let me know what you think about it all, either by emailing me or leaving a comment below!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Latest newsletter is out!

We've just produced our latest newsletter which you can download here. It comes complete with a sponsorship form for the 10/10 hike - where the White Eagles will be doing a sponsored walk in Uganda and we can all raise sponsorship for them!

It contains some of the stories you can also read on this blog, plus more including prayer requests, 'news in brief' and more about the 10/10 hike.

Please do download it here and share it with your friends and family!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Can anyone sponsor Daniel or Veronica?

It costs on average just £60 per month to provide a home, an education, care, spiritual guidance, and of course decent grub for each White Eagle. We're looking for sponsors who can contribute any amount towards the costs for quite a few of the White Eagles, but we'll start with Daniel and Veronica!

Daniel is in P7 - the final year of primary school. With the all important Primary Leaving Exams coming up in December, he's buckling down to work harder than he's ever worked before!

Veronica is currently at secondary school. She joined us in 2008, we think the victim of a child traffiking attempt. She's wonderful - very helpful and kind!

If you can help, please get in touch by emailing us!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pray for the sick with the Hospital Ministry

Every Monday, Betty and Jjaja Sarah visit Mulago Hospital in Masaka Town. For those of you who have visited and had a chance to join the team, you'll agree that Ugandan hospitals are something else, especially if a road traffic accident comes in while you're there - certainly helps you appreciate the NHS. There are few medicines, and few doctors. You can wait days to be seen. Day to day care is not done by nurses but by a relative or friend - but of course many have no one to look after them.

Betty and Jjaja (Grandma) Sarah faithfully visit those who have no one, praying for them, preaching, cutting their hair, giving a small amount of money, or fruit juice or soap or washing their clothes. In the holidays, the White Eagle Children often join the team to help out - and of course any one staying with us gets involved too!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Love the neglected with the Prison Ministry

River of Life Church has been working with other churches in Masaka to help and care for those in prisons - often the most scorned and neglected people in our community. Earlier this year, we felt called to put a fresh emphasis on this work, so now every month a team, led by Kayima, visits Masaka's notorious Prison. Conditions are appalling - mass overcrowding, people can wait years just to get to court, and they have to rely on relatives to bring basic things needed to live. Kayima says:

"So far we're going on well, we've found favour with God and the prison officers and the prisoners. The prisoners always appreciate the things we take to them, and we've seen 80 prisoners accept Jesus as their personal Saviour! Our prayer is to get a little more funding to provide for those that are in need like the new born babies and their mothers".

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Big Charles goes to YWAM Uganda!

Big Charles is one of our first - he was the ring leader of the gang when the boys were still on the street. In February he was the first to pass his A Levels, and in March he joined the Disciple Training School at Youth With A Mission (YWAM).

He's had some tough times, but he writes: "God can pick you up from anywhere... He is able to do wonderful things to those who depend on Him!" Although it was hard at YWAM at first, he didn't want to leave by the end - "When I reached the school I asked myself when the six months were going to end because I was missing home a lot. But to my surprise when the time came, I never wanted to go home..."

The first half of the course was devoted to studying, and then he was let loose on the people of East Africa. He'd never left Uganda before, but he says "God started changing me... and he also used me to change other people. I went to Tanzania and I managed to preach to different churches and the last church I went to had 700 people!"

Charles has returned to us grown in wisdom and stature! He's extremely useful to have around, and has now started his Certificate in Business Administration.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Join in with the 10/10 Hike!

On October 10th across the UK and Uganda we're organising sponsored hikes to commemorate 10 years of the White Eagle Project! The White Eagles and all the staff themselves will be walking 16 miles from the church to Lake Nabugabo and back, and we're hoping that there will be a number of hikes organised by different people across the UK too!

So, if you would like to organise your very own sponsored walk, please let me know. We can give you all the advice and materials you might need, and you can get your friends and family to join in the fun!

To whet your appetite and encourage you to organise something if you can, the guys at LUXSON who do our website and have helped River of Life in so many ways have decided to organise a hike for the 10th October, but also a bike ride and a swim as well - the The Great North Bike Hike 'n Pike Try-athlon! It'll be spread over 3 months to maximise the number of people who can be involved (and give us a chance to recover). They've set up their page on JustGiving - check it out here. The events will all be in the North Wales / Manchester area on the 5th September, 10th October and 7th November, so if you want to join in the madness, drop me an email.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Do you know someone who can sponsor Shafic?

