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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Persist is exploding!

Bit of an alarming headline, no?  Not to worry, though: that’s our aim for our Leadership Academy young people – we want to see them exploding in their communities in many ways, including showing kindness to those in need, and being influential to others so that they can also live a good life.
Some of our Academy members
We know that Persist has the brains and the leadership skills (and there’s no doubt she has the beauty), but did you know that she can also teach?  That’s right, she’s been helping fellow women to learn about the arts and crafts that she does.  And the cost?  Not a penny.

A hat?  Or a work of art?
Maama Trinah is a qualified social worker, but she looked for jobs, she couldn’t find any.  She tells us: “I failed to find a job, and stayed home.  As time passed by, I came to know Persist and appreciate her craft, and I asked to be trained in that field. 

Beautiful handmade jewellery
"I brought my own materials, and then she would teach me.  I now can make earrings, bags, bangles and some other jewellery that I sell to a few customers I have.  For sure, I am very thankful to that young lady for giving me these skills.”  

Maama Trinah with some of her wares
Thank you so much Persist!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Running the race with our lads

Many of you will have heard of Synergy, but perhaps what you won’t know is that its genesis took place back in 2006 when we started organising local tournaments every Christmas in Masaka.  Two players who were part of our teams at River of Life back in those early days were Katongole and Andy, who were at school with some of our White Eagle lads at the time.

Shake to the left, shake to the right... here's Andy!

Fast forward 10 years and now Katongole and Andy are an integral part of our Synergy senior squad playing semi-professional football in Uganda’s 2nd tier: Big League. 

Keeper Katongole always has control of the ball!

What was it that drew them back into the fold, after many years pursuing their careers elsewhere around East Africa?  Well, in their own words, they tell us how Synergy is not like other teams who only care about results on the pitch.

Mid-match mentoring!

They love that Synergy provides care and support for them even when they aren’t playing football.  Whilst we may not be the top team in Uganda, we are one of very few that look to support our players in every area of their lives, and that is why many of our players refuse big money transfers to stay with us!  If you’re someone who loves sport and wants to see young people fulfil their potential, why not come and check out what Synergy is doing!

Running the race together

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Listen to mama!

We love telling you about our plucky little cuties on the Baby Unit.  But it’s not often that we hear from their mums. 

Kamusiime doing kangaroo care with her baby

We got the chance to chat with some of these lovely ladies, and here’s what they said: “We don’t know what would have happened to our babies if the Baby Unit at Kitovu didn’t exist.  For sure, there have been some babies brought to this Unit that we thought couldn’t possibly make it, but fortunately many go home after their stay in good health!  

Acting head nurse Irene giving baby Rachel a cuddle

We want to say a sincere thank you to the nurses at the Baby Unit who have taken good care of our children without complaining at any point.  They keep on checking on the babies 24 hours a day.  Yes, we know that they are paid to do this work, but some nurses are paid for work and yet they dodge their duties – that is not the case here.  Instead they are loving carers to us. A big thank you to our nurses and may God bless you so much.”

Some of our mummies with Irene
And just so you know, we didn’t interview this in the nurses’ presence – this stuff was straight from the heart.  Good work nurses, and thank you for your feedback, mummies!  And thank you to all of you who help us to keep the Baby Unit staffed and running!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fantastic feedback!

God put us here to prepare this place for the next generation. That's our job. Raising children and helping the community, that's preparing for the next generation. [Dikembe Mutombo]. 

Mutombo may have written that, but it’s true for all of us parents (whether our children are biological, adopted, or spiritual)! And raise children we will… starting one child at a time. So how do we know if we’re getting it right?

The White Eagles - full of beans after visiting week
Well, we were definitely encouraged to hear the feedback from one of the White Eagles’ relatives. She hadn’t seen her for a long time, and was astounded to see how much her behaviour and character had changed for the better. Just one more step towards “Seeing the Glory of God cover Uganda and the whole world through Church revival and community transformation”. Because community transformation happens one person at a time.

Annet, showing the servant heart we love to see in our young people
Come and see what we do… we’d love to show you! Or if you’d like to be a part of transforming, not only the lives of our children, but also the communities that they come from, then get in touch and find out how you can partner with us!

And who wouldn't want to hang out with these gorgeous human beings?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Brilliant Betty!

One thing that African women are well known for is their resourcefulness, and Ugandan women are no exception. So why aren’t more women able to pull in an income adequate to support their families?

