• sarah@healingeyes.org

Africa

Healing the Earth

The rains are here and we are busy planting crops and bushes in the village. This is the time of year when the land is green and the red dust has blown away revealing a ripe soil ready for growth. Thank you for helping us grow over the years. It’s amazing that it’s been 4.5 years since the journey began!

Healing Eyes

I’ll never understand

Maybe someone can explain why it’s so difficult to have parents pickup their kids from boarding school? This is one area about Uganda I’ll just never completely understand because it’s such a small request. In Uganda it all comes down to transport…the cost of public transportation. In my mind it’s such a small cost to pay for a child to study at boarding school and when it comes to holiday breaks it’s our hope parents will pick their kids up. Some of them will but the ones you expect to do it because they seem so close to their children and loving, just won’t pay the taxi fee to pick their kids up. Why?

Of the culture clashes with America this one isn’t talked about much. Usually we think of languages, food, weather, education, and so on. But the cost of public taxi, also called transport, has got to be the most frustrating difference between cultures when it comes to the children. Even when it comes to working with the government because everyone wants their transport expense paid for otherwise no business will happen.

It’s Easter break tomorrow and children are free to go home for 4 days to visit with their family and friends. Now here in America parents will pick their kids up daily from school or we are blessed to have public buses drop kids off too. In Uganda kids in boarding school are gone 3 months at a time and live at school, the school becomes their second home. So when you get a chance for a 4 day holiday break in my mind I would want to get my kids bright and early and spend time with them. Some parents do this but the majority never seem to go, giving the excuse of transport.

On the flip side the taxis over these holidays will charge more and take advantage of the increase in travelers. We do the same here in America over the 4th of July when gas prices go up.

Definitely one of the more frustrating obstacles in Africa when working with the parents and children who are sponsored.

Healing Eyes

Marching forward

As we move through the month of March we are seeing some great steps forward in our newest location started for sewing thanks to the donation of 2 more sewing machines.  It’s great to see our newest teacher is also proving to be a great find, we have a 3 teachers but or newest teacher seems to be the best. Part of our work is to help people grow in the skills they are great at and so we hope all 3 teachers will come together and share ideas to help each other. Prayers are needed for more teamwork and collaboration between the two sewing classes. It isn’t in the nature of people to want others to succeed because of the tendencies to become jealous when others are successful which makes programs like this so important. We are encouraging team work and sharing of ideas to give these widows and young girls the opportunities they want. Christ says you must teach others to ‘fish to eat’ and in time we hope and pray this tailoring project will accomplish just that, empowering the next generation in Uganda.

It’s the season of plowing and planting with the rains finally coming back to Eastern Uganda. We hired some oxen and workers to plow the land and prepare it for planting. Please keep this new project in your prayers.

All of this work can’t happen without support from you. We truly are dependent on your help to keep pushing forward for Christ in a foreign land. Thank you to everyone for praying and financially giving to Healing Eyes in 2017. This year don’t forget us as you think of a charity to support. Our organization is small but our footprint is growing, we are registered as a Community Based Organization in Manafwa district of Eastern Uganda. We have 22 children in boarding schools and none of this would have been possible back in 2015 when God founded us under the mission to Make A Difference in the Flavor of the world by Going and showing compassion to widows and orphans.

Donate today

Healing Eyes

Stop giving shoes

The hardest part of missionary work and working in a foreign country is finding people to trust even when you know it might be impossible because we will always be foreigners in their country. We sat in a restaurant while waiting for the plane to take us back to ‘home’ aka Michigan and their were these other mazungoos sitting at a big table dining with locals. We over heard their conversation and they had been working in a remote village and were helping build a school. Ha what a cliche really because that seems like what all foreigners are there to do, build a school. Does building a school really help these people? Is it really making a difference? The one woman was talking about how the poor children had no shoes and that they could send over boxes of shoes to the children. The local people nodded and said oh yes that would be great, those poor children need shoes. Ok so if you ever stayed long in Africa you’ll come across this often, giving away free clothing and shoes because it’s an easy thing to do. Send boxes of stuff that will bring a temporary smile to a child but after you leave those shoes fall apart, get stolen, or worse jealous kids might beat up another for them. In boarding schools some kids might destroy what the other child has out of pure jealousy and then that child is left with nothing again. Now the next time a mazungoo comes through they will now beg for a handout because that’s the message we just sent them…the cycle continues.

