The Praying Friends ministry currently supports 75 children in Kawempe, just south and east of the capital city of Kampala. Pastor J. oversees a school designed to provide education and job skills training for children who would otherwise have little chance of a future. Many of the children in this area are without parents due to the AIDS epidemic and village massacres led by former rulers of the country. The children who attend this school are provided lunch, school uniforms, school supplies, and good, quality education that will offer them the chance to work and provide for their families after graduation. The young ladies (age 14 to 17) attending this school are the creators of the Beads for Hope jewelry.
A typical day for these children is to attend school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., return to their living place briefly to complete household tasks, and return to the school for about 1 ½ hours to work on the jewelry. The girls are very proud of their work and are pleased to be investing in their education and care. PFOTBG are selling bracelets, necklaces, ear rings, and change purses ranging in price from $5 to $35. All proceeds go to providing the materials needed to make the jewelry and to support these students.
In addition to buying jewelry, several opportunities are available to help care for these children. One opportunity is through the child sponsorship program, which allows someone to donate $35-$50 per month, giving another child the opportunity to attend the school. You will receive information and updates on “your child” throughout the year and have opportunities to send personal letters as well.
Another project that currently needs funding is the breakfast program. The school would like to provide breakfast as well as lunch since many of these children are not fed at their places of residence. Pastor J. has noticed that the children sometimes have trouble in their studies because of lack of energy in the mornings. Many children must fetch the family water before coming to school which involves walking many miles on empty stomachs.
Finally, Pastor J. has begun plans to develop a small community for orphans. He hopes to have multiple houses with 20 children and four house parents and a school on campus. Pastor J. thought this would feel more like “home” for the children as opposed to living in a large dormitory. He hopes to teach the children how to cultivate crops and raise livestock as well (allowing them to learn self-sufficiency). Any donations to these projects would be life-changing!
In February 2011, Sierra Meador wanted to do something special with her 10th birthday party. Instead of receiving gifts herself, Sierra decided to sell products at her party that would benefit others. A friend suggested “Beads for Life,” an organization that sells jewelry made by single mothers in Uganda as a way to support their families. Sierra’s party was a great success. Not only did she sell over $500 in jewelry but it ended up being a fantastic witnessing tool to talk with others about Jesus in our community. At that time, the Holy Spirit revealed that a similar project could benefit the orphanages associated with the Praying Friends of the Bridegroom organization. During a visit in the spring with Pastor Mukumbi of Uganda, the idea for a beads project was presented. Pastor Mukumbi immediately expressed understanding since his own assistant, Sylvia, shared the same vision for a beads project around February as well. Sylvia was already planning to teach the orphans and students how to make the jewelry but was unsure how the funds and selling would happen. Plans began to form and Pastor Mukumbi said he would bring the jewelry back with him in September so that it may be sold in the U.S.
When initial funding of the project was needed, we began to pray for God to identify the source of the funds. Within two days of the initial amount requested from Sylvia, an unexpected check arrived for that exact amount. The Praying Friends advisors who received the check knew immediately that God intended this money for the Beads Project and the funds were promptly designated for this purpose. Since that time, Sylvia has worked to train Ugandan orphans and students to make beautiful beads and jewelry, a skill they can potentially use in the future as a personal source of income.