Part of the reason is that it can be expensive to start something up. And simple crafts that sell well do require skills and training that women may not have the opportunity to obtain. Wouldn’t it be great if there was someone able to teach you not only crafts, but also share wisdom on which types sell well? Step forward Elder Betty!

We’ve talked about the heart that Betty has for the people in our community – and she loves to connect with our brothers and sisters in Bujja Church plant by making the trek over to join them for their Wednesday evening gathering. This time, though, she went a bit early for some time with the ladies.

Betty told us: “I know how to make crafts, and many of the ladies in this church don’t have anything to do that helps them to earn money, so I thought that it would be such a good opportunity for them to learn about crafts, which they could then sell them to neighbours. I am happy to give my skill to my fellow ladies.”

We talked to some of the ladies in the learning group, and they said that it was such a privilege for them to acquire a skill that would help them earn some money, and thanked Elder Betty for thinking about them.  Awesome work, Betty! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Flying higher by the day!

Big news for Ivan Mujuzzi! You’ll remember that he’d successfully completed his Senior 6 year at Masaka Secondary School, and was dreaming of becoming an architect?

Ivan and Victor having finished A levels!
Well he’s moving closer and closer to the dream, having been accepted to Kyambogo University, Kampala – one of the most highly regarded places to study architecture in Uganda. Hard to hide his smile, really, and who would want him to?

All smiles!
And he’s continued to inspire us by his conduct during the vacation, not only being an honest and re-liable employee, working with another ex-White Eagle, Big Charles, in a local photo studio, but also helping faithfully with the technical sides of church, manning the projector with aplomb, and getting involved whenever he can.

Helping out in the Community
Mujuzzi told us: “I am really happy that I have been given a place to study at Kyambogo University after a long struggle. I will start studying this very month. A big thank you to the different people who have encouraged me along the way, and I promise that I am going to do my best at University, with God as my guide.” Well done Mujuzzi!

Here's how we fly high at River of Life!

Friday, September 16, 2016

White Eagles - always willing to help a friend!! ;)

Few of us revel in exams, and some of us really break out in a sweat at the prospect. So spare a thought for Kellen, who is seen here, getting ready to sit her mock exams. These exams are usually held in the second term of the important “exam years” to prepare students for taking their finals in the third term.

You may already know that one of Kellen’s favourite subjects, not to mention an area of particular talent for her, is Food and Nutrition. She mentioned to Auntie Sarah that she really needed to practise some baking, ahead of her practical sessions in the week ahead.

Well… you should know that Auntie Sarah has a very sweet tooth (as well as a sweet heart, mind you!) and so “kindly” and “sacrificially” (haha!) offered to let Kellen revise her baking skills, and practice on her and the White Eagles. Ah the hardship!!!

Along with the cakes were pies and samosas…. And they were mmm-mmm-mmmmmm! Do you want some samosas? Better put your orders in early! You may have some competition!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Baptism Bonanza for River of Life!

Baptism. What does it mean to you? We say it's a chance for people to publicly display their decision to follow Jesus. Being immersed in water, and coming back up again, represents people leaving behind a life that's self-focused, and instead entering into a life where Jesus is your compass.

And it was a baptism bonanza recently at Lake Nabugabo, with nine members of River of Life Church getting baptised, including every one of the new White Eagle Home girls!

It was a wonderful day, starting with a stonking praise and worship session lead by Julius and finished off with a soda each. Lake Nab is a special place to River of Life, and to be honest, to most people in Masaka: a great place to have a splash, maybe a relax, and possibly a bit of fish and chips (don’t mind if we do!), but this was a different level of special.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16th every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the OAU (Organisation of African Unity). It honours those who participated in the 1976 Soweto Uprising. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement in the education provided to African children.

Hard to ignore these enthusiastic young people, STILL marching for their right to quality education
Want some backstory? It’s more than a wee bit depressing! In Soweto, South Africa, on June 16, 1976, about ten thousand black school children marched in a column more than half a mile long, protesting the poor quality of their education, and demanding their right to be taught in their own language. It didn’t go peacefully. Hundreds of young students were shot, the most famous of which was Hector Pieterson, and more than a hundred people were killed in protests during the two weeks that followed, with more than a thousand injured.