Giving free shoes also takes away from local people making a living off selling new shoes, shoes that might be better quality if there market wasn’t flooded with used shoes. If you walk through the markets of mbale you will see piles and piles of used shoes being sold on the market and those same shoes will fall apart a month later after the black shoe polish wears off them revealing how poorly made those shoes were. The stores that have nicer shoes are passed by because of all the piles of used shoes offered up as a cheaper solution. If you look closely into those piles of shoes you’ll see brands you’ll know, like Clarks and Adidas, second hand shoes that keep cycling through the market. Shipping boxes of shoes is when helping hurts, but they will take them because who wouldn’t turn down a freebie?

Africa… a continent full of poverty but also strong people that need more than handouts. It needs more than handouts and our second hand throw aways. Education for the children and perhaps more importantly education for the young adults that now outnumber the old. The young adults need something to do instead of hanging out at the trading center drinking booze and playing games, they need encouragement and opportunity to learn, to learn the value of a hard earned shilling the honest way. Half of these kids are just bored and need a push in the right direction. Trade schools can begin to open doors, primary schools can help young children to gain a firm foundation and succeed in their adult lives. Unlocking potential the long and difficult way instead of quick easy fixes of free sandals for kids.

Let’s hope and pray in time the handful of kids we support today will go on to do important things in their communities instead of waiting around for someone else to do it for them. Let’s pray in time we can reach the young adults who get caught up in doing wrong merely because they are bored and have nothing else to do. Let’s pray the children can see honesty as a better option than lying and cheating their neighbors to get ahead.

Healing Eyes

A day in Africa

A day in Africa is a day like no other. It’s mixed with many highs and lows. There’s an odd satisfaction one experiences here when accomplishing a task that in America would be so simple to do. For example…

  • Going to the grocery store is twice as difficult in Uganda than it is in Michigan.
  • Going to children’s homes is an ordeal. It involves parking the car and then walking far distances on dirt paths thru a blazing hot desert.  All so I can just share a report card and remind parents to buy school supplies. In Michigan this task would only entail a simple phone call.

Sigh…I’m tired and missing home. The simple conveniences of

  • Driving my car in a familiar city.
  • Fitting in and being unnoticed by people.
  • Sitting on the couch with my husband.

In Uganda, I’m being pulled in all directions. I’m visiting politicians , signing papers, designing a future school building, leading widows in a start-up tailoring program, and caring for kids that aren’t my own.
It’s all moving faster than usual in Uganda and I can’t help but think it’s God pushing me to hold up my end of the bargain. He’s calling me to actually build a school in a foreign country! Imagine that….too impossible and frightening for me to swallow whole..so I’m taking it in bites, one piece at a time.

nikki

Two extremes in our lives

It’s snowing and freezing here but in Uganda it’s blazing hot. Everyone always gives an overview of what the year was like when the new one starts and honestly 2017 was amazingly productive. When you think of a missionary it’s often the image of a married couple going off to a far away country to witness to others about Jesus, they go for years on end and come back to the states to fundraise every once and awhile. Missionaries give up a lot in life and sacrifice personal comforts to follow ‘the call’.

So when you look at Healing Eyes we don’t quite fit that image of ‘missionary’. Our work primarily relies on local Ugandans doing the day to day activities, running projects, and updating us back in the states of concerns and stumbling blocks for the project. We go to Uganda and check on projects started to see if they are sustainable, then we leave and see what the local people will do with the opportunity given to them. We maintain a base of operations in Tororo Uganda and use the internet to stay in contact and keep business running from abroad. Technology has opened up a new type of ‘missionary’ that doesn’t go for years on end to make a difference. Is that bad? Or is it allowing a shift in how we help the poor… by enabling them to take action to help themselves by planting little seeds of opportunity and seeing what grows and what doesn’t.

