Monday, November 23, 2009

Soap Making in Uganda

By: Catherine Spears:

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of participating in a humanitarian mission to Uganda with Hope 4 Kids International. This was an incredible experience. Although this is referred to as “vacationing” with a purpose, I must say for me it was “educating” with a purpose. I had heard that there was poverty; many orphans; no clean water; government corruption; and few resources, but the vastness of it all was overwhelming. To manage the emotions meant only letting in a little bit of the reality at a time and diverting the focus to the hope and joy that fills these beautiful people.

When I decided to go on this mission I felt strongly that I needed to take something with me that would be meaningful to their lives. I knew that my life would be changed forever, but I wanted them to receive something as well. So, after having a wonderful visit with Pastor Wilber from True Vine Ministries in Tororo, Uganda – our destination – he suggested I teach the widows to make soap so they would have an industry to generate income. I was thrilled and up for the challenge. And there were challenges; gathering equipment and ingredients was difficult. I took a big black box with everything to assure their success. I also work in pounds and ounces; they work in grams and kilos. I use Fahrenheit; they use Celsius. But we worked through it.

The first session was at True Vine where 53 eager, hopeful, and excited women gathered. Working with an interpreter, we went through the process. Later in the day I assisted them while they made their first batch. I was impressed with the thought that these ladies had given to the project. They had set a goal of 200 bars per week, which they would take out into various market places. I could feel their sense of empowerment.

On we went to Smile Africa where a group of 24 ladies went through the process with me. In the background, hundreds of curious and ragged little Karamajong orphan children played and waited for their meal. Could a little soap making business make a difference in the lives of these forgotten people? Obviously it will take many projects, big and small. The big picture is daunting, but when you see the joy and hope in their faces just knowing that we care enough to come and acknowledge them; to do one project at a time – you know the efforts will be blessed and multiplied. They will be encouraged and strengthened.

So, now I am home and thinking about what I can do next. Now that I have seen, I cannot forget.

Catherine Spears

Sunday, November 22, 2009


If you have ever thought you could change the world--watch and listen to this.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Women Waiting to be Sponsored

Here is a quick look at women who need to be sponsored. Program is explained in the next blog.
Thank you for your consideration.

Hope 4 Women's Sponsorship Program

Ajambo Alumerida –55 years old
Is a widow living with HIV/AIDS. She has five children and seven grandchildren whom she struggles to support by selling fish, charcoal and tomatoes. With your help she can become self-reliant and offer her children and grandchildren a life disconnected from poverty.

Sponsorship Program
For $36 a month you can send a Ugandan woman through our business training course and put her on the path to owning her own business. Your donation is tax-deductible and you will receive information and a photograph of the woman who is benefiting from your monthly gift.

Sponsor a woman in the Smile Africa Program and here is what she receives:

 Garden seeds and a hoe to jump-start her on feeding her family.

 a strengths test to see in which business God has gifted her

 a 40-session mission character class which leads her through the Biblical
principles of business

 a code of ethics contract

 classes in English, reading, writing and math

 classes in money management, saving, banking

 a graduation certificate once she has completed all the classes and has
completed her apprenticeship

 seed money in their bank account to start her on her way to self-sufficiency

 mentoring and monitoring by our Ugandan partner Smile Africa

 induction into the Women's Hall of Dignity when she has successfully completed one year in business

What you will receive
 a photo and profile of your sponsored woman

 quarterly updates on her progress

 assurance of financial, ethical and spiritual accountability

 a prayer doll named after the person you sponsor as a reminder to pray for the woman you support.

Catherine's Neighbors

When we finished walking through Catherine’s garden they led me to their neighbor who received seeds from Smile Africa. She proudly showed us her garden and said, “Not only have I benefited from my own garden but I am a hairdresser. When the women have extra money from selling their vegetables—they pay me to do their hair.” WOW! How’s that for putting prosperity into motion?

This neighbor led us to the home of yet another neighbor who had been a seed recipient. She has a partially built house—she adds bricks as she can afford them and someday hopes to have a complete house. She decided to plant her gardens in the “rooms” of her partially built home.! Theses women are so resourceful and given the chance and tools they can become self-sufficient and I know someday she will complete her house and can say with dignity, “Look what I have done with what God has given to me.”

Thank you for making this possible by your continued support of Hope 4 Women International.

Catherine's Victory Gardens

Catherine is on the far left--her friend Grace on the far right

Some months ago my husband Robert encouraged the women at Smile Africa Ministries to began victory gardens much like those Elenor Roosevelt began during WW II.
We partnered with Smile Africa women and funded a project in which 300 women participated. We were able to visit some of the gardens this trip and hear the stories of success.

Catherine had a bumper crop of egg plants and a local cabbage. She generously gave out of her garden to those who were in great need. She sold a big portion of her crops and purchased more seed and rented a larger plot of ground. She proudly told me: “I was struggling to pay school fees for my grandson and I was able to pay them when I sold my vegetables.”

She brought out a beautiful plastic watering can she purchased with her profits so she can water her gardens when the rains fail to do so.

Standing next to her was her good friend Grace who also had a successful garden. As we strolled through the gardens they burst into joyful laughter that can only be shared between two great friends. Grace turned to me and fluffed up her hair. “We also had enough money to get our hair done!” They then turned toward one another and let loose with more peals of laughter.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Website Dress A Girl Around the World

Check out our new website and help us Dress a Girl around the world!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hope 4 Women Art Show Preview

I hope you enjoy this preview video of our upcoming art show benefiting Hope 4 women International. These are photos of SOME of the art you will be able to purchase on October 24th. We'll be located at the West end of Main Street at the Shops at Norterra. You will find the Shops off of I-17 and Happy Valley Road in North Phoenix. The fun starts at 5PM.

Art 4 a cause. . . Blues 4 relief

The shops at Norterra
2460 W Happy Valley Rd
Phoenix, Arizona 85085
Phone: 623-979-5516

Hope 4 Women International of Hope 4 Kids International is holding an art show at the shops of Norterra. Artists from around the country have donated their work to be sold at this event. There will be raffle items--Ugandan art--and handcrafts created by the women of Uganda.

Blue Daddy band will be playing; information on Hope 4 Women International will be available. You will see photos of the women of Uganda whom we strive to raise from poverty to self sufficiency through skills training, education, business start-up capital, God's love and much more. All donations and purchased art will help empower the voiceless women of Africa.

Coming soon--a list of all the artists, their websites & details of the art! Check back soon!

For more information contact me:

David Van Gorder--Artist

I met David Van Gorder yesterday. He was twenty-two years old when a construction accident paralyzed him leaving him without the use of his arms and legs. A determined young man studied until he received his doctorate in clinical psychology. He taught and established a respected clinical Psychotherapy practice.

In 1998 David began painting and drawing. David uses special tools that adapt to his arm and shoulder movements.

My friend Wendy talks about David all the time and when we decided to hold an art show to raise funds for Hope 4 Women she asked David to donate a piece of his art.

We went to his studio and I found myself in awe of David. Not because he’s in a wheelchair and is an incredible artist. Not because he has overcome many adversities to become a successful psychotherapist and motivational speaker. I saw his heart. I heard his quiet laughter. There was no self-centered arrogance--he was at ease with himself and I immediately felt at home with him.

In fact I was so drawn to him I didn’t realize I was shadowing him until he stopped and asked if I wanted to sit down.
I said, “No thanks. I’m just following you around.”
He pointed and said, “Okay. I’m going over there next.”

A young girl around eight or nine years old bounced into the studio. “Where’s David?” were the first words out of her mouth. When she saw him she ran to him, hugged him and talked animatedly with him. I thought, she sees his heart.