We need a sponsor for one of our new lads called Shafic - or Nicholas as he's just changed his name!

Shafic's a wonderfully friendly chap who has proved to be really helpful and willing to get stuck in. Sadly he suffers with a mental health condition. Mental illness is rife in Uganda - you see it everywhere. The tragedy is that so many children and adults out in rural areas suffer such neglect and abuse because mental illness is so poorly understood.

We've been looking after Shafic for nearly a year now, monitoring his progress and making sure we can give him the level of care he needs, and the good news is that with the right medication and support Shafic can lead a perfectly normal life. It's definitely the time to see if we can get sponsorship to get him back into schooling or training, and give him the chance to fly high as a White Eagle!

If you can help or know know of anyone who might be able to help please get in touch.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The return of Timothy R Crow

Tim has retuned to the UK! The guys in Uganda are going to miss him hugely. Tim has been our youth worker for three years, and what a three years it's been. From being the 'daddy' to the boys through to running community-wide football tournaments and social action projects, Tim has worked his socks off for River of Life, and we all want to say we MASSIVELY appreciate it! Tim's returned to the UK to get married to Sarah, and all things being equal, they'll be returning to Uganda at some point in the future...

Tim's last experience of Uganda was to have perhaps the worst bout of Malaria he's had since being out there, but despite being given the wrong medication numerous times, he finally got the right drugs and was just about well enough in time to fly last friday. I think he's been camping out at The School of Tropical Medicine since then...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fundraising Update...

We have a big challenge facing us to raise all the money we need to keep the marvelous ministries of River of Life going, and to increase our impact with the poor and marginalised of Uganda. But we're rising to it! I told you last time about Mark, who's run across the Gobi desert in China. He came in a very respectable 90th - you can see his official finish position here. There's pictures on that site too - it looked like the most incredibly hard endurance race! Mark's well on his way to raising his target of £2,500 - if you haven't sponsored him yet and want to, go to his Justgiving page.

And we've also had our Charity Quiz night on Friday 19th June, which went swimmingly well, and once all the money is in we are expecting to have raised £2,000, which is brilliant. The art work done by some of the older boys proved a big hit - you can still support this event by helping Ivan with some bricks by donating here

Coming up we have a Summer concert of Classical music and Jazz on the 7th July, and there are rumours flying around that some crazy folk are going to be attempting what they're calling a 'Try-Athlon' - Bike, Hike and Swim...

And don't forget the 10/10 walk - put 10th October in your diary - for the biggest sponsored walk we've ever done. We'd love as many people as possible to be involved - there'll be more details nearer the time.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Jjunju Fred and Liz get married!

Jjunju is one of our first, joining River of Life back in the early 1990s and being supported through school and university - but we'll tell his full story another time. For now it's all about the wedding! It was THE event of the year to be seen at in Masaka's buzzing social circuit (judging by the number of uninvited guests that turned up!), and we celebrated the wedding of Prince Jjunju Fred Paul Mark to Liz in style!

First came the kwanjala, the formal introduction of Jjunju's family to Liz's family, hosted by Liz's parents. Apart from having to push-start the pick-up that carried all the gifts, the ceremony went really well. Jjunju was dressed in a barkcloth robe and crown befitting his rank as Prince and Liz wore a whole series of beautiful dresses. There was dancing, singing, eating, more eating and still more to eat, before we all left and got lost taking one of Jjunju's shortcuts, driving up a rough track which turned into a footpath (and leading a whole load of other cars into the same predicament...) trying to avoid Kampala's notorious traffic jams. Thankfully we had four-wheel drive, otherwise we'd probably still be there.

Then two days later came the wedding itself, a fantastically exciting affair at River of Life church! Everyone worked really hard to decorate the church and Duncan & Mary's garden, where we had the reception under marquees. Church was packed, Liz looked radiant in her wedding dress, and Jjunju enjoyed!

Of course, we wouldn't leave you without some photos of the happy couple - Check out our slideshow of all the photos here!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Come to the Charity Quiz Night!

On Friday 19th June we're having our first ever Quiz Night, with comedy, a top DJ, an African Art Sale and even a chance to build the boys home (out of lego). It's being held at the John Alker Club in Flixton, Manchester - click here for directions

It promises to be a top evening of great entertainment, so come on down! If you can't make it, we're selling barrow-loads of bricks for £1, or 6 barrow-loads for a fiver, so you can still support the event! You can even buy them online through this special JustGiving page - click here. We're still fundraising to finish the boys home, with the next phase being the toilets and washrooms, and then the extra bedrooms and bed-sit for the house-mum, Mama Kat.