Our tailoring program is one of those seeds that was planted in June 2017 and since that time it has blossomed into a big blessing for 5 young woman who have taken advantage of a training program that they can use in the village or town. We hope this kind of ‘helping’ will cause a shift in dependency of a foreign NGO and put more power back in he hands of the people. It’s our hope to expand the project to another village and see what God does with the people’s lives affected by the program. Time will tell if it’s a success or another learning opportunity for us.

Our pig project has been slow lately and in need of a revitalizing approach. We have had successful pig litters but making any money off of the venture isn’t there yet. Prayers for what to do next with it or if it has run it’s course and will become self-sufficient.

Missionaries are always under the eyes of others and the need to be transparent in what we do is important. However, one thing that is not easy is the giving up of personal comforts, security, and freedom. The next time you see a missionary fundraising remember no one finds it comfortable to rely on others for support, it’s never easy asking for that donation, and it always weighs heavy the responsibility that comes with the donations to not let the donor down.

This past year we have endured some physical ailments and went through a couple surgeries for health but God has used those opportunities to allow Ugandans to do the work for God too. Missions isn’t about going off and telling other people what to do or how to act or to be hands on with everything.. it should be more about going and sharing ideas and beliefs and seeing what the people do with it. In our case the people we work with in Uganda are working hard on their own and collaborating on projects to take ownership and show us foreigners how to survive in their country. Along the way God shows himself through our actions and reminds us we are all weak and all need some compassion and love to make it in this life.

Here comes 2018 and we pray it bears more fruit for God and opens more eyes to the healing God wants to do in their lives. Even in our own lives we need some healing eyes:)

Healing Eyes

We’ve come so far

We finished our first term at our modest tailoring school. 5 students showed off their shirts, skirts, and dresses for the final exam. I even got to talk to them on the phone to hear how they were doing while I wait for answers on my medical issues before returning to Uganda. What a journey Healing Eyes has been on since starting back in 2014! Cancer, grieving a loss of my husband, leaving my paid job, moving to an island, moving to Uganda, getting cancer myself, and surgeries. But all along we started this tailoring program 6 months ago, we also have 20 kids in boarding school, bought land to build on, and just keep on persevering when it sometimes feels like all is lost. How is all this possible? Because God did it! He is behind every tear shed and every smile brought by showing compassion to His orphans and widows. We couldn’t have come this far without support from donors in America…. and Did you know that we are funded mainly by individual donors?

Big Thank you from all of us in Uganda and Grand Rapids:)

Healing Eyes

Cooling Down

Early morning conference calls with Uganda are not your typical meetings compared to U.S. standards that is. Big reminder on why Africa is a different world than here is that a key requirement for a meeting at mid day in the village is the host should provide drinking water (ie bottles of water). Now if your in Michigan right now and sitting in a conference room at your meeting imagine the differences just because of that. You might be enjoying a cup of coffee or a soda, maybe some of that good ‘ole FREE tap water.

Water is life…

To be in a meeting in the village when it’s 90+ degrees with no water and the discussion is already a ‘heated’ one it’s pretty impressive how they can keep a cool temper when fights start up. (Sorry for all the temperature puns but I couldn’t help myself:)

Why am I going on and on about water and a meeting.. Well because maybe it got you this far in reading my blog lol!

But truly in Uganda you need water, CLEAN water that is. So luckily I was not hosting this meeting this morning but was expected to answer some questions about Healing Eyes and our purpose in the community. We needed to clear up some confusion and I have to say that God really was present this morning because the meeting could have gone bad real fast but as it turns out we had a good conversation and happy results today. We do need continued prayers over the rest of the year to navigate the legal system and the cultural norms, it truly is a different world over there. From water to people it’s just amazing how diverse the world really is once you start experiencing it.