My husband Robert and I were so honored to meet David and when he presented his beautiful impressionistic painting of St Francis of Assisi to Hope 4 Women International I asked, “Why are you donating to Hope 4 Women?”

“Because Wendy told me too!”

I said, “We get a lot of funding that way.”



See more of David's work click on the title of this article--it will take you to his website.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Victory Gardens from Uganda to Iowa

Victory gardens became popular during WWII when the president’s wife encouraged people to grow crops in order to feed their families. They once more became popular in the US as our economy seems to be suffering.
Hope 4 Women decided to try victory gardens in Uganda and provided funds to Smile Africa, one of our Ugandan partners, to purchase seeds and supplies. Pastor Ruth called together 300 women and discussed how to plant and care for the gardens. The women were then given seeds and sent out to plant their crops. An overseer visited the gardens offering advice, spraying, etc as the crops came into being.
Each woman has been instructed that at the harvest she is to bring in 5,000 shillings from her profits and set aside enough money to fund next season’s garden. The 5,000 shillings ($2.50) from each woman will be put into a fund to pay for the person who goes around to the garden spraying for bugs, etc. It will also pay for the spray. With each harvest Smile Africa will be able to front more women with seeds.
We are seeing the harvest coming in and the women are filled with joy as they show off their beautiful crops. One woman sold her vegetables and had enough money left over to pay back the ministry and to rent a larger plot of land for her next crops!
As they prepare for the next season of planting Smile Africa will have a walk-behind motorized plow to aid them in plowing bigger plots.
Hope 4 Women provided funds this season to Outreach to Africa in Western Uganda and are looking forward to seeing how the crops do in that part of the country.
Our goal is to have 1500 gardens in one year. The ultimate goal is for Uganda to feed its children.
My husband Robert promoted the idea of victory gardens in Uganda and was thrilled to see a community garden in Forest City, Iowa. We visited the garden and were told community members are free to come to the garden and take what they need for their families. I’d love to see more of these here at home as well as in Uganda!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A hero--a Ugandan widow

My friend, Wendy Stokes, is extremely involved in our projects at Hope 4 Women. When I am unable to travel to Uganda with our Hope 4 Kids' teams Wendy is right there and organizes our outreaches to the women of Uganda, checks on widows and tries to meet many of the overwhelming needs.
The following is one of her reports:
In May before the first team left for Uganda we learned from Pastor Ruth Kahawa at Smile Africa Ministries of a sick child named Diffasi. Pastor Ruth explained the plight of this young boy from the village whose bladder was malformed and coming through his abdominal wall. Both he and his mother have the smell of urine all the time. His mother is a destitute widow with 4 other children who was desperately looking for help for her young son. Generous donors provided Hope 4 Women with money to seek initial exams for this young child before we reached Uganda.

Diffasi and his Mom were among the first people Pastor Ruth took us to see upon arrival. When we visited we met a true hero. Another widow named Apio supporting and caring for 4 children (two are hers, two are her deceased brother’s children whom she has taken in). Apio lives in a shack with no income but she saw Diffasi’s mother's desperation for her child and took them in to live with her determined to help her find care for this boy. She touched us all deeply. A widow with nothing, offering so much to help another desperate widowed mother. We learned that this isn’t the first time she had done this, Apio has a history of helping widowed moms with sick children. She truly is our hero.

Through team member support we were able to raise money to help with the costly care, surgery and transportation to Kampala for the series of surgeries required to get Diffasi well. Pastor Ruth Kahawa met with representatives from many agencies requesting their help. Heart of God partnered with Hope 4 Kids to close the expensive gap on needed surgery costs and World Vision sent a representative to help Diffasi and his mom through the maze of medical care that lies ahead in the big city of Kampala.

We couldn’t forget about our hero Apio. Through team member support H4WI was able to honor this generous widow who took them in. Apio is being moved to a better home, She has the first bed she’s had in years, new sheets, blanket and mattress. She is stocked up with groceries, and funding and support have been provided to help her start a small business from home. Hope 4 Women donors, Hope 4 Kids team members, Heart of God, World Vision, Pastor Ruth and our hero Apio, God used them all to answer a widow’s prayer. God is good, all the time.

Thank you Wendy for being His hands and feet.

We just accepted Apio Beatrice into our women's sponsorship program. For $36 a month you can support her as she is trained in business management, Godly principals of business, and much more--she will even have a bank account for the first time in her life!

If you would like to sponsor Apio for one year contact me at

Friday, August 21, 2009

Innocent of Uganda

I’d like you to meet Innocent. He was born with Hydrocephalus, a condition that is sometimes known as water on the brain. He has an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the cavities of his brain. He has an abnormally large head, excluding his face because the pressure of the fluid cause his skull bones—which have yet to fuse—to bulge outward at their juncture points.

If left untreated Innocent’s head may continue to enlarge and could lead to convulsions, mental disability and even death.

When Innocent was born and his mother saw his enlarged head she asked, “How can I take care of a baby with such a large head?” A few days later she ran away, leaving her baby with his father.

Innocent’s father has done his best to care for him but he has no money to pay for Innocent’s treatment. There is a hospital in Uganda that treats cases such as this. For a one-time enrollment fee of $500 they will drain the fluid and continue to treat Innocent for the rest of his life.

We have a choice. We can look the other way and let nature take its course or we can dig into our pockets and choose to save the life of this child.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Friend Louaine

My friend Louaine is a talented artist who lives near Forest City, Iowa. She donated two paintings and a painted clay pot to our Hope 4 Women Art Show that will be held in the Phoenix area on October 24th.

Louaine and I have been friends for thirty-six years. We lived in Iowa and were pregnant with our daughters at the same time. We both wanted to name our daughters "Jennifer" and argued over who would use the name. I was due five weeks ahead of Louaine and thought that would give me the edge until Louaine said, "I don't care if you do name her Jennifer--I'm still going to name mine Jennifer." I gave in and named my daughter Lisa Marie. The funny thing was in those days we didn't find out the sex of the baby ahead of time but we were both convinced we were having girls. She had her Jennifer and we were delighted with our baby girls and had a great time dressing them up in frilly dresses. We loved to take them shopping, to Bible studies and out to lunch.

During this season my brother Tom Eggum lived in Lake Mills, Iowa--birthplace to Hope 4 Kids International. A group of local businessmen joined together forming “Forever Triumphant Foundation” and sent Tom out to preach the gospel throughout the country and to smuggle Bibles into Russia.
Thirty-six years later—the name has changed to Hope 4 Kids International and we are based in the Phoenix area—but the message remains the same—to reach out to the suffering with the love of Christ.

Louaine and her husband Loren have faithfully supported the efforts of Hope 4 Kids since conception. Louaine traveled with us to Uganda on two occasions. She is pictured above with just a few of those who fell in love with her. She and Loren sponsor orphans through Hope 4 Kids International and have liberally donated toward a number of our programs.

I'm so grateful for Louaine. Sometimes we can go for a year or so without seeing one another and we pick up as though we had never been apart. I thank God for her and treasure her friendship. I'm so proud of her and her artistic talent and honored that she contributed so generously to our Hope 4 Women Art Show.

For more information on donating or attending this fabulous art show which to date has over 20 artists committed to partnering with us, contact
We have paintings, drawings, enlarged professional photographs, and jewelry, as well as crafts created by the women of Uganda. All proceeds go to Hope 4 Women International which is a division of Hope 4 Kids Internationl.

