This year's annual winter
visit with the children and staff at Jajja's Kids' home was undertaken by three members of our U.S. board--
Diane Reiner, Mark Saker and Susan Fowler. A highlight of the two-week trip was bringing the children and staff to see the movie
Black Panther. It was not only the first time any of the kids had been to a movie theater, it was also their first experience with escalators and elevators!
After the movie, all 29 of us enjoyed a buffet lunch at a traditional African restaurant, which is now an annual tradition when the volunteer team visits Jajja's Kids. Our kids get to eat their favorite foods and pile their plates as high as possible. The entire day--movie, lunch and three vans to transport us all--was sponsored by generous donors who wanted to enrich the kids' experience. Thanks to all of you from all of us!
Susan and Mark with the Jajja's Kids' family at the cinema--
each child is happily wearing new shoes donated by Susan's friends in the U.S.!
How do we do this moving stairs?
Juma about to devour his African feast
Our team was joined by Elena and Greg Mosley and Danielle Palleschi, who visited Jajja's Kids for a few days before traveling to northern Uganda to work on their own projects. They arrived with kitchen equipment for our housemother Blakseda, toys for each child, and the makings of tie-dye shirts for everyone. An afternoon of fun for all!
Ashim and Blakseda absorbed in their work!
Jairus, Mark and Danielle--with Colton on her lap
The finished product!
When the 2018 school year started in February, four of our kids began secondary school--bringing the total of upper level students at our home to seven. To efficiently get to school, each new student received a bike. Thanks to board members and volunteer travelers Mark and Susan, and also board member Connie Houde, new safety vests and heavy-duty bike locks were also given to each.
Sonia, Dafine, Juma, Dan, Dauda, John and Mark
Beyond all the fun that was shared during the two week trip, important work was accomplished as well. Productive meetings were held with staff: program director Ronnie Sseruyange, education coordinator Jeff Mukuse and bookkeeper Jairus
Mwesigwa. Discussions led to improved administrative practices, a better understanding of the children's academic standings, learning more about land ownership in Uganda, and starting a five year plan to build our own home.
At age 19, Steven Ssenyonga is the oldest of Jajja's Kids. He had suffered a childhood of abuse and torture at the hand of his stepmother, who denied him an education. His father was irresponsible and incapable of helping him, and in 2015
agreed for his son to join Jajja's Kids home. Steven then left his life as a houseboy and--a
ccording to social worker Petua Nankya--joined Jajja's Kids for "moral, academic, social and physical support".
Steven spent the next three years attending primary school along with younger children at our home. It soon became obvious that
Steven's talents were many: he is artistic, detail oriented, thoughtful, and a whiz at checkers. But the deficit in his formal education was too much to overcome, and he struggled in a traditional academic program. When the school year began this February, the staff at Jajja's Kids house decided a vocational school was best for Steven, and enrolled him in a welding program. He is happy with his new opportunity and we are hopeful for his success!
You, our supporters and donors, are behind every step we take to provide hope and possibility to impoverished Ugandan children. An occasional donation, an education sponsorship, a monthly pledge, or the giving of one's time are all at the core of our stability and growth. Whether it is $10, $10,000, or a pair of shoes, the ongoing support of our donors is at the foundation of all we do.
Several wonderful individuals have sponsored a child this year--most are education sponsorships, while some support education and all living costs (housing, food, medical care). Our goal is to have all 19 children fully sponsored each year. For 2018, education sponsorships are $600, and to fully support a child's education and living expenses is $1,800 for the year. We are grateful to currently have six children fully sponsored.
The book created last fall, "The Best Part of Jajja's Kids 2017", contains photos of each child along with their drawings and text. The books have been distributed for sponsorships and donations of $600 or more. There are a few left, so if you wish to sponsor a child this year, we'll happily send you a book--with our deepest gratitude!
As a 501(c)(3) organization, donations to Jajja's Kids are tax deductible and qualify for matching grants from your employers. General Electric will match donations from current or former employees and their families, and two wonderful donors have already made that happen with their donations. Click here for more info: GE Match.
We also receive funds through Smile.Amazon, at no cost to you or to us. A percent of every purchase you make through Amazon's Smile program goes to Jajja's Kids. Check it out at Smile.Amazon.
Many other employers offer matching grant donations, and perhaps yours does too!
Jajja's Kids could not be where it is today without the dedication and commitment of our many donors, sponsors and volunteers.