The conference call ended with some pleasant hello’s from friend’s there and invitations to come back soon to the village to continue the struggle with them. It’s endearing to be wanted…even if you get beaten up along the way by bumps. But the bumps bring out the TRUE flavor of our character and we can see what a person is made of, and what they value in life above everything. We value love and compassion for the orphaned and widows through Jesus Christ, but sadly some value money and pride over the interests of others and right now God is showing us the way and the people who have the TRUE heart for the orphaned.

Healing Eyes

Homesick

Today I miss my widows and children in Uganda. I have been back here for 2 months now after leaving suddenly for my health and I am going crazy. One day I want to never go back to Africa and then on days like today I want to be there so badly because when I’m there I feel I have purpose. I think the ‘Enemy’ uses comforts of false security in our abilities to keep a house and a nice car with a profitable job to make us think it’s what we want. Not that it’s bad to want those things because they serve a purpose. Money allows for missionaries to be in the country God calls them to be. Money keep projects going and food in our bellies. But money also leads to lies and stealing even when you go in with good intentions to help other people. I miss living on the edge of safety and not knowing if your safe today or tomorrow or even how you will eat that day. I miss the extreme temperatures and yes even those stupid bumpy roads that seem to go on for miles and miles.

Today I got a different medical opinion on my pain in my back, it now seems to be my neck has a nerve or a disc that’s upset. Perhaps brought on by years of stress on the cartilage and then it shifted somehow and the pain referred itself to my shoulder blade and ribs. 4 more weeks of Physical Therapy to see if that is the cause of the pain. 4 more weeks of waiting….to get better and strong enough to return to Uganda.

Twice a week my guys in Uganda call me to debrief on the week and share stories about the village and how much progress we are making there. Each phone call tells me a bit of what is going on in my absence, it really is awesome to see the work continue through the citizens there. This week I talked about pigs and profit and expenses, forecasting the future, laying out a budget, and trying to communicate to my friend there about how important record keeping is. By the way I know very little about pigs or even pig rearing…perhaps that project is just a way to build relationships for Christ and encourage a family there to learn new things. But we just had 8 new piggies born and that is a good sign.

Meanwhile back in Michigan I am working on crafts to sell at a Craft Sale December 1st, will it make money? I don’t know…I never know….but it’s something.

We need prayer for another person to join our team in Uganda from the States. I posted earlier about a job opening for a married couple or a man to live over there for 3 months or so to oversee the projects in place and also construction. If anyone out there reads this please pass that on and check out the Job Post section on this website. The person (s) would need to fundraise support to serve.

If you want to support our projects with a one-time or monthly donation check out our Support page. We can’t do this without support from you!

Healing Eyes

What we Do through Christ

Does what we do Stick?

At Healing Eyes it might seem like we keep trying different things and then change our minds and do something else but what we are doing is seeing what WILL work in Africa. Often what we think will work may not because we didn’t grow up there. So What will Stick? That’s the fun of this journey….learning along the way what works and what doesn’t. Our core value is to show Compassion to widows and orphans PERIOD! This photo is time spent with kids at the Church of Children with Pastor Matthew, he always asks me to bring a ‘Sweetie’…it’s what he calls my Guitar.

Our Tailoring Program

Giving young ladies and widows a chance for something better in life by learning a trade skill.

When grownups act badly you find creative ways around the issue to keep progress moving. That’s exactly what we did back in June of this year when we started the Tailoring program for Widows. This year the people we trusted have turned against us which now leaves us waiting on God’s discernment for what to do in Uganda. This has become a blessing in disguise because now we are working with district officials to resolve disputes and to provide safety for our work in the village. There are 5 wonderful ladies that come to the Healing Eyes home in town 3 days a week to learn how to sew, it’s an opportunity that God put in front of us last year and came to light this year through this program. 5 machines were donated by a Woman’s Small Group at Ada Bible and they are being put to work for God’s glory by these strong widows and at risk young ladies.

We have a need for more sewing machines and also help maintaining the machines. If you want to help support this program financially we would be blessed, see below for ways to Give.

img_3296-1

Tailoring Donations

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $150 Monthly

Healing Eyes