Hope 4 Women strives to assist women who are sick, needy, rejected and voiceless—with no regard to race or religion. God loves these precious ladies and has a specific plan for their lives. We empower women living in poverty by providing job training to develop the skills needed to support themselves and their family.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hope 4 Women/Hope 4 Kids Internationl in Uganda

On the third Thursday of each month Hope for Women International holds a conference call with those who are involved or want to become involved in the projects of Hope 4 Women. This past Thursday our conference call included a special treat. Wendy Stokes who is an active promoter of Hope 4 Women is in Uganda for a month with team members traveling with Hope 4 Kids International. She and Pastor Ruth of Uganda were able to call in and update all of us on what they are currently doing in Uganda.

Pastor Ruth gave us an update on the 300 Victory Gardens started by Smile Africa. Each woman who was given seeds & training on growing their gardens is now expected to continue growing each season and will bring 1000 shillings to Smile Africa when she harvests her first crop. That money will be used to start up other women in Gardens. Pastor Ruth tells us the gardens are doing beautifully and we look forward to seeing pictures soon.

She also told us the Bethel Medical Clinic is about finished. They need to hang some doors and finish the flush toilets. The clinic will serve the surrounding community as well as the 420 Karamojong children who come to Smile Africa each day. These children who once roamed the streets hoping to find a rotten potato or something else to eat amongst the trash now receive a nutritious meal daily and are taught the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. They are taught about God's love and to sing and worship. When you arrive on the property they are always ready to greet you in song.

Good Shepherd Lutheran church in Torrance, California held a seven-day bike tour to raise money for a water tower/system at Smile Africa. Their goal was to raise $10,000 toward this project--I'm not sure of the total amount raised but I do know they exceeded their goal. Dave Peters of Good Shepherd has been instrumental in this fundraiser is currently on the ground in Uganda and has been going over the specs of what is all needed to insure the water tower/system serves this community in the best & most efficient way.

Wendy shared of her witnessing the well dedications and brought us all to tears when she told about visiting the place where children found drinking water before we dug a well. They would find standing water covered with sludge--scrape the scum aside and drink the water beneath. In one village 19 babies died in a few month’s time because they didn't have access to clean water. We who only drink bottled water cannot even imagine the filth involved in the drinking sludge water. Pastor Ruth chimed in and said the children sat at the new well drinking clean water all day long.

The hope 4 kids team did a woman's outreach to a village that has been hit by the recent famine. Pastor Ruth said storms came through and washed away homes, etc. Then the hot sun came and scorched the crops. The pastor of that village said watching the people suffer and not being able to help was breaking his spirit. Our team came in and brought joy to the women by painting their nails, giving them lipstick and washing their feet and declaring God’s love. Pastor Ruth said these women—many for the first time in their lives--felt so special and cared for. The team also distributed desperately needed food to the women and others in the community. The pastor, overwhelmed by the love lavished upon his village declared Hope 4 Kids as "Hope for the hopeless"

A small boy was brought to Pastor Ruth a few months ago--his bladder was not formed properly and extends through his abdominal wall, causing urine to constantly leak from his abdomen. He has to wear a dress because of the leakage. An extremely poor widow has taken this boy and his mother into her humble home and has tried desperately to find help for this child. When she brought him to Pastor Ruth she could not turn him away and solicited funds where ever she could to insure this child will get the medical help he needs. The hope 4 kids team came forward to help and hope 4 women donated funds to start his mother in business as well as the faithful widow who reached out to them.
Pastor Ruth told us that the boy's mother is a widow and often the brothers of the deceased husband come in and say the woman is their "inheritance." This woman has been repeatedly raped and beaten by her husband's brothers. Pastor Ruth got the police involved and asked us to pray for this woman's safety as they strive to get help for her little boy and empower her to stand on her own. Pastor Ruth reminded us that widows are despised by society and need someone to protect them from such brutalities.

Wendy reported that Hope 4 Women was able to purchase 15 treadle sewing machines! Seven will go to the graduates of Smile Africa tailoring program. Once a widow or orphan successfully completes the program she is given her own sewing machine to start her own business. The other eight machines will be distributed to surrounding villages where women will gather and learn to sew. Pastor Ruth said she is sending two of the graduates to teach women in the village where the pastor was so discouraged.

We also discussed the upcoming art show we are holding in the Phoenix area in October. So far we have six artists who have committed to donating their work for this fundraiser for hope 4 women. Pastor Ruth and Wendy will be choosing art created by the women of Uganda as well as a couple of Ugandan artists and Wendy will bring those back to the States for our art show.

Wendy also has been teaching our partners and leaders in Uganda a course called "Mission Character". The response has been tremendous. This course consists of 40 Biblical Principles of: self-government, productivity, management and leadership. You can find all the information for this incredible program at

Thank you for your support of Hope 4 Kids/Hope 4 Women. Please keep these dear people in your prayers and continue to seek ways to be involved. It takes all of us working together to make a difference in this world. Hold Pastor Ruth and Wendy up in prayer as they continue to tirelessly work through the remainder of July to make a difference in the lives of women and their children.

Our next call will be August 19th so please mark your calendars and tell your friends! We will be giving you updates on what we are doing in Uganda as well in here in the United States.

If you would like to be included in this call contact

Consider booking Rachel Eggum Cinader for your next conference, retreat, club meeting, worship service, women's ministry event, etc. Her mixture of humor and compassion makes for a delightful session as she encourages you to seek God's direction and purpose in their lives. Email Rachel:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Use Your Artistic Talent for a Good Cause

In October 2009, Hope 4 Women International will be holding an art show in the Phoenix area. We have several talented artists lined up who are donating their work with all proceeds going Hope 4 Women International. We will also feature art created by the women of Uganda - baskets, necklaces, etc. There will be award quality photos ready to hang in you home or office. We would like to invite YOU to showcase your art at this event!

Let me tell you a little about the great cause you will be assisting. Hope 4 Women International is a division of Hope 4 Kids International—an organization that has been delivering hope to kids around the world for 35 years.

Hope 4 Women helps women who are sick, needy, rejected and voiceless—with no regard to race or religion. God loves these precious ladies and has a specific plan for their lives. We empower women living in poverty by providing job training to develop the skills needed to support themselves and their family.

The funds raised at this event will be used to help provide job training and tools (such as sewing machines, seeds for crops, and plows) these ladies need to start working so they can support their families.

You can read about the activities of Hope 4 Women International at Rachel’s blog or at Our Hope 4 Women International website is to be launched very soon at

All artists will be given publicity through our websites, Facebook, blogs and news releases. You will also be encouraged to attend the event to meet the attendees face-to-face. However we realize it will not be possible for all artists to attend and will be happy to place your business cards/flyers next to your work.

Participants will be updated on the progress of the art show and will receive a form to fill out with all of your information –including your website address or blog. A tax receipt will also be issued, as your donation is tax deductible.

To find out more about this event, or to donate your paintings, drawings, or other artistic creations to this cause, please contact Rachel at

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Friend Betsy

This is the first in a series about my fabulous friends.

God has blessed me with many great friends. I have friends who support my dreams and projects. Friends who love to get together and brainstorm. Friends who let me be who I am and love me anyway. People I don’t even know have come alongside of me and supported projects in Uganda—they have collected pillowcases, purses, hygiene kits, lipstick, nail polish, money, etc—whenever I present a new project or an idea to empower the women of Uganda wonderful friends, family members and compassionate people pitch in to make a difference. I’m always amazed by it.

My friend Betsy is one of those beautiful people. She drew two prints of widows of Uganda and is working on a third. She donates these limited number prints to Hope 4 Women (500 of each print). We sell them for a suggested donation of $20 each and the total amount goes to our women of Uganda projects.

She spent the last weeks working on this drawing-- Anna and Her Sisters. She is not quite finished but I couldn’t wait to show it to you. Why is she doing this? Because I was having a little trouble focusing on writing my novel. She came over and asked, “What does Anna look like?”