You can download a flyer about the event by clicking here. If you'd like to buy tickets, please email us by clicking here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Acts of Random Kindness 2009!

115 youth, 1 week, and a place who's name translates literally as 'rubbish'... it's Operation ARK 2009! Tim, our Youth Leader has just updated his blog with all the news after a very successful week of clearing, cleaning, feeding, washing - you name it, they did it - with the youth of local churches. Go check out the story here

Monday, May 4, 2009

Healing the divisions of the church

This week something is finally happening that we have been waiting for for YEARS! We're all extremely excited about it, and full of hope of what could happen...

Back in 2002 Duncan started to pray into why there are so many splits in the church in Uganda - between denominations and even within denominations. Like in many countries first evangelised by Europe, the church had been divided in Uganda right from day one through Catholic and Protestant missionaries. But the famous East African revival of 1936 was also characterised by division. And then the first Pentecostal church which was planted in Kampala in 1958/9 through Elim, also split and another Church was established - Full Gospel. A bitter rivalry between the two broke out, and by 1968 Elim Church split again and Deliverance Church was started. God has worked mightily through these three churches in Uganda, but for the last 50 years, many churches in Uganda have experienced splits and divisions.

In prayer God revealed to Duncan that that first split in the Pentecostal church had brought poison into His Body, the church, and most, if not all, churches in Uganda have been negatively impacted. One of the effects has been that most churches are powerless in the face of the terrible cancer of tribalism and racism. And yet the church, with the healing power of the Holy Spirit, should be leading the way.

So back in 2002, Duncan went to the leaders of Full Gospel Church and said we need to sort this out - and this is why we are so excited! Because 7 years after that fist conversation, and 50 years after the division of the Pentecostal Church in Uganda, in the very church that it all started, Friday will see the last day of a 3 day conference of 300 church leaders devoted to "Total Restoration" - reconciling the past through repentance and forgiveness. We hope and pray that it will have an immense impact as our disunity is transformed to unity and the poison is drained away!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A new look website!

As you can see, we've done a bit of a spring clean of the website! We wanted to develop some new features to help bring the work of River of Life Uganda alive for all our supporters and visitors. So there's a fresh new home page, with our priority fundraising appeal and the latest news headline.

At first glance the biggest change is the addition of our new gallery at the foot of every page, which we'll keep up to date with little video clips and pictures. We've also brought much more of the latest news on to the site, so that you're better informed with what's going on, and made it easier to subscribe to Crane Mail, our monthly email newsletter.

The thing I'm most excited about is is the new login section, which now shows video! We've put together short videos by the White Eagles to really show the impact your support is having in Uganda. Go and login and tell us what you think!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Actions can speak louder than words!

James 2:17 says “Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.” OPERATION ARK is all about taking the challenge of this verse and putting our faith into ACTION in a practical way.

Operation ARK 2009 is just around the corner! We started this outreach programme last year in May 2008 with 20 of our youth, and it's all about doing Acts of Random Kindness to bless those in our local communities, first and foremost by meeting their practical needs; painting their shops and houses, cleaning their streets, repairing their buildings, helping them with chores and providing food for the neediest families. The only pre-requisite for someone being helped is that they have a need. It doesn’t matter whether they are young or old, Christian or Muslim or even a witch doctor! Our aim is to show the love of Jesus to all that need it. These practical acts of kindness will show our communities the heart of love that Jesus has for them and will help open the door so that we can witness to them about our Lord and Saviour!

In last years Operation ARK we blessed the people of Mabera. Many people were shown the heart of Jesus, some gave their lives to Christ and we even have one lady, who after being blessed, has become a valued member of ROL Church! This year Operation ARK is bigger and better as we unite together with 3 other churches in the local area to hit the streets of Nyendo and bless the community! One of our focus areas for this year is Kakyafu which literally translated into English means “rubbish!” It is a notorious slum known for being filthy in every sense of the word. We hope to re-name it for Jesus!

In order to make Operation ARK as successful as possible there is various equipment and resources we need. Our target is to raise £750 before Operation ARK 2009 starts during the school holiday in May. Please help us bless the community and show our neighbours the love of Jesus!

