The festive season is around the corner and one of the events the children at Wells of Hope look forward to is the Christmas party! Over 90% of the children with incarcerated parents under our care celebrated Christmas for the very first time when they joined the organisation; some did not have an idea of what the season is all about.
“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
As we end 2021, we hope to make this time of the year a memorable one for the children by conducting a Christmas party for them; helping them communicate with their incarcerated parents through phone calls (this will be the last interaction before the Christmas break, they last talked to them in May before the second lockdown); providing food supplies to the 69 children (currently residing at the Junior School) for 3 months; and compiling education material for all the children so that they continue their studies (schools in Uganda are still closed).
We also hope to bring Christmas to their families by providing food supplies to the caregivers; some are elderly grandparents. Join us by participating in our end of year campaign by prayerfully either giving towards any of the needs or by sharing the campaign with your loved ones. You could consider giving as a family, workgroup, cell or as a church. We need USD6,341.43 to do all this.
How To Give
FRIENDS IN UGANDA
Bank Name: ABSA Bank Ltd Account Name: Wells of Hope Ministries Account Number: 6000489474
The atmosphere was abuzz with excitement as the children shrieked and jumped with joy upon seeing the bus arriving with the staff signaling the start of a fun week for them. As counselors we were soon each assigned a group of campers whom we would be caring for during the entire camp. The theme of the camp was ‘How To Tame Your Dragons’ drawn from 2 Corinthians 10:5 “I destroy every claim and every reason that keeps people from knowing God. I keep every thought under control in order to make it obey Christ”; which indeed helped the campers bring all thoughts to the obedience of Christ. Morning rotations were always the highlight of the day as the campers learnt various lessons and skills like bible lessons, health lessons, interpersonal skills, team work to name but a few. The campers were mentored inline with careers which gave me an opportunity to really know the desires and aspirations of these young minds and guiding them in order to achieve their dreams.
The counsellors, team leaders and support staff always amazed me with their loving care of the teams which to me was a manifestation of God’s love to the children through the leaders. It was also encouraging to see the children apply the lessons and skills learnt in the morning rotations to their daily life for example after teaching the children who they are in Christ and that they are created in the image of God, one of the campers called Resty always told me that everything concerning her is of the image of God and it did not matter what everyone else said!!!
The celebration of the children’s birthdays brought so much joy to the campers evidenced by the laughter and excitement as each of the campers received a birthday gift, each of the teams received a cake, and participated in the talent show.
The creativity and talents of the children shined through the talent show as the children modelled, danced, acted skits and plays relating them to the theme of the camp which showed that truly the children had been impacted with the lessons taught.
The Campfire was also brought to life by the roasting of maize as the campers helped each other to roast maize and ensure that everyone including the team leaders had maize. When it came to awarding of Character Certificates, the campers were emboldened and strengthened as each of them was recognized for the good virtues they had displayed throughout the camp and encouraged to be even better children of God. I was blessed to be a counsellor of the little ones and words are not enough to thank the organisers and partners of the camp for such an enriching experience of sharing in the children’s joys, dreams and desires and can only pray for more such camps that encourage spiritual growth to be held for the children as the children were left more aware of who they are in Christ, how worthy, powerful, important and loved they are.
I got the opportunity to attend and participate in the children’s Annual Camp 2021 for the second time; to me, this was a privilege. The day before setting off to Wells of Hope Junior l had a dream that l was going to be a counselor. In the dream, my Campers were so disappointing during rotations. However, when the actual day for going to the Junior School reached, I was a bit worried, but as the lead preacher for the camp brainstormed the camp theme “ How To Tame Your Dragons” (which was about how to tame thoughts), my joy was restored and all the worries I had vanished.
Being a counselor has taught me to be more responsible to others; how to be a mother; how to learn how to settle children disputes; listen to their complaints, mistakes; and I also got to know what happens in the various classes.
In the creation class, I loved how children shared their testimonies and life experiences; how life was hard before they joined Wells of Hope. Some children shared how they were found when they had dropped out of school and were hopeless after the imprisonment of their parents. The facilitator encouraged them that God knew them before, that they were chosen from many children in their communities and that God has a purpose for them. They were encouraged to always show the image of God wherever they go because they are ambassadors of God.
In the chapel, I learnt a couple of thoughts that all humans face; these were commonly referred to as DRAGONSand these included: deadness, isolation, self-harm, powerlessness, drama queen, bully, sadness, anxiety, rage and worthless. What amazed me was that children knew ways of how to overcome these dragons like being positive, reading the bible, preaching the gospel, praying, fasting holding each others burdens and being patient.
The Health class was one of the rotations. The facilitators shared about the topics of HIV and AIDs and Purity. I was so touched when they shared that 3 billion people globally are affected with HIV and AIDs. I learnt that the power to stop and prevent this is in my hands because l have the power and authority; I learnt that no one understands my life better than myself and no one should take advantage of me. My campers and I were encouraged to remain pure before marriage and to keep our minds pure. Some of our takeaways were the “GIGO” which stands for Garbage In Garbage Out and the chorus for the song about Purity had the following lyrics:
“I will guard my mind against bad thinking…
I will stand for purity
I will choose to keep myself pure
I will guard my mind against wrong thoughts
Say No to SEX before Marriage”
In the What About It class, I was really amazed when one of my campers shared how Wells of Hope Ministries helped her by providing her with free education, clothes, how the organisation supports their parents in prison and how the organization is helping them reach their goals. When the facilitator shared about forgiveness l was reminded that no one is perfect. I was learnt that forgiveness brings healing and that I should always ask for forgiveness when I wrong others. I learnt that when I pray for forgiveness, I should pray that God softens his or her heart.