I said, “Well. In my mind she is a combination of three women.”

“Show me.”

I printed off three photos I’d taken of women in Uganda and she drew Anna—(pronounced “Ahhnah”) Isn’t she beautiful?

Now I sit with Anna next to me and write with no hesitation because I now know who Anna is.
I think about Betsy and her labors of love and thank God for placing her in my life. I’m amazed that someone would want me to tell my story so badly that she willingly spent days drawing-- just to inspire me.

She not only inspired me to write but gave me a dream to hold an art show about women to empower women through Hope 4 Women International.

She also inspired my husband who is an artist but has been dormant for a long time. He got out his pencils, sketch pads, etc and is back to drawing!

Looking back over our years of friendship I realize Betsy has always been my champion. She encouraged me to write when I didn’t feel like it. Because of her gentle prodding (sometimes not so gentle) and constant support I was able to come alongside my brother Tom and co-author our book, God, Why Don’t You Hear Their Prayer?

Betsy has something we all want in a friend. She believes in me. She makes me want to be a better friend to you.

My prayer is you have at least one Betsy in your life and that you will be a Betsy to someone.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Walker for Martha

Martha, a widow who cannot walk on her own pushes a flimsy, plastic chair from her one room apartment to the community latrine. Making it to the latrine is slow work as she pushes the chair out in front of her and takes two steps, stops, breathes heavily and starts again. She struggles across the broken and often cluttered walkway. The chair leg catches in a large crack; the chair bends and Martha stumbles with a look of fear crossing her face. She manages to regain her balance and pauses briefly before she labors on. When she finally returns to her room she drops to her bed, her arms hang limply and her body sags in relief.

Her days are spent cooped up in her little room behind Smile Africa Minstries where she makes necklaces from paper beads; reads her Bible and prays for those who are suffering. She has a doll named Miracle who keeps her company and her daughter, Pastor Ruth, and her friends drop in throughout the day to chat and bring her food.

On a recent trip to Uganda I carried a walker donated by my friend Mae. When Martha was presented with her walker she raised her hands toward heaven then covered her face with her hands and wept. Her granddaughter and friends shouted and danced around her rejoicing as her tears gave way to a smile that lit up her entire face.

Martha now stands with dignity when she arrives at the door of Smile Africa ministries gripping her walker and beaming at her Ugandan sisters who joyfully welcome her. Her friend Rukia rushes up and embraces her. Martha says, “Rukia, now I can walk across the street to your home. I can see where you live.”

Each afternoon when the women gather at Smile Africa to work on their crafts Martha sits among them, no longer relegated to creating her necklaces alone in her room.

Consider booking Rachel Eggum Cinader for your next conference, retreat, club meeting, worship service, women's ministry event, etc. Her mixture of humor and compassion makes for a delightful session as she encourages women to seek God's direction and purpose in their lives. Email Rachel:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Victory Gardens In Uganda!

Hope 4 Women International’s goals are to bring dignity, joy, health, and God’s love to the women of Uganda. In a society where women are so devalued we want them to know that God cherishes them. One method of providing dignity is by teaching them to be self-sufficient and by growing proper food so they and their children can eat and be healthy.

Robert has talked to several of our Ugandan friends about starting victory gardens and has provided them with seeds. The result has been some beautiful gardens but the process has been slow and we wanted to reach more people.

Recently Michelle Obama made victory gardens popular. Robert googled and found many websites featuring victory gardens so he asked me to send Pastor Ruth some of the links.

Pastor Ruth reacted enthusiastically when she saw the websites and called together 200 women to tell them about the victory gardens. Since the Ugandans consider our president their brother, they also deem Michelle as their sister-in-law. Pastor Ruth told the women, “Michelle Obama, our sister-in-law has started planting Victory Gardens and I think we can also take up this activity seriously and help our families eat well.” They all clapped wildly and shouted in agreement.

Hope 4 Women International provided the funds for this project. Smile Africa Ministries taught them to start the seeds by making hotbeds—which are leaves covering the newly planted seeds to protect them from being destroyed. Once the plants grow and are healthy they are transplanted to the gardens. Andrew, an employee of Smile Africa is assigned to checking on the gardens and will spray for bugs as needed.

Our hope is to increase these gardens to many more women throughout Uganda who are in need of food for their families.

We would like to purchase walk behind, motor-driven plows to speed the planting along. The plows cost around $2000.

Would you like to be a part of this project? We need funds to purchase more seeds—currently we are sending money for Smile Africa to purchase the seeds there because it is the planting season and we want them to get started right away. We are looking to purchase at least two plows.

Want to know more? Would you like to book me as a speaker for your next event? Contact me at

Hope 4 Women International is a division of Hope for Kids international

Here are a few delighted recipients of seeds for their victory gardens.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tea Parties in Uganda

Several years ago Hope 4 Women International began holding tea parties in Uganda. These vary from a few women in the bush to as many as 175 women beneath a large tent. The object is to bring dignity, joy, health and God's love as Hope 4 Kids International has strived to do for the past 35 years.
We gather the women and set a basin of soapy water before them. As they soak their feet they sip tea and munch on tea cakes. A Ugandan leader presents the gospel using an evangecube (from the Jesus film people). Team members then go around to each lady and paint her fingernails and ask, "how can I pray for you?" We give the ladies colorful headscarves, lip stick--flip flops or clothing if we have them. Many ladies in the bush have never seen themselves in a mirror so we carry a mirror and when they see themselves for the first time they are shocked--but their shock turns to smiles and they will pose and make faces in the mirror. Team members kneel before them and dry their feet; rub lotion on their feet and calves; place their feet in plastic bags and bring out battery-operated foot massagers. The women are overwhelmed that someone would kneel before them and perform such loving acts and the massagers are a joyful hit! After we empty the basins of water we fill them with bags of rice, garden seeds, and other practical items. We give them the opportunity to receive Christ but assure them: "We are not here to buy you. You will keep the items whether you recieve Christ or not. We are just here to show you a small portion of God's love for you."
These tea parties have been the object of some criticism and have been called frivolous. My friend Jodi was a critic but changed her mind. Here is an article she wrote about the tea parties.

"I have shared with some that my first reaction to the tea parties held for widows in Uganda--well--I just didn't get it. I thought. . . these ladies need food, medicine, beds,etc. Seriously--lipstick, nail polish? How are these things important in their lives? Well, I have changed my mind based on the witness of the people involved and have seen the hope & dignity this time with the widows brings.
Yesterday I was reading a book, Sex God--Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality & Spirituality. Hey. I bought it at church. . .
There was a story about a concentration camp in Germany where a British soldier described the disgusting, tragic conditions that they encountered while liberating a camp called Bergen-Belsen. The horrors he saw designed to strip people of their humanity was unbelievable. He said: "It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we wanted , we were screaming for hundreds & thousands of other things and I don't know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it. It was an action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for those internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets & no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the postmortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick. At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. at last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.
Because sometimes, the difference between heaven & hell, may be a bit of lipstick." Wow! So, when you see pictures of us loving on these women & putting otherwise frivolous cosmetics on them, just remember that we are a part of this--We will be meeting their needs of food, shelter, etc. but, first & foremost, we will be reminding them that they are human beings! They are not objects or numbers in the vast expanse of widows in Uganda that appear to be forgotten by the world. They are beautiful children of God. Created by Him in His image!
'For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10)' "

To see more you can browse my blog. Off to the left are links such as the recipe book, youtube videos showing the women at tea! Click on "Rachel's videos" to see them. Enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Little cookbook for Hope 4 Women International

I'm so pleased to announce our little cookbook honoring the women of Uganda is now available! It's so cute and filled with stories from Uganda, recipes from women who have worked with the women of Uganda as well as their highlights. It's a fun little book and best of all the proceeds go to our projects with the women of Uganda. Just click on the book on the left side of my blog. It will take you to a preview. From there you can order a soft cover, or hardcover with images imprinted or a hardcover with a jacket.
Thanks for helping the women of Uganda and enjoy the little book!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pillow Case Clothing

Today was a fabulous day at Smile Africa. My sister, Joan and I arrived with a loaded suitcase of pillowcases and supplies donated by the women of Grace and Community Church of Joy. I showed the women in the Smile Africa tailoring class how to make a dress out of a pillowcase. They gathered around and watched my every move as I sewed on a treadle sewing machine. I remembered teaching myself to sew on a treadle when I was eight or nine years old. Little did I know I would use those skills all these years later.