Marching to remember our fallen brothers
On June 16th every year, government officials within each participating country, NGOs, international organisations and other stakeholders gather to commemorate the Uprising. The theme this year was “PROTECTING CHILDREN’S RIGHTS”

Exercising the right to dance!
We marched around the busy streets of Masaka with two bands, as well as some government officials, cheering along with River of Life and other local, national, and international organisations. NGOs were thanked by the children for trying their best to protect their rights to things such as education, food, and many others. It’s small steps in the right direction…. may there be many more!

River of Life literally flying the flag for vulnerable children

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Looking good, baby!

Another wonderful “before and after” baby for you – Phiona’s delightful little boy has been a source of worry for us this year, but now, as you can see, a source of great joy.

Admitted not just tiny and below the official survival gestation (at just 26 weeks gestation), but also cold, not breathing and with a slow heart rate, things looked rather bleak for Phiona’s little fella.  But after loving care on our Baby Unit, not to mention a lot of love from his doting mummy, this little boy is looking great!

It turns out there IS something more joyful than sending home a healthy baby, and that is sending home a healthy baby to a delighted mother, and this definitely ticks both the boxes. Congratulations Phiona!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Thanks from Shadia

Shadia Lutaaya is one of the community White Eagles, and is just starting Senior Three this year. She tells us: “I am happy to have completed S2: it’s a great opportunity that has been given to me by the WEP, and by River of Life. My family wasn’t able to afford to send me to a good school such as Masaka Secondary School, so I feel really privileged to be there!

I sincerely love my teachers in this school because they act as good examples to us. They don’t come to class while drunk [!], they are always smart, and are good at time management. That creates a good environment for them to teach and discipline because they practise what they preach.

Another thing I like about my teachers is that they don’t only teach from books, but they also talk about things relevant to our day-to-day life. This has shaped many of us into responsible students. For those that don’t know, students here in Uganda may have to drop out of school at any stage because of different problems they face, so this makes practical lessons particularly important. Having skills and knowledge in areas such as computer work, food and nutrition, or art can make you a living later on! So, thank you Masaka SS!

 As for my dear sponsor…. I wouldn’t have been able to see and learn lots, and to be at such an inspiring school if it wasn’t for your help. Thank you so much for giving me this great opportunity and I promise you that it won’t be wasted.”

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Unity - a blessing when disaster strikes...

We wanted to share an amazing story of what can happen when there is true Unity between fellow Christians – hint: you can overcome some serious adversity!  Just after the big outreach we recently had, as the Nyendo Ssenyange born again churches, something horrible happened to Pastor Sseremba Mark (who heads up Abundant Miracles Ssenyange church plant). He was slashing (aka cutting grass, not Texas Chainsaw stylie, don't worry!) at Kakuto a few days later, and the slashing blade hit a stone, fell off the machine, hit another rock and recoiled back, cutting off his foot.  

Here's an example of a slasher machine in action

He told us that as his foot was cut, he immediately heard a voice inside of him saying, “the Devil has only attacked the body”, and at the time, he smiled (though on seeing his foot hanging by a strand, that smile did fade somewhat).  He bled so much he lost consciousness, but onlookers were able to get him to hospital, where doctors successfully removed the rest of his foot, and stabilised him.  A grim day indeed, yet through the pain, he still smiled and proclaimed that Jesus is Lord.

Don't know about you - but this joy and hope during adversity impresses us!  It's the Holy Spirit, people!

Fast-forward two weeks, and River of Life held a Thanksgiving Service (as part of our monthly Organic Worship programme).  Over 300 people came, and nearly 3 million shillings were raised from the congregation to help Mark to buy an artificial foot, and to support his family during this trying time.  Please keep Mark and his family in your prayers as they adapt to this new way of life.  

Preparing for a different life ahead as a family

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Parenting by Numbers!

We can share the gospel through different means, but it’s really important to foster good relationships between us (the Church) and the community around us.  We are, after all, called to be salt and light to the World, but no-one wants salt scattered in their eyes uninvited, so friendships are important! 

Elder Betty was recently talking to us about her community work, and said: “Whenever I go for community visits, I find non-believing parents treating their children in a way that doesn’t honour God: beating them, throwing horrible words at them….  Sincerely, this breaks my heart.  Well, I was thinking about it later on, and thought how great it could be to have a meeting with them at church, so that we could talk about the proper ways of treating kids, since they are gifts from God.

