Category Archives: HOPE+ Sisterhood

Blessed by JOY

Recently, something pretty amazing happened.  Something that surpassed any expectation I ever had for any of our HOPE+ sisters.

Meet Gertrude.  ???????????????????????????????

I met Gertrude the first time in March 2012.  She was an HIV+ widow whose life was hard….very hard.  She often didn’t have enough to feed herself and her son and she struggled to pay school fees.

gertrude2

In January 2013, we launched the Uganda HOPE+ sisterhood and Gertrude was one of the first women that entered our program.  She stood out to me because when we visited her, she prayed for me.  She prayed for God to bless the program and to help me find sisters for all of the sisters.  She was so excited to be part of this program. 

I have literally watched hope grow inside Gertrude over the past 2 years.  Her eyes speak a joy I could only dream of having.

She has been blessed with Joy.  And I mean that literally.  Gertrude has become our first foster mom to a precious young girl named Joy who was desperately in need of a mother to love her.

gertrudejoy[1]
I often find myself stepping back and saying “is this really happening?  Did an HIV+ widow who was destitute just 2 years ago open her home to a broken little girl?”  The answer is YES….and she did it with delight.

Gertrude’s faith and YES is truly and inspiration and a personal challenge for me.  Am I trusting that God will provide for my every need.  Am I taking Him for His word?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Matthew 6:26

It was a YES on this side of the world that allowed Gertrude to be in a place to become a foster mom.  The lives of these beautiful women are literally being transformed.  You can see the hope in their eyes and feel the joy from their spirit.  Please take a moment to learn about the HOPE+ sisterhood and pray about becoming a sister.  http://projecthopeful.org/uganda/

Please, Take My Baby

Dawn Patterson, our Director of the Hope + Sisterhood — Uganda, continues to write about her trip to Uganda:

As we visited one sister in her hair salon, a young mother sat with her baby while having her hair braided by another young girl.  Her daughter was beautiful and of course, we couldn’t help but smile and entertain the child.  The  mother did not speak English but the girl braiding her hair did.  The mother spoke and the girl translated:  “She wants you to take her  baby.”  I would love to say this is the first time I’ve heard these words spoken in Uganda, but that is not the case.  Even after we left and moved to another shop to purchase fabric, the girl followed us and continued to say, “She wants you to take her baby.”
 
I can’t presume to know what was stirring in that mother’s heart.  I don’t know the hardships she faces in her life or the obstacles she will have to overcome.  But I do know that a myth is being perpetuated in the minds of mothers here that their babies are better off in another country….in another family.   This can not be the answer.  This is  not the solution to poverty or desperation.
 
We have to work to change their mindset and ours.  We must empower these women.  The financial commitment it takes to literally change a life here costs just 4 percent of an average Ugandan adoption.  FOUR PERCENT.  If you are a mother, ask yourself what it would take for you to give up your child.  Can you feel the ache in your heart?  I know I can.  As you feel that ache, if you knew that for $45 per month for one year a mother could be prevented from feeling like her only option was to give away her child…..would you do it?

IMG_3563_(1024x683)[1] 
I believe, with every fiber of my being that adoption is necessary.  There are, and will always be children who need forever families.  However, it is not the only answer.  Far from it.   Please consider pouring into the life of a woman in Uganda.  Help empower her and give her HOPE.  PRESERVE FAMILIES.  Allow yourself to be used by God to transform a life.   The HOPE + Sisterhood has changed my life and opened my eyes and I am humbled that God even allows me to walk along side these beautiful women. 

The Orphan Crisis Without Adoption

We could spend hours or days (or longer) debating the question of whether everyone is “called” to adopt or whether it is even a call or a command or whether the Church is necessarily failing because everyone hasn’t adopted.  Today, we set those questions aside and talk about non-adoption options for supporting orphans, or maybe even preventing them.  Let’s discuss “caring for widows and orphans in their distress.”  James 1:27.

Project HOPEFUL operates a number of programs specifically designed to address the needs of widows and orphans in the countries where we operate.  For example, our Hope + Sisterhood program in Uganda, Ethiopia, and soon, Guatemala, partners women and families from the United States with women who are HIV positive from these countries.  The goal of the program is to give the women a “hand up” out of poverty and to help them become self-sustaining as a family.  Many of the women in our program are widows or have been abandoned by husbands upon learning of their positive HIV status.  Most have children, some of whom are positive.  Rather than continue the cycle of poverty and relinquishment for adoption, the Sisterhood seeks to empower these women to start businesses and use the financial support they receive for six months to plan for the future and family sustainability.  For more information about our Hope + Sisterhood, check out our website:  http://projecthopeful.org/hope-sisterhood/

Village of Hope cares for special needs orphans in San Lucas, Guatemala and teaching them about the love of Jesus Christ.  VoH welcomes families and children into its “Village” where these individuals are loved on by house parents, provided food, shelter and education.  The goal is to create a loving home where the people we serve are safe.  Two families from Project HOPEFUL serve at Village of Hope:  The Kiel and Carolyn Twietmeyer family and the Todd and Amy Block family.  There are many ways to partner with Village of Hope, including being a part of the sending team for the Twietmeyers, assisting with the salaries of staff, and partnering monthly in the work being done there.  You can read more here:  http://projecthopeful.org/village-of-hope/

Our Family in the Gap – Awassa program is growing like wildfire! In just a year of operation, our donors are supporting over one hundred families or children in Awassa, Ethiopia.  We have assisted the community in providing education, animals, health care, food, clothing and more.  Like our other in-country programs, Awassa seeks to keep families together and enable the independence of the people we serve.  You can see the details here:  http://projecthopeful.org/awassa/

Project HOPEFUL will expand into Ukraine in 2014!  Our programs in Ukraine seek to provide mentoring, support and education to families living with HIV.  Project HOPEFUL also has the opportunity to participate in providing a summer camp for families living with HIV and provide staffing for children in the hospital who are left alone for more than eight hours every night.  We hope that you will step up to support this program:  http://projecthopeful.org/fig/fig-ukraine/

Last but not least, for the first time this year, Project HOPEFUL is offering CHRISTMAS WITH PURPOSE.  Our in-country programs have put together a list of items you could purchase as your gift to a loved one this holiday season!  Give a cow to a family in Ethiopia; provide malaria treatment in Uganda; contribute to the salary of a nurse in Ukraine; or how about a mosquito net?  It’s all right here:  http://projecthopeful.org/christmas-with-purpose/

In our home, the kiddos each get an animal in their stocking for Christmas.  This year, we can purchase our animals through Project HOPEFUL!  We hope you will join us in this amazing Christmas with Purpose.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

{Isaiah 9:6}

 

http://projecthopeful.org/christmas-with-purpose/

HOPE+ Sisterhood Ethiopia: More Sisters Needed!

By Nancy Porter

The HOPE+ ET program seeks to alleviate the need for HIV+ mothers to relinquish their children and was born out of a desire to honor the birth mothers of Project HOPEFUL children. The goal of the Project HOPEFUL HOPE+Sisterhood program is to Help Others Perform Excellently through a determination to provide HOLISTIC care for infected mothers and their families in order to prevent unnecessary loss. These goals will be achieved by emotionally, spiritually and physically supporting families with HIV+ persons (primarily mothers) by providing them access to vital medical care, helping them obtain self –sustainability, and linking mothers to “sisters” in the US who will develop relationships for support and friendship.

Our goal is that Mothers won’t have to place their children in orphanages because of inability to provide for her family. Women will NOT be vilified because of their HIV status. We want these women to know that THEY MATTER! Project HOPEFUL wishes to provide HOPE to mothers in Ethiopia and connect them to women in the U.S.

The Program is broken down into 3 phases:

Phase one: Rehabilitation program in the recovery center. This “in-house” phase includes counseling, nutritional education, sanitation education, as well as medical evaluation and treatment for the women and their children. It lasts approximately 2 months. While in phase one, the women also identify possible job skill training opportunities. A home visit is performed to assess whether or not the occupation they choose is appropriate for their living situation. We also provide 3 meals a day as well as a snack for the mothers and their children during their time in the program in additional to covering transportation charges and any needed clothing.

Phase two: Economic empowerment program (job skills training according to each woman’s interest). During this phase, the women move back into their individual homes (but still meet weekly with the other women in the program). They undergo training in an occupation of their choosing. They also choose a “group income producing project” which they partake in with other members of their group. This project will continue to tie the women together long after they leave the program. “To educate a man is to educate his family; to educate a woman is to educate the world”

Phase three: Monitoring, Evaluation and documentation program (follow-up care). A micro-financing loan is also provided in order to launch her small business.

Recently one of our sponsors had the opportunity to meet the sisters in the the rehab center. She writes:

I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting the Project HOPEFUL Bete-Se’ida program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia a few weeks ago. I was welcomed by Yafalem, the program director, who took me into the room where the sisters were focused and happy learning how to cross stitch a beautiful sitting mat. A graduate from the 2 month program was teaching the other women. The energy in the room was happy and filled with children’s laughter with babies running around, some hiding behind their mothers’ dresses and others curiously coming up to me and playfully pushing their little hands out to share a high 5.

The women were anxious to share their work with me. I then had the opportunity to interview the women and ask questions such as how the program had changed their lives. One woman said that the program had given her a new confidence on life and while she was very depressed before she joined the program, she now feels good about herself and confident that she can go out and begin a business, help support her family and keep her family. They asked me to stay for lunch and we sat in a small circle and had a beautiful meal of beef stew and of course, injera. It was magical watching the women roll the injera up filled with stew and feeding their hungry children. After lunch, coffee was served, of course, and I participated…as always.

Afterwards, I went to visit the orphanage right next door. I always enjoy this visit. I held the babies, played with the school children and talked with the helpers to find out what extra things needed for their daily care, thinking about how we could help them.

The highlight of the visit was visiting Tsion, a graduate of the 2 month program for women. Yafalem drove me to her place of work and as we walked in I saw 4 women with chef hats on with HUGE smiles selling lentils and spices. They also had a coffee ceremony going on continuously for anyone who wanted to partake. The market was bustling for the coming of the Christmas holiday, which is January 7th in Ethiopia. Tsion joined the program as a very desperate women: depressed, unstable, sick and unable to take good care of her children. You would never know that this was the same Tsion when I was introduced to her that day. Her smile was infectious and she was so proud, rightfully so, of her business. She and I and Yafalem then drove to her home and visited her family. They are building a new beautiful home and I met her darling daughter.

It seems that in this day and age, many think that HIV and AIDS equal to not having a life filled with any productivity or happiness. Project Hopeful however has not given up on these women and the project is truly changing women’s’ lives…a few at a time. And isn’t this how the world is changed….caring, loving, helping, friendship..no matter what color, what sickness, no matter how rich or poor. Girlfriends helping girlfriends…Tsion took my hand as we walked back to the car and my life, once again, was changed forever.

-Marla

We are currently in need of 15 more US Sisters to sponsor our Ethiopian Sisters. If you would like more information, please contact me at nancy@projecthopeful.org

Have “Faith”…

Faith Uganda
by Dawn Patterson

When I accepted the position of Director for the HOPE+ sisterhood, Uganda, it wasn’t probably 10 minutes later that I thought “what have I gotten myself into?” I was comforted slightly by the fact that there wasn’t an immediate need to get the program up and running and there was much grace extended on the timing due to our adoption.

When I returned from Uganda and started thinking more about the responsibility and my “skills” (or lack thereof), I panicked. Enter the voice of doubt. I quickly called Deb and said “look, I am not cut out for this. I don’t have the skills to do this. I MAKE JEWELRY. That is what I’m good at. I don’t “direct” anything. Deb was kind, patient, wise & encouraging. She said 2 things that really stuck. The first was “I tell everyone to not make any major decisions until 6 months post adoption” and the second was “and for the record…you are cut out for this. You are exactly who God wants for this”. Enter the voice of truth.

It didn’t take 6 months….only about 4 when I heard God say “go…the time is now”. God perfected every detail, funds were raised almost effortlessly and we were on our way to Uganda. And I felt a tremendous amount of peace.

When I left the U.S. I was under the impression that there were 18 sisters. So, when I asked “how many sisters do we have” and the response was “about 35”…..I panicked. Again. But this time it lasted all of about 30 minutes. God had perfected every detail of this trip and I knew He had this. Peace came over me as I heard the words “Trust me, Dawn”. I’m quite sure I was even wearing my “It’s not about me shirt”. That really should have been my first clue ;o)

And so I trusted Him.

I have been home for 11 days and there are only 2 women left who need sisters. TWO. And by the time you read this blog post….there will probably only be 1. He truly paved the way. He did the work. All He needed from me was obedience. There is no special skill set you need for obedience. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:17

I am so encouraged by the plans I believe He has for these women. One of them is Faith. She is beautiful, amazing and talented. Faith is a trained tailor, but she lacks the funds for a sewing machine. She’s going to use the funds she receives to purchase a sewing machine so she can make more awesome creations like this! This is one of the bags Faith made…..and this was her first attempt! Aren’t they adorable??

Please join me in praying for these beautiful women and that God will make perfect His will for their lives.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

So What is the HOPE+ Sisterhood?

HOPE+Sisterhood post 1The HOPE+ Sisterhood program was developed in honor of the mothers of
the children of Project HOPEFUL volunteers who have died of
complications related to AIDS. This program seeks to offer HOPE to
HIV+ mothers and to prevent unnecessary loss for their families. The
original HOPE+ Sisterhood started in Ethiopia with 14 mothers. It was
a residential facility that brought hope to mothers by offering them
skill training, jobs and even micro-loans to start small businesses.

Project HOPEFUL has wanted to have a presence in Uganda for some time
but simply didn’t know where to start, but because our God is such an
awesome God….He paved the way.

The first phase of the HOPE+ Sisterhood, Uganda will begin with 34
“Sisters”. Each woman is HIV+, on the proper medications and is in
need of a “hand up”. With your support, these sisters will begin
small business, expand their existing business or become educated in a
trade they wish to pursue.

We had the honor and privilege of meeting each and every one of these
sisters in early January. We were even able to visit many of them in
their homes and see their precious children. Their stories were
heartbreaking and touching. Some were still grieving and some were
exclaiming “I am HIV+ and I have no shame”.

The sisterhood program costs $40 a month for 6 months. We are calling
this phase 1 because we want to leave the door open for God to
determine the next step.

At Project HOPEFUL we believe in the beautiful gift of adoption but
recognize this isn’t always the answer. This is a wonderful
opportunity to walk along side a precious woman and help her preserve
the family that God has blessed her with.
HOPE+Sisterhood post 2

If you are interested in becoming a sister or if you have any
questions about this program please email me at
dawn@projecthopeful.org


To God be the Glory…..ALWAYS!

Game Changer – The End of Stigma

From Dawn Patterson.

The best laid plans are plans at best. I’ve heard this quote many times. It’s held true so often in my life. This trip to Uganda was no different. I went there with a plan…many plans in fact. But one of my plans took a turn, a radical turn.

The HOPE+ sisterhood has always been about enabling HIV+ women to live longer, fuller lives through a Jesus centered relationship with a sister here in the US. But, because there is so much shame & stigma surrounding HIV, many of these women wanted….and needed….to remain private. Although Project HOPEFUL stands by the TRUTH “No shame in our game”….we needed to respect this. It’s so important for these women to understand that they have a disease….but they are NOT the disease! But, to help them….we need to understand them first.

I went to Uganda fully expecting each woman to want their “status” to remain private to everyone except to their sister.

I can joyfully tell you, that was not the case. AT ALL. Were there women who had not shared their status publicly? Yes. And we will respect that. But there are women who are joyfully sharing their stories and I would be doing them a disservice if I did not share them with you.Uganda Day 5 b

Take for instance Lazia. I met Lazia 2 years ago for the first time when I traveled to Uganda with my friend Cathy. She was one of our home visits. She was not strong, she was not physically well and had a relatively new relationship with Jesus. Lazia was a muslim and after her husband died from AIDS, she discovered she was HIV+. A few years later, a local pastor heard about this very sick woman and ministered to her. Through that relationship, she accepted Jesus. But because of her illness, she was very weak and wasn’t able to attend church often. It was around this time that we met her.

I met with Lazia several times on this trip and joy literally seeps out of this woman. She never stops smiling and continually praises Jesus. We had a standard format of questions that we would ask each woman and one of them was “have you shared your status with family and friends”. I wasn’t prepared for her response. With a huge smile on her face, she threw her hands up in the air and joyfully shouted “The whole town knows I have HIV! I have no shame.” You know that moment when your favorite team scores the winning touchdown and you jump in the air and shout “yes”. Well, that perfectly described how I felt AND how I reacted.

There is still so much stigma surrounding HIV. There is still much ignorance and fear. But for a small group of women, in a little town in Africa….there is no shame. They are proud. They are living positively. They are in love with Jesus. And I believe they will be the game changers.

Uganda Day 5 aThe HOPE+ sisterhood Uganda is a 6 month commitment to be a “sister” to one of these precious women. You will encourage her, pray for her and financially assist her through a $40 per month donation. This donation will be used by your sister to start a small business so that she can obtain proper nutrition (which is absolutely essential for their ARV’s to work) and care for her children.

To learn more about this amazing ministry, please email me @ dawn@projecthopeful.org

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another – Proverbs 27:17