Joan dumped a bunch of pillowcases onto the table and we told each lady to choose one and they could do whatever they chose to do with it—make a dress for their daughter. . . or create something else. It was fascinating to see them create with no pattern. Some chose to make the pillowcase dress while others decided to make skirts for themselves. Another designed a little skirt and top for her daughter. There was much laughter and fun as we all worked together and delighted in one another’s creations.

The rest of the pillowcases will be made into dresses for the Karamojong girls to wear Easter Sunday.

My friends Mae and Audrey sent cloth place mats and a sample handbag to make. So we included that project too.

The women showed me some of the crafts they have been working on. I bought 10 pair of slippers and three patchwork (with African fabric) bags to take home. Joan and I left our floppy hats for them to copy and we are hoping next time we come to Uganda they will have made floppy hats with African fabric.

Thank you so much to all who contributed. What joy you have given! I can’t wait for Pastor Ruth to send me the Easter pictures!

We are continuing to collect pillowcases, elastic and double fold bias tape. Some of you are actually making dresses for us to take. God bless you!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Several years ago I dropped in on my favorite baby care facility in Jinga and met Jeremiah. He had been fished out of the bottom of a 90 foot latrine. Sad to say this sometimes happens when a young mother has a baby and no means of raising it so she will toss the baby into the latrine. Unfortunately Jeremiah ingested waste into his lungs and body before being rescued and has multiple problems. He is now six years old and is learning to walk.

He’s a precious little boy and I know there is a loving home waiting to adopt him so please keep him in your prayers.

Sunday in Uganda

Kingdom Preparation Center is a wonderful small village church pastured by our dear friend, Pastor Peter. It opened in January of 2008 –meeting beneath a mango tree. They hung a piece of an old tent to block the view of the street so people wouldn’t be distracted by those passing by. They had four chairs and the rest of the people sat on the ground. After some months they asked the railroad people for permission to construct a small building as they were meeting on land owned by the railroad. After paying $50 to the railroad they were given permission. They constructed a church with thick tree limbs and poles. Then nailed rusty tin panels taken from a torn down building to them forming walls. There were poles down the center aisle of the church supporting a new tin roof.

We sat near the front of the church with our plastic chairs planted firmly on the cow-dung-mixed-with-dirt flooring. The room was warm and crowded and we were grateful for the gaps in the walls that allowed the breeze to sweep over us. There were beautiful freshly picked flowers tucked here and there into the tin panels.

Everyone rejoiced with the assistant pastor who was presented with a bicycle so he no longer has to walk the long distance to church.

People stood to tell of God’s faithfulness. One woman told how she had come out of a family heavily involved in witchcraft. They say she has gone mad because she became a Christian.

When the offering was collected they presented two baskets. One for the church and the other for the “needy”.

When it was time for Pastor Peter to speak the whole church applauded. He stood and said, “If you have decided to clap your hands to the Lord you can continue to clap.” Pastor Peter challenged us by saying God wants us to do something now. He said: “Many people are still waiting on the Lord since they were born! They are nothing doers!”

After the service we assembled in the village of Juba. They had two shallow wells that would dry up during the dry season. When the rains came and the wells filled up the water would be contaminated with worms. The water would need to be boiled but since firewood is expensive people didn’t bother. The only source of water would be a tap where the inhabitants would have to pay and many could not afford it. Scott Forman of Anthem, AZ, president of Water for Our World, was touched by what Pastor Peter has been doing in Juba and when he witnessed the conditions of the people there he signed up 30 runners for the PF Chang Marathon. With the money raised Water for Our World teamed up with Hope 4 Kids International and paid for a deep new well allowing the village access to clean, free water!

There were many local politicians attending the dedication, including the mayor of the Tororo district. Each one gave a speech. One said, “You can not claim to see God when you ignore your neighbor who is sleeping on the ground.”

We then dedicated the Vision Nursery School in Juba that was begun by Pastor Peter. Juba is a poverty stricken area with great needs. It’s kind of a remote area where people were not aware of the value of education and didn’t send their children to school. Pastor Peter and his friends went house to house speaking with parents on the importance of early childhood education. They then called a village meeting where they expressed their views more fully. A few children came and the school began. By the end of the first term there were 36 children attending. Parents weren’t able to pay the fees but he children were allowed to come anyway. Kent and Laura Dirks of Minnesota were touched by what Pastor Peter was trying to do and came alongside him and along with their church Lord of Life Lutheran; Peter was able to build his school. Another team member, Gwen, helped out with the teacher’s wages. More children came. Kendra, the Peace Corp worker gave the community a seminar on health and hygiene and HIV/AIDS awareness. The attendance is almost 100 children today.

The children are fed lunch at school. Those who can’t afford to pay for lunch are asked to bring maize. That seems to work out for them. The children all wear uniforms and find great joy in attending.

We went back to our hotel rejoicing about what God is doing.

Smile Africa and the Karamojong

This figurine was purchased for me by my brother Tom. He found it at a shop located on the Nile river. Why did he buy it? It's called "the Suffering Karamojong".

Nineteen months ago Pastor Ruth introduced me to the Karamojong people. She said the are among the despised population and are considered to be filthy thieves—viewed much like the gypsies of Europe. They appeared to be a people without hope. If you scroll
through my blog you will read the full story of little Maria in her search for food in the
middle of the trash heaps and how she discovered a piece of meat in the mouth of a dead rat and died within hours of eating it. We knew we had to step in because no child should die for a piece of meat. We partnered with Pastor Ruth and began feeding the Karamojong one meal a day. Recently Feed my Starving Children partnered with us and donated enough food to feed 600 children for one year.

What a joy for us to step onto the Smile Africa property and take part in feeding the 420 children who come daily. Their skin has improved as well as their mood. They are finding the love of Christ at Smile Africa through the teachers and cooks. They arrive early in the morning—children as young as three years old walk alone from their homes to be fed breakfast and to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. They sing and hear about Jesus and how He values each one. Now instead of being despised—other children in the community wish they were Karamojong.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Our Photo Safari

Queen Elizabeth Park boasts thousands of acres where elephants, lions, waterbuck, water buffalo, wart hogs, hyenas and other creatures roam. Innumerable species of birds flit from tree to tree and glide above the earth. We drove through the park and caught such sights as a family of wart hogs running with an apparent purpose in mind. There was a big one in front, three babies in the middle and another large wart hog bringing up the rear. We’d round a bend and once again spot the family running as quickly as their little legs would carry them. They were so adorable!
Later when we stopped for lunch Joan and I bravely sneaked up on a warthog snoozing and had our picture taken.

We took a leisurely boat ride along the channel among the crocs and hippos. We were thrilled to see a lion sleeping beneath a tree along shore. Our captain managed to get near enough for us to photograph him. It was difficult to see him through the shadows of the branches so you can imagine our delight when he stretched and sauntered away allowing us to take great shots.