My major highlights during the week included: my evaluation by the children and the farewell song by the children. At the Camp fire after handing the children certificates, they evaluated me. I felt happy as the children shared how l treated them because this showed that we had grown closer; and that we can freely chat with one another.
On the last day of camp, the children bid the facilitators farewell through a song, which is referred to as the Wells of Hope Farewell song. Here are the lyrics:
You are leaving…
Will you write a letter to us….”
This reminded me of how I and my friends used to sing for student teachers in primary they were going back to their universities or colleges after their internship or apprenticeship.
As I was leaving the girls dormitory and heading for the bus, my campers came running after me and gave me hug with wide smiles on their faces. As we exchanged hugs, I promised them that I will not take long without checking on them.
The Annual Camp is one of the weeks the children always look forward to in the year! This time around, 100 children and 27 staff participated participated. The camp commenced on 19th September to 24th September 2021; and the sessions conducted were centered on the theme How To Tame Your Dragons, which was about how to tame thoughts.
The children were engaged in 7 rotations: What About It class; Creation class; Health class; Dance class; Team building; Slingshots; and Crafts class. Below is are highlights of the sessions that were conducted or rotations:
In the Creation class, children shared testimonies and life experiences; how life was hard (before they joined wells of Hope) when their parents were taken to prison. Some were found home when they had dropped out of school at early age; some were hopeless because their parents were the bread winners at home; and besides that, the people in their communities could discriminate and talk negatively towards them. They were encouraged that God knew them before because they were chosen from many children in their communities for a purpose.
They were urged to purpose to do everything they do in the image of God for them to be ambassadors of God.
During the camp, they learnt about the ten DRAGONS which included; Deadness, isolation, self-harm, powerlessness, drama queen, bully, sadness, anxiety, rage and worthless. The children learnt ways to overcome the dragons or how to tame their thoughts which included: being positive in every situation, reading the bible, praying, fasting holding each others burdens and being patient.
“When I got my results for senior six examinations, I did not have hope of joining University because my father told me that he doesn’t have money to take me to the next level at University but later after some time; through prayers and trusting God, I was told that there is someone who is willing to pay my school fees and accommodation. I am now at Kyambogo University doing a Bachelor’s degree in Oil and Gas,” Vivian one of the children testified. Through her testimony children learnt that it is good to wait upon God; not lose hope in life; to be strong even in hard times; to pray; and trust God.
In the health class, the children were engaged in sessions about HIV and AIDS; and purity. They learnt that the power to stop and prevent HIV is in their hands because as children they the power and authority to say No to SEX because no one understands their lives better than them. The facilitators emphasized that no one should take advantage of their lives because once they get infected with HIV&AIDs, they will have to take ARVs till they die because HIV has no cure. They were encouraged to do self-evaluation; stay true to their personal decisions; test to know the HIV status; abstain from sex; avoid sharing sharp objects; and avoid substance abuse. The children learnt to remain pure till marriage. They learnt Purity keeps their minds pure.
During theamp, the children were engaged in HIV Counseling and Testing.
In the Crafts class, the children made sail boats, shields, crowns, necklaces and race cars using steel binding wire. The sessions were aimed at helping the children explore their skills in art and crafts.
The What About It class was aimed at helping the children to cope with having a parent (s) in prison. They expressed confidence as they shared their testimonies; they shared how life before joining Wells of Hope was and how the organisation has helped them to get a good life. They were encouraged to always forgive one another because no one is perfect.
From the sessions, one could tell that the children were struggling with unforgiveness and bitterness; “can I love and forgive the person who wanted to kill my mother after committing a crime?” one of the children asked.They learnt that forgiveness brings healing and frees one from bondage. They were urged to forgive their parents and the people in the community who do not treat them well. The children were encouraged that is not their fault their parents are in prison.
Another child asked, “ If make a mistake or do wrong to someone then I ask forgiveness and the person I have hurt doesn’t reply, does this mean I am forgiven or not? They were encouraged to always pray for the people they have wronged for God to soften their heart such that they are forgiven. Also, the children were encouraged to pray for each other; be patient; be kind; and gentle when talking to others; to be good citizen; have good characters; and to focus on what they want to be in future.
Through games, the children learnt the importance of teamwork. They learnt to always focus on their dreams and goals. They also learnt that it is good to be patient.
Some of the major highlights included: 9 children were baptised; the children’s birthday party; talent show; and the shaving cream battle, among other highlights.
We thank Camp David International, everyone they worked with, all our sponsors, the team at Wells of Hope and all our friends for their continued support for the children with incarcerated parents.
During the meeting we held with the Prospective Foster Parents, the parents shared their personal stories about love, acceptance and support they give to the children they fostered. It was a heartfelt meeting that helped other participants gain a deeper understanding of the importance of permanency for a child to grow in a family and the power of fostering. Reflecting about this session, one parent shared one of their takeaways; they discussed how they have seen their children’s cultural pride grow through forming close friendship with their foster children in the foster families.