Some of the splendid gifts having a good dance with Elder Emily!

So we did it!  We talked to these parents about how important their children are, and also let them know that whatever they impart to their children’s lives, will be the very things that they will pass on to the neighbours, and to their own families in the future.

We also shared the word of God during these discussions, and four of the 24 parents that attended decided to give their lives to Christ, as did twenty six of the 49 children that had their own little class at the same time!”

Just some of the smiling faces we got to spend time with :) 
After the meeting we shared the little we had with the children and as you can see, they were very happy with their books, pens and pencils.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Countdown Has Begun

As many of you will know, in a few short days, Sarah will be gritting her teeth and steeling herself for a feat of endurance unlike any she has ever undergone – the Masaka marathon. Sarah is no stranger to feats of endurance. Being the mother of 2 crazed toddlers and wife of a juvenile joker of a man has prepared her mentally, but physically she has had to spend many hours of hard-graft, running over 160km in the last 5 weeks in order to build her strength for what is about to take place. 

She will be raising money for the work of Synergy, the sports and discipleship program that Tim heads up. We are very grateful for the many generous donations so far, but need another push to reach our target of £3000. As promised, we have been sharing some of the reasons that this is such a good cause on the River of Life Facebook page. However, for those of you who have missed these posts, or only seen some, below are the top 5 reasons why you should part with your hard earned cash and sponsor brave Sarah!

 This year 109 Synergy players have received educational bursaries, giving them a chance to attend schools and courses that they might otherwise have struggled to afford. However, there are many other requirements they struggle to pay for such as examination fees, uniforms, books, medical care and transport. The money you donate will go a long way to making sure these educational opportunities don’t go to waste!

Football players at school are notoriously ill disciplined. But not Synergy players! One of the reason’s so many of our players receive football bursaries is that head teachers from schools like Masaka Secondary School, are always impressed by the attitude and discipline of our lads. In fact the headmaster at Masaka Sec says that in all his years of teaching he has never encountered players like those of Synergy! Help our lads to shine a light and lead the way!

We believe in our lads, and know they can achieve not only on the pitch, but also in the classroom! Many football players are seen as useful for football only, and are expected to do poorly academically. But many of our players continue to surprise even their teachers. Want an example? Look no further than Ali (17 years). 3 years ago this boy was on the streets. He had finished P7 with the worst marks possible and struggled to even read or write! With the help of Synergy he received a football bursary at one of Masaka's top schools, starting in Senior 2. Despite pulling up academically, the school was not confident of him doing well, and as they were concerned about how this might affect them in schools’ results tables, asked that he take his exams elsewhere. Brian arranged for him to sit his exams and Ali returned Brian’s faith in him by achieving a very respectable 3rd grade! The school were of course extremely happy (if not some what sheepish) and have gladly offered him a bursary to continue onto study A-levels. 

At Synergy, our players know that they are blessed and so they know that it is their responsibility to pass on this investment. That is why some of our more senior players, Like Andy here, take time to invest in others including both the Synergy academy and also the girls squad at Masaka SS.

In a country where self seeking and corruption are rife, your money will only be used to directly help our players in need. How can you be sure? This story will help you see:

Recently a 17-year-old lad called Lawrence
joined Synergy. He has great passion,but not a great amount of natural football talent. His granny took manager Brian aside and offered him 300,000 shillings to find him a bursary to school. Brian explained that he is not involved in “buying” bursaries for players, but told her to keep her money and let him work with the boy and see what he can do. Having worked with him and seen his ability and attitude, he took Lawrence to one of Masaka's top secondary schools, where we have many players with bursaries. Brain explained to the Head master that he is not the most talented player, but has passion and discipline and a desire to achieve. Such is the high regard for Brian’s opinion, Lawrence was given a full bursary that very day. The granny, wanting to show her gratitude to Brian, again put the money in his hand, this time as a thank you. Did he put this in his pocket as he so easy could have done? No, Brian took this money straight back to school to pay for some of Lawrence’s requirements not covered by the bursary. The granny’s response? “I never knew that in Uganda there are still honest people like you alive today!”

If none of these 5 reasons are enough to convince you, then here is one final shameless plug: look at the graph of the elevation change that the marathon will involve and then look at Sarah’s blood soaked arms having taken a tumble during one of her training runs. 

Make her suffering worthwhile and help us blow through our target of £3000 by going to the following link: 

Thank you so much!