A small band of elephants were frolicking in the water and as we neared the eldest trumpeted and slapped the water with his trunk driving the group up the bank and to safety.

This was Pastor Ruth’s first boat ride and although she was reluctant to go she soon relaxed and enjoyed the ride. She would jump slightly when an alligator slithered out of the water or the hippos snorted and came to the surface a little to close for her comfort.

We all were pleased with our enchanting day in the park and as we returned to our guesthouses wondered if Elizabeth had an equally enjoyable day photographing and registering 100+ children for the sponsorship program;)

Landing in Uganda

We landed in Entebbe Uganda late in the evening and stepped into the refreshing cool air. We had arrived! It was so good to be in the land many of us have grown to love. For Jonathan, Doug, Joan and John it was a first step toward a new and glorious adventure.

Pastor Ruth, Andrew—our tech guy, and our driver Bobby, met us. After an exciting exchange we loaded the bus and headed to our hotel and a bed! Oh how good it felt to lie down flat after hours of flying!

We were up early the next day and drove to Fort Portal. What stunning countryside! We ooohed and awed most of the way. There are mountains and valleys and everything is so richly green. Joan and John are from Colorado and agreed it was similar to a Rocky Mountain high. Each time we rounded a curve the view was amazing!

We pulled up to Evelyn’s house of Outreach to Africa just in time for lunch. She showed us her school and shared her vision for the future of the school with us. We met students and teachers and were amazed with the quality and how cheerfully decorated everything looked.

Outreach to Africa is a fairly new partner for Hope 4 Kids International. We will be sponsoring children within their school. Evelyn does so much to reach out to the community around Fort Portal. She constantly holds crusades, conferences and humanitarian efforts to those rejected by society. She crosses the river to the Congo and reaches out to the Pygmy community. Evelyn writes of their efforts: “So far we were able to give them clothes, hoes, axes, seed, soap and salt. These are basic needs, which are like an unreachable dream for them. We have hired 2 teachers and 1 pastor. They have adult literacy classes as well as educating the children. They are using a temporary building made of mud, sticks and grass for a church/school. The Gospel is being preached and several have given their lives to the Lord.”

There is a chance the November team will have the opportunity to meet these special people. Watch for more details.

From there our little group met up with the bishop and his son James. We toured land purchased for Sunshine House by friends of Hope 4 Kids International. Like the rest of the country it is breathtakingly lush. We stood at the site where we will be drilling a well. This well will be located near a school and will serve the whole community.

We saw where James and his family live and met his son Sam, named after our Arizona Senator, Sam Crump. Arriving at last at Sunshine House where we support 52 orphans. They delighted us with songs and the girls laid out their handcrafts offering us the opportunity to purchase necklaces, purses and hats. Each girl pointed out what was made by her and we made certain we bought something from everyone.

Our weary cluster was dropped off at two different guesthouses and Elizabeth had the privilege of staying at Evelyn’s.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm in Uganda

I’m in Uganda. It was kind of a last minute opportunity and I kept as quiet as I could about it because I wanted to surprise Pastor Ruth with my visit. It worked. She thought she was meeting my brother at the airport and was totally shocked when she saw I was with him.

This is my twelfth trip to Uganda in a little over five years. This is the first trip without Robert. I hated to say goodbye to him but he was unable to accompany me this time. We will skype and keep in touch as best we can.

It’s a challenge without Robert. He does everything for me—brings me coffee in the morning, packs my lunch. . . we keep bottled water in our room refrigerators and I noticed I was down to one bottle and it confused me as to how that happened. It occurred to me that the refrigerator isn’t restocked automatically! Robert usually does it!! So now I have learned to get my own coffee and stock my own frig!

I’m here with my brother Tom—founding president of Hope 4 Kids International, our sister Joan and her husband John, Elizabeth—Hope 4 Kids International director of sponsorship program; and two friends-Jonathan and Doug. Our group of seven endured the LONG trip and are anxious to play out our roles.

You will find my personal experiences here on my blog but if you click on my book in left side of my blog it will take you to the homepage of the Hope 4 Kids website. On the homepage if you look toward the left bottom half of the page you will see a link for trip blog and trip photos—that’s where I will be posting most of our photos. I will also be sharing information/ updates on the other team members on the h4ki trip blog.

The internet is challenging so after being here almost a week I'm finally able to post a few things.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pillow Case Dressses for the Children of Uganda

I just made this dress from a pillow case. Isn't it great? I will be taking pillow cases to Uganda and will teach the women in the tailoring programs to make them for the many little girls who desperately need clothing. If you would like to be a part of this program and can send pillow cases, bias tape, and/or elastic please let me know.
Also if anyone has ideas/patterns for making something for boys out of these pillowcases please leave a comment and I will get back to you.
Thank you for helping clothe the children of Uganda.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pastor Ruth meets the President of Uganda

Representatives throughout Uganda gathered to hear the president speak on the memorandum of understanding with the government. Pastor Ruth was asked to give the opening prayer.

After the speech the representatives from each town were to gather and pose for a photo with the president. For some reason Pastor Ruth was delayed and when she arrived outdoors to the photo shoot was told, “The representatives from Tororo have already taken their photos. You missed it.”

Pastor Ruth is not one to take things meekly and began to argue with the people in charge. The president was standing beneath a tree within earshot and asked his aide, “Is that the woman who gave the opening prayer?”


The president looked to Pastor Ruth. “You haven’t taken a photo?”


“You come,” he signaled to her.

As Pastor Ruth stepped forward everyone stood aside for the president had given her the invitation to approach him.

“You have this rare opportunity to have a photo with me. Just the two of us.”

Pastor Ruth stepped forward and shook his hand and the photographers snapped two pictures. What a thrill for her that day.

Divine Intervention of Prostitutes Program

Pascalina has started school! If you remember she was forced to drop out in fourth grade in order to help support her family. She wanted desperately to return to school and didn’t mind that she is 26 and will be in class with fourth graders. The school tested her and placed her in the sixth grade. She catches on quickly and is eager to learn.Doesn't she look great in her new uniform and school shoes??

Fiona is doing well as she waits for us to open the hair salon so she can begin her training. She agreed to change her phone number in order to cut herself off from the past company/customers. She works around the house and visits Pastor Ruth’s tailoring classes.

Gladys is excelling in her tailoring lessons. She’s a single mother and is always on time for class and is so excited to be a part of the program. I’ve not met her as she is replacing Annette whose boyfriend was her pimp and wouldn’t release her to attend our program.

Jessica was a prostitute until she met the Lord. When she heard about our program she offered to mentor the girls. She does the purchasing of food and supplies each month and has been very prompt in sending reports of the expenditures.

The girls are attending church and learning that God loves them and is on their side.

If you have not read about this exciting program scroll down to “Seven Prostitutes. . . “

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Karamojong Children of Tororo Uganda

Pastor Ruth of Smile Africa in Uganda introduced me to the Karamojong tribe in July of 2007. She told me they are a despised group of people and are considered to be dirty and have a reputation of stealing--much like the gypsies in Europe. The cycle continues because of their reputation no one wants to hire them or be near them so they have to steal to survive. . . well you get the picture. Maria was ten years old and among the Karamojong children who dug through the garbage heaps each morning. One morning she found a piece of meat attached to a dead rat. She scraped the rat away and as she was ready to eat the meat other children spotted her and chased her begging her to share it with them. She shoved the whole piece into her mouth as she ran and within hours she died a violent death. We knew we had to step in because no child should have to die for a piece of meat. For sixteen months we at Hope 4 Kids International have sponsored the feeding of these Karamojong kids at Smile Africa twice a day. They are fed, bathed, clothes are washed; they have lessons in reading, writing, arithmetic, Bible and manners. They are treated medically in a partially built clinic. We have been blessed to receive a shipment of nutritous meals from Feed My Starving Children which will provide the children with daily meals for 15 months!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

God, Why Don't You Hear Their Prayer?