Some of the things your money can buy:
  • A-Box-a-Blessing including food for a needy family - £5
  • Lunch for 50 youth - the Op ARK team - £15
  • A jerrycan of paint, a brush and roller - £12
  • 2 brooms and a pair of gloves to clean the streets - £2.50

You can donate securely online here through JustGiving. Just let us know it's for Operation ARK in the comments field. Thank you!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Buy some bricks for the boys home!

We're still working hard to build the new sections of the boys home. The sitting room, dining room, kitchen and store are complete, but there's still 6 washrooms, the bedrooms and the House Mum's bedsit to build!

So we're continuing the Alternative Gift List to help raise the money. You can buy Iron Sheets, Bricks, Bags of Cement, Windows, Doors, Toilets, Sinks for the White Eagle Boys, and get a beautiful certificate to give to the person you want to give a gift to. We can make them for any occassion - Birthdays, Anniversaries, Thank yous - anything!

Just click here to email us for more information - a link to download the leaflet and order form will be posted here soon!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The newest members of the family...

We've just taken in an abandoned girl who was 8 months pregnant... i say *was* because this week she gave birth to a wonderfully bouncy baby boy! Tim's written all about it on his blog - check it out here

Kelen and Kelvin are doing well, and the other girls in the Girls House are really impressing us by getting involved and making Kelen feel part of the family.

It's quite a big deal to support Kelen and Kelvin as you can imagine, so if you would like to help, click here to get in touch!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy New Year!

We're sorry we've been a bit slow to keep this up-to-date, but a new year is always a good time to make new resolutions, and ours is to get better at this! We returned to Uganda just before Christmas having spent 4 months in the UK, visiting friends and supporters, attending conferences and also taking a break at the insistence of our trustees.

Whilst we were in the UK our team here have done a great job keeping things running, but as you might expect we returned to a fair few challenges which have kept us busy since we got here.

January is a massive time of year for us. It's the main holiday - the equivalent of our summer holiday in the UK - the LMC Cup of Uganda football tournament gets underway (watch Tim's blog for updates on that), we set the budgets for the coming year and analyse the expenditure for the previous year, and of course it's the new year - a time to refresh ourselves with the vision, to renew our commitment and to plan for the future!

So, this month we have visiting us two of our trustees, Rob and Margaret - who are going to work with Emily (the White Eagles Manager) on all the finance stuff, Rob's wife Katharine, Rob and Katharine's friend Nick, Tim's friend Josh, our friend Florence, who is coming to get away from it all to write a book she's been working on, as well as our daughter Josephine and her husband and two kids - John, Jonah and Georgie!

We've brought 3 of the girls up from the girls home - Robinah, Judith and Veronica - to help out, and give them a chance to earn a bit of pocket money.

Visiting Nazareth Children's Home

One of the ministries of River of Life is to regularly visit an orphanage about a mile up the road from us called Nazareth Children's Home. We've been doing this for about 6 months - taking a team of the White Eagles to help wash, cook, clean and generally help out. Yesterday we visited with 5 of the younger White Eagles - Kisakye, Kevin, Juuko Ivan, Ivan Mukissa, and Teddy.

Nazareth is run by an elderly lady called Josephine, with two helpers - Carolyn and Pross. Between them they're looking after what must be more than 25 kids, half of them under 3, on very limited resources. Babies are often abandoned there - in fact the latest arrival of a healthy looking 4/5 month boy was just yesterday morning.

I was last there in September, and 2 very malnourished babies, Babiriye and Josephine, were really struggling - you can read about it in the November Newsletter. Through some generous supporters we were able to get them on to a feeding program at the local Mission Hospital and we have been providing good milk for them since they've been discharged.

They're hardly recognizable from the babies we met 4 months ago - alert and healthy, it was awesome to sit and play with them. Hopefully they are none the worse for their ordeal and won't have suffered any lasting damage from being so malnourished.

But whist we were there, one of the oldest lads, who has been there for years, suffered an epileptic fit. All I could do was sit with him, pray for him, and hold his head to stop him from bashing it against the wall, and make sure he didn't put his fingers anywhere hear his mouth. Of course there is no money for medication to manage the fits - when you're struggling to feed 25+ kids you're forced to make difficult decisions on priorities.

We're praying about whether we can step up our commitment to Nazareth and provide more ongoing support. It's such a wonderful place - and the kids are so so friendly - it's a real blessing to be there and in the face of such challenges experience real joy.