Book Overview
When Tom Eggum arrived in a village in Uganda he met beautiful children who were dying of treatable diseases like dysentery, measles and malaria. Still in the midst of their suffering, they believed in a God who could make it all right.
Alone in his hotel room he cried out, “God! Why don’t you hear their prayer?”
It took Tom time to realize God had heard their prayer and He expected Tom to become part of the answer.
Tom and Rachel—a brother and sister team relate compelling stories ranging from working with their parents in a migrant camp to being deported from Cuba and finding their purposes in the middle of Uganda. You will be challenged to find God’s purpose in your life whether it is at your job, in your neighborhood or across the ocean.

This book is not just about answering the question "God, why don’t you hear their prayer."

This book is about hope.
The authors relate topics that are close to their hearts and to which I know many of you can relate. It’s about facing life’s storms. Tom shares how excited he was to finally realize the true purpose for which he was born and shortly thereafter was slammed with prostate cancer.
It’s about God’s mercy when the author's family converged upon Rachel's home in Iowa to say goodbye to their mother as she lay dying.
Tom also talks candidly about his divorce—how it almost ruined him and how Christians turned against him and would not allow him to speak in their churches. You will again see God’s mercy as He led Tom down new paths to a higher purpose.

This book is about adventure. You will read about Tom's arrest in the Soviet Union and about Tom, Rachel and their team being deported from Cuba for religious activity.
This book is about courage as they recount tales of persecution of Christians and their willingness to follow Christ no matter what the cost.
It’s about making a difference whether it is reaching out to a loved one going through tough times or stretching across the ocean to answer the cry of an orphan.
No matter where you are in your life’s journey—whether you are just starting out or are in your golden years this book will speak to you.

Book Endorsement:
“I highly recommend this book. It opens our eyes to the plight of the Ugandan people as well as others around the world who are being taught new skills and are given hope and dignity through medicine, laughter and God’s love. It gives us a new appreciation for how blessed we are as a people and a nation. If you’ve ever wanted to make a difference you must read this book!”
Dr. Walt Kallestad, senior pastor of Community church of Joy in Glendale, AZ.

To Order log on to

Friday, January 9, 2009

Seven Prostitutes Ask for Help to a New Life

Fiona sat quietly on the floor of the dress shop and regarded me somberly with her massive, dark and mournful eyes. She smiled shyly when I introduced myself but her smile did not reach her unforgettable eyes.
We waited in silence for other prostitutes to show up for our meeting. I wondered hold old Fiona was. She looked young in her form fitting denim capris and her western style hat. She was striking and I felt drawn to this wounded fawn and wanted to tell her that her life could be filled with joy and laughter. That she was a beautiful child loved completely by God just as she was. That he could take away her pain—her troubled past and could give her a future filled with hope and dignity.
She sat on a mat just behind the store’s display case. Reaching inside she pulled out a pair of black and white striped slip on shoes. Trying them on she stuck her feet out to admire them. Another young woman entered and joined Fiona in examining shoes within the case.
I began to doubt my mission. Could I promise these girls a more affluent lifestyle? Would the businesses I could set them up in provide a rival income to what they could earn in prostitution? I would be meeting six or seven girls who claimed they wanted to come out of prostitution to a new life. What was I thinking? Where would I get the funds needed for such an undertaking? I was way over my head this time. Too late to back out as the girls gathered and looked to me expectantly.
The words of my brother Tom, founder of Hope 4 Kids International chimed inside my head. “If it’s bigger than you—it must be God!”
Well, God. I have a feeling this is way bigger than me—so you had better take over! And quickly!
I glanced at Pastor Joseph who sat mutely. Does he think this is an impossible task? Does he just believe God will provide? Oh God. Help! Pastor Joseph, along with Pastor Ruth was going to spearhead this endeavor. I would provide the funding. They would provide the instruction and run the rehabilitation program.
We walked to the garden of a nearby hotel and gathered around the table with five young women and my friend Frida. We ordered sodas and Pastor Joseph said he would leave Frida and me to interview the girls privately and to call him when we were ready to wrap up.
We sipped our sodas and made small talk
Pascalina was seated to my left. Her eyes lit up when she spoke in flawless English. Although the other girls knew English they looked to her to help them express themselves.
Twenty-six-years old—Pascalina stated without pity: “We are a poor people. My dad is sick and my mom sells tomatoes and small things like that in the market. I am their only daughter and I love my family so much. I have to support them. I have two younger brothers and I also pay their school fees. I dropped out of school in fourth grade to began cooking and selling treats at the very school where I had studied.”

Pascalina was hired as a house girl and took her wages home to her family. Someone helped her find a job at a bar where she worked hard and saved enough money to rent a big house for her parents. “It had two rooms!”
Pascalina had a boyfriend who promised to marry her. She thought he would take care of her always but when her father entered the hospital and needed Pascalina to care for him her boyfriend married another girl. “I was so hurt by that boy. I started to go to bars and allowed men to buy me drinks which led to prostitution. I have been a prostitute for six years.”
“Are your parents aware that you are a prostitute?”
“No. They would be so angry. They love me so much because I am their only daughter. That’s why I don’t want to tell them.”
“What are your dreams?”
“My dreams?” Pascalina paused, took a deep breath and began: “My dreams. I would like so much to study. All I want in my life—if I could get support I could start a business. I’m now too old. I can’t go back to school.”
“You are not too old. You can go to school,” Frida interjected.
Pascalina sat up straight and spoke earnestly: “I’d like to be someone else. If I can go back to school and study so that I can be something else—I want to be like other people—like other friends. . . I have so many friends who go to school and they study. I admire them so much but I didn’t make it. So. If God can help me and I also can go for studies I will be so happy!”
Frida said she should go to school and not be ashamed to be in fourth grade. “There are other big kids. You wouldn’t be the only one.”
Another spoke up. “I heard of a lady who is seventy years old and she is in the sixth grade. It’s possible for you to go to school!”
“Yes,” Frida agreed. “You have to forget about the years.”
Pascalina’s turned hope-filled eyes to mine. “Is it possible?”
I nodded. “It’s possible. I’m sure the kids would love you. They will admire you and say: ‘look at her. She wants to learn.’”
“Now. Since I am the one looking after my family—by the time I will be at school—they will have no one to look after them. Those two brothers have to have school fees.”
“If your mom was helped to start a business is she healthy enough to support the family?”
“Yes. She could do some small business at home—selling vegetables and things like that.”
“Let me talk to Pastor Joseph and see what we can do.”

Fiona sat directly across the table from me. “Fiona. Tell me your story.”
She is eighteen years old and came from Rwanda where she lost her parents in the genocide. She said, “A good woman took me in and cared for me—sent me to school and treated me as a daughter. But then the woman died and I remained in the home with her husband. I was fourteen when he raped me.” Betrayed and bewildered by this sudden violent behavior in the house she considered home Fiona escaped to the streets but not before the man had brutally raped her three times.
She met other girls living on the streets and they decided to go to Kampala, Uganda to find a better life. Fiona found work in a bar and customers started paying her for sex. She met a boy and thought her suffering would be over when they moved in together. He soon tired of her and ran away with another girl—leaving her once again abandoned and disappointed. She returned to prostitution and moved to Mlaba which is on the border between Kenya and Uganda. There is a lot of action there because of the truckers crossing the border.
“If you didn’t have to sell yourself to men what would your dream occupation be?”
“I would like to be a business woman. I would like to have a saloon. I want to leave prostitution. I want to learn English and be a business woman. That’s all I want.”
Later when Pastor Joseph returned and we were wrapping up our discussion I informed him: “Fiona would like to have a saloon. Do we support that?”
Puzzled I wondered how owning a saloon would deliver her from prostitution. After further discussion it dawned on me. They were talking about a hair salon!
The three other young women poured out their stories and dreams—you’ll have to wait till my book comes out to hear all the stories. We talked about protection and the use of condoms which they said they insist their customers use. I’ve heard many stories from women telling they beg their HIV positive husbands to use condoms and they refuse. I asked the girls if any of their customers refused to wear condoms.
“Yes,” came the answer. “Then we just march out of there.”
“Do they get angry?”
“Yes. Of course. They slap us and beat us because they are not getting what they expected but we don’t want to get AIDS.”
Pastor Joseph gave them his phone number and told them he would have answers for them by Monday. I gave them clothing, Bibles and other small gifts and told them. “I want you to know that God loves you just as you are. He understands your suffering and why you turned to prostitution. You are special to Him and He cares about your hurts and your dreams. He wants the best for you and with His help we will find a way.”

Back in Pastor Ruth’s office I met two other girls who were longing to leave the life of prostitution. One was deaf and had high hopes of marrying her boyfriend. They communicated by writing notes to one another. One day she discovered he had another girlfriend and cried asking why. He wrote on a piece of paper. “Why would I marry a deaf person?” Hopes dashed and defeated Evelyn decided she could only be loved by men willing to pay for her time and they would return home to their hearing wives.

Pastor Ruth, Pastor Joseph and I decided to meet the next morning to put our heads together and figure out how we could help these girls. I hardly slept that night. How were we going to provide a way out? I kept seeing their faces—hearing their words—“I just want to be like other people. . .I want out of this prostitution.. . I don’t want AIDS. . . I want to study. . . I want a saloon. . .” We’d have to change their environment. The temptation to return would be great. They may not all make it. But what if Fiona’s eyes would start to smile and she could eventually own her own salon. What if Pascalina got the education she desires? What if Evelyn discovered she was loveable just as she was and it didn’t matter if she were deaf? What if we could rent a large room where the girls could be safe? What if they were surrounded by loving people who could mentor them?
What in the world am I doing? I didn’t come to Uganda intending to rescue prostitutes. I wanted to know about the young girls who are being used as sex slaves by their parents and guardians but when I asked around no one could tell me about them. I even went to the head of domestic affairs and asked her. She responded. “Of course I have heard these stories but I know of no one who does this sort of thing.” For the time being the secrets of these young girls will remain secret. . .
Now I had seven prostitutes on my hands—begging me to give them an opportunity to escape. I couldn’t walk away without trying. But with limited funds what could be accomplished?

In the morning I stopped by the gated compound where Frida lives with her new husband, Andrew. They showed me their apartment which was one room with a curtain hanging to make it into a two room apartment. They were so proud and pointed out they even had electricity—a light bulb hung from the ceiling. I looked over the compound and at the cement buildings fashioned into apartments and contemplated. . .
Frida introduced me to the Bishops wife who owns and oversees this complex.
“Do you have any empty apartments?”
“Yes. Two. A very big room and another small room for rent. The cost of electricity and water is included.”
Hmmmm. “Is the compound locked at night?”
“Yes. We lock the gates at 10PM so everyone has to be home by then.”
Hmmmmm. I wonder. . .

As soon as Ruth, Joseph and I met I told them about the bishop’s wife. “We have five girls willing to move here. What if we put them all together in that big room at the compound? Would that work? Maybe we could put a trusted widow in with them to mentor them? And Frida lives there. She has already shown the girls she is a friend. . .”
Joseph questioned if the bishop would allow such girls to live there. Ruth said maybe we would not have to tell him their background.
“But he will find out. . .”
The three of us jumped into a car and went to visit the bishop’s wife. She showed us the room which was huge. Five or six women could easily live there. They could even put up curtains to divide up the room if they wanted privacy. She showed us the bathrooms with running water and introduced us to some of the residents. Then we sat down to talk. Ruth told her the young women were prostitutes and wanted a new life. Did she think the bishop would allow them to live there?
“Yes. This would be a good place for them. With the church right here they could have the opportunity to attend services and could live surrounded by Christians. Yes. I know the bishop will agree.”

We left in high spirits. We had a place for at least five girls to live. Now to work out the details. The rent was around $60 a month—that was doable. Maybe this project wouldn’t be so expensive after all. Then Ruth and Joseph started making lists of supplies, furnishing, etc. My optimism went down the tubes as the day wore on. Tom is going to kill me. How do I get myself into these things? Who is going to support these women while they are being trained in their new professions?
Stress must have been written all over my face as Pastor Ruth broke into my thoughts. “Sister Rachel. If you had known the costs of the karamojong feeding program when you gave me that first $1000 and told me to begin feeding the Karamojong children you would never have began. But look what God has done. He will do the same with this program.”
I had to agree but still had a lot of anxiety as I reflected on scarce months when I didn’t know how we were going to feed those children. In the fifteen months of the program they have never had to tell those 420 children, “There is no food.” If we can feed all those children surely we can help seven prostitutes. . .
Pastor Joseph received a call from Fiona. “I have another friend who wants to leave prostitution. Can you help her?”
Uh. Oh. I can see where this is going to go. . . once the word gets out. . . okay. . . For today we will focus on these seven. . .

At the end of the day when we counted the costs and I counted my money we had enough to pay six months rent, purchase beds, bedding and everything necessary to set up a house for six women. We agreed that everything would belong to the ministry and if a girl left the program that the beds, etc. would be left behind for whom ever would take her place. We also agreed we needed to come up with a first-class name for the project and not refer to the girls as “my prostitutes.”
Two of the women want to learn tailoring. There was enough money to purchase two sewing machines and sewing supplies. Okay. I could breathe. Three want to learn to do hair. Pastor Ruth said she had put one of the ladies at Smile Africa through beauty school and now she needed to be set up in a shop. She said if we could purchase the items needed –around $2000 we could make an agreement with her that in exchange for setting her up she would have to train whomever we send to her at no charge.
Could we get that in writing?
Okay. But right now I don’t have the money so in the meantime what do we do with the three girls who want to do hair?
They could come with the two who are learning tailoring at Smile Africa and could be taught to make necklaces or other crafts so they are kept busy while they wait to start their training in hair.
Okay. That would work. My breathing was almost back to normal. What kind of pocket money would the girls need each month if we are providing their food and shelter?
About twenty dollars.
Okay if we were supporting seven girls that would be $140 a month. If I don’t get fired I could pay that. . .
As I watched it all unfold I felt an excitement rising within. I know this is the right thing to do and God will see it through!

Joseph and I stopped to see the head of a primary school which is near the compound. He told him: “We have a child who needs to go to fourth grade but she is a bit mature.”
“How mature?”
“That is okay. We have another who is older than that. She boards here. She is in fifth grade but we board her with the seventh grade class because they are bigger and she blends in better. The children love her and she helps them with their classes. Will she be boarding?”
“For now she will just be attending day school.”
“Okay. But let me advise you to put her in boarding. When we get students that age there are too many distractions on the street to and from school which call them away from their studies. If they are boarding they are not allowed out beyond our gates and they also have night study which helps them to be serious about school.”
Hmmmmm. We’ll have to think about that. . .

Check back for updates as this program begins to soar!

People have been asking how they can donate to this project. If you want to donate online here is the direct link

copy and paste the address to your browser.
It will say "Smile Africa widow's fund" but if you let me know I will be sure it is earmarked for this project